The approaches to data-rich literary history that dominate academic and public debate—Franco Moretti’s “distant reading” and Matthew Jockers’s “macroanalysis”—model literary systems in limited, abstract, and often ahistorical ways. This problem arises from neglect of the activities and insights of textual scholarship and is inherited from, rather than opposed to, the New Criticism and its core method of “close reading.” Literary history requires not new or integrated methods but a new scholarly object capable of managing the documentary record’s complexity, especially as manifested in emerging digital knowledge infrastructure. Building on significant, though uneven and unacknowledged, departures from Moretti’s and Jockers’s work in data-rich literary history, this essay describes such an object, modeled on the foundational technology of textual scholarship: the scholarly edition.

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