My winning proposal: putting Shakespeare together

Principal Investigator, Jonathan Culpeper, was interviewed about the Encyclopaedia of Shakespeare’s Language by…

ResearchResearch Logo“In December 2015, Jonathan Culpeper, a professor of English language and linguistics at Lancaster University, learned that he had been successful in obtaining a grant of £797,997 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s open research call.

Grant success
He says his winning proposal, to create an encyclopaedia of Shakespeare’s language, was successful for three reasons. Number one: “There was clearly an academic gap. I’ve always thought it is quite paradoxical that people often talk about the wonderful language in Shakespeare and yet, when you go to the library there are just a handful of books on that topic on the shelves. Shakespeare’s language has definitely been overlooked in terms of academic treatment.”

Number two: “It’s clear we have the tools now to do this. When I started my PhD in the late 1980s, a large corpus might have had something like 1 million words. Now 1 billion is not uncommon.” A particular strength of his proposal, Culpeper says, is his team’s close affiliation with Lancaster’s Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (Cass), which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. “Cass has developed a lot of tools for the social sciences. This project allows us to leverage them in the humanities, and specifically for Shakespeare,” he says.

Number three: “It’s topical. I think the celebrations surrounding the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death helped bring focus to the project.”

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About Mathew Gillings

PhD Linguistics student at Lancaster University.
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