Insatiable

If it is true that we can never learn it “all”, then it is implied that is something else to learn. For this reason, I believe we as humans, are naturally insatiable.  Hungry for knowledge, for the things we do not yet know. While reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet, this feeling is no stranger to me.  They say that writers are “game players” and while reading Hamlet I feel as though Shakespeare was no exception. Every word used is a word meant to be used. Every reference, theme, character, etc. has a meaning.  So how does a person even being to comprehend the most remote nuances delivered to readers via Shakespeare himself…? Wordseer of course! http://wordseer.berkeley.edu/shakespeare/index.php

Okay, maybe that was a bit of an over-sell…but you get the point. Wordseer is a Digital Humanities tool designed to provide users with a deeper understanding of a text – in my case Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  Now I know what you’re thinking: how can a computer give me deeper insights than my own text and highlighter…? Well the main difference is your sanity; personally I would like to retain mine…for now. What do I mean? Well, the amount of time an individual would have to spend scanning a text in comparison to a computer is incredibly different – granted that the tool is working correctly…

By searching a single word in relation to a single character, hypothesis can be drawn. The fact that Wordseer exists to deliver these results to you makes the range of individual theories broaden. While experimenting on my own, it is interesting to note the evidence or even lack of evidence provided by the usage of words in a text so widely examined.  Interesting opinions of theme, character, and plot will creep into your mind, and then you will know…Wordseer has officially opened your eyes to any text you may be experimenting with.

Within Wordseer, lie a couple niftly tools to help users a little more visually. Perhaps I am interested to know how many times the word “death” is used in Hamlet in relation to the rest of the Shakespeare corpus…

Cool

With the first column representing Hamlet and each following column representing additional Shakespeare works, users can visually recognize the difference from play to play in regards to a single word usage.

But perhaps you are interested in looking a little more closely at one text particularly; easy enough.  This would be a great time to create a Word Tree. Word Trees are great for finding every instance of a single word in a text followed or preceded by the line(s) the word is used in.

Cool

This visual element can be helpful in determining the context in which a specific word may be used.

Overall, Wordseer is a great tool for users looking to dig a little deeper, while embracing a new method of analysis.  This tool can help you discover layers to text which may be easy to pass over, thus assisting in the formation of provocative
thesis and conclusions or even just some interesting thoughts! I hope you are ready to feel satiated, if only for a short while.

 

2 thoughts on “Insatiable

  1. As a fellow member of the WordSeer group, I enjoyed this post and can relate to the program. I completely agree with you about how Shakespeare thoroughly thinks through EVERY word he uses, which is a major advantage of word analyzing programs. When looking at word usage it is important to understand that every word is there for a specific purpose. For that reason, these programs are useful when breaking down texts and just looking at each individual word.
    I guess another question we can try to answer during our presentation is not what do the visuals look like, but what can they do to enhance our knowledge of Hamlet. What can visuals really do other than look pretty? I guess this is something for our group to think about. Great job!
    –Madelyn

  2. I’m with Madelyn; this is a great first post, Richelle. I’m looking forward to reading more of your writing.

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