If, And or But: What we can learn from ten words in Shakespeare

94 George Street

Providence, RI 02906

Image from: Mr. Garrick delivering his Ode, London. [John Lodge 1770]. Original at the John Carter Brown Library.

Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, will give an afternoon lecture on text mining Shakespeare's works. Techniques from machine learning and statistics are being applied to the study of collections of texts with increasing frequency. For those who do not have a background in such techniques, it is often difficult to understand the arguments that can be made about texts based on “counting things.” In this talk, Michael Witmore will take attendees through the result of counting three words – if, and, but – in Shakespeare’s plays, probing how this simple set of features can be connected to insights about dramaturgy and genre that have long interested literary critics. The talk is co-sponsored by the John Carter Brown Library and the Department of English.