'What is an appropriate authorship attribution method for Elizabethan drama...
Join us for a 45 minute talk by Professor Sir Brian Vickers - a world expert of historical rhetoric and Shakespeare - followed by a 45 minutes discussion with the audience and some refreshments! The talk will be held in English, but questions may also be asked in German.
The seminar is free to attend and open to students, researchers, university staff and the general public. RSVP to make sure you get a seat or simply show up!
What is it all about?
Zellig Harris observed, ‘language is more than a mere bag of words’. To understand the meaning of a poet or a dramatist it is simply not enough, from a literary-linguistic perspective, to rely on the computation of word frequencies. The modes of expression of poets and dramatists are just too complex for this method alone. The computation of word frequencies also completely ignores the issue of genre. In drama all utterances are speaker-based, to be assessed according to that speaker’s intentions (good or evil) – what they hope to achieve from other characters, using a variety of linguistic resources. It is unrealistic too think that one can identify an author’s idiom from the speeches of his or her characters. The words they speak are their words, their styles in prose or verse, having been chosen by the dramatist to represent differences of age, gender, rank, and dramatic function.
In Hamlet, as in King Lear, Shakespeare individualised half a dozen different characters, using a great range of expressive devices. To extract all the function words, put them into one file and then subject them to sophisticated programming and statistical analysis, is to use a fundamentally inappropriate method for the analysis of drama.
So which is a more appropriate method? Find out on 30th November!
For info on Prof. Sir Brian Vickers visit http://www.brianvickers.uk/