Kate Holterhoff responds to Paul Fyfe

Paul Fyfe’s review is capacious in the points it considers, and articulate in identifying the profound scholarly importance of Sarah Allison’s Reductive Reading. Most compelling, is his suggestion that Reductive Reading has, in fact, attempted a reconciliation of “computational methods on the one hand and the provocations of the V21 Collective on the other.” I was especially glad that Fyfe elected to focus on Allison’s monograph’s contributions to more recent digital humanities debates. As my own review states, and Fyfe echoes with his suggestion that by the book’s end (but really beyond the introduction), Reductive Reading “explains its scholarly contributions without reference to computers at all.” Therefore, the question of how to understand Allison’s monograph as what Elsie B. Michie terms, a text “that bridges the divide between digital humanities and literary criticism,” presented challenges for me. Fyfe’s suggestion that the type of reading Allison espouses most closely resembles Steven Ramsay’s “algorithmic criticism” establishes the disciplinary consequence of her monograph and situates her book squarely in the “computational literary studies” debates as they appear in the recent Critical Inquiry Online Forum. Fyfe’s concluding question, “to what degree are quantitative approaches just part of the ways we argue now?” therefore points to a more significant truth: Reductive Reading engages with “well-defined critical conversations about the novel as a form” while exemplifying “algorithmic criticism” because these discourses have become inseparable.

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