Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in English



First Advisor

David Faflik


Computational Close Reading intervenes in digital humanities and American literary scholarship to negotiate a significant institutional and disciplinary problem: the devaluation of close reading and interpretation in digital humanities applications to literary studies in favor of more distant modes of reading. To remedy this issue, I pursue a core question meant to bring the literary and the digital into a more perfect confluence, as a demonstration of possibilities meant to run counter to these preconceptions about computational reading: how “close,” if close at all, can digital technologies bring us to the interpretive elements of literary texts? I argue that they can bring us quite close, opening a perceived gap in knowledge about the ‘hows’ that are possible in computational reading. As a matter of necessity, I also speak to the questions that underlie this core issue in the humanities, such as why the computerization of literary studies has allegedly moved away from interpretation and close reading in favor of digital curation and digital tool-building; what other modes of reading computerization has given way to, and how these differ from traditional approaches (close, distant, hyper, machine, etc.); what is so different about traditional literary studies and the resulting digital turn, and why this disparity came to be; and, perhaps most importantly, how the analytical affordances of the digital humanities can be leveraged to advance and preserve the original goals of literary studies as a discipline, instead of enabling their supersession. Put plainly, Computational Close Reading challenges the notion that digital humanities necessitates new approaches to literature—rather, I am interested in how digital technologies can enhance our original approaches to literature and reaffirm their universal relevance and importance. This volume intends to argue, at its core, that the age of computerization does not make obsolete or short-sighted the traditional methods of literary analysis in the face of new approaches to reading, but rather encourages us to pursue those same original disciplinary goals with renewed perspective and capability.



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