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Distant and close reading in literature : a case of networks in periodical studies

Julie M. Birkholz (UGent) and Leah Budke (UGent)
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Abstract
The question of how to read, and specifically the opposed approaches of distant and close reading has long been contentious in the humanities and specifically in the field of literary studies. In practice, computational tools are increasingly implemented by scholars, resulting in a constantly evolving debate around the reading of research objects. This article approaches the contemporary climate through the lens of network studies, focusing on various ways networks are being used and can be used in humanities research: modelling information as relational, visualizing networks, and implementing quantitative network analysis. We argue that in practice, distant and close reading necessarily coexist and are methodological approaches that answer different yet complementary research questions. This is explained through three types of applications of network studies which focus on periodicals: close reading and network visualisations, close reading and network visualisations and analysis, and the computational generation of networks from databases for exploring relational phenomena with network analysis. We assert that there is a need for greater awareness and transparency about the role different approaches play in present-day research. Instead of pitting these two approaches against one another, we urge researchers to consider the mutual benefits of reading practices in order to facilitate a conversation on the value and role of different technologies and ways of reading in the humanities.

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MLA
Birkholz, Julie M., and Leah Budke. “Distant and Close Reading in Literature : A Case of Networks in Periodical Studies.” INTERFÉRENCES LITTÉRAIRES, edited by Chris Tanasescu, no. 25, 2021, pp. 204–17.
APA
Birkholz, J. M., & Budke, L. (2021). Distant and close reading in literature : a case of networks in periodical studies. INTERFÉRENCES LITTÉRAIRES, (25), 204–217.
Chicago author-date
Birkholz, Julie M., and Leah Budke. 2021. “Distant and Close Reading in Literature : A Case of Networks in Periodical Studies.” Edited by Chris Tanasescu. INTERFÉRENCES LITTÉRAIRES, no. 25: 204–17.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Birkholz, Julie M., and Leah Budke. 2021. “Distant and Close Reading in Literature : A Case of Networks in Periodical Studies.” Ed by. Chris Tanasescu. INTERFÉRENCES LITTÉRAIRES (25): 204–217.
Vancouver
1.
Birkholz JM, Budke L. Distant and close reading in literature : a case of networks in periodical studies. Tanasescu C, editor. INTERFÉRENCES LITTÉRAIRES. 2021;(25):204–17.
IEEE
[1]
J. M. Birkholz and L. Budke, “Distant and close reading in literature : a case of networks in periodical studies,” INTERFÉRENCES LITTÉRAIRES, no. 25, pp. 204–217, 2021.
@article{8724948,
  abstract     = {{The question of how to read, and specifically the opposed approaches of distant and close reading has long been contentious in the humanities and specifically in the field of literary studies. In practice, computational tools are increasingly implemented by scholars, resulting in a constantly evolving debate around the reading of research objects. This article approaches the contemporary climate through the lens of network studies, focusing on various ways networks are being used and can be used in humanities research: modelling information as relational, visualizing networks, and implementing quantitative network analysis. We argue that in practice, distant and close reading necessarily coexist and are methodological approaches that answer different yet complementary research questions. This is explained through three types of applications of network studies which focus on periodicals: close reading and network visualisations, close reading and network visualisations and analysis, and the computational generation of networks from databases for exploring relational phenomena with network analysis. We assert that there is a need for greater awareness and transparency about the role different approaches play in present-day research. Instead of pitting these two approaches against one another, we urge researchers to consider the mutual benefits of reading practices in order to facilitate a conversation on the value and role of different technologies and ways of reading in the humanities.}},
  author       = {{Birkholz, Julie M. and Budke, Leah}},
  editor       = {{Tanasescu, Chris}},
  issn         = {{2031-2970}},
  journal      = {{INTERFÉRENCES LITTÉRAIRES}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{25}},
  pages        = {{204--217}},
  title        = {{Distant and close reading in literature : a case of networks in periodical studies}},
  url          = {{http://www.interferenceslitteraires.be/index.php/illi/article/view/1108}},
  year         = {{2021}},
}