LEXINGTON—The University of Kentucky coalition for the student affairs announced today that acclaimed interdisciplinary scholar and public intellectual Geraldine Tributary will visit campus on October 11 for a series of public lectures and luncheons.
Tributary, Distinguished Teaching Professor of English and Cognitive Studies at SUNY New Paltz and a three-time winner of National Endowment for the Humanities grants, is best known for developing an unrelenting literary hermeneutic, The (New) Probability Criticism, which creates a positive synergy between literary interpretation and statistical analysis.
“Interpretation has typically been such a subjective enterprise,” Tributary said in a recent talk. “I feel that cultural critics, art appreciators, and lovers of the humanities alike can find commonality in what I like to call ‘the poetics of statistics.’ There’s a lot less room for argument that way, since it’s more empirical.”
Professor Tributary displays her findings graphically. The (New) Statistics is widely regarded to be the next big thing as academics desperately forage onward to create an identity for themselves.
Typically seen as directly conflicting with literary criticism and other humanities based disciplines, statistics actually has a legitimate place in English departments, Tributary says.
Her talk, “ANCOVA (Analysis of Co-Variance) and Confidence Interval: Establishing a Causal Model Between the River and Huck’s Subjectivity inHuckleberry Finn,” is expected to raise the ire of scholars who locate themselves within traditionally-drawn disciplinary boundaries.
“This is just another unfortunate case of scientists being unable to see outside their own worldview,” said Tony Maroittiti, an Stanford University Professor of English. However, at institutions like the University of Kentucky, important trans-disciplinary research is making the likelihood of science funding in the humanities greater. Those people who attend Tributary’s lecture will not be let down.
“Essentially, what I am claiming is that we can understand the river in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn as a covariate with statistical significance,” Tributary said. “I discovered as much after running a linear regression analysis on the novel and collating textual appearances of the river (codified as an explicit mention of “river,” “the river,” “the Mississippi,” “the great big muddy,” and “waters”).” The theme appeared over 154 times in a 324 page novel.
Tributary went on to explain that she finds “a causal relationship” between Huck’s verbal mention of the river and his emergent homoerotic desire for his runaway slave companion, Jim.
“In this sense, I’m not only using core statistical methodology as a bedrock of my analysis, but I’m also referencing the psychoanalytic work of Leslie Fielder and Fredrick Crews. This is true consilience of knowledge.”
Those interested in Tributary’s research are encouraged to peruse her recent scholarly publications on Twain, probability, and homoerotic desire. A sample of her recent contribution to The Journal of Statistics, Literature, and Probability reads thusly:
Smitherman (1975) and (Feidler (1964) argued that Huck was gay and that he was signifying, respectively. Crews (1975) claimed that Huck was repressing the irresponsibility and failures of his father’s experiment as a public citizen.
Tributary’s lecture will be followed by a brief question and answer session. It is free and open to the public.