I found this New York Times article on “Analyzing Literature by Words and Numbers” quite intriguing. It’s the second article in a series on how “The Liberal Arts Meet the Data Revolution,” and I thought I would post it since it discusses Victorian literature a bit.
“Victorians were enamored of the new science of statistics, so it seems fitting that these pioneering data hounds are now the subject of an unusual experiment in statistical analysis. The titles of every British book published in English in and around the 19th century — 1,681,161, to be exact — are being electronically scoured for key words and phrases that might offer fresh insight into the minds of the Victorians.
This research, which has only recently become possible, thanks to a new generation of powerful digital tools and databases, represents one of the many ways that technology is transforming the study of literature, philosophy and other humanistic fields that haven’t necessarily embraced large-scale quantitative analysis.”
The ways powerful new technology can enhance the study of humanities in different ways “has generated exhilaration and also anxiety,” according the first article of the series. I haven’t entirely formulated my views on this topic, as it’s one that seems to come up over and over again in different forms, given the endless stream of information the age we live in throws at us. I am curious to hear your thoughts on it, regardless.