Digital Humanities Tool: Personæ

The aim of these visualisations is to use the XML files from the New Variorum Shakespeare edition of The Comedy of Errors to create a resource for exploring patterns of speeches by and mentions of characters in Shakespeare’s work. Visualising the frequency, extent, and position of dialogue relating to a particular character presents users with a simple and immediate measure of that character’s prominence within the play. The tool enables users to select and visualise individual characters’ involvement, producing a novel means of exploring large-scale structural, narrative, or character-focused patterns within the text.

Value of the Tool

This tool is intended to facilitate character-based analysis and reveal structural patterns at the scale of the play. It is primarily exploratory, and is designed to allow users to customise the visualisation according to their particular interests or to follow a more speculative and disinterested reading of the play’s character-based features.

This deliberate aim emerged from the heuristic development process described below, and a desire to produce an extensible exploratory tool for dramatic texts. From an initial focus on using digital tools to visualise the tangling and disentangling of character names and identities in The Comedy of Errors, our interest broadened into exploring the potential for using character data to visualise larger structural and narrative patterns.

We were also motivated by the use of network analysis and visualisation for Shakespearean scholarship, including work by Grandjean, Moretti, and Stiller, et al. These analyses are similarly character-based and have yielded many interesting insights. But in the reduction of the textual data to nodes and edges (characters and their interactions), network analysis has obscured the temporal. By preserving characters’ locations within the space of the text, this tool enables analysis of the dramatic time and structural duration of the play.

Moreover, a major part of the tool’s value is its extensibility. It may be used to create character visualisations for any play which is XML-encoded according to quite minimal specifications, and offer the opportunity to undertake comparative analysis of structural, narrative, and character-based patterns in different plays.

As a point of contrast, we have generated a second visualisation for The Winter’s Tale from the code initially developed for The Comedy of Errors.

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Personæ can be found here

Book launch: Angelica’s Book and the World of Reading in Late Renaissance Italy

Nov. 18, 4.30pm
Marsh’s Library, Dublin
9781474270335
Through the lens of a history of material culture mediated by an object, Angelica’s Book and the World of Reading in Late Renaissance Italy investigates aspects of women’s lives, culture, ideas and the history of the book in early modern Italy.
Inside a badly damaged copy of Straparola’s 16th-century work, Piacevoli Notti, acquired in a Florentine antique shop in 2010, an inscription is found, attributing ownership to a certain Angelica Baldachini. The discovery sets in motion a series of inquiries, deploying knowledge about calligraphy, orthography, linguistics, dialectology and the socio-psychology of writing, to reveal the person behind the name. Focusing as much on the possible owner as upon the thing owned, Angelica’s Book examines the genesis of the Piacevoli Notti and its many editions, including the one in question. The intertwined stories of the book and its owner are set against the backdrop of a Renaissance world, still imperfectly understood, in which literature and reading were subject to regimes of control; and the new information throws aspects of this world into further relief, especially in regard to women’s involvement with reading, books and knowledge. The inquiry yields unexpected insights concerning the logic of accidental discovery, the nature of evidence, and the mission of the humanities in a time of global crisis.
Angelica’s Book and the World of Reading in Late Renaissance Italy is a thought-provoking read for any scholar of early modern Europe and its culture. – See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/angelicas-book-and-the-world-of-reading-in-late-renaissance-italy-9781474270335/#sthash.VM91HA7S.dpuf
Presenting:  Mark Sweetnam (School of English, TCD); Catherine Lawless (Women’s Studies, TCD); the author, and others.

Essay Collection: Joyce/Shakespeare, ed. by Laura Pelaschiar

Joyce Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s presence in Joyce’s work is tentacular, extending throughout his career on many different levels: cultural, structural, lexical, and psychological; yet a surprisingly long time has passed since the last monograph on this literary nexus was published. Joyce/Shakespeare brings together fresh work by internationally recognized Joyce scholars on these two icons, reinvigorating our understanding of Joyce at play with the Bard. One way these essays revitalize the discussion is by moving well beyond the traditional Joycean challenge of “thinking Shakespearean” by “thinking Hamletian,” redefining the field to include works like Troilus and Cressida, Othello, and The Tempest. This collection also transforms our understanding of how Hamlet works in and for Joyce. In compelling essays that introduce new variables to the equation such as Trieste, Goethe, and Futurism, Hamlet’s role in Joyce gains fresh mobility. The Danish prince’s shadow, we learn, can still cast itself in unpredictable shapes, making Joyce/Shakespeare as rewarding in its analyses of this well-studied pairing as it is when it considers fresh Shakespearean matches.

Contributors:

Valérie Bénéjam
Richard Brown
Vincent Cheng
Paul Fagan
Dieter Fuchs
John McCourt
Laura Pelaschiar
Vike Martina Plock
Giuesppina Restivo
Sam Slote

For more information see: syracuseuniversitypress.syr.edu/spring-2015/joyce-shakespeare.html

Book: The Persian Empire in English Renaissance Writing, 1549-1622

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The Persian Empire in English Renaissance Writing, 1549-1622 studies the conception of Persia in the literary, political and pedagogic writings of Renaissance England and Britain. It argues that writers of all kinds debated the means and merits of English empire through their intellectual engagement with the ancient Persian empire. It studies the reception of Xenophon’s Cyropaedia and the Histories of Herodotus, the bedrock of English conceptions of Persia and the Persian empire, in plays, poetry and political thought. Covering the period from the beginnings of Anglo-Persian relations under the auspices of the Muscovy Company in the 1560s and 1570s to the first Anglo-Persian military alliance in 1622, it traces the changing conception and uses of Persia – both Islamic and ancient – in the English literary and political imaginary, and demonstrates the contemporary uses of an idealized image of Persia rooted in the classical legacy.

Jane Grogan is a Lecturer in Renaissance Literature at the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin, Ireland. She is the author of Exemplary Spenser (2009; winner of the Isabel MacCaffrey prize) and the editor of Celebrating Mutabilitie: Essays on Edmund Spenser’s Mutabilitie Cantos (2010) and several journal articles.

More details here

Book: Staged Transgression in Shakespeare’s England, ed. by Rory Loughnane and Edel Semple

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Last month, the School of English, UCC celebrated the launch of Staged Transgression in Shakespeare’s England, edited by Rory Loughnane and Edel Semple. This collection of seventeen essays draws together leading and emerging scholars to investigate performances of transgression on the early modern English stage.

Building on recent scholarship in studies of performance, politics, gender, sex, and race, Staged Transgression seeks to assess, respond to, and look beyond the last concentrated critical discussion of transgression in the 1980s. The collection explores areas of study that have been previously neglected in scholarly discussion and seeks to challenge critical orthodoxies and assumptions about the power and effect of onstage performances of illicit, deviant, and disorderly behaviour. The volume’s contributors examine a wide range of onstage activities – from drunkenness and spitting, to bawdy speech and improper laughter, to rebellion and regicide – and offer fresh insights into the cultural work of theatre in Shakespeare’s England.

Staged Transgression includes contributions from scholars from around Ireland including Danielle Clarke (UCD), Darragh Greene (UCD), Andrew Power (TCD), and Edel Semple (UCC). Further information on the volume can be found at: http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=686879