[Humanist] 32.120 Fish'ing for fatal flaws

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Jul 4 07:19:38 CEST 2018


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 120.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Gabriel Egan <mail at gabrielegan.com>                       (41)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.119 Fish'ing for fatal flaws

  [2]   From:    James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>                       (3)
        Subject: Re:  32.119 Fish'ing for fatal flaws

  [3]   From:    "William L. Benzon" <bbenzon at mindspring.com>              (11)
        Subject: Stanley Fish, machine and mechanism

  [4]   From:    Michael Hancher <mh at umn.edu>                              (23)
        Subject: "Certain spatial metaphors" and close reading


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2018 08:49:04 +0100
        From: Gabriel Egan <mail at gabrielegan.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 32.119 Fish'ing for fatal flaws
        In-Reply-To: <20180702055201.5CCBE2AEE at s16382816.onlinehome-server.info>

Dear HUMANISTs

Having now also read Stanley Fish's essay in the
Chronicle of Higher Education, I'm starting to get
a sense that his aversion to the Digital Humanities
might at least in part arise from its potential
to undermine the Intentionalist model of writing and
interpretation that he adheres to.

In the Chronicle piece, Fish writes that we cannot
make sense of the patterns found in a piece of writing
"without a prior determination that someone is using
them to send a message". That's the Intentionalist
view, and it seems to me to ignore the unconscious
aspects of writing. Before the Digital Humanities,
it was possible to dismiss, say, a Psychoanalytical
reading of a piece of writing by saying that the
evidence for it simply was not present in the writing:
it was all in the imagination of the interpreter,
who had been fooled by the pseudo-intellectual theories
of Freud and his followers.

The Digital Humanities provide indisputable evidence
that the unconscious mind does produce objective patterns
in the writing that are unavailable to the conscious
mind and that, for that reason, cannot be explained
as someone's attempt to "send a message", as the
Intentionalists would have it. When one early modern
dramatist imitates another he is able to alter the
frequency with which he uses lexical words to match
the style of the other writer, but is not able to
do the same with the frequency of his function-word use.
That is why imitation does not grievously undermine
our best authorship attribution tests. It is not
plausible that one writer uses, say, 'and' and 'the'
at a markedly greater or lesser rate than another by
conscious intention, not least because writers fail
to modulate these rates when performing imitations.

But in his address at Cornell University on 15 June 2015,
didn't Fish explicitly exclude authorship attribution
studies from his critique of the Digital Humanities?
Yep, and that's Reaction Formation at work!

Regards

Gabriel Egan



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2018 07:07:40 -0500
        From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  32.119 Fish'ing for fatal flaws
        In-Reply-To: <20180702055201.5CCBE2AEE at s16382816.onlinehome-server.info>

Bill - 

While it was completely unnecessary, I appreciate your mini-lecture on the word text. My point is that all words are defined by con-“text,” so you don’t rely on any specific, individual word to carry the weight of its own meeting. That means that our specific nomenclature doesn’t really matter so long as we define it within the context in which it is being used. 

Jim R


--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2018 11:35:37 -0400
        From: "William L. Benzon" <bbenzon at mindspring.com>
        Subject: Stanley Fish, machine and mechanism
        In-Reply-To: <20180702055201.5CCBE2AEE at s16382816.onlinehome-server.info>


In the course of discussing computational criticism, Stanley Fish talks of machine and mechanism, placing them in opposition to agency and intention and hence in opposition to meaning. I find the opposition problematic, if not incoherent, and discuss it in a post at my blog, Stanley Fish, machine and mechanism, and the poverty of his intentionalist search for meaning:

> http://new-savanna.blogspot.com/2018/07/stanley-fish-machine-and-mechanism-and.html?spref=fb 

Best,

Bill Benzon
bbenzon at mindspring.com

917-717-9841

http://new-savanna.blogspot.com/  http://new-savanna.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/bill.benzon  http://www.facebook.com/bill.benzon
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stc4blues/  http://www.flickr.com/photos/stc4blues/
https://independent.academia.edu/BillBenzon <https://independent.academia.edu/BillBenzon>
http://www.bergenarches.com/#image1  http://www.bergenarches.com/#image1



--[4]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2018 21:45:42 -0500
        From: Michael Hancher <mh at umn.edu>
        Subject: "Certain spatial metaphors" and close reading
        In-Reply-To: <20180702055201.5CCBE2AEE at s16382816.onlinehome-server.info>


Regarding this proposal:

> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 32, No. 116.
> . . .
> Fifth. I think we should place a ten-year ban on the use of certain
> spatial metaphors. Let there be no more talk of “close reading” or
> “distant reading”, or “surface reading”, “depth”, or even “hidden
> meaning”.
>
> BB
>
> Bill Benzon

"Spatial readings of 'close reading' are misconceived. Distant reading is
not the opposite of close reading. The 'closeness' of close reading has
long concerned not proximity but density and concentration: concentration
certainly in the reader and often, as well, in the text being read." --
"Re: Search and Close Reading" (125), Open Access at
http://hdl.handle.net/11299/181603

     Michael Hancher

-- 
Michael Hancher
Professor, Department of English, University of Minnesota
207 Lind Hall, 207 Church Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455; 612–625–5075
mh.cla.umn.edu ● @MichaelHancher <https://twitter.com/MichaelHancher>





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