Intertextual Bridges

The Intertextual Hub is an experimental digital humanities reading environment that aims to situate specific documents in their broader context of intertextual relations, whether in the form of direct or indirect borrowings, shared topics with other texts or parts of texts, or other kinds of lexical similarity. Intuitively, we believe that he conceptual relationships discovered by text mining algorithms among texts in large, heterogeneous collections can fruitfully inform and guide traditional close-reading approaches. More fundamentally, our contention is that scholarly reading in the digital age—and the true usefulness of computational analysis of texts—should be foregrounded on the discovery and navigation of intertextual relationships. The model we have developed here allows users to navigate between individual and larger groups of texts that are related through shared themes, ideas, and passages. What the Intertextual Hub offers, then, along with the scalable reading tools, is an approach to federating collections that can bypass the various competing problems of quality (OCR vs. curated) and access (pay vs. public) inherent in digital collections today, and still yield meaningful results.

The Intertextual Hub is supported by a generous grant from the Office of Digital Humanities (ODH) at the National Endowment of the Humanities.