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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.60, No.1, 3 ~ 20, 2014
“Operationalizing”: or, the Function of Measurement in Modern Literary Theory
Franco Moretti
“Operationalizing” refers to a process which is absolutely central to the new field of computational criticism, and of the digital humanities. It means building a bridge from the concepts of literary theory, through some form of quantification, to literary texts. The concept of “characterspace,” coined by Alex Woloch in The One vs. The Many, smoothly into “word-space”.“the number of words allocated to a particular character”. and, by counting the words each character utters, we can determine how much textual space it occupies. Measurement does not lead from the world, via quantification, to the constructions of theories; if anything, it leads back from theories, through data, to the empirical world. The measurement of character-space undermines the older notion, replacing it ith the idea of a conflict arising near the center of the network. In this context, this paper attempts to demonstrate how the unprecedented empirical power of digital tools and archives offers a unique chance to rethink the categories of literary study. Digital humanities may not yet have changed the territory of the literary historian, or the reading of individual texts; but operationalizing has certainly changed, and radicalized, our relationship to concepts: it has raised our expectations, by turning concepts into magic spells that can call into being a whole world of empirical data; and it has sharpened our skepticism. A theory-driven, data-rich research program has become imaginable, thanks to this enterprise of operationalizing.
Key Words
distant reading, less is more, operationalizing, characterspace, network,영미문학, 문화연구, 비교문학, 비평이론, English and American Literature, cultural studies, comparative literature, critical theory
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