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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2023-24

QSS 30.12 Quantitative Literary Criticism

Digitization of vast numbers of texts and rapid advances in computational methods are enabling new forms of criticism in all areas of literary study. Classics was an early adopter of digital technologies, and computation is now pervasive throughout the field, as illustrated by flagship projects such as the Perseus Digital Library. Beyond the familiar examples of digitized texts and simple word searches, scholars and students also benefit from an ever-growing array of sophisticated quantitative tools, and from increasing engagement with diverse technical disciplines – natural language processing, data science, even bioinformatics. Through a survey of recent research at the intersection of Latin literature and the digital humanities, this course will introduce you to the state of the art in quantitative literary criticism. To ground our methodological investigations, we will explore a diverse selection of Latin poetry, including epic (Vergil, Lucan, and Catullus), elegy (Catullus), and comedy (Plautus), and sample some less famous later authors, such as Paul the Deacon and Vitalis of Blois, who were influenced by classical antecedents. At each turn, we will examine the interplay between traditional (close reading, philology, theory) and data-driven analyses of Latin literature and consider how quantitative methods can support humanistic inquiry. Along the way, you will gain hands-on experience with powerful computational tools and be introduced to now ubiquitous critical approaches, such as intertextuality and reception studies. Assigned readings will be in English translation using bilingual Latin-English editions; in addition to reading all of the English, students with Latin will be responsible for understanding and translating “micro samples” of the original texts. The course assumes no prior computational background.

Cross Listed Courses

CLST 10.09

Degree Requirement Attributes


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