Moretti wins National Book Critics Circle Award


Franco Moretti
Franco Moretti

FRANCO MORETTI, professor of English and of comparative literature, has received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Distant Reading (Verso, 2013), his latest book of criticism.

The collection of 10 essays is structured in chronological order and creates a snapshot of how Moretti’s thinking as a literary historian has evolved.

Spanning two decades of literary scholarship, the book offers methods for studying literature that break away from the kind of close reading literary critics have championed in the past. Distant Reading also displays Moretti’s use of digital data to examine literature in enlightening ways.

Moretti founded the Center for the Study of the Novel at Stanford and also is the co-founder and director of the Stanford Literary Lab, a component of the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), an interdisciplinary collective of labs that use digital data and visualization information for scholarship.

CESTA Director ZEPHYR FRANK noted, “Moretti has helped to define what it means to work in the so-called ‘digital humanities.'”

Frank, an associate professor of Latin American history, said that Distant Reading is “significant both in terms of method, showing how distant reading can open up the great archive of unread works of the past, and in terms of analytical punch, showing how, for instance, the conception of Hamlet as a networked play changes the way we read the social relations and plot developments depicted therein.”

Earlier this year, Moretti was one of several Stanford scholars who discussed the future of digital research and teaching at an American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) event held on campus. Videos of each presentation are available on the AAAS website.

— BY TANU WAKEFIELD, The Humanities at Stanford