This paper discusses Franco Moretti's concept of "distant reading" in the light of Foucauldian genealogy. It confronts Moretti's evolutionary understanding of literary history — as represented in his adoption of the figure of the Darwinian tree — with Foucault's interpretation of Darwin's evolutionary theory. With reference to Foucault's transition from 'Darwinian' discourse analysis to 'Nietzschean' genealogy, the author argues that Moretti's conception of literary history could benefit from the genealogical practice of a 'meticulous' close reading in order to keep sight of hidden power relations behind literary production.
Keywords: big data, digital humanities, discourse analysis, distant reading, evolutionary theory, Darwin, Foucault, Moretti
How to Cite: Kilian, Patrick. "Of Trees and Genealogies: A Foucauldian Commentary on Franco Moretti." Le foucaldien 2, no. 1 (2016): 1–10. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16995/lefou.21 [Note: In 2022, Le foucaldien relaunched as Genealogy+Critique.]