Digital literary landscapes

Elle-Mari Talivee

The digitzed texts in the database “Kreutzwald’s Century: Estonian Cultural History Online” have made it possible for me to study classical Estonian literature using computer. So far, I have been using the WordSmith Tools 5.0 software and GoogleMaps. WordSmith provides access to the vocabulary of the literary text, displaying recurrent patterns, and allows comparing the author’s language use through all his or her texts. Mapping the obtained information has, in turn, opened up and explained the literary worlds of the authors. Although it is possible to collect such data through close reading, the digital processing significantly facilitates and speeds up research, even though close reading is still required for checking the results.

This approach is intriguing for those who study literary landscapes; the research method has more strikingly revealed various features and new aspects in the studied texts. For a humanities researcher, getting acquainted with new software might prove challenging, but enthusiasm makes learning easy. To prove this point, I hope to write a proper article on the use of locality vocabulary in Eduard Vilde’s novel Kui Anija mehed Tallinnas käisid (1903).