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Summer School

The Encyclopaedia of Shakespeare’s Language Project Summer School
…or, how we did it, and how you can learn to do it.

Lancaster University, UK — 27th to 30th June 2017.
APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED FOR THIS YEAR.

If you have browsed the other pages in this website, it is probably already clear that the Encyclopaedia project is underpinned by corpus-based methods. It is a case of Corpus Linguistics meets Shakespeare.

Corpus Linguistics is a branch of linguistics that is focused on method, typically involving computers looking for patterns in vast electronic text-banks or corpora. If that sounds alien, it is worth noting that some of the enterprises within Digital Humanities deploy similar techniques, and the same can be said of authorship attribution studies. In fact, the recent (controversial!) decision to attribute some of Shakespeare’s plays formerly thought of as entirely written by Shakespeare to Christopher Marlowe was based on analyses using techniques that are familiar to the world of Corpus Linguistics.

However, there is a difference. Corpus linguistics is centrally focused on patterns of meaning; the same could not be said of author attribution studies. For example, in the Encyclopaedia project, we look at the words Welsh, Irish and Scottish. We are not simply interested in the number of times these words occur, but in the words they occur with, and how those co-occurrences may colour the meanings of those items (e.g. Irish, not unexpectedly, co-occurs frequently with negative words such as wild and savage, but unexpectedly with rug, something that points to a positive feature — an Irish rug was a well-regarded colonial import).

The Summer School is free-of-charge, though you will need to bear the costs of your travel and accommodation. The programme consists of a series of two-hour sessions, involving lectures, discussion-oriented sessions and practical sessions in computer labs where participants are trained in the use of corpus tools. No background in corpus linguistics is needed, though basic computing skills are assumed (which most people have these days anyway). An indicative topic list is as follows:

  • Introduction / Corpus tools and techniques
  • Foundational techniques: collocation
  • Foundational techniques: keywords
  • Spelling variation: problems, analysis and solutions
  • Collecting corpus data
  • Collocational networks and discourse analysis
  • Corpus use in Early Modern Lit Studies
  • How corpus linguistics can enhance research in the history of early modern England
  • Studying social history with corpora: prostitution in the 17th century
  • Exploring Shakespeare’s language with corpus techniques
  • A plenary lecture  on Shakespeare’s language

Note that in the practical hands-on sessions relating to the first set of bullet points above, you will typically be working with texts relating to Shakespeare and/or his contemporaries.

The Encyclopaedia project’s summer school is a thread embedded within the Humanities strand of the Lancaster Summer Schools in Corpus Linguistics and Other Digital Methods. For more details and for information, see: http://ucrel.lancs.ac.uk/summerschool/humanities.php