“Reading Numbers by Numbers: Digital Studies and the Victorian Serial Novel” By Susan David Bernstein and Catherine DeRose, University of Wisconsin-Madison

With the plethora of formats for reading that digital technology has unleashed in recent years, from iPads and Kindles to blogs and Twitter, both reading and writing on a daily basis have undergone a sea-change.  In the middle of the nineteenth century, there was likewise a major transformation in the tempo of reading and writing as literally hundreds of weekly and monthly periodicals were launched.  For most Victorian novelists, including Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Anthony Trollope, and George Eliot, serial installments shaped how they wrote fiction and how these novels were first encountered by readers.  Typically we think of the Victorian novel as a tome requiring huge blocks of reading time.  But, like the small chunks of Twitter or blogs, these novels were disseminated in segments of a few chapters, something like twenty or thirty pages of text, in weekly or monthly installments. The objective of this study is to use a computer-assisted text analysis program called Docuscope to detect, describe, and reread the signal of seriality in Victorian novels.




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