Modes of Composition in Seven Authors

Much of the current work in digital humanities and digital literary studies is focused on large-scale analyses of dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of texts. Useful as such work is, it is necessarily somewhat superficial and general. My book, in contrast, addresses a series of complex literary problems, each involving a single author, that are (partly) amenable to computational methods. It operationalizes questions surrounding the intersection between technology, style, and text-production that have been very actively discussed in recent scholarship. Those discussions have been speculative and theoretical, but they have rarely been able to bring real evidence to bear on the questions that are raised.

My book project investigates what, if anything, happens when writers change their method of producing text (handwriting, typing, word processing, dictation). The book builds on my recent article on What Maisie Knew and Henry James’s adoption of dictation, “Modes of Composition in Henry James: Dictation, Style, and What Maisie Knew,” Henry James Review 35(3), 2014: 257-77. Other chapters are in draft form on Walter Scott, Thomas Hardy, Booth Tarkington, Joseph Conrad, William Faulkner, and Stephen King.

David Hoover
Professor, Department of English, Faculty of Arts & Science