Computers and the Humanities

, Volume 27, Issue 5–6, pp 309–314 | Cite as

Signs, symbols and discourses: A new direction for computer-aided literature studies

  • Mark Olsen


Computer-aided literature studies have failed to have a significant impact on the field as a whole. This failure is traced to a concentration on how a text achieves its literary effect by the examination of subtle semantic or grammatical structures in single texts or the works of individual authors. Computer systems have proven to be very poorly suited to such refined analysis of complex language. Adopting such traditional objects of study has tended to discourage researchers from using the tool to ask questions to which it is better adapted, the examination of large amounts of simple linguistic features. Theoreticians such as Barthes, Foucault and Halliday show the importance of determining the linguistic and semantic characteristics of the language used by the author and her/his audience. Current technology, and databases like the TLG or ARTFL, facilitate such wide-spectrum analyses. Computer-aided methods are thus capable of opening up new areas of study, which can potentially transform the way in which literature is studied.

Key words

computer-aided literature studies literature literary theory structuralism 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Olsen
    • 1
  1. 1.ARTFL ProjectUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations