How does a literary historian end up thinking in terms of z-scores, principal component analysis, and clustering coefficient?
In the ten essays collected in this volume, Franco Moretti reconstructs the intellectual trajectory of his philosophy of ‘distant reading’. From the evolutionary model of ‘Modern European Literature’, through the geo-cultural dominant of ‘Conjectures on World Literature’ and ‘Planet Hollywood’ to the quantitative findings of ‘Style, inc.’ and the abstract patterns of ‘Network Theory, Plot Analysis’, the book follows two decades of critical explorations that have come to define – well beyond the wildest expectations of its author – a growing field of unorthodox literary studies.
The United States is the country of close reading, so I don't expect this idea to be particularly popular. But the trouble with close reading (in all of its incarnations, from the new criticism to deconstruction) is that it necessarily depends on an extremely small cannon... At bottom, it's a theological exercise-- very solemn treatment of very few texts taken very seriously-- whereas what we really need is a little pact with the devil: we know how to read texts, now let's learn how not to read them.
In the latest issue of New Left Review:
Lena Lavinas: 21st Century Welfare
Latin America as laboratory for conditional cash transfers, fast becoming the hegemonic social-protection paradigm for the Global South. In a comparative survey, Lena Lavinas reveals the CCT model as a strategy for the financialization—not abolition—of poverty.