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Class 6 Notes

Page history last edited by Alan Liu 2 years, 5 months ago

Preliminary Class Business





Visit by Mark Algee-Hewitt and Ryan Heuser of the Stanford Literary Lab


  • Introductions



    • Class Questions about "Operationalizing":
      • Alan Liu:
        • (1)"Genre, character, plot, style, theme, etc. are concepts that have recently been studied with digital humanities methods.  What is the logic of selection by which the Stanford Lit Lab decides which literary concepts to operationalize?  Do you foresee an evolutionary or directional trend in what we choose to 'operationalize' for DH study?"

          (2) Consider the analogy of string theory in physics, which cannot be explored operationally because a particle accelerator capable of the energies needed to resolve phenomena at the Planck scale would need to be something like the size of the solar system.  What literary or other humanistic "concepts" are currently at the computational limits of operationalization?

          (3) How does the structure and ethnography of the Stanford Literary Lab compare to historical centers of methodological influence in literary or humanistic study (e.g., the Petersburg and Moscow centers of the Russian Formalist movement, the Yale English Department, UC Berkeley during the era of the origin of the Representations journal, and the Paris universities of the May 1968 era)?  In general, is there a sociocultural and ethnographic dimension that needs to be considered in what we mean by, and how we conduct, "operationalization"? (Cf., the study of "labs" in STS.)

          (4) How can we operationalize the relation between a text and of its sociocultural context?  For example, shouldn't the full version of a network analysis of a Shakespeare play study the relation between the character network in the play and that of the monarchs, courtiers, playwrights, actors, etc. of Elizabethan society in order to understand how the former network is an ideological representation of the latter network (and/or vice versa)?

          (5) Is there a difference, or should there be one, between operationalization in the literary studies field versus, for instance, history?
      • Questions from other class participants:
      • Kyle: do we actually need to viz the cvs files?  
      • Jeff:  what is the influence of translated texts in text analysis?
      • Patrick: what are the boundaries of what can't be operationalized?
      • Tyler: What is the feedback loop between operationalization and theory?
      • Alex: what is the role of "intuition" and pre-hypotheses in operationalization?
        • Also: What is the implication of thinking of DH as "computational criticism"? (Plus Selena's add-on question)
      • Jeremy: what are the standards of new knowledge that come out of operationalization?
      • Francisco: how do we take account of institutions in operationalization?


  • Discussion by Mark and Ryan of the work of the Stanford Literary Lab and their own work.




1. Network Analysis: Introduction


David Bell, "This is What Happens When Historians Overuse the Idea of the Network" (25 Oct. 2013) –
review of Emily Rosenberg, ed., A World Connecting: 1870-1945 (2012)


Some paradigm changes in the humanities:


  • Language: Linguistics, Anthropology arrow right Structuralism arrow right Deconstruction
    (Impacted the humanities in 1960's-70's)



  • Probability: Math, Physics, Information Theory arrow right Topic Modeling
    Network: Sociology, Graph Theory arrow right Network Analysis
    (Impacting the humanities now)


Ongoing and future developments:




2. Our Social Network Analysis Practicums (and Questions)

(cf. use of UCInet in social sciences)





3. The Idea (and Culture) of Networks


  • Phenomena that appear in distant reading:

          (in escalating scale of possible disturbance to humanists)


    • Pattern
    • Scale phenomena / Cyclical phenomena
    • Quantitative phenomena
    • Probabilistic phenomena + Network phenomena





  • Some essential questions about the idea of networks about:
    • The morphology of networks:
      • Terms that have been important to the history of thought in the 20th century: "form," "structure," "system."  Now we can add "network."
        • What are the similarities/differences?
        • How many kinds of networks are there, anyway?
        • How do networks grow; how many different ways do they grow?
          (see Saket Navlakha and Carl Kingsford, "Network Archaeology: Uncovering Ancient Networks from Present-Day Interactions")
    • The physics vs. sociology of networks:
    • The node vs. edge problem (in humanistic applications of network analysis):
      • Am I a node, or an edge (carrier)? 
    • Hermeneutics in the network:
    • The media of networks:
      • What difference does the medium of a network make?
    • The humanity of networks:
      • Are networks a human phenomenon?




4. Social Network Analysis in the Humanities






Readings for This Class






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