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What are the uses and limitations of distant reading?

You have heard about Franco Moretti’s inauguration of distant reading, encountered one specific distant reading project (Hugues Marchal’s Euterpe), watched two literary scholars discuss the pros and cons of this recent professional reading strategy, and used Google Ngram to engage in a distant reading project yourself.

Based on what you have learned, how do you assess the uses and limitations of distant reading compared to more traditional reading techniques such as close reading and (literary-)historical contextualization?


University of Basel