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Online course

Literature in the Digital Age: from Close Reading to Distant Reading

Learn new ways of interpreting literary texts, from time-tested methods to computer-assisted practices such as distant reading.

Literature in the Digital Age: from Close Reading to Distant Reading

Why join the course?

As we make sense of what we read, we construe meaning using the cultural technique of interpretation. Only rarely do we actually reflect this process: what are the means that help us understand literary texts? How does interpretation work? And how has our increasing use of electronic devices changed the way we read and interpret literature?

This free online course addresses these questions as it introduces you to a variety of ways of interpreting literary texts. We will look into time-tested methods such as close reading and will also address more recent practices such as distant reading.

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What topics will you cover?

  • The various media in which we read literature in the digital age
  • The strengths and weaknesses of different reading strategies
  • The core method of literary studies: close reading
  • The various strategies you use on a daily basis as you read online texts
  • A cooperative form of online reading called social reading
  • Forms of historical readings of literary texts: historical and literary-historical contextualization
  • Uses and limitations of distant reading, a recent scholarly approach to literary texts that relies on big data and computer analysis
  • Approaches to literary texts that do not seek to interpret them but focus on their surface and materiality

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Reflect on the different lay and professional reading strategies that are available for reading literature today.
  • Describe the various media in which we read literature in the digital age.
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of different reading strategies.
  • Apply the core method of literary studies: close reading.
  • Investigate the various strategies you use on a daily basis as you read online texts.
  • Engage in a cooperative form of online reading called social reading.
  • Compare two forms of historical readings of literary texts: historical and literary-historical contextualization.
  • Discuss the uses and limitations of distant reading, a recent scholarly approach to literary texts that relies on big data and computer analysis.
  • Report on your own distant reading experiment, using the Google Ngram Viewer.
  • Explore approaches to literary texts that do not seek to interpret them but focus on their surface and materiality.

Who is the course for?

This course is for people from all walks of life who enjoy reading literature and would like to know how literary scholars interpret texts in the digital age.

If you are a student looking for an introduction to literary analysis, Literature in the Digital Age will help you find it.

The only requirement is that you like to read and love to reflect your experience and discuss it with others.

Who will you learn with?

Philipp Schweighauser

Associate Professor and Head of American and General Literatures at the Department of English of the University of Basel, Switzerland. (Photo credit: Peter Schnetz, University of Basel).

Who developed the course?

Learners collage mobile
Join this course

Free

  • Access to this course for 8 weeks
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes

Upgrade - $59

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Tests to validate your learning
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you complete the course