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Gender and Vernaculars in Digital Humanities and World Literature

Journal article
Authors Jenny Bergenmar
Katarina Leppänen
Published in NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research
Volume 25
Issue 4
Pages 232-246
ISSN 0803-8740
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Literature, History of Ideas, and Religion
Pages 232-246
Language en
Keywords World literature, digital humanities, gender, computational methods, literary history, transculturality
Subject categories Languages and Literature, Other Humanities


This article discusses the large-scale and world-encompassing aspirations of digital humanities and world literature and their methodological accordance with the analysis of literature in smaller languages and of texts understood in social, transnational, and gendered contexts. Are Digital Humanities and World Literature establishing themselves as fields utilizing analytical tools that are at odds with the aims and perspectives of feminist literary history and reception history as a part of literary history? We argue that gender research and theory is insufficiently developed in both computational literary history and World Literature. An unproblematic understanding of translations, canonization, English as a global language, and the use of large-scale computational methods and formalized interpretive models is in many cases not beneficial for the understanding of texts by women writers or from feminist perspectives. Drawing on feminist criticism of computational methods and arguments for specialized rather than generalized knowledge about literary history, we propose that digitization in some form, be it a bibliographical database or digitization of a corpus of texts, may be thought of as part of the research process in projects oriented towards gender and cultural exchange.

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