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Now that we’ve reached the end of Literature in the Digital Age, let us briefly pause to reflect on what you’ve achieved.

Together, we’ve had a good look at one short poem by Ezra Pound ‘The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough.’ One of the things we’ve done is zoom in on this text itself to tease out all its intricate meaning structures. We also dug deep into its historical context to ask ourselves how this poem negotiates the new urban, industrialised, chaotic and noisy world of modernity. We’ve also seen how this text relates to other modernist writings.

Another thing that we’ve done is we’ve gone online to see what it means to read texts online, sometimes even together with hundreds of other readers, in a process that is called social reading. We’ve also encountered a new professional reading strategy in the digital age called distant reading. We’ve seen how distant readers actually survey hundreds, even thousands of literary texts with the help of computer algorithms, quantifying, describing those many texts. And along the way, we’ve encountered my esteemed colleague Hugues Marchal’s wonderful Euterpe project. The final thing we’ve done is we’ve had a look at the stuff that literature is made of and how that stuff influences our reading experience.

We hope you had a good ride and found this course inspiring and thought-provoking. Thank you for your participation!


University of Basel