Andrew Goldstone

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I study and teach twentieth-century literature in English. My research interests include modernism and non-modernism in English and French, the sociology of literature, literary theory, the history of genre fiction, South Asian literature in English, and the digital humanities, especially computational text analysis. I also have a long-standing interest in digital systems for document preparation and typesetting, especially LaTeX.

My book, Fictions of Autonomy: Modernism from Wilde to de Man (2013), is published by Oxford University Press. For information about the book and ordering links, see my webpage for the book.

At Carnegie Mellon This Week

I’m giving a talk at the Literary and Cultural Studies Colloquium at Carnegie Mellon this Thursday, October 2:

Is it our job to be the best readers?

The emergence of quantitative methods for literary study allows us reassess the relationship between literary scholarship and the practice of expert critical reading. Though reading has the status of doxa in literary studies, it may obscure more than it clarifies about the problems posed by quantification. I exemplify the challenges in a quantitative analysis of scholarship itself, using a probabilistic topic model to explore discursive patterns in twenty-one thousand journal articles from the 1880s to the present. The model reveals, among other things, the surprisingly recent emergence of the theme of reading and the scope of literary studies’ turn toward the terrain of the social sciences since the 1970s. It is, in fact, the social sciences that might help us toward methodological alternatives to “reading” that allow us to make sense of the aggregate patterns in literary practice revealed by techniques like topic modeling.

If you’re in Pittsburgh: it’s at 4:30 p.m. in 255B Baker Hall.

Spring 2015 Courses

I’ve updated the Teaching page with descriptions for my Spring 2015 courses. I’m always glad to hear from interested students at my Rutgers e-mail.

In the undergraduate program, I’m teaching Principles of Literary Study: Prose, one of the English major requirements. There’s nothing quite like having the chance to be the pied piper introduce the great intellectual pleasures of my subject. (This was formerly “Principles of Literary Study: Fiction,” and I really teach the course as a principled introduction to fictional narrative. A course goal: students will be able to explain the distinction between prose, fiction, and arrative.) This syllabus is forthcoming.

My graduate course is new, and very experimental: Literary Data: Some Approaches. It’s about quantification and data in literary studies, an issue current discussed in and around “DH” but really part of the long dance of literary studies with the other human sciences. We’re going to learn enough programming (in R) to start in on analyzing data. I hold no particular brief for “coding” or “making,” but I think this is the best route into the quantitative at the moment, as well as an important way to concretize the theoretical and methodological debate about literary data.

Fun with Dates

The website for Ted Underwood’s and my Quiet Transformations of Literary Studies has just been updated. Though this doesn’t add much in the way of new functionality (just a slightly modified bibliography display), every single chronological datum on the site has been changed to correct an error. Importantly, this means:

  1. Every time-series chart is slightly different (more explanation below).
  2. These charts now match the visualizations in our preprint article, which were not subject to this error.
  3. Article bibliographic information more closely matches JSTOR’s.

In not entirely unrelated news, I learned more about date encoding in Javascript and d3.js. After the jump, an explanation of the bug.

Social Science and Profanity at DH 2014

I recently returned from the DH 2014 conference in Lausanne. I went to give my brief (my brief brief) for getting serious about social science methods in digital humanities under the title “Let DH Be Sociological!” The conference offered plenty to think about on this theme. Also I got accused of wanting to “dumb down” an entire field of study…so that’s got me thinking too.

At DH 2014

Update, July 11: my slides are here: slides.pdf. The R code used to generate material in the slides is available in a gist.

I’m attending the Digital Humanities 2014 conference in Lausanne next week. If you’re around Lausanne next Friday, my talk, titled Let DH Be Sociological!, is part of a panel at 11 a.m. in 415 Amphimax. This paper builds on my work using topic models to analyze the history of literary scholarship, but takes a more polemical tack. I’ll use my ten minutes to argue that the moment of “DH” represents a critical opportunity for bringing literary studies (and perhaps other humanities) closer to the social sciences.

Here’s the panel line-up, a very interesting and diverse group of papers on method:

Scholarly primitives revisited: towards a practical taxonomy of digital humanities research activities and objects
Borek, Luise; Dombrowski, Quinn; Munson, Matthew; Perkins, Jody; Schöch, Christof

Introducing digital humanities through the analysis of cultural productions
Reyes-Garcia, Everardo

Let DH Be Sociological!
Goldstone, Andrew
slides (pdf)
figure code (R)

Literary Canon and Digital Bibliographies: The Case of the United States
Ferrer, Carolina

Beyond the Tool: A Reflexive Analysis on Building Things in Digital Humanities
Couture, Stéphane; Sinclair, Stéfan

The links go through to the detailed abstracts of each paper, available in HTML and PDF. Indeed I am pretty sure I would not be able to read all of my abstract in the 10 minutes allotted.

There are some errors in the web display of my own abstract—my paper does not have the subtitle “[Short Paper]”! Considering that sophisticated text encoding is one of the central achievements of humanities computing you would think we would have solved the problem of exchanging marked-up scholarly text by now. The sciences do just fine with LaTeX. But I digress.