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GRAPHS, MAPS, TREES
Abstract Models for Literary History—1
What follows is the first of three interconnected articles, whose common purpose is to delineate a transformation in the study of literature. Literature, the old territory; but within it, a shift from the close reading of individual texts to the construction of abstract models. The models are drawn from three disciplines—quantitative history, geography and evolutionary theory: graphs, maps and trees—with which literary criticism has had little or no interaction; but which have many things to teach us, and may change the way we work.  The articles were first imagined at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, and presented in an early version as the Beckman Lectures at Berkeley, and then elsewhere. My thanks to the many people who have helped me to clarify my ideas.
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- Graphs, Maps, Trees - 3 After ‘graphs’ and ‘maps’, trees: can evolutionary theory help pattern the transformation of cultural forms and divergence of genres, through time and space? Franco Moretti’s final essay on abstract models for literary history.
- Christopher Prendergast: Evolution and Literary History A landmark engagement with Franco Moretti’s triptych of essays, Graphs, Maps, Trees. What forms of logic underpin the use of evolutionary models to lay bare the survival strategies of the detective story, or trace the mutations of a border-hopping stylistic technique? And what political implications follow from basing an account of literary history on the outcome of the market?
- Graphs, Maps, Trees - 2 After ‘Graphs’ (see NLR 24), maps: geography, or social geometry? Literary spaces plotted as competing fields for industrialization, peasant rebellion, state formation. The second of Moretti’s three essays conceptualizing patterns of genre and history, form and force.