Since the 1940s, invocations of "close reading" (however understood) have figured centrally in controversies over new methodological developments in literary studies: e.g., the New Criticism, structuralism, New Historicism, deconstruction, ideology critique, and, notably now, the Digital Humanities. The talk recalls some of those controversies and considers how the idea or ideal of "close reading" operates in current debates about-- and within-- the Digital Humanities.
The On Method Heyman Center Workshop Series examines the range of methods, theoretical and practical, used by humanities scholars and critics, past and present. What are the overarching techniques (technê)--what John Unsworth calls our "scholarly primitives"-- and epistemologies (epistēmē), or theoretical apparati, inherent to humanities research? How are the technological challenges and opportunities provided by new research methods (computational, quantitative), organizational structures (labs, workshops, co-working) tethered to epistemological shifts as well? Following Thomas Kuhn, can we outline paradigms of humanistic inquiry? Does it make sense to define "method" in the context of the humanities, and if so, what are the varieties that method has taken on? What are the national specificities of these methods and of descriptions of the humanities itself?