One of many questions raised by the advent of digital humanities is what impact its tools and findings will have on the temporal structure of literary study, known since the nineteenth century as “periods.” By posing that question, Ted Underwood’s book is more than just another entry in the persistent academic genre that has often gone by the title, at conferences or in journals, of “periodization and its discontents.” With a rising reputation in the digital humanities as well as some impressive print scholarship in Romanticism and the sciences, Underwood seems less discontented with the older ways of periodizing than he is eager to advance an aggressive new thesis wrapped in a well-mannered, often ingratiating style: the argument that the digital humanities make periodization, at long last, effectively a thing of the past.

It is an ambitious thesis for such a slender...

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