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From Distant to Public Reading

The (Hebrew) Novel in the Eyes of Many

Yael Dekel    Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel    

Itay Marienberg-Milikowsky    Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel    



From its very beginning, the term “distant reading” (Moretti 2000) was controversial, displacing ‘close reading’ by relying on literary histories and thereby reflecting on the entire global literary system. One of the weaknesses of this approach lies in its exclusive reliance on canonical and authoritative historiographies, one or two for each national literature, something which is bound to over-simplify the complexities of national literatures. As is known, Moretti’s proposal became a ‘slogan’ for Digital Humanities while algorithmic manipulation of texts has taken the place of reading literary (human) histories. Yet the problem of over-simplification remains, albeit differently. As an alternative, we offer a fusion approach, radicalising Moretti’s idea. In this article, we demonstrate how computer-based analysis of different readings carried out by many readers – not necessarily professionals – produces a relatively minute picture. Our case study will be the Hebrew novel, from its emergence in 1853 to the present day; a manageable corpus on which we gather information using questionnaires we have carefully created in our lab. Alongside the presentation of our approach, the actual research, and its initial findings, we will reflect theoretically on the conceptual benefits, as well as the limits, of public distance reading.

Subtags: Modelling Communication 3d data Image data Communities Technology Epistemology Preservation Monuments

Dec. 10, 2021
Sept. 15, 2021
Jan. 15, 2021

Keywords: Public readingHebrew literatureDistant readingThe novelComputational literary studies

Copyright: © 2021 Yael Dekel, Itay Marienberg-Milikowsky. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.