University of Victoria
Jentery Sayers
Spring 2015


Seminar Notes: Meeting 1 (Hermeneutics + Computers)

This course is about "Arguing with Computers," which carries at least four valences:

When conducting this work, mediation will often be our object of study. We will ask not only why certain media are relevant to particular research topics, but also how the act of criticism is tied to questions of embodiment, perception, attention, and history.


What is hermeneutic interpretation?

Why does hermeneutic interpretation matter or remain relevant today?

How (if at all) does hermeneutic practice change with or through computation? How is it expressed in media other than print or electronic text?

Does literary or cultural criticism simply respond to technological developments? Or can it spark them, intervene in them, or repurpose them?

Don't computers make hermeneutics tedious and boring? Are computers or computational methods even capable of hermeneutic interpretation? Don't they just reduce literature to mere data?

When you hear the word "materiality" or "material," what comes to mind? Does it even make sense to talk about "digital materiality" or "digital materialism"? Does the digital actually have some stuff to it?

From the perspective of literary and cultural criticism, what does "Arguing with Computers" elicit? What are your reservations? What piques your interest?

Why is frustration with computers or computation important to literary criticism?