Manual After Identity: A Reader in Law and Culture

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Porter, and Hannah Walser track the migration of identifying features from one identity to another, as well as those that "stick," in novels published over the course of years. Critics have suggested that the theoretical sophistication of these essays may not be typical in the field of Digital Humanities DH.

Miriam Posner argues that the radical potential of DH is unrealized precisely because "most of the data and data models we've inherited deal with structures of power, like gender and race, with a crudeness that would never pass muster in a peer-reviewed humanities publication. As Katherine Bode puts it,. While [the humanist's] sense of numbers as an imperfect and mediated representation might not be the exact way they are discussed in the sciences, no scientist approaches statistics as neutral, true and infallible. Awareness of the way scientists interrogate - rather than simply accept or promote - statistical measures is often lacking in current humanities' debate about quantitative approaches and their ideological resonances.

Bode, Reading by Numbers , Statisticians well know that their results reflect categorization effects, a difficulty compounded when the categories in question are identities. The apparently incidental effects of the procedures of quantitative analysis must be subjected to critical scrutiny, as in an essay included in this issue: Richard Jean So, Hoyt Long, Yuancheng Zhu interrogate sequence alignment tools derived from genomics and bioinformatics in the course of investigating how novels articulate racial identities and relations.

What emerges from that two-pronged inquiry is both the limits of the algorithm from a Critical Race Studies perspective, and the extent to which normative literary history has also tended to reify racial differences. Further challenges to simplistic models of identity have emerged from the study of intersectionality.


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Intersectionality, Erez Levon tells us, is grounded in "the belief that no one category e. In this issue, Elizabeth Evans and Matthew Wilkens examine how ethnicity and national origin are intertwined with genre and geography. Additionally, insofar as they prepare the way for identities to be multiplied using their data and methods, Evans and Wilkens may be seen to engage in intersectional inquiry.

An interesting feature of quantitative versus qualitative debates in sociology is the emphasis among mixed-methods researchers on "giving voice" to the subjects of their studies.

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There are, however, things that can be done and here we circle back to the third issue raised by Spivak in her discussion of "strategic essentialism" and elaborated in "Can the Subaltern Speak? Among the articles in this Identity issue of Cultural Analytics , several might be said to open up alternative histories of historically marginalized groups. Evans and Wilkins demonstrate that outsider novelists, foreign to British soil, engaged in colonial and anti-colonial critique of modernist internationalism through the greater use, and greater abstraction, of geographical terminology.

And Kraicer and Piper demonstrate in recent Anglophone novels the under-representation of women characters and the privileging of heteronormativity. Ontologies can be thought of as models of reality useful in science or in social theory that approximate the world as it is, thus capturing some truth about it, without enjoying a one-to-one correspondence with categories of entities as they exist completely independently of human languages or human practices.

Alcoff, "Who's Afraid of Identity Politics? The NovelTM group therefore offers these investigations as provisional, expandable, re-workable with modified or other categories, taxonomies, and ontologies. Despite the risks, there is something to be said about the particular value of quantitative analysis for retrieving marginalized or silenced histories as well as understanding their continued marginalization into the present.

In Deep Gossip , Henry Abelove describes the continuity between gay liberation histories and queer politics: if the latter is intent upon destabilizing identity categories, he argues, some of the historical work on gay identity in fact leads the way: it is "just a step," he argues, "from historicizing to destabilizing. As Bode puts it,. Bode, Reading by Numbers, Historicizing helps to destabilize identities, and cultural analytics can make visible a kind of history that we have never seen before. The analysis of literary texts, whether as objects of consumption or through their textuality, introduces another fruitful layer of complexity that stresses the extent to which identity is always already mediated.

In the case of literary investigation, quantitative analysis can engage with and unpack the discursive construction of identities in novels. Three of the essays in this issue, all mentioned briefly above, deal with racial and ethnic identities. Thus, any "big data" or computational method applied to racial minority authors and texts is in great peril of simply reproducing reified and problematic views of racial identity.

So, Long, and Zhu argue that canonical methods in textual analytics--specifically, sequence alignment--can be productively deformed and reconstructed through an attention to the critique of race not only to produce new "large scale" views of cultural and literary history, but also to advance the work of critique by challenging the assumptions of the algorithm itself. They combine theory and close reading with sequence alignment analysis to critique the racial homogeneity and universalism, nominally supported by the method of sequence alignment, through a case study focused on the modern American novel and the question of racial difference.

A new story about racial difference and the US novel emerges from testing the limits of the algorithm, which are often the limits of normative literary history itself. That is, a creative use of computation, animated by critique, draws attention to what has been written out of literary history while at the same time advancing the work of racial critique. Porter, and Hannah Walser explore the relationship between the novel and the discourses of identity that have shaped the understanding of ethnicity, race and ancestry in America.

The authors use a combination of collocate analysis and word embeddings on a corpus of over 18, novels written between and to identify the terms that cluster with distinct markers of racial and ethnic identity over time. Through these methods, they are able to assess the 'stickiness' of identity markers: how certain terms remained clustered with particular identities and how others moved in concert between subsequent waves of immigrant groups. Their project not only permits the exploration of how and when certain discourses of identity solidified in the imagination of the reading public, but also how literature itself shaped the American concepts of race and ethnicity.

This article deploys race as an analytic category, showing identity categories in the making as races and ethnicities are discursively endowed with specific attributes. Algee-Hewitt, Porter, and Walser thus historicize race and ethnicity in demonstrating the extent to which identities are continually shifting and trading their discursive markers.


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Elizabeth Evans and Matthew Wilkens's contribution, "Nation, Ethnicity, and the Geography of British Fiction, ," draws on four distinct, substantial collections of British literature published in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to assess the applicability of existing critical claims about modernist internationalism to large runs of the period's fiction and trace the complex interplay of insider and outsider status in writing by authors born outside the UK.

They find that, within a framework of broad continuity, the decades leading up to the Second World War saw increasing literary attention to locations beyond Britain's borders, but there was a drop in the overall rate at which named locations appeared, shifts they attribute to forces cultural, political, and aesthetic. Evans and Wilkens show that foreign writers favored an especially geographically intensive style that drew more heavily on abstractions than on the details of setting, which, they argue, was linked to such authors' greater engagement with the era's colonial and anticolonial politics.

Beyond its specific inquiries, the article describes a set of broadly applicable methods for analyzing textual geography at scale and provides a rich dataset for other scholars studying what the authors call the "long modernist era. Two articles in this special issue emphasize that quantitative methods can be used as, or with, linguistic and literary analysis, mirroring the mixed methods approach advocated by social scientists. In their contribution, "Self-Repetition and East Asian Literary Modernity, ," Hoyt Long, Anatoly Detwyler, and Yuancheng Zhu approach identity as it relates to the construction of a modern narrative voice characterized by psychic interiority and a vernacular style.

Specifically, they analyze linguistic redundancy as a constitutive feature of literary self-identity in early 20th-century Japanese and Chinese fiction. Using measures of information and diversity in diction combined with other simple textual features, they find a tendency toward repetition in self-referential or psychologically oriented narratives and argue for its role as conscious stylistic innovation within East Asian literary modernity.

This finding, which holds across distinct but interrelated national literary contexts, shows how quantitative methods can contribute to translingual comparison. It also offers an opportunity to reflect on the longer history of linguistic measures of redundancy, in particular their origins in mid-century psycholinguistics as indexes of mental aberration. Company Info Contact Us. All rights reserved. Publisher Direct Paperback.

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After Identity: Reader in Law and Culture

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