(Image won’t appear on here, so I left the link above for those who wish to see the graphs)

Trends: I liked this one the most because I wanted to take a few of the most commonly used words to see what they might have in common with each other. I chose “man”, “father” and “life” to see if there would be any type of connection. Within the first segment, all three of these words have been used a similar amount of times. As time progresses, they drift further and further apart. Between the sixth and seventh segment, they come together again showing that in that particular moment in the text, those words were more commonly connected to one another. This graph was the most clear to me because it showed the use of the words pretty vividly in the graph.

Cirrus: The one is really interesting because it spits out random words used commonly within the text by presenting it in a more up close and personal manner. However, this one does not narrow down the most frequently used words in a much smaller window. This type of presentation is much more broad.

Bubblelines: This one is useful because not only does it show commonly used words, but it shows the context in which they were used in. For example, lets take the word man; we have the sentence “imprinted by the foot of man”. Man in this case would represent mankind, whereas the sentence “her lover. But the old man” would refer to male human. This is interesting because we never really realize the many contexts in which we use such common words.


I find this section to be quite interesting and pretty user friendly for the reader. Moretti uses “trees” as a way to categorize and break down certain evolutionary  literary studies over time, or in other words “systematically correlated with form”. (69) I like the idea of  the “detective fiction” because it’s a clever and fun way to attract readers to a novel, and help them critically think about all the obvious and not so obvious clues given within the plot. The idea of a tree diagram becomes very useful for readers because it makes an easy to follow pattern connecting other similar works together. I’d like to look at it as a “family tree”.  It allows things to connect to other things that have similarities. Lets take the idea of a fair tale for instance. Each cliche story would include a damsel in distress, a handsome prince, villain, and magic for instance. These things could be tracked in a form of a tree to make it categorized in a very specific way that stands out from the rest of genres of stories/novels.

I think that this for of categorization is very useful and intriguing to the reader. It gives readers a good and clear picture of certain genres for instance and the common bonds they all share. It is also good for giving dates of works over time to create and evolutionary chart that will keep expanding as time moves on. It is a fun way to make connections to things and help draw out an actual picture for the reader to understand.

Graphs, Maps, Trees

This book goes a much more into further detail of the topics covered in our last class discussion. It focuses on a much broader way to research literature over a humongous period of time. It also shows us the rise of novels throughout different countries around the world, including Britain, Japan, Italy, and Spain. It goes a little further into these divisions and subdivisions of genres, as they try to categorize them.

I found it extremely interesting that there were several downturns within literature due to politics. Political crisis had a lot to do with the way in which a novel is written. I would find this quite the opposite if I was a reader during a time of war and so on. I would actually find a novel more intriguing to read through the eyes of someone else, especially if they have an opposing view as mine. In modern day, we have social media to share our opinions on political views, now more than ever since we are having such an unorthodox election. As upset as people get, they still enjoy reading posts about the presidential candidates as a weird pleasure for themselves. I would assume this would be the same for someone reading a novel around the time of the Risorgimento War (pg 9) for instance.

I don’t have much of a question, but rather an observation that through these digital studies, we are able to really break down reading material into way we never thought possible. It is a very helpful tool to use because it lets you see works from all different types of angles. It also is very useful to make comparisons with novels from different countries, and analyze why one may have a great downfall than the other, by putting it all into a more mathematical term that could be understood a lot more clearly through graphing. The graphing also helps everyone see why certain categorizes for genres are made, and why there are ever sub categories a well. That’s very useful when examining a novel much more closely.

What “The”..?!?!

From my understanding of macroanalysis, it is corresponding to the study of economics. “Macroeconomics, however, is about the study of the entire economy.” (24) It is very closely related to close reading and critical thinking. The only difference is, close readings can be given by anyone who is reading, whereas a close reading in macroanalysis, is given only by someone who has a familiar background on the that particular field. This is known as a “macroreading”. It seems to be more of a hypothesis than a fact. It seems as if it is taking a similar approach to new criticism, in that it closely studies how language is used as a function for containing the aesthetic object within the text.

The only concern I have involving close readings of certain author’s writings is that it may be going into such deep detail that it seems like it may be over doing it. For example, it says that John Burrow studies the words the and of within authors writing to show the stylistic aspect of their writing. However, I don’t think such small words should reflect a person’s entire stylistic flow. Words such as the and of are words that are pretty much impossible to go without using. I know that as small as they are, they carry huge weight, but not to the point where they need to be so closely examined. (26)

It also speaks on the advantages of computers in helping Burrow more closely look at these forms of writing in deeper context.  I’m still not entirely sure how doing this helps us find the historical context within a text, find common patterns, trends, traditions, gender influence, or evolution just by words so small and easily ignored. Even the definition of the word “the” states that it is common knowledge. “denoting one or more people or things already mentioned or assumed to be common knowledge.” It’s almost impossible to go without using it. Even as I looked it up, I typed the word multiple times. “What is THE definition of THE word “THE”? It’s simply a word in which needs to be there in order for other words to flow in a way that makes sense. I’d like to look into this further because as of right now, it’s still a little baffling, yet interesting.

Post-Structuralism & Structuralism

I like that the texts starts off right away by accusing post-structuralism to be a rebellious form of structuralism. The two differ in that structuralism deals with the way in which humans make interpretations, which makes it more abstract, and post structuralism “maintains that the consequences of this belief are that we enter a universe of radical uncertainty, since we can have no access to any fixed landmark which is beyond linguistic processing, and hence we have no certain standard by which to measure anything.” ( Peter Barry pg 61)

It almost seems as if both structuralism and post-structuralism need to coincide with each other, even though it may be hard to choose between the two. Structuralism is linked to scientific method, whereas post-structuralism states that “there are no facts, only interpretations.”(pg 63)  My question now is how do these two contradict common sense truths that humans already have developed over time? Or is there even such a thing as “truth”? For example, how might is contradict to the language? Language is arbitrary and is always open to change, yet there are still some things that can be read over time that have a specific meaning, or “truth” that may not be open to interpretation. How might these two work together in deconstructing a text? Do they both contribute to the text unraveling of the text?

I’m still quite on the fence between the two. I’m not really sure if I agree with one or the other. I just keeping thinking that post-structuralism is so adamant on the universe not having one set truth, but that sentence in itself is one set truth. It’s telling us there are many truths within language that is up to each person to find, but just the fact that it’s saying that so firmly and with no doubts is a very “structuralist” approach. I’m not sure why post-structuralism doesn’t want us to trust language. Humans have created language in order to communicate and build trust, so I’m not sure why we’re not supposed to trust signs, signifier and signified as a useful means of finding meaning.


I found this text to be quite interesting because it focuses on the methodology of human culture. I see that it is very fixed on how humans find meaning, but isn’t exactly interested on the meaning itself. The first thought that popped into my head on structuralism was the idea of religion verses science. Where do humans find meaning in each of these categories, and do people find that one may be more significant than the other, since the actual substance of meaning doesn’t really seem to matter to Barthes. If we apply structuralism to each religion and science, we would have to break apart each of these categories in order to examine it more clearly. So for example, if we choose to examine religion, we would have to study it in its many sections that make it up as a whole. It can teach us about language, also myths. A lot of stories about gods can be perceived as mythological. Also, it can teach us about the language used in religious books, such as the Bible…etc. We can get a clearly picture as to why the human culture developed certain beliefs and language over time. This goes back to Saussure’s text on linguistics.

I think that this text along with Saussure’s “Nature of the Linguistic Sign” are very similar in that they both believe in close reading and critical thinking in order to find “meaning” to words and the way they are used. It is in doing so that we can make texts more intelligible over time.

What is an Author?

While reading this text, I noticed right away that the author is seeking individualism within their writing, even though they are using muses from all different types of categories. They are borrowing from “the history of ideas, knowledge, literature, philosophy, and the sciences” in order to make their cases. (pg. 205) In some ways, they are seeking immortality through their work, and I agree that every author wishes to do that, however, there can be a huge downfall as time goes on, when it comes to keeping the work as “pure” or as “original” as the author had wanted. It almost seems like an impossible task, and I don’t agree that the writer is doing all of this alone. At some point, they must share their ideas with other peers, and bounce their ideas off of others in order to make their cases stronger. In doing so, the work is already tainted from the beginning because it involves ideas from people of all types.

One line that stood out to me was “If an individual were not an author, could we say that what he wrote, said, left behind in his papers, or what has been collected of his remarks, could be called a “work”?” (pg 207) From previous readings, I have established that a text is something that it open to change, whereas as work is something that is more concrete. In this specific line, it sounds like its saying that a text can only be turned into a work based on social status. If you’re not considered to be an “official” author, your writing is simply just words on a paper with no meaning. I strongly disagree with that analogy because everyone’s writing should be given a fair shot, even if they aren’t exactly recognized yet. And for those whose works are recognized, they have been revised and edited countless times in order to be officially published to the world, and that makes it less original and it loses its individualism.

I think that this particular piece is a good opposing argument to Barthes’ “Death of an Author”, because that asked readers to remove the author from his work, leaving no room for finding the deeper meaning within the writing, but rather to let language speak for itself. Foucault is saying quite the opposite by insisting that in writing as using previous writers as muses, us as writers can still maintain a sense of individualism. I find that quite hard to do when writing is easily manipulated through a process of editing and revision.

How Do “Texts” and “Work” Intertwine?

Before reading this, I haven’t ever thought about the differences between the words “works” and “texts”. I tend to use them interchangeably depending on the day. After reading Barthes’ “From Work to Text”, I’ve come to an understanding the work is more of a complete and is a concrete form of writing, whereas text is something that can be open to change. Work is something that does not show any sign of arbitrariness within the understanding. (decodedscience.org)

The very first lines of this piece, it states “It is a fact that over the last few years a certain change has taken place (or is taking place) in our conception of language and, consequently, of the literary work which owes at least its phenomenal existence to this same language.” (pg.155) This suggests that language is changing over time due to the cultural developments. This is basically how I view the word “text”. It’s something that is open to change, depending on how the events over time seems to shift. Also, “text” ties into language as well. For example, throughout time, language can change, due to new slangs or even new words that have been added to the dictionary over time. That would be a clear example of texts changing with the culture. Whereas a “work” is something that is indefinite.

After distinguishing between the two, it makes me question what exactly a work/text would be in this day and age. Previously, I had the debate with myself about authorship, and what makes an author an author. Authors also tend to adapt to the time shift in culture. For instance, should online blogs be considered to be works or texts? Where would something like that fall into place in Barthes’ categories? Or would it fall into a brand new category of its own? The same thing goes for reality TV. I had mentioned before how mass culture is becoming a major influence on writers these days, and the cultural development are creating a certain type of audience. So for my example of reality TV, it almost seems as if it can fit into being both a work and a text. My reason for thinking it could be both is because the idea of reality is that it is something that cannot be changed. It essentially “is what it is” and that is what makes it a work. It has a sense of concreteness. The part that makes it text, lies within the production crew that creates the show. A lot of reality TV is scripted as well, and that makes it a text as well. The writers ability to alter reality to fit their agenda, and to get a rise out of the audience, shows that they’re purposely creating a shift in “reality” to fit current cultural standards.


Works Cited

“Roland Barthes: “From Work to Text” Linguistic Terms Explained.” Decoded Science. N.p., 17 Apr. 2013. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

What Makes an Author an Author?

I found this piece very intriguing to read because I have never given so much thought as to what an author really is. This is actually quite strange, considering I’m an English major. While reading, the only question that kept popping in my head is “What makes an author an author?” There seems to be quite a debate going on about the duties that this role carries. I thought it was good that Donald Pease brings up the question of creativity, and if the individual is determined based upon the material they have to cover. If so, the how do they still get to maintain their sense of creativity to the texts in which they create?

Before we can determine what an author’s job truly is, we must first determine how the title even became to be. I think it was very insightful that Pease introduced us to the term “auctor”. According to Pease, “the word “author” was used interchangeably with its predecessor term “auctor”, which did not entail verbal inventiveness, as “author” did but the reverse – adherence to the authority of cultural antecedent.” (Pease pg. 105) Both such difference meanings, yet one derives from the other.

This brings me to the question of how authorship is important to literature, and to society as a whole. On page 106, it mentions that an author is someone who “commanded respect and belief” from those reading their works. The word “author” holds a higher standard than “poet” or “writer”. An author is someone who is held almost to a godly level. They have an authority that’s greater than any other self-proclaimed writer. This is quite different than how I would view an author in this day and age. Although people still look to authors as credible sources, I personally never considered the fact that they were held to such a social and cultural standard. However, this text helped me to see more clearly how authors have constantly changed and adapted to the current culture that they are surrounded by. I’m glad to see that authors are held to such a high standard, and I hope to see them continuing to grow and make substantial changes for the future.

How Are Cultural Studies Linked to Literature?

In Chapter three, Culler brings up a very interesting point about how mass culture is becoming a huge influence by writers and readers today. The constant change in time creates different interests within the audience. On page 46, it states “Cultural studies dwells in the tension between the analyst‘s desire to analyse culture as a set of codes and practices that alienates people from their interests and creates the desires that they come to have and, on the other hand, the analyst’s wish to find in popular culture and authentic expression of value.” This raises a gripping question as to what makes literature traditional. If modern day television and internet blogs are considered to be the new form of literature, is it devaluing the works of those who came before?

Another key point that this particular chapter has pointed out is where do you draw the line between influence and completely taking the works of others, and making them a newer modern version you claim as your own? On page 51, it states “cultural forms are the expression or the symptom, so that to analyse them is to relate them to the social totality from which they derive.” So an example of this would be a Shakespearean play. Those were used as a form of entertainment for people living within that time frame. Romeo and Juliet is something to be considered a “classic” play that’s on every high school’s reading list for the year. Over the years, those influenced by this play have made parody’s, and animated films, such as “Gnomeo and Juliet”, which was an animated film about two garden gnomes that fall in love with each other, but can never be together because their families are at war. Where do we draw the line of influence in this particular situation? Clearly, Shakespeare was deeply recognized and admired to have his work repeated, and presenting it as a cartoon may help people understand the story line much clearer, especially the younger audience. In this case, that may be beneficial to the public today. But what about the television shows that completely have nothing to do with any works of the past? For instance, “Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s”. This is a popular form of literature for today’s mass culture. They create things like “selfie books”, and are featured in magazine articles all around the world. How is something like this educating and benefiting culture today? Where can we draw the lines to distinguish what is worth reading/watching, and what isn’t?