Sunday, July 30, 2017

Contextual Interpretation

I am trying to put together lists of examples that show why munging together large amounts of textual data can often run afoul of tricks and traps that do not assist in historical analysis, or perhaps other digital humanities as well.

  • Shifts in the Meaning of Words 
    • "mother-in-law" in Pride and Prejudice actually means the stepmother (Jack Goody, Production and Reproduction, p.53)
    • "making love" means for a man to be talking with an unmarried woman in Victorian England (e.g. Ginger Susan Frost, Promises Broken: Courtship, Class, and Gender in Victorian England, 1995, p69) with the intent of espousing her

These specific cases are instances of the discourse being not identified properly, e.g. in its mode or in its temporal delineation. But there are more detailed comments we can make about the discursive nature and the context of statements give a suitable example.

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