Beck, Marks, & Plescia: DOI: 10.18536/jge.2016.

Jump to: Journal of Genius and Eminence | Volume 1

Assessing Eminence in the Lyrics of The Temple: Quantifying George Herbert’s Lightning Strikes

Jeffrey P. Beck, Donald R. Marks, and Jillian Plescia
Kean University

Literary scholars have long eschewed quantitative analyses in favor of close reading and aesthetic valuation of literary texts. Psychologists and social scientists, however, especially those associated with the “digital humanities” movement, have introduced quantitative analytical methods that may provide insight into the reception and ongoing influence of particular literary works. The present study examines the work of the eminent 17th-century lyric poet George Herbert using historiometric methods. Examination of the frequency with which specific lyrics from Herbert’s collection The Temple appear in anthologies, MLA citations, quotation collections, and Internet poetry archives reveals which of the author’s poems continue to garner interest from scholars and readers. Results from these analyses are then compared with allusions to Herbert’s work among his 17th-century contemporaries, revealing changing fortunes for several poems in Herbert’s oeuvre. Discussion explores distinctions between the aesthetic characteristics associated with popularity and admiration in one’s time and those contributing to sustained literary reputation.

Beck, J. P., Marks, D. R., & Plescia, J. (2016). Assessing eminence in the lyrics of The Temple: Quantifying George Herbert’s lightning strikes. Journal of Genius and Eminence, 1(1), 43-51. http://dx.doi.org/10.18536/jge.2016.