From Archive to Canon:
A Distant Reading of the Romanian Novel (1845-1947)

To what extent did the quantitative aspect of the production of Romanian novels influence their quality? And how can one answer such question when that involves reading hundreds or even thousands of novels? The ARCAN project brings together a team of 11 specialists – the leader, 4 experienced researchers, 3 young researchers, and 3 doctoral students – whose objective is to perform a “distant reading” of a corpus of 1,567 Romanian novels published in the period spanning 1845 and 1947. The project reunites qualitative formal instruments (which primarily include genre theory) and quantitative computational tools (which rely on NLP technologies); it sets out to investigate how canonic works fare against the literary archive of the epoch. Apart from being the first Romanian (and even European) endeavor of this kind, the originality of ARCAN lies with its interdisciplinary dimension, which combines humanities and computer sciences, the size of its corpus, and the high level of granularity of the categories (microgenres) used to classify novels. Therefore, our project sets out not only to generate significant national and especially international impact, but also to produce cultural, educational and economic effects beyond the realm of the academia.

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