Blake and Big Data: Literary Data as a Challenge to Literary History

Whittaker, Jason (2020) Blake and Big Data: Literary Data as a Challenge to Literary History. In: English Literature in the World: From Manuscript to Digital. Edicaos Humus, pp. 99-115. ISBN 9789897553657

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Abstract

This chapter explores potential circumstances in which quantitative approaches to literary data may help us understand aspects of the reception of Blake’s works dealing with the history of references to Blake’s poem, “And did those feet”, which was set to music as “Jerusalem” by Charles Hubert Parry in 1916. The stimulus for this paper and the original talk on which it is based has been the work I’ve undertaken over the past two years on the history of “Jerusalem”, stretching back to Blake’s original composition of the stanzas included in the Preface to Milton a Poem until the EU Referendum in 2016, with a focus on the century since Parry set Blake’s words to music. While working on the book, I kept a spreadsheet with references collated from written texts and audio recordings in particular, eventually amassing a dataset comprising some 600 entries. The data collected offers a sufficient series of examples to make me think differently about ways of reading the hymn, and this paper is intended as a preliminary working through of some of the theoretical issues surrounding the employment of digital techniques in the field of reception studies and digital humanities.

Keywords:William Blake, Literary History, digital humanities, Jerusalem
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q300 English studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
ID Code:44402
Deposited On:23 Apr 2021 11:41

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