or, The yack of the hack of the yack
How we should go about mining the digital archive of the history of scholarship for theoretical resources? Let’s talk about text-mining journals, quantitatively analyzing metadata about scholarship, and living with closed access as theorists. And perhaps we can work on a dataset or two—I’ll bring some example data and laughably primitive visualizations!
One of theory’s major tasks is to describe how scholarship is done—and then to prescribe how it should be done. Often the description leads to the prescription: theory as scholarship about scholarship. Well, yes. It is characteristic of a whole family of genres that belong to theory, from De la grammatologie to Orientalism to Ahmad’s In Theory, Laclau and Mouffe’s Hegemony and Socialist Strategy to Sheldon Pollock theorizing a "Political Philology" in a memorial essay about the scholarship of D.D. Kosambi.
Meanwhile, over in digital-land, one of the richest digital archives we have is the archive of scholarship itself. But we are used to using these archives for search, not as objects of analysis in themselves. That is what I’d like to explore in this session. What does the MLA Bibliography tell us—in the aggregate? What theoretical possibilities can we open up by mining the extraordinary archive represented by JSTOR’s Data for Research service?
I’d be able to talk about two examples of datasets I’ve done a little work on—one from the MLA Bibliography and one from JSTOR’s archive of PMLA. Please feel free to bring your own datasets, or leads, or inspirations, or problems, or concerns.
Over on my Rutgers website I’ve placed a longer version of this proposal with a teaser on those example datasets. And a link to Andy Abbott’s hilarious hit piece on DH and keyword search, via an analysis of concordances.