Distant reading the Philippine literary archive: Preliminary texts and contexts

Author: Rommel Chrisden Rollan Samarita (De La Salle University, The Philippines)
Speaker: Rommel Chrisden Rollan Samarita
Topic: Textualization, Contextualization, Entextualization
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


This paper discourses on distant reading as an alternative methodology in literary studies, its conception from the writings of Franco Moretti (2013, 2005, 2000), and its appropriation and futurity in the study of the Philippine literary archive (Samarita, 2017; Mojares, 2017). The present discussion begins by describing the nature of distant reading and by contrasting it with close reading—the century-old methodology in literary studies (Smith, 2016). It, then, proceeds with a concise discourse on Franco Moretti’s seminal works on distant reading from ‘Conjectures on World Literature’ (2000) to ‘Distant Reading’ (2013). Adopting the paradigm of ‘reading literature in a distance’ over ‘reading literature from a distance’ (Samarita, 2017), the study gathers existing and relevant writings on distant reading by Filipino scholars. This paper highlights initial literary researches on important local literary archives including the distant reading of citations in Philippine literary criticism (Samarita & Goh, 2017a), emotions in Philippine literary canon (Samarita & Goh, 2017b), and body parts in Philippine queer poetry (Samarita & Crisostomo, 2018), and problematizes the signification of distant reading as an “immodest proposal for literary studies” in Philippine literary scholarship (Mojares, 2017). This three-part discourse on distant reading foregrounds that the other methodology in literary studies has been appropriated in the study of the Philippine literary archive, and its future lies in its utility in Philippine-Asian literary scholarship.

Keywords: Distant reading, literary archive, Philippine literature, reading from a distance VS reading in a distance, computational literary research