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Two presentations from Lab members

On December 5, we concluded the quarter with two shorter presentations from Lab members.

First, Annie Lamar talked about: “How can literary theorists make use of geospatial data?”

I'll be introducing Classical Atlas, a Python package that makes it easy to connect large ancient geospatial datasets in a Python environment. Making such data, which is typically hard to access and wrangle, accessible offers new opportunities for network scientists and computational literary theorists. In particular, I'll be showing how Classical Atlas integrates with ToposText. (No Classical or Python knowledge required for this talk!)

Then we heard from Maciej Kurzynski, who shared some of the work from his dissertation project Words of Passion: Narrative Technologies of Modern China,

My dissertation project combines DH, cognitive narratology, and critical theory to offer new perspectives on modern Chinese literature. The main thesis is that, when combined, DH and cognitive studies allow us to avoid not only the pitfalls of the formalist/structuralist paradigm but also many of the issues caused by the historicist framework, such as the tendency to see literary texts as historical documents rather than aesthetic forms. The particular chapter I would like to share and hopefully get feedback on, is entitled "Words Close to Heart: A Techno-Cognitive Approach to Interiority in Modern Chinese Literature." I argue that what is “close to heart” is not only subjectively important to a specific fictional character but also objectively close to the word “heart” in a literary text. I tag the Chinese vocabulary of interiority according to the period of usage (five epochs: Ming-Qing, Late Qing, Republican, Maoist, Contemporary) and measure semantic shifts between time-specific vector representations of the term “in one’s heart” (xinli 心里) and its synonyms (xinzhong 心中, neixin 内心, xinxia 心下, etc.) in early-modern and modern Chinese texts. This "temporal referencing" procedure provides a great deal of evidence to challenge the notion of clear-cut boundaries between cultural epochs. Moreover, instead of grounding this repetitive literary phenomenon in some kind of Chinese tradition, as has been done, I argue that the spatial metaphor of the “heart” as a container filled with emotions is grounded in the fact that bodies have and are boundaries.