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date: 04 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Enumerative reading is the attempt to account for quantity when we read. It entails a wide variety of practices that can range from accounting for the significance of numbers within texts, the number of texts themselves, to the numbers of words, or entities that populate texts. It activates three primary dispositions that each have significant genealogies within the humanities that I outline here. The first is self-reflexivity: enumeration makes us aware of the elements upon which our judgments and attachments to texts are made. Second, enumerative reading is translational in nature. It orients us to the movement between different sign systems. Finally, enumerative reading is synoptic. It aims to generalize and in so doing be active in the world. By way of illustration, I undertake an enumerative reading of the semantics of reading in a collection of ca. 6,500 novels published since the nineteenth century.

Keywords: reading, digital humanities, computational literary studies, cultural analytics, quantitative reasoning, intellectual history

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