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Literature in the Digital Age: from Close Reading to Distant Reading

University of Basel via FutureLearn


As we make sense of what we read, we construe meaning using the cultural technique of interpretation. Only rarely do we actually reflect this process: what are the means that help us understand literary texts? How does interpretation work? And how has our increasing use of electronic devices changed the way we read and interpret literature?

This free online course addresses these questions as it introduces you to a variety of ways of interpreting literary texts. We will look into time-tested methods such as close reading and will also address more recent practices such as computer-based distant reading.

This course is for people from all walks of life who enjoy reading literature and would like to know how literary scholars interpret texts in the digital age.

If you are a student looking for an introduction to literary analysis, ‘Literature in the Digital Age’ will provide that.

The only requirement is that you like to read and love to reflect on your experience and discuss it with others.

This course is only facilitated at certain intervals. Learners are encouraged to support one another, share personal experiences, and see new perspectives.


  • How we read today
    • Introduction
    • Reading in different media
    • New reading strategies
    • Professional reading strategies
  • Close reading
    • I. A. Richards, New Criticism, close reading
    • How to close-read a poem, part I
    • How to close-read a poem, part II
  • Hyper reading & social reading
    • Hyper reading I: Definitions & strategies
    • Hyper reading II: Further strategies, benefits & risks
    • Social reading
  • New Historicism
    • Historical contexts
    • Literary-historical contexts
    • New Historicism
  • Distant reading
    • The strategies of distant reading
    • Doing distant reading
    • Euterpe
  • Surface reading & the materiality of communication
    • The medium is the message
    • Surface reading & the materiality of books
    • Remediation

Taught by

Philipp Schweighauser


5.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

4.7 rating at FutureLearn based on 47 ratings

Start your review of Literature in the Digital Age: from Close Reading to Distant Reading

  • Pilar Reyes
    This course is highly recommended to people who loves reading and want to explore new ways to understand and enjoy literature. The course includes interesting insights about reading experiences using tablets, smartphones, and any other new device different from the traditional ones. Learners are encouraged to participate with ideas, reflections, and analysis of short texts. All of the activities allowed me to go deeper into the topic of what really means to read literature in this age.

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