Research & Publications

Natalie Berkman’s research engages with a number of current qualitative and quantitative practices in the humanities in order to bring literature and mathematics into a productive conversation. Her forthcoming monograph, The Oulipo’s Mathematical Project (1960-2014), is the first study of the mathematical methods of the OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle), an eclectic group of writers, mathematicians, and scientists founded in 1960 in Paris. In this project as well as in her broader academic work, Natalie combines three primary methodologies to bridge the two culture divide:

1. Literary, drawing analyses from close readings of self-reflexive passages and genetic criticism techniques specifically on the paratextual and manuscript clues that indicate the text’s compositional means and how they are communicated to the reader.

2. Historical, through archival research at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal in Paris as well as taking a history of mathematics approach to the Oulipo and a history of science outlook to understand its role as historical actor in the development of electronic literature and digital humanities.

3. Digital Humanities, using exploratory programming to understand the effect that electronic literature has on a reader as well as leading the transcription and encoding of the Oulipo archives (sponsored by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche).

Natalie’s scholarship and pedagogy have had numerous homes, including: the Princeton Department of French and Italian; the Princeton Italian Studies Program; the École Normale Supérieure Paris (where she spent the 2014-2015 academic year as a fellow); the Princeton Center for Digital Humanities (where she completed one of the inaugural projects in the 2015-2016 academic year); the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (where she spent the 2016-2017 year as a fellow); and in the DifdePo Research Project (funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche).