[Humanist] 24.212 markup: a lover's response

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Jul 22 22:22:19 CEST 2010

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 24, No. 212.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2010 10:26:23 -0400
        From: "Zafrin, Vika" <vzafrin at bu.edu>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 24.209 textual intimacies?
        In-Reply-To: <20100721184834.DC16C57917 at woodward.joyent.us>

Dear Willard,

> Does one encode the beloved? Perhaps as a cure for lovesickness a la
> Burton. But not a healthy lover's response. What *is* a healthy lover's
> response to a beloved text?

Call me lovesick, then, because after years of encoding texts I've loved, no
cure is in sight.

Some of the encoding I've done -- most of my dissertation RolandHT[1] --
mostly fits New Criticism's objectives: the encoding itself is of themes,
imagery and characters recurring across many texts.  It also diverged from
New Criticism in its aim to enable a reader to make her own conclusions
about the meaning(s) of the connections I suggest through the encoding.

Other encoding in which I participated, notably the Esposizioni and Cronica
texts at the Virtual Humanities Lab[2], was presented to the encoders
themselves as an opportunity to convey arguments to their colleagues.  When
they encoded the main themes of a work, they were doing so without viewing
the code as empirical.

Of course, the process got tedious -- all encoding does, at some point. But
I'm pretty sure none of us lost our fascination with the texts as a result.
If anything, the intimacy gained deepened the love.

Or is this not what you're talking about?  I'm reading what you wrote above
as equivalent to stating that close reading (of which encoding can be one
expression) is an unhealthy lover's response.  Is this what you mean?

> How can textual intimacy be achieved with the help of the machine?
> When is this a good idea, when not?

I can't speak to other kinds of text processing for lack of experience, but
would be curious to hear of some examples of losing intimacy with (and/or
love for) a text through the process of semantic encoding.

[1] http://rolandht.org/
[2] http://golf.services.brown.edu/projects/VHL/

Vika Zafrin
Digital Collections and Computing Support Librarian
Boston University School of Theology

More information about the Humanist mailing list