Monday, 12 December 2011

Blogoshpere 5 December – 11 December


The posts I liked the most last week and pertain to Early Modern Studies and Digital Humanities show a nice variety of genres and themes. Within the “Early Modern” set there are five fascinating items about the Shakespearean oeuvre: one about fantasies of virginity, another about his sources, two other posts are related to data-mining, plus there is a post on Shakespeare forgery. The posts here that present non-Shakespearean topics feature aspects of cultural phenomena, such as horse-baiting, parts of James I’s cousin’s, Arabella Stuart’s life, and a further one about mechanics. The “Digital Humanities” part consists of less posts in number than the former group, yet they are not less interesting and edifying. There are two posts related to conferences—HASTAC 2011 and a Startsup Weekend conference—referring to videos and conclusions about them. Besides the conferences one may read an article about the dangers digitization projects are exposed to. Happy reading!

Early Modern Studies:

In Ewan Fernie’sShakespearience 3: Helena’s Fantasies (Part Two)” the reader meets All’s Well that Ends Well’s Helena in her self-multiplying speech. As Fernie puts it “But what is born here? All sorts of new Helenas, some far removed from ordinary identity, all engendered in the first Helena’s simple act of giving herself away.”

Liz Dollimore in her “Shakespeare’s sources – Richard II” argues that besides Holinshed’s Chronicles, Froissart’s Chronicles is also relevant especially in the case of the character of John Gaunt. Gaunt both in Shakespeare and in Froissart emphasizes the traditional concept that the legitimacy of a ruler originates from God. Shakespeare’s Richard II, however, differs from the image of the king in the sources insofar as he is presented as more fallible than in the sources. From these two premises Dollimore convincingly infers that here Shakespeare may problematize the concept of divine right, i.e. arguing for the divine right and showing that Richard cannot act well as a king.

@daintyballerina published two posts at her Shakespeare’s England blog. There is one about horse baiting “Delightfully worried to death by dogs,” by a guest blogger, Simon Leake. The other, “Far out of frame this Midsummer moone” presents “fragments form an overview of the life of Arabella Stuart, cousin to James I, and niece to Mary, queen of Scots. An illegal marriage, followed by an attempted escape to France in men’s clothing, and finally committal to the Tower of London where she subsequently starved to death, Arabella Stuart’s life makes for intriguing reading.”

Adam G. Hooks continued last week his series on Shakespeare forgeries, “Faking Shakespeare (Part 4): The Tragedy of Louis XVI”. This time he presents images from this tragedy and the transcriptions of the relevant parts.

Peacay’s post “Machine Power” features images from Vittorio Zonca’s Novo Teatro di Machine et Edificii (1607). As an appetizer she pasted images from the book of watermills, water raising machines, animal powered mills, printing press etc.

Although this is an item that should have been referred to earlier, as the lecture took place in October, yet as I have come across with it now, I cannot but include this in the present post. So this was a lecture by Folger Director Michael Witmore entitled “Data-Mining Shakespeare” and he speaks about DocuScope and genres in Shakespeare in a convincing and amazing way.

Another tool to analyse Shakespeare’s works is WordSeer at Berkeley. This tool can search for words, visualise their presence through the entire oeuvre, present them as they appear in individual plays, and also map their connotations. Clicking at this link you can watch a demo video about the word “beautiful” across Shakespeare’s works. The textual basis for the searches is the database entitled Internet Shakespeare Editions.
  
Digital Humanities:

The HASTAC 2011 conference took place two weeks ago. What is great about HASTAC people is that they care about scholars who intended but just could not attend the conference. Twitter as a regular backchannel was rather active during the conference, plus the keynote speeches have been posted on the University of Michigan -- Institute for the Humanities website. These speeches include Cathy N. Davidson’s “Now You See It: The Future of Learning in a Digital Age,” Atkins, Daniel’s “Cyberinfrastructure,” the panel devoted to “The Future of Digital Publishing”  (Tara McPherson, Dan Cohen, Richard Eoin Nash), James Leach’s “Digital Technologies in the Civilizing Project of the Global Humanities,” Siv Vaidhyanathan’s “The Technocultural Imagination,” Joshua Greenberg’s “Data, Code, and Research at Scale.”

Lisa Spiro’s “Startups and the Digital Humanities” is about the author’s experience at a previous Startsup Weekends conference. In this post she describes the format of this type of conference— competing teams create projects and then convince a panel of judges that theirs is the best. Spiro argues that DH projects, even though they do not enter the market, still they “do need to consider how to define their value, find users and sustain themselves.” At the end of the post she lists six important ideas that are to be considered for DH projects.

Matthew Reisz’s article, “Surfdom,” in Times Higher Education is a thought-provoking writing about the fashion of digitization. Although his overall claim is—I’m afraid—wrong, but his criticism of digitization projects should be considered by anyone thinking about such a project, insofar as target audience, use, benefits and investment are concerned.

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