Close and Distant Reading

Nowadays, we distinguish between close and distant reading of a text or book.

After the Merriam-Webster dictionary (online), close reading means the detailed and careful analysis of a written work; additionally, close reading can also be the product of such analysis.                             

Distant reading, on the other hand, is the opposite of close reading. This new practice, created by literary scholar Franco Moretti, is an alternative way of analysing literature. Instead of carefully reading and analysing a single book/text (or several texts/books), distant reading takes thousands of pieces of literature and feeds them into a computer for analysis. The aim of distant reading is to get a general overview of the content of a corpus of texts/books without having to read all of them. An online tool, which could be useful for distant reading, is the internet page Wordle. This internet page creates a word cloud of a corpus of texts/books, once it has been uploaded on the page. The word cloud offers a quick overview of which words are used the most in the uploaded corpus of texts/books, without the need to read all them.


Close reading, in: Merriam-Webster, URL: (page consulted: 4.3.2016).

Gaines, Benjamin, Distant Reading Characteristics & Overview, in:, URL: (page consulted: 4.3.2016).

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