The present article tries to find answers for a lack of narrative tension in Graham Swift’s The Light of Day. Taking its cue from recent theological approaches to Swift’s work, the article starts by analysing the way the novel expresses parental figures as representations of the Biblical God. The analysis yields a separation of feeling and truth/justice in both the representations and the novel as a whole. The article argues that this separation entails the naturalisation of guilt and evil, which has a deflating effect on the narrative tension of the novel. Through a comparison with Waterland, the article shows that The Light of Day lacks a problematic but seemingly necessary dimension of nature: its teleological dimension. The article concludes by showing how the absence of any teleological dimension in the novel leads to what I call poietic suicide.
The present article studies eight of the twelve reports of the Stanford Literary Lab (SLL) to understand why the revolutionary practices of the lab, and by extension of the digital humanities, have not yet changed literary history, as the lab itself admits. The article examines the reports with two related cultural-semantic tools, each of which is introduced via the Pixar movie Brave. First, the interpretations of the reports are placed within a basic semantic grid organized into four quadrants by a nature-society axis and a past-present axis, which shows that the interpretations are invariably situated in the present-society quadrant. This analysis, while necessary, merely proves that SLL operates within a certain cultural climate. The real test lies in ascertaining whether this cultural climate affects the interpretation of novel data. To do so, the article looks for the reaction of SLL to novel data in two reports. The reports are shown to domesticate novelty by explaining it through standard alethic/deontic patterns, even though the data are novel precisely because the patterns largely fail to explain them. The article closes by asking whether such patterns limit or enable thinking and what this means for the digital humanities.
This article presents a tool of fictional analysis for secondary education that aims at providing standards of interpretation and allaying fears of standard imposition. The semantic core of the tool adapts the deontic, alethic, and axiomatic modalities used in Doležel (1998). Four “extensions” are added to this core – “cultural,” “visual,” “(meta)cognitive,” and “epistemic” – which above all mediate between student experience and pure abstraction, and invite students to think with and about tools and texts rather than blindly apply models. The relationship of the tool with literary theory and the appropriate age for learning such a tool are also discussed.
The present article tries to close the gap between the digital humanities and traditional criticism. It does so by moving between distant and close reading, constructing visualizations, opening perspectives for coding, and analyzing a large corpus: the Pixar movies up to The Good Dinosaur. This is done with the help of a tool of analysis which studies fictional worlds and is wedged between value and method. After introducing the tool (Section ), the main Pixar characters are placed within a spatiotemporal visualization of the tool and their semantic distribution is interpreted. This includes the organization of main characters, antagonists and remaining characters, and the gendering of characters and semantic spaces (Section ). The article then discusses the limits of allocating characters in the visual diagram, above all by focusing on vertical and horizontal relationships, and complex semantic patterns (Section ). It then discusses the differential aspects which make of Inside Out a different movie within the Pixar corpus (Section ). The article closes by summarizing the different semantic patterns of Pixar movies, and by reflecting on the place of high abstraction, textual and visual, in this scheme, as well as on the complementarity of digital and traditional strategies.