Hardback
June 15, 2018
9781421425504
English
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119092
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v2.1 Reference
Electronic book text
June 15, 2018
9781421425511
9781421425504
English
320
119092
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$49.95 USD, £37.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Cyberformalism

Histories of Linguistic Forms in the Digital Archive

Linguistic forms are essential to meaning: like words, they make a semantic contribution to the things we say. We inherit them from past writers and speakers and fill them with different words to produce novel utterances. They shape us and the ways we interpret the world. Yet prevalent assumptions about language and the constraints of print-finding tools have kept linguistic forms and their histories hidden from view.

Drawing on recent work in cognitive and construction grammar along with tools and methods developed by corpus and computational linguists, Daniel Shore’s Cyberformalism represents a new way forward for digital humanities scholars seeking to understand the textual past. Championing a qualitative approach to digital archives, Shore uses the abstract pattern-matching capacities of search engines to explore precisely those combinatory aspects of language—word order, syntax, categorization—discarded by the "bag of words" quantitative methods that are dominant in the digital humanities.

While scholars across the humanities have long explored the histories of words and phrases, Shore argues that increasingly sophisticated search tools coupled with growing full-text digital archives make it newly possible to study the histories of linguistic forms. In so doing, Shore challenges a range of received metanarratives and complicates some of the most basic concepts of literary study. Touching on canonical works by Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth, and Kant, even as it takes the full diversity of digitized texts as its purview, Cyberformalism asks scholars of literature, history, and culture to revise nothing less than their understanding of the linguistic sign.

About the Author

Daniel Shore is the Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University. He is the author of Milton and the Art of Rhetoric.

Endorsements

"An innovative work that substantially advances disciplinary conversation, both methodologically and through its specific historical insights, Cyberformalism is marked by its fundamental originality and magisterial treatment of a digital topic."

- Ted Underwood, author of Why Literary Periods Mattered: Historical Contrast and the Prestige of English Studies

"Cyberformalism brilliantly shows how recovering the history not of words but of linguistic structures—such as '[act] as if X' (which leads deep into the history of thinking about belief, action, and identity)—strikingly expands the possibilities of cultural analysis and gives us an exciting new discipline."

- Jonathan D. Culler, author of Theory of the Lyric

"'What would [Jesus] do?' In mapping transformations of partly filled linguistic templates like this counterfactual question, Daniel Shore invents a brilliant new way to do intellectual history. Cyberformalism teaches us to probe deeply into how language works and to exploit the extraordinary power of advanced digital searching."

- Lynne Magnusson, author of Shakespeare and Social Dialogue: Dramatic Language and Elizabethan Letters

"Daniel Shore's beautifully written and closely argued study matters: in showing how language is made up of more than words, and how its forms can become the subject of digital inquiry, Shore has done something that literary studies very much needs, connecting modern linguistics to the best kinds of literary history, as well as to the histories of rhetoric and of religious belief. Shore's book is one of very few digital humanist works I can recommend enthusiastically to poets, and to poetry critics; it does not disappoint."

- Stephanie Burt, Harvard University, author of The Poem Is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them

Reviews

"Objections such as these open theoretical cans of worms — yet they also validate Shore's project, simply by reflecting his deep engagement with ultimate humanistic concerns. Cyberformalism acknowledges that the subjective contemplation and discussion of meanings and values is not just one disposable strand in humanities research; instead, it is paramount to the philologist's vocation... Many of us will then thank Daniel Shore for having set forth a vision of the digital humanities that puts the human first, the data science second, rather than the other way around."

- Los Angeles Review of Books

"Shore's charge that we move from investigating discrete linguistic signs to combinatory linguistic forms is illuminating and will appeal to general readers as well as those specifically interested in digital humanities, English literary history, theology, grammar, and linguistics... Shore's scholarly range in this book is tremendous. He moves from contemporary digital technology to constructivist grammar to the niceties of seventeenth-century theology with ease, and so does the reader."

- Daniel DeWispelare, George Washington University - Modern Philology

"This is exciting work: Shore's process of discovery reads, in part, as detective fiction... The method outlined and the conclusions Shore draws are convincing: this is a smart piece of research which may be the first in a new generation of works in computational literary studies—works which are more humanized, and which foreground both the text and the reader."

- Yann Ciaran Ryan, Queen Mary University of London - Modern Language Review
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9781421425504 : cyberformalism-shore
Hardback
320 Pages
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