Slovenska Literatura (Jan 2021)

Zoom Out to See a Clearer Picture: Two Plots from the Distant Reading of Ukrainian Literature

  • Dmytro Jesypenko

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 67, no. 6
pp. 552 – 567


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The paper focuses on two examples introducing a distant reading approach for research Ukrainian literary works. The studies considered are rather different in terms of breadth of their aims and intentions, the number of performers, the pace and nature of implementation, and consequently, results. The first one concerns famous Ukrainian writer, Taras Shevchenko, and the network of contacts, as reflected in his diary. Distant reading helps to both question and elaborate on established theses and hypotheses of predecessors, as well as to reveal important details of Shevchenko’s portrait as an author, artist, and person. By contrast, the article also informs about the research by a team of scholars who analyzed the titles of European novels of the 1840s–1910s. As the one responsible for the Ukrainian and Polish parts, I outline (un)confirmed expectations and surprising findings, and demonstrate how one can build a bridge between the results of distant reading and subsequent studies of a narrower scope.