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Exploring Linguistic Structure in Short Fiction: the case for collaboration between literary and technical analysis

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thesis
posted on 01.05.2014 by Colleen Eagan
The following project serves as an exploratory glimpse at a possible future of literary study. It takes a research experiment approach to a typically humanistic field with the intent of demonstrating a need for linguistic and literary collaboration. This project is intended to be a marriage of hard scientific methods and humanistic interpretation. I want to demonstrate the usefulness of technical analysis in performing literary research, to show the value in using objective measures in a traditionally subjective approach. I see the future of the humanities, including English studies, becoming more and more technical with every passing day. The recent emergence of Digital Humanities as a field of academic study only solidifies this claim.

This project will be a combination of technical and literary analysis. I aim to show and analyze objective data to show the potential contribution of technology to the literary field. Much of the strength of literary work comes from its subjectivity, from the individual interpretations that characterize the field of English. English studies often explore questions that cannot be quantified, questions about how a text might be interpreted on the whole, what the underlying meaning or larger picture is. A more technical analysis relies on objective data points, which must also be interpreted, and points to conclusions about what is factual, what actually exists. Of interest here is combining the interpretation of the parts of a text with the interpretation of the whole, joining the literary and the technical.

Throughout this paper, I will use small case studies on a sample of texts to demonstrate how a research question can be robustly explored using a combination of literary and quantitative techniques. I first pose here a research question to explore: does the genre classification of a fiction text have a structural element? If so, to what can the structural differences be attributed? Are the differences related in any way to the content of the stories themselves? I then narrow the field of interest to short fiction and I propose the following hypothesis: a structural difference can be found between two genres of short fiction stories, science fiction and “actual world” fiction. I further anticipate that a structural difference between the two classifications of fiction can be attributed to an increased need for creating a setting framework within the science fiction works

History

Date

01/05/2014

Advisor(s)

Peggy Knapp

Department

English

Exports

Exports