Hidden Meanings : Datamining Early English Print
December 8, 2011 4:47 AM Subscribe
--- Othello is a Shakespearean tragedy: when the hero makes a terrible mistake of judgment, his once promising world is led into ruin. Computer analysis of the play, however, suggests that the play is a comedy or, at least, that it does the same things with words that comedies usually do.
On October 26, 2011, Folger Shakespeare Library
Director Michael Witmore
discussed his recent work in Shakespeare studies which combines computer analysis of texts, linguistics, and traditional literary history. Taking the case of Shakespeare's genres as a starting point, Witmore shows how subtle human judgments about the kinds of plays Shakespeare wrote — were they comedies
? — are connected to frequent, widely distributed features in the playwright's syntax, vocabulary, and diction. (approx. 30 minute lecture.)tl,dw executive summary:
After introducing us to a computer program
that digests passages of text and categorizes and analyses the words in the passages, we learn that the tragic play Othello
was written as if it were a comedy, which makes it all the more devastating. "Othello is a truly awful play. It is perverse in the way that it takes the kinds of things you do when you are writing comedy, and sets you up emotionally to expect one thing, and then turns on you."
Bigger picture overview:
"What does linguistic variation -- the use or omission of words or phrases in texts -- tell us about history, culture and interpretation?"