Call for papers - Special issue on Computational Literary Studies

Lucie Duggan's picture
Call for Papers
December 15, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Digital Humanities, Literature, Languages

Special issue call for papers

Between Proximity and Distance: The Affordances of Scale in Computational Literary Studies

The computational turn in literary scholarship has seen the proliferation of studies incorporating hundreds and thousands of texts—including novels, plays, poems—that have demonstrated the many benefits of scale in understanding the broad outlines of literary history. However, while the term “distant reading” has come to be associated with a vastness of scale that displaces traditional modes of (close) reading, many literary scholars have adopted a computational approach that moves between proximity and distance, putting quantitative, digital methods to work alongside qualitative, interpretative modes of literary analysis (Piper, “Novel Devotions,” New Literary History 2015).

This special issue of a leading international journal of comparative literature studies aims to generate reflection on what it means to study literature computationally. It invites authors to identify intersections between close and distant modes of reading that suggest less a break or rupture with the past than a continuity between past and present. Individual articles will demonstrate innovative applications of quantitative and statistical methodologies (including but not limited to topic modeling, stylometry or network analysis) to the study of literary corpora (e.g., from 17th century French plays to 19thcentury ballad collections) but, in doing so, will also reflect on how numbers come to matter in literary study in ways that are theoretical as well as technical.

Possible topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • the continued relevance and role of close reading in computational literary studies; how does it transform—and how is it transformed by—quantitative modes of literary study?
  • the role of the reader in processes of dataset construction and curation;
  • the affordances of small- or mid-scale digital text corpora;
  • challenges/benefits of computational methods for the study of pre-modern and/or non-English literature;
  • the relative merits of hypothesis-testing and exploratory data analysis for computational literary studies;
  • statistical modeling and its uses for literary scholarship.


Abstracts (in English) of no more than 500 words should be sent to guest editor Lucie Duggan ( by December 15, 2021. Completed articles are to be submitted by July 1, 2022 for subsequent peer-review. The publication of the special issue is expected in Spring 2023.

Contact Info: 

Lucie Duggan, University of Southern Denmark.

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