TAPoR or Me?

I awoke this morning to find the TAPoR server not responding on any of my browsers:

I wanted to go into the final blog post for phase two by comparing the findings of surveillance as a major theme in act 2 with the rest of the play. In my first blog I mentioned the correlation between the word ‘know’ and the surveillance going on in act 2. Some early research (before the TAPoR server gave me error messages) found the word ‘know’ occurring throughout “Hamlet” 74 times. If I remember correctly, it occurred relatively close to the top the List Words tool, organized by frequency. While this lends proof that ‘knowledge’ and ‘knowing’ are important aspects within all of “Hamlet”, just as they are in act 2, I don’t think I would have noticed the word had I not been actively looking for it. With this in mind, I couldn’t help but question: how much did TAPoR do to aid in proving/supporting the theme of surveillance? Are the results from certain tools actually quantitatively answering questions, or am I just bending the results?
My fellow colleague Madelyn pointed out in her blog a common thought we (the act 2 group) have had regarding digital tools: “[it’s] important to know the themes within the play before trying to search for specific words”. I don’t think results from any digital tool are always consciously bended to support claims, but being vaguely aware of what you’re trying to support (whether it be themes, character traits, or something else) certainly must effect how you look at the results.
Before using TAPoR to analyze act 2, there were already so many different readings of it planted in my brain. Whether it be the first time I read “Hamlet” in high school, the different footnotes within the two editions I’ve read, the lectures Dr Ullyot gave in English 205, the modern adaptations Sparknotes provides (or it’s analysis and summaries), or even from other sources online, I already had so many ideas and views surrounding act 2 of “Hamlet”. With all this analysis that I had already done, the act of pressing a button in TAPoR and matching the word “know” to an overarching theme of surveillance just seemed rather trivial. Sure, I enjoyed getting past the frustrating parts of TAPoR and actually finding results, but after using it to analyze first act 3 scene 4, and now all of act 2, I still find my analysis feeling less academic, and more hollow.
I still think there is a place for digital analysis of literature, however, and feel that my discouragement may have come from trying to analyze a text I was already deeply familiar with, and not from TAPoR itself. While there are certainly drawbacks to using TAPoR, and any digital tool for that matter, I can definitely see a use for them to aid in beginning to analyze a text that is still rather unfamiliar.

3 thoughts on “TAPoR or Me?

  1. Oh no! I definitely know that feeling more then anyone I think! I may have passed on my Error Message disease. Sorry.

  2. Darn TAPoR! It is difficult at the most rotten of times. You did a good job of working around it though.

  3. You’ve got to love TAPoR and how reliable it is. I agree that when using TAPoR to analyze Hamlet, it seems a bit like you’re just trying to find evidence to support things you already know. Trying to find themes or important words in a text unfamiliar to you would seem to make more sense. If you did use another text, would you read it first, or just see what TAPoR comes up with?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *