The DigEco project will analyze a corpus of 100 environmental French novels (from 2000 to the present day) using tools and methods developed in the Digital Humanities. This innovative approach will allow me to verify the hypothesis that this corpus is characterized by formal specificities that contribute to the definition of the environmental novel as a genre. I will attempt to show that the environmental novel renews fictional forms through an antianthropocentric turn. I will investigate two research axes: places and nonhuman agency, since these two topics are bound to a shift in the traditional mimetic paradigm, diverting the novel from the dominant focus on human actions. For both of the research axes, I will digitize, encode and structure the primary corpus and an additional control corpus of 30 non-environmental novels, using named-entity recognition technologies to identify and mark up toponymies and names of animals and plants. Then, using various computational approaches, I will realize stylometric studies on the marked-up features to answer research questions elaborated through an ecocritical methodology.
This project bridges two emerging fields – Environmental humanities and Digital humanities – and it will constitute the first major study on the possibilities of dialogue between them. It will provide the largest set of data on places and nonhuman agency in fiction – an unprecedented opportunity to question anthropocentrism in contemporary novel.