Italian literary theorist Franco Moretti in Prague

Professor Emeritus of Stanford University Franco Moretti will deliver a lecture entitled “Simulating Dramatic Networks” on the 28th of February at 10 AM at the Czech Academy of Sciences. The renowned literary theorist has accepted the invitation of the Czech Literary Bibliography (the Institute for Czech Literature of the Czech Academy of Sciences) and the journal for the performing arts and artistic research ArteActa (the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague).

Franco Moretti is recognized as a pioneer in the field of digital research and, at the same time, responsible for breaking through a number of common assumptions, for example, that cultural artifacts cannot be understood by their being measured, or that scholars of the humanities can only merely interpret their objects of interest in various ways. With his team in the Stanford Literary Lab, which he headed in 2010–2017, he attempted the very opposite (the concept of “distant reading”) and in doing so brought a sizable community of so-called distance readers over to his side. “Moretti’s approach has the advantage of not working only with one specific side of literature, but striving to, on the basis of new findings from literary theory, change it at its very foundations,” claims František A. Podhajský from the Czech Literary Bibliography. “Moretti’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet is in many ways not only useful for those interested from diverse theoretical areas, but it can also become an inspiration for artists themselves, for example dramaturges or screenwriters,” adds Jan Jiřík from the journal ArteActa.

Professor Franco Moretti’s lecture “Simulating Dramatic Networks” will take place in the main building of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Národní třída 3 (lecture hall no. 206) on Friday the 28th, February 2020 at 10:00 AM. The lecture will be conducted in English.
The lecture is free of charge after registering at

Part of the lecture will be introductory words by Vojtěch Malínek (Czech Literary Bibliography) and the presentation of the latest issue of the journal ArteActa, in whose last issue features a Czech translation of Moretti’s work Network Theory, Plot Analysis, which deals with, among other things, an analysis of Hamlet by William Shakespeare, accompanied by an article on Moretti’s work from František A. Podhajský.


Franco Moretti (1950) is an Italian literary theorist, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, and a longstanding member of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. He belongs among the classic thinkers of comparative literature and the pioneers of digital research in the humanities. In the last decade he has published the books Distant Reading (2013), The Bourgeois: Between History and Literature (2013) a Far Country: Scenes from American Culture (2019). In 2017, he prepared a selection of works from the Stanford Literary Lab entitled Canon/Archive: Studies in Quantitative Formalism from the Stanford Literary Lab. Only one his books has so far been translated into Czech, by Olga Čaplyginová: Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models of Literary History (Karolinum, 2014). He is a regular contributor to the British Marxist journal New Left Review, where he recently, together with Oleg Sobchuk, published a critical overview of digital research in the field of literature (“Hidden in Plain Sight,” NLR, vol. 118, July–August, 2019).

12. February 2020