Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Comparative Literature and Literary Theory

First Advisor

Charles Bernstein


Standing at the intersection of a theoretical investigation into the possibilities of applying the tools and methods of automated analysis to a large plurilingual poetry corpus and of a set of observables gleaned along the creation of a digitally annotated edition of The Cantos of Ezra Pound — a robust test-case for the TEI — the present dissertation can be read under different guises.

One of them, for instance, would be that of a comedy, divina commedia or com�dia de Deus, in which the computer plays — Leibnizian harmonics! — the part of supreme intellect.

A: The selva oscura is that of newly born “Digital Humanities” — burgeoning yet obscured already by two dominant paradigms. On the one hand, the constructivism inherited from poststructuralist theory; on the other, a na�ve return to the most trivial kind of linguistic realism. There, the literary text is construed as an object of absolute singularity, transcending any possible analysis based on explicit methods; here, it becomes a mere point in a network of quodities. Literariness is gone.

The second circle revolves around a singular, and singularly marked, exemple of antinomian discourse — the concomitant use of the notions of error and genius in respect to The Cantos — the uniqueness of the modernist project supposed to defeat all generalizing claims made by philology. Alas, facts are stubborn things; so are mistakes. These must be corrected, but on what grounds? We plead for the necessity of a genetic — a digital genetic — edition, which only can transcend the arbitrary organizational imperialism of standard sheets of paper.

B. The purgatory of labor, the attempts to analyze the text without betraying its intricacies. What is a line? What is a proper name? What is a quotation? The path is steep, but the air starts to clear up.

C. Ascension — Love supreme — Paradise in sight: the realm of results. Through graphs, colors appear, in the stead of black ink on white paper — beautifully, but oh so fleetingly!

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