Literary Computing, Spring 2010
English 503: Special Studies I
CSC 589a:
Topics in Scientific Computing
s 10:00-12:50, CLEA D131
Instructor: Ray Siemens, x7272,
Co-Instructors: Cara Leitch, Meagan Timney, Bridget Sweeney


An accepted foundation for work in humanities computing is knowledge representation, which draws on the field of artificial intelligence and seeks to produce models of human understanding that are tractable to computation. In activities of the computing humanist, knowledge representation manifests itself in issues related to archival representation and textual editing, high-level interpretive theory and criticism, and protocols of knowledge transfer—all as modelled with computational techniques. In turn, the results of modelling the activities of the humanist, and the output of humanistic achievement, with the assistance of the computer are found in what are often considered to be the exemplary tasks associated with humanities computing: the representation of archival materials, the analysis or critical inquiry originating in those materials, and the communication of the results of these tasks.
    This course focuses on the second of these areas, critical analysis, and the objective of the course is to examine literary critical practices via computational processes that model, apply, and advance them. Historically based in practices associated with close reading and New Criticism, computing tools with application to literary studies have recently demonstrated to have impact far beyond these critical practices, and have—via large corpus analysis, visualisation techniques, and other methods—suggested innovative critical approaches.  Further, application of such practices have significant impact upon creative processes both traditional and new.
    In this course, the intellectual traditions associated with a computational approach to literary criticism are examined; the centre of such approaches, the electronic text, is studied; and the application of computational techniques to extant and emerging schools of literary criticism and literary practice are explored.




Section 3: Creative Applications Pertinent to Literary Studies