“Distant reading…where distance is however not an obstacle but a specific form of knowledge” (Moretti 1). I’ve never actually head anyone use distant reading in any english course I have taken. This one passage really caught my eye, and I assumed Moretti meant speed reading and looking at the text as a whole. Just to confirm my assumptions I looked up distant reading and realized my idea was incorrect. The New York Times actually published an article based on “What is Distant Reading?”.

Is Moretti saying we need to stop reading books in order to learn more? That sounds a bit contradictory to what we have been taught in a classroom for the past two decades. Books may hold knowledge, but we need to expand our minds and push through our limitations. Using  graphs as a device can help us find the distinctions throughout genres and not trust only our knowledge of what the writing could be classified as. Just because I want to identity a novel as a gothic piece of literature, the graph could open the possibilities of many more genres I had not even thought of.

Moretti crosses the line in using scientific method in literary terms. “Here he abandons the quantitative method and turns to morphology, concluding that ‘the cycle is the hidden thread of literary history” (Moretti 26). I always viewed science and literature as two completely different entities. Here, Moretti is saying they are morphed into one another.

Shannen Coleman

One thought on “Graphs”

  1. It might be that he’s approaching “reading” from a slightly different perspective: not reading in the sense of “processing” a certain number of pages and getting an answer or lesson, but looking at reading itself as a practice that happens over time among lots of different people: not “what do you think of this book,” but “how was this large number of books received by this country, or decade, or readership”?

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