Monthly Archives: April 2015

Teaching + Learning News 2.07

2015-04-23: The End-of-Term Edition
Semi-regular reports on higher-education teaching and learning from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts. By Michael Ullyot, Associate Dean (Teaching + Learning): saving your inbox from overload since 2014. Follow me on Twitter, if you do that sort of thing. Feedback and submissions are always welcome. Leave a comment below, or drop me a line.
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DEVONthinking with MPU

One of my favorite podcasts, Mac Power Users, has just released a stand-alone show on DEVONthink, the information-management system for Mac that I’ve used for the past five years or so. If you’ve heard of Evernote, which is the system that MPU’s hosts Katie and David frequently talk about, then you know what DEVONthink is.

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Language Use and Cognition: Shakespeare’s Gradatio in Context

This is the text of my paper for a seminar at the Shakespeare Association of America conference (April 2015), called Form, Complexity, and Computation


This paper explores literary complexity as it manifests in rhetorical figures, or the patterns of repetition and variation that make language beautiful and memorable, and thus make it powerful. Figures have the advantage of being computationally tractable. My research team has a Python script that uses regular expressions to detect them — first in Shakespeare’s works, and then in a 400-play corpus (supplied by Martin Mueller) from 1576 to 1642. Below, I compare Shakespeare’s use of one figure to these broader habits of usage. I conclude that while Shakespeare’s use appears to be more nuanced, it is also more narrow in its ambitions.

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Shakespeare Lipsum

Lorem ipsum, the placeholder text for printers and designers for centuries, has a thousand online variations. You can fill your documents with dummy texts in artisinal Hipster Ipsum (“Ethical hoodie tofu letterpress”); you can channel President Obama or corporate drones. And yes, Padawan, there’s a Star Wars one for you. (And here are a lot of other variants.)

But soft, mongrel vouchsafe alacrity i’faith,” quoth I: nary a Shakespeare Lipsum generator among them.

I set out to fix this problem, which only requires a plain-text file of Shakespeare’s words (minus speech prefixes, stage directions, and other editorial add-ons). But I’m stuck. Help me, Obi Wan; you’re my only hope.

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