The article is concerned with the history of “close reading,” understood as a practice crucial to the field of literary studies, vis-à-vis “distant reading,” a range of computational methods identified with the digital humanities. It looks at some early controversies regarding close reading and “the New Criticism,” the movement associated with it, and at how the practice has figured in Anglo-American literary studies over the course of the past century. It turns then to how a certain idea of “close reading” has come to figure in the discourses of the digital humanities. At the end, it offers some general reflections on methods, past and possibly future, in literary studies.

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