Category Archives: Shakespeare

Could One Word Change a Story?

This is a republishing of an article I wrote for the Strange Bedfellows project.  The original url is here.

Early modern drama, and Shakespeare’s works in particular, have a very troubled past.  So troubled that, especially in Shakespeare’s case, editors have been fighting over what exactly were Shakespeare’s “true words”.  Early modern methods of printing, copying, and ideas of copyright were varied to say the least.  Thanks to nearly infinite variation that comes from this, any play that has Shakespeare’s name should also have the names of its editors.  So much is involved in editing Shakespeare and early modern plays, the length of time involved in editing the Cambridge Edition of Ben Jonson’s works comes to mind, that any editor could easily be considered a coauthor.  Editors resolve variant issues anywhere from single words, like “hath” or “have”, “Ay” or “I”, etc., to complete passages, like in Act 3.1 of King Lear.  Editors have fought over these issues for so long, contrasting schools have formed, and different editions have be published in response to others, that I feel like a particularly modern question must be asked of this early modern “drama”: “Do individual words matter, specifically in literature?”

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How Quickly Nature Falls Into Revolt

I have been meaning to write this post for a couple of months now, but I have not sat down long enough to get it done.  I recently published an article with Apollon eJournal which I had been working on since the winter of 2010.  In fact, my views and critical stance had changed so much that I significantly revised it past fall before publication.  I wanted to supplement the article with this post because some of the materials I sent where simply too awkward to be included in the article proper.  For one, I wanted to talk about what does not often get discussed with discussions of Docuscope and that is mainly the effect of the text itself upon the evaluative tool Docuscope is.  I discussed most of this in my post here but I wanted to add the underlying structure of Docuscope itself.

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I Tell You, ‘Tis Incredible to Believe

I went to the British Library for the first time today and I was simply blown away by the amount of materials I was able to access in one place at one time.  I went to the Rare Book and Music room and viewed about twenty editions of Shakespeare’s works, mostly pre-1850.  I cannot believe that this is a free public library and a veritable construct of reading space.  On their website it said something to the effect of the British Library building near St. Pancras in London being the biggest building built in the UK in the 20th century.  Absolutely incredible.

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I Warrant He Hath A Thousand Of These Letters, Writ With Blank Space For Different Names

In York I received a flyer that was uniquely individualized.  A couple of weeks prior, for Thanksgiving dinner, my partner Emily and I ordered out from Pizza Hut and we bought two “Create Your Own” pizzas.  In the advert we received later, there is a picture which is presumably Pizza Hut’s portrayal of a normal “Create Your Own Pizza” and it states that “Your Create Your Own Pizza was just the beginning . . .”.  We realized that the ad was tailored to our past buying trends but the same ad, with a change in type of pizza on the front, had gone out to our friends’ houses as well.  To me it seemed like a printed form of Google’s personalized web ads based on your browsing history.  In both cases, each visitor receives a unique response but in essence the website applies the same algorithm to every visitor.  On my WordPress blogs, I also receive a lot of spam “comments” in which a stock phrase or statement is pasted into the comment box of blog posts but caught by a program called Askimet.  I usually take time to read them all before deleting them and they seem to follow the same format as the ads for Pizza Hut and Google.  For instance, there is usually a space filled in by information pertinent to the viewer, usually an outgoing link to other things is present (in Pizza Hut’s case it was printed pictures of additional pizzas), and the use of other acquired information within a set framework.  Because the ad was printed like this, I began thinking about fill-in-the-blanks in literature, particularly in terms of genre and mode related to textual features.  Continue reading

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Presume Not that I Am the Thing I Was

I think this is the last old post I had to write.  This is focused on my final project for Prof. Witmore’s class in May:

Over the course of a semester, Professor Witmore introduced our class to writings about relational patterns and networks, then subsequently applied them to the study of literature.  We read books such as Graham Harman’s “Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics”, Franco Moretti’s “Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary History”, and Alexander, Ishikawa, and Silverstein’s “A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction” which slowly coalesced in my mind and led into my final project; a Java program designed to help render Docuscope quality text from a plain or formatted transcription.

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A Day in April Never Came So Sweet

I just realized that I had a couple of drafts that I did not finish earlier this year.  This is from April:

As I was sitting in Heathrow airport, I looked up to see all of the people in front of me focused intently, and some with mouths agape, in a common direction to my left.  I glanced over to be struck by the image of a six foot tall rabbit, with a bright yellow costume and little green hat, skipping and shuffling his way past us down the terminal.  This could have been an instance of extreme laughter except I didn’t keep looking at the rabbit; instead looked at the others around me.  It was interesting that, although a few people returned to their previous actions after the rabbit had gone twenty more feet, most kept staring until the rabbit was completely out of sight. Continue reading

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There is Nothing Either Good or Bad, But Thinking Makes it So

I have recently been working on an extension to shakesbook.org that employs Ajax to retrieve a file of Shakespeare’s plays from the server.  This is similar in theory to the Simile timeline I used before and also akin because of my use of a JSON data format.  I am hoping to apply a JSON data structure to complete works of literature instead of using XML.  Jon Bosak organized Shakespeare’s works into XML as early as 1996, the files here are from 1999, but from what I can tell no one has tried to place the plays into JSON.  I wish to return to this, instead of leaving it settled in XML, for several reasons.  For one, JSON is arguably more easily readable [1] by humans and computers and JSON has familial ties to Java/JavaScript, which is the language I can work in best.   JSON also takes up much less space than XML [2] which means faster communication between the server and the webpage.  These reasons together made me choose to remake Shakespeare’s works, however my acquaintance with both the plays and the data format did not result in a quicker solution; instead I inadvertently arrived at larger questions of meaning in these plays.

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