Reading-Squared: The Great Gatsby
We use words constantly, but rarely pause to appreciate their complexity. This seminar proposes ways to read narratives to find their core significance by looking at the complex web of word families. Over the course of the semester we will examine a classic American novel of the 20th Century—The Great Gatsby— to see how a writer builds a set of characters and a story. The seminar meetings will initially focus on reading the novel and developing ways to talk about words, we will then learn about software that helps analyze word networks and relationships, and finally, we will use all of these techniques to demystify some of the processes of meaning making in the novel. The work we will be doing in the seminar is directly related to an ongoing research project on a group of one hundred novels written between 1719 and 1997. The project, teXtRays, investigates networks of meaning in novels at both the micro and macro levels – it is looking for large patterns about all the novels, but it is also looking at fine details within individual texts. For more information, see teXtRays.com and ReadingSquared.com.