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Reading Machines Toward and Algorithmic Criticism by Stephen Ramsay

Reading Machines Toward and Algorithmic Criticism

Part of the Topics in the Digital Humanities Series


Reading Machines Toward and Algorithmic Criticism by Stephen Ramsay

Besides familiar and now-commonplace tasks that computers do all the time, what else are they capable of? Stephen Ramsay's intriguing study of computational text analysis examines how computers can be used as reading machines to open up entirely new possibilities for literary critics. Computer-based text analysis has been employed for the past several decades as a way of searching, collating, and indexing texts. Despite this, the digital revolution has not penetrated the core activity of literary studies: interpretive analysis of written texts. Computers can handle vast amounts of data, allowing for the comparison of texts in ways that were previously too overwhelming for individuals, but they may also assist in enhancing the entirely necessary role of subjectivity in critical interpretation. Reading Machines discusses the importance of this new form of text analysis conducted with the assistance of computers. Ramsay suggests that the rigidity of computation can be enlisted in the project of intuition, subjectivity, and play.


This significant book by the progenitor of the term 'algorithmic criticism
packs a lot into its slender binding. Pithy, readable, and full of striking turns of phrase, it reaches for a broader audience for the debates over the application of computers to the critical enterprise

. --Literary and Linguistic Computing Reading Machines makes an important and provocative contribution to the fields of literary criticism and digital humanities. With sound scholarship and lucid argumentation, this book will stir up debate among both traditionalists and digital humanities scholars. --David L. Hoover, author of Stylistics: Prospect and Retrospect

About the Author

Stephen Ramsay is an associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska and has written and lectured widely on subjects related to literary theory and software design for humanities.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 2011


Stephen Ramsay

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University of Illinois Press


112 pages


Literary theory
Computer science



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