Rice Unconventional Wisdom

2016-17 Rice Seminar Lecture: "Patterns and Interpretation" by Franco Moretti, April 10, 2017, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Lecture/Lecture Series

Humanities Research Center

Franco Moretti
Danily C. and Laura Louise Bell Professor in the Humanities

From: Stanford / English

Humanities Building

Digitization has completely changed the literary archive. Historians of the novel used to work on a few hundred nineteenth-century novels; today, we work on thousands of them; tomorrow, hundreds of thousands. This new size has had a major effect on literary history, obviously enough, but also on critical methodology; because, when we work on 200,000 novels instead of 200, we are not doing the same thing, 1,000 times bigger; we are doing a different thing. The new scale changes our relationship to the object of study, and in fact it changes the object itself, by making it entirely abstract. And the question arises: what does it mean to study literature as an abstraction and by means of abstractions? We clearly lose some important aspects of the literary experience. Do we gain anything? Please complete your registration. * All lectures are free and open to the public but sitting is limited.

Franco Moretti
Author of Signs Taken for Wonders (1983), The Way of the World (1987), Modern Epic (1995), Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 (1998), Graphs, Maps, Trees (2005), The Bourgeois (2013), and Distant Reading (2013). Chief editor of The Novel (2006). Has founded the Center for the Study of the Novel and the Literary Lab. Writes often for New Left Review, and has been translated into over twenty languages.