Under which King, Bezonian? Literary Studies between Hermeneutics and Quantification

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Franco Moretti


What is the relationship between the quantitative literary history of the past twenty years and the older hermeneutic tradition? Answers have typically been of two kinds: for many in the interpretive camp, the two approaches are incompatible, and the newer one has little or no critical value; for most quantitative researchers, they are instead perfectly compatible, and in fact complementary. Here, I will propose a thirdpossibility, that will emerge step by step from a comparison of how the two strategies work. How they work, literally; in the conviction that practices – what we learn to do by doing, by professional habit, and often without being fully aware of what we are doing – have frequently larger theoretical implications than theoretical statements themselves. In other words: understanding what a research paradigm does, ratherthan what it declares it wants to do. This is the plan.


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How to Cite
Moretti, F. (2020). Under which King, Bezonian? Literary Studies between Hermeneutics and Quantification. Porównania, 26(1), 315-328. https://doi.org/10.14746/por.2020.1.18
Author Biography

Franco Moretti, Stanford University

taught literature in Italy and the US from 1972 to 2016. He is the author of several books, among them The Way of the World, Maps Graphs Trees and Distant Reading. He is currently working on a collection of theoreticalessays and a book on tragic form.


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