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How to Not Read a Victorian Novel

Title: How to Not Read a Victorian Novel.
Name(s): Fyfe, Paul, author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: serial
Date Issued: 2011
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This article uses an exercise in distant reading or "not reading" to make a claim for digital pedagogy: that it amplifies the interrogative tradition of humanities study. The exercise uses a set of accessible and freely-available text analysis and visualization tools on the web to encourage students to build their own methods of interpretation. While structured as a paper assignment, it essentially works like a humanities lab report. Students are given a defined set of steps to locate, manage, visualize, and analyze a text file of a novel that they have never read before. Setting out to "not read" turns out to be alternately fun and frustrating, causing students to rethink their basic interpretive approaches and to imagine new ones. The end results of their papers are not stable claims about knowledge, but self-conscious reflections about the limits, contingencies, and opportunities of alternative modes of interpretation. In other words, students are invited not only to play with some entry-level tools of the digital humanities, but welcomed into the heady disorientation or productive alienation that several notable digital humanists have claimed as its most distinguishing intellectual characteristic.
Identifier: FSU_migr_eng_faculty_publications-0002 (IID), 10.1080/13555502.2011.554678 (DOI)
Keywords: digital pedagogy, distant reading, text analysis, visualization, victorian, novel
Note: This is an electronic version of an article published in Journal of Victorian Culture 16.1 (Spring 2011). The Journal of Victorian Culture is available online at: The final, published version of the article can be found at
Citation: "How to Not Read a Victorian Novel." Journal of Victorian Culture 16.1 (Spring 2011): 102-106.
Subject(s): Arts
English language
English literature
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU
Is Part of Series: Department of English Faculty Publications.
Is Part Of: Journal of Victorian Culture.
Issue: 1, 16

Choose the citation style.
Fyfe, P. (2011). How to Not Read a Victorian Novel. Journal Of Victorian Culture. Retrieved from