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HCIL-2008-33

Clement, T., Plaisant, C., Vuillemot, R. (November 2008)
The Story of One: Humanity scholarship with visualization and text analysis
in Proc. Of the Digital Humanities Conference (DH 2009)
HCIL-2008-33

Most critiques of The Making of Americas (Paris 1925) by Gertrude Stein contend that the text deconstructs the role narrative plays in determining identity by using indeterminacy to challenge readerly subjectivity. The current perception of Making as a postmodern text relies on the notion that there is a tension created by frustrated expectations that result from the text’s progressive disbandment of story and plot as the narrative unweaves into seemingly chaotic, meaningless rounds of repetitive words and phrases. Yet, a new perspective that is facilitated by digital tools and based on the highly structured nature of the text suggests that these instabilities can be resolved by the same seemingly nonsensical, non-narrative structures. Seeing the manner in which the structure of the text makes meaning in conversation with narrative alleviates perceived instabilities in the discourse. The discourse about identity formation is engaged—not dissolved in indeterminacy—to the extent that the reader can read the composition.



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