Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History

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Verso, 2005 - Literary Criticism - 119 pages
21 Reviews
Professor Franco Moretti argues heretically that literature scholars should stop reading books and start counting, graphing, and mapping them instead. He insists that such a move could bring new luster to a tired field, one that in some respects is among "the most backwards disciplines in the academy." Literary study, he argues, has been random and unsystematic. For any given period scholars focus on a select group of a mere few hundred texts: the canon. As a result, they have allowed a narrow distorting slice of history to pass for the total picture.

Moretti offers bar charts, maps, and time lines instead, developing the idea of "distant reading," set forth in his path-breaking essay "Conjectures on World Literature," into a full-blown experiment in literary historiography, where the canon disappears into the larger literary system. Charting entire genres—the epistolary, the gothic, and the historical novel—as well as the literary output of countries such as Japan, Italy, Spain, and Nigeria, he shows how literary history looks significantly different from what is commonly supposed and how the concept of aesthetic form can be radically redefined.

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Review: Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History

User Review  - Lawrence - Goodreads

Rather slight, and I wish he explained his figures more, but clearly going to the foundation of my own research going forward; some invaluable observations. Read full review

Review: Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History

User Review  - Rachel - Goodreads

Close Reading vs Distant Reading The above thought has been drifting around my mind since I started my degree. What do the two terms mean to literary analysis? Is one better than the other? Why are so ... Read full review

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About the author (2005)

Franco Moretti teaches English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He is the author of Signs Taken for Wonders, The Way of the World and Modern Epic, all from Verso.

Alberto Piazza is Professor Human Genetics at the Medical School of Turin University. He is a co-author of the History and Geography of Human Genes.

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