On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art

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Email alerts New issue alert. Advance article alerts. Article activity alert. Receive exclusive offers and updates from Oxford Academic. The number and strength of links among novels determine influence, much the way Google ranks Web sites. It is this ability to collect, measure and analyze data for meaningful insights that is the promise of Big Data technology. In the humanities and social sciences, the flood of new data comes from many sources including books scanned into digital form, Web sites, blog posts and social network communications. Data-centric specialties are growing fast, giving rise to a new vocabulary.

In political science, this quantitative analysis is called political methodology. In history, there is cliometrics, which applies econometrics to history. Culturomics is the umbrella term used to describe rigorous quantitative inquiries in the social sciences and humanities.

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  • Review of Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History, by Matthew L. Jockers | HASTAC?

Cultural data analysts often adapt biological analogies to describe their work. Such biological metaphors seem apt, because much of the research is a quantitative examination of words. Just as genes are the fundamental building blocks of biology, words are the raw material of ideas.



Michel and another researcher, Erez Lieberman Aiden, led a project to mine the virtual book depository known as Google Books and to track the use of words over time, compare related words and even graph them. Google cooperated and built the software for making graphs open to the public. By now, Google has scanned 20 million books, and the site is used 50 times a minute. The crossover came in , with women ahead ever since.

Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History by Matthew L. Jockers

In work published in Science magazine in , Mr. It is important to note that this is not a book about literature so much as it is a book about literary history: for Jockers, macroanalytic techniques will ideally complement microanalytic analyses such as close reading as a way to contextualize those studies within larger historical frameworks. In order to bring the humanities closer to the sciences in terms of what he sees as methodological rigor, Jockers suggests adding macroanalytic analyses, colloquially called text-mining, to the repertoire of the contemporary literary scholar as a complement to microanalytic methods like close reading.

Just as most literary scholars would argue that a novel is more than the sum of its words, Jockers envisions the whole corpus of literature as more than the sum of the individual works that comprise it.

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Jockers accounts for counterarguments, but largely perfunctory ones that run tangent to where a more fruitful debate might lie: for instance, he seems to imply that scholarly hesitance to embrace quantitative analysis has been the result of the common perception that such analysis has not been sufficiently reliable until recently, not the result of a philosophical disagreement with the nature of quantifying literature.