Macroanalysis

This week in RCDH, we are discussing Matthew L. Jockers’ Macroanalysis. My role is that of catalyst, so I will work to synthesize the posts of my peers.

Jason appreciated having to read methodology more closely, explaining that in (humanities?) scholarship, method is usually not as developed or attention getting as arguments and conclusions being put forth. He also remarked that he respected Jockers’ balanced approach to making a case for more distant reading methods without diminishing more commonly used close methods; Jason explains “he’s advocating for scholars to use all of the available tools at their disposal”. Jason also found himself thinking about what rhetoric can bring to DH instead of the other way around, which he admits is how he has been thinking about our readings: DH makes him think of tools in these methods, while rhetoric makes him aware of the choices that go into creating, using, and analyzing these tools and their use. Jason ends by raising questions about difference in what can be gained distant reading a corpus of texts vs. a text, ultimately wondering what disservice we do to ourselves by seeing them as situated in different camps, caring for different matters.

Romeo appreciates Jockers’ readability and balanced concern for close and distant methods, which he highlights through Jockers’ definition of macroanalysis—that moving between micro and macro scales is most effective as these approaches inform each other. Romeo finds Jockers’ rationale for macroanalysis compelling, explaining that “He argues that macroanalysis is just another means for evidence gathering and that to embrace new approaches and methodologies to give way to new possibilities of analysis.” With attention to size of information/texts one is working with, Romeo condenses Jockers’ succinctly in describing how a macroanalytic (and computer assisted) approach can reveal information a researcher would otherwise miss (beyond unassisted human ability).

Lindsey, like Romeo and Jason, appreciated how accessible and interesting Jockers’ writing about DH methods is, even seeing it as a text not just about macroanalysis, but caring for DH methods more broadly. She was struck by thinking about research methods, more specifically, she realized she has been approaching reading our DH texts from a composition frame of reference, which surprises her because she is more trained in rhetoric. She is know wondering how DH might intersect with her interests in visual analyses of bodies, performances, and sexuality and what she might take from our course conversations “to conceive of a project that conducts a macro analysis of the rhetoric of our visual culture”. What she is now thinking about is what DH tools and methods there might be to study the visual—”how can a macro analysis account for the rhetorical study cultural artifacts?” Are DH methods limited to alphanumeric texts?

Despite the different points of engagement with Jockers’ texts, it seems like my peers are engaging with methodology/methods more deeply, moving from reading to understand how they are done to wondering what they might do with them in their different areas of interest in rhetoric and composition—perhaps a move too from wondering what is possible/potential to imagining what is possible/potential as DH work.

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