Theory & Struggle

Marxism and the digital humanities

Theory & Struggle (2020), 121, (1), 44–57.

Abstract

Current models for the use of computers in cultural history are often based on paradigms for literary history developed in the early Soviet Union, yet explicitly Marxist approaches are rare in the so-called digital humanities. This paper revisits the debate between Marxism and Russian formalism in the 1920s, unveiling the formalists’ often intransigent rejection of historical materialism or the inclusion of ‘extraliterary’ history. However, two quite distinct proposals for a synthesis of Russian formalism and Marxist history emerge in the methodological proposals of Anatoly Lunacharsky and Boris Arvatov, neither of which were fully implemented at the time. These two models provide the conceptual scaffolding for developing Marxist cultural history through computational means.

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Author details

Impett, Leonardo