17.603 historiography of the concordance

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Feb 03 2004 - 04:15:02 EST

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 603.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 03 Feb 2004 08:54:01 +0000
         From: Jonathon Driscoll <jrdrisco@dal.ca>
         Subject: RE: 17.593 KWIC

An intellectual history of the concordance sounds quite interesting. As a
recent graduate from King's College, Halifax, with a keen interest in text
analysis methods as well as medieval history I am curious. My combined honous
BA is in Histoy, and History of Science and Technology. I did some work using
commercial software to analyze five years of Charles Darwin's Correspondence.
At some point I want to continue on doing masters and this is the sort of
project that interests me. That said my latin is non existant at present
which makes studing medieval texts rather difficult.

If there are any projects going on in the history or philosophy of science
that might have some work for a potential grad student with a passion for
computer assisted text analysis I am out here.

Jonathon Driscoll

> Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2004 07:57:24 +0000
> From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
> >
>The discussion of KWIC and concordancing has reminded me of a dormant
>project of mine, which is to find a young scholar, who would likely need to
>be a medievalist or begin as one, to write an intellectual history of the
>concordance. This would make a *wonderful* book if properly done. Rouse &
>Rouse have provided a few good articles on the invention of the concordance
>in the late 12C or early 13C; Brian Stock has done some fundamental work
>related to the topic; there are a pile of articles, parts of books etc from
>the early years of computer-generated concordances; some here are likely to
>know of other bits and pieces. But we need all of this stuff together, with
>a rooting of the invention in the typological habit of mind. Tall order,
>indeed, but don't such tall orders make the scholar's life worth living?
>When such a history got to the KWIC (invented in 1954, as I recall, by a
>chap named Luhn), the argument would need to partake of aesthetics. It's
>only natural for the literary scholar to bristle at the brutality of the
>KWIC's severing of lines in mid-word on either side, but that very
>brutality and centering of the lines at the target word redirected
>attention from syntactic units to verbal environments, and so the "span".
>There's much of interest to be said, I expect, about the intellectual power
>of visual design in this beautifully simple case.
>PS If someone tells me the book has been written, and is able to cite it, I
>will rejoice!
>Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the
>Humanities | King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS || +44 (0)20
>7848-2784 fax: -2980 || willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk

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