The Idiocy of the Digital Literary (and what does it have to do with digital humanities)?

Critical Writing
Publication Type: 
Journal volume and issue: 
7:1 2013
CC Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives
Record Status: 
Abstract (in English): 

What does the category of the literary give to digital humanities? Nothing and everything. This essay considers the "idiocy" of the literary: its unaccountable singularity, which guarantees that we continue to return to it as a source, inspiration, and challenge. As a consequence, digital humanities is inspired and irritated by the literary.

My essay shows this in three ways. First, through a speculative exploration of the relation between digital humanities and the category of "the literary." Second, through a quick survey of the use of literature in digital humanities project. Thirdly, through a specific examination of TEI and character rendering as digital humanities concerns that necessarily engage with the literary. Once again, the literary remains singular and not abstract, literal in a way that challenges and provokes us towards new digital humanities work.

Pull Quotes: 

The trajectory of the problem of the literary as digital can be unread, tracked, allegorized, and lost through a much more complex history that casts the discrete back into text encodings that include Morse and ASCII and FIELDATA, but also Vi├Ęte and Bacon's ciphers. Still, you want the literary. You want me to address the literary in digital humanities, whereas all I do in this essay is speak to its absent efficacy.

The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
Scott Rettberg