English, Department of


In Praise of Pattern

Stephen Ramsay, University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Document Type Article

Published in TEXT Technology: the journal of computer text processing, Volume 14, Number 2, 2005. http://texttechnology.mcmaster.ca/home.html


The exploration of pattern may be usefully regarded as the strongest point of intersection between the computational strictures of text analysis and the open-ended interpretive landscape of literary studies. Seeing computational analysis in literary studies as a quest for interpretations inspired by pattern can, moreover, lead to a change in the perception of text analysis among more mainstream literary critics by moving the hermeneutical justification of the activity away from the denotative realm of science and toward the more broadly rhetorical and exegetical practices of the humanities. This article presents the author’s creation of StageGraph -- a tool for the visualization of dramatic structure -- as a “narrative of process” and uses it to consider the implications of such a change against the broader backdrop of literary studies. By embracing a more humanistic vision of computational work, the author argues, text analysis can take its rightful place in the spectrum of critical tools.