Review of Reading by Numbers: Recalibrating the Literary Field, by Katherine Bode


It is not often—or often enough—that one is confronted by a work that has the power to transform a field of study, but this is precisely what Katherine Bode has achieved in her new history of the Australian novel. Reading By Numbers is as exciting as it is unsettling and it offers a major intervention in Australian literary history, not least in its power to challenge both sedimented accounts of that history and the methods used to the produce them. Utilising the resources of the digital humanities and book history, Bode demonstrates that the 'history of the Australian novel is comprised of a much greater variety of authors, publishers, genres and readers than any previous account has acknowledged' (170). As the title suggests, however, Reading By Numbers is more than a study of the Australian novel. It is also a nuanced appraisal of the possibilities that the digital humanities generally—and the quantitative and computational approaches made possible by online resources such as the Austlit database in particular—offer for how we do literary studies.

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Published 1 November 2012 in Volume 27 No. 3-4. Subjects: Book history, Digital humanities.

Cite as: Dever, Maryanne. ‘Review of Reading by Numbers: Recalibrating the Literary Field, by Katherine Bode.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 27, no. 3/4, 2012, doi: 10.20314/als.ac6c75b1e2.