Digital Humanities

TEI for Close-Readings

This is the paper that I delivered on 13 November 2017 at the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) annual meeting at the University of Victoria (British Columbia). Here’s the PDF of my slideshow, whose images intersect my script below.
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Varieties of Chiasmus in 68 Plays

This is an expanded version of the paper that I delivered at the Pacific Northwest Renaissance Society meeting in Portland, Oregon on 21 October 2017. You can download the slideshow in PDF. Two earlier posts in this series address the problem, and the programming methods I used to address it.
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Get with the Programming

(This continues my previous post on this research project, about my questions and initial steps.)

This week I’m away to the Pacific Northwest Renaissance Conference to deliver a paper on rhetorical figures in early modern drama. (Wait! Don’t stop reading, it gets better.) I feel like a legit digital humanist for the first time in my life, because I’ve written my own computer program to analyze texts – a bash script in Unix that you can try for yourself on Github.

Okay, so my program just prepares my text files to run a far more complex program by Marie Dubremetz at Uppsala University (chiasmusDetector), but getting it to run on my files took some work.

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Find all the Figures

What?

“Ask not what your country can do for you.” Instead, ask what the next line is from President Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address. Most will remember the second part of that familiar sentence: “but what you can do for your country.” It’s memorable because it repeats three words and phrases from the first half, just in inverse order: “you,” “can do,” and “your country.”

The term for this kind of linguistic structure is a rhetorical figure, and the term for this kind of rhetorical figure is antimetabole: a symmetrical (ABC|CBA) arrangement of words and phrases.

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What can Machine Learning do for Literary Critics?

First in a series of posts about artificial intelligence sparked by “The Great AI Awakening,” an article from December 2016 by Gideon Lewis-Kraus in the New York Times Magazine. Cross-posted to The Augmented Criticism Lab‘s blog.

Can you trust machines to make decisions on your behalf? You’re doing it already, when you trust the results of a search engine or follow directions on your phone or read news on social media that confirms your worldview. It’s so natural that you forget it’s artificial; someone programmed a machine to make it happen. If Arthur C. Clarke is right (“any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”), we’re living in the age of magical thinking.

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Talk: Unnatural Language and Natural Thinking

I’m giving a talk on the University of Calgary campus (in SS 1015) on Friday December 2, 2016 at 3:15pm.

Title

Unnatural Language and Natural Thinking: Shakespeare and His Contemporaries

Abstract

Critics of computational text-analysis tend to perceive its focus on language patterns as a flattening of qualitative texts into quantifiable patterns. They’re right. But a text’s linguistic operating-system deserves close scrutiny when it reveals features of the text that a human reader can’t perceive, or when it flags evidence beyond our capacity to gather. The Augmented Criticism Lab has developed algorithms to detect features of repetition and variation in the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries (starting with drama, namely the Folger’s Digital Anthology). We’ve begun with features like rhetorical figures that repeat lemmas (heed, heedful, heeding) or morphemes (heeding, wringing, vexing). We use natural-language processing to gather evidence of these unnatural formulations, to ask whether they signal natural habits of thought. The interpretive payoff is our ability to make more definitive arguments not just about these figures, but also about underlying cognitive habits.

This paper describes our process and our corpus, and presents a range of our results with this initial corpus before we expand to the billion words in the EEBO-TCP corpus (1473-1700).

For more information about the Augmented Criticism Lab, visit < acriticismlab.org >.

Digital Humanities at the University of Calgary

Are you interested in doing graduate work in the digital humanities at the University of Calgary? Or just want to learn more about what we’re doing in this field?

Drop me a line. I’m accepting graduate students (MA and PhD) for Fall 2017.

Faculty here at the University of Calgary are topic-modelling sci-fi archives and using computers to analyze Shakespeare’s language patterns. In the Department of English we digitize, deform, and interpret texts, to develop new methods of digital philology; and we work with computer scientists to quantify, process, and visualize texts to uncover social, cultural, political, and historical trends.

If shaping the future of the humanities appeals to you, consider applying to the Department of English to do your graduate work in this field. The application deadline is December 10, 2016 for admission in Fall 2016.

Contact me for details, or to ask questions:

Talk: Computational Media Design + DH

This is a talk I gave on October 27th at the University of Calgary, “The Interface between CMD and Digital Humanities” about relationships between the Computational Media Design program and the digital humanities on campus. 
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Student Projects in the Digital Humanities

This is a brief post, to highlight the work of my students this past term in a directed-study course in the digital humanities. Aaron Ellsworth and Will Best have each undertaken research projects, and have published a series of blog posts on their processes and their results. (Click on each name for each series.)

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Digital Humanities at Congress 2016

A list of events for digital humanists at Congress 2016 (May 28-June 3, 2016), compiled by Michael Ullyot. To add an event, send details to ullyot{at}ucalgary.ca.

Events are listed in the order they were received (i.e. not in chronological order).  

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