Talking Pynchon at the Digital Humanities Conference

I’m excited to report that my paper on Pynchon was accepted for the annual Digital Humanities Conference in June. It’s provisionally titled “Cultural Capital in the Digital Era: Mapping the Success of Thomas Pynchon” and will be a first run at the Pynchon chapter of my dissertation.

I’m trying to pull together research for the paper now and am hoping to focus on creating some “cultural network” maps of books that have been brought into association in various ways. For instance, professional book critics invariably describe new books in comparison to established ones so readers can get a sort of triangulated idea of what the new thing is like. Sites like Amazon and LibraryThing are much more explicit in the connections they draw, though of course the mathematical models they employ seem even murkier than the brain’s associative engines. So my first objective is to pull together some maps of the books that cluster around Pynchon in these respectively critical, commercial and webby venues.

I’ll post more about these ideas (and hopefully some web-based models for people to play with) once I know more. I’ve spent the past week reigniting the long-dormant Perl modules in my head. Next step: visualizing the data.

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