Detection With Doyle

October 27th, 2011
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October 22nd, 2011
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Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back

The New Critic is rather picky. Historical guides and statistical references are, to him, scrap paper — the blank, text-less spaces are the most useful. And of what interest to NC are Shakespeare’s personal beliefs and values? Those of his readers? Banished! Woe is to those who peruse the stacks of extraneous materials, “[t]he poem’s overall meaning or form depends almost solely on the text in front of the reader. No library research, no studying of the author’s life and time, and no other extratextual information is needed, except, perhaps a dictionary. The poem itself contains all the necessary information needed to discover its meaning” (Bressler.) Hath spoken NC. He’s in it for the most basic, however entirely-bulky, means to a collision of identified metrical devices, rhetoric, parts of speech, language, and allusion — all that sit comfortably on the pages before him, and not in any additional books stashed in the crux of the local public library — amassed to provide an entirely objective understanding of text, sans external emotions of writer or reader, or traces of scientific thought. Accordingly, a critical analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 65 by succeeds to impresses NC, while sending him running for library-ridden hills.

NC favors the examination of the individual word; weighing the denotation of “rage” (line 3) against its connotative definition, and holding “flower” (line 4) up against the light for metaphorical observation fall justly under NC’s methodology. The paradigmatic value of “brass” and “stone” in line 1, and of “earth” and “boundless sea” are observable truths gathered entirely from the text itself, as is the juxtaposition of “hand” and “foot” in line 11. Too, .com makes mention of the enduring tone of sorrow and doom, considering emotion for what it exists as in the poem, not by which it was created. “Of particular importance to [NC] is the etymology of particular words,” such as the conclusion that “wreckful” in line 6 is an alternative spelling of “wreckful” based on its root “wrack,” meaning “ruin or devastation.” Via an assortment of literary techniques, .com engages in the aesthetic value of the poem, “[b]ecause the poem itself is an artifact of an objective entity, its meaning must reside within its own structure, within the poem itself.” The organic unity of the poem is evident: fragile beauty will survive over the advancement of destructive time by the poet’s pen alone. And, further, how favorably portrayed in the 1609 Quartro Version of Sonnet 65, offering a basis for etymological perusal from the outdated source.

However, .com’s commentary does not entirely cater to NC’s analytical preferences. Historical examples, like the list of outside instances in which “to hold a plea” (line 3) means “to try an action” are barely welcome under NC’s watch. It is the text before him that he considers, not Sonnet 18 from which .com pulls examples of recurrent themes apparent in other Shakespearean sonnets.

Can’t please everyone, NC included.

Hey Richter, Mind if I Enhance?

October 15th, 2011
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M. H. Abrams has been around a long, long time, and still has only lived long, not-long-enough to witness the development of the fourth of the four literary theories he describes based on Richter’s map.   If he sticks around just slightly longer, though, he may very well come to lengthen that list.  For now, he has us perusing the following four:

1. Mimetic theories of classical antiquities are concerned with the relationship of literature and the outside world as a whole.

2. Rhetorical theories are concerned with the relationship of literature and Reader.

3. Expressive theories are concerned with the relationship of literature and Writer.

4. Formal theories are concerned with the “purely aesthetic” relationships that exist within a literary work and a close analysis of that literature to identify “quasi-scientific objectivity.”

I don’t know how active Mr. Abrams is nowadays as he approaches centenarian, but I do wonder what he thinks of digital humanities, specifically the Ngram, as tools of literary interpretation.  I think mimetic,  rhetorical and expressive theorists would be enthralled by the Ngram (void of potential technological restraints).

In accordance with mimetic theory, the Ngam is concerned with the progression of the written word, as a microcosmic representation of the literature whole, and it connotation(s) as it relates to society today and that of a century back.  The program’s charts document literature’s relationship with the world at large, including the progression of particular words as constructed by varying time periods.  Published in 1856, volume seven of New York Weekly Review used the word “google” in a di-hyphenated arrangement of three, “[G]oogle-google-goolge,” to describe the “deafening bawl like the hoarse whistle of a locomotive engine when under full headway…” Come 1999, Max Messmer wrote to us about “google” in the form of a hyperlink (a hyperlink!) as an aid in job hunting in Job Hunting for Dummies.  The transition of “google” from onomatopoeia to multi-billion dollar internet search engine would fascinate Aristotle, a mimetic theorists, because of the technological progressions responsible for the word’s definiton’s alteration and the vast affects”google,” in its altered form, has had universally.

Reader and Writer, rhetorical and expressive theorists could not have even related to the word “restaurant” in literature pre-1830’s, begging the question, how did nineteenth century families celebrate Father’s Day.  Ngram does not distinguish between specific writers and how they, as individuals, related to the words with which they wrote (and, obviously, the same applies to specific readers), however we do get an idea of how the whole of society, including both Reader and Writer, at that time related to that word based on applied context.   The “gay” Vicesimus Knox wrote about in 1800, “On the grave and gay species of philosophy” (Essays, Moral and Literary, Volume two) is quite obviously unrelated to Donald H. Clark’s subject in Loving Someone Gay (1997).  We can conclude that Knox, as writer, and the readers he served to communicate with related to the word “gay” as an adjective either similar to or opposite of “grave,” and not the homosexual male Clark teaches readers how to love.

Mimetic, rhetorical and expressive theorists would have adorned the Ngram like a time period-appropriate crown.  Because new technology nestles within these three theories, I would add a fourth leg, and a fifth theory, to Richter’s map, uniting them as such:

Don’t mind if I do.

Literary Analysis: Go Digital?

October 12th, 2011
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Check out then leave your name  and a 16-digit credit card number below.

Trust me.

Hath Cometh Digital Humanities

October 9th, 2011
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I once called myself a stickler for antiquities.  But even the Amish make exceptions.  These (free!) innovative digital tools have me virtually (but, literally) hooked.

The Wordle, aesthetically lovely (I was so entranced, that I spent far too much time amusing myself with all the arrangement options, and only noticed too-late into Web Wednesday 10.5.11 that the  clock wasn’t going to wait for my selection) and intellectually superhuman.  It’s, like, the best of both worlds.  Remember the days gone debating the values of Beauty vs. Brains?  No? Me neither.

Wordle incorporates art in the traditional pen-to-paper sense with that of  the written word.   The tool can best be described as an illustrative tally of individual word appearance.  It is far different than anything I’m aware of, both because the entered document’s sum total of each word alone is calculated quicker than your pen writes, and because its results make math beautiful!

Its functions are similar to Wordle’s, though as opposed to working a specific text, the mathematicians behind Ngram count (and equally as fast) the appearance of a specific word across entire time periods.  Both tools are useful in the class of digital humanities, but Ngram’s abilities are revolutionary.  I charted the usage of the word “detective” over an entire century, at the click of a button.  Shakespeare  is suddenly attractive because of its outdated pronouns —  because Ngram showed me that during the mid-1600’s “thee” began to see its  replacement by “you.”

The two tools are brilliant.  And that’s an adjective that reached its peak usage in year 1900.



Wordle Ft. Sherlock Holmes

October 5th, 2011
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I think he might fancy the B&W.


Because This Blog Theme Is Comment-Picky:

September 28th, 2011
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This here goes out to all those budding six-worded and/or 140-character-ed memoirists:

(See:  )

Leave your Tweet-like creation as a comment below, and I’ll respond with your personalized six-worded and/or 140-character-ed horoscope.  Impress me, and I’ll throw in a(n extra) dash of rhetoric.

*Or be lame and leave your comments here for my page entitled “Glossary of Terms” — being as it refuses to accept comments directly.

Web (D: a spider’s sanctuary) Wednesday

September 22nd, 2011
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Today’s throws of lethargy ransacked my WordPress reactivity (which I attribute to the completion of another year in the life of me — what the literalist might call “the birthday” — between last week’s Web Wednesday and today’s), yet, they did facilitate my metamorphosis into Yeats’ subject: “When I am old, and grey and full of sleep…”

Albeit my comparatively delayed responses, and, consequently, elevated anxiety, today’s Web Wednesday was, like last week’s, a healthy helping of the academic future.  Between the two Wednesdays I’ve learned to “use web-based technologies in order to read and publish academic writing.”  (How “effective” this usage, I suppose must be partially evaluated by my readers.) I can proclaim, however, my progression from amateur pseudo-blogger to comfortable, middle-of-the-road(/-web-sphere) blogger.  Moreover, refurnishing Millay’s sonnet and, today, performing a literary surgery on Yeats’ written words, had me “[employing] relevant literary terms” in the most literal of ways.

And because third time’s a charm, once I publish this post, I’ll have successfully attained the status of bona fide blogger.  Here goes:


Highbrowed Detection

September 21st, 2011
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At the height of my preoccupation with unsolved crime, specifically D. B. Cooper’s (Lynn Doyle Cooper’s?) alleged survival of a 10,000 foot jump from the airplane he hijacked, I will allocate a portion of my focus to the related The Adventure of the Speckled Band.  Both cases, or adventures, perhaps, concern achievement over the seemingly impossible.  Behold the mystery genre elite, the locked room mystery — the sub-genre to which The Adventure of the Speckled Band belongs, and to which D. B. Cooper’s (pending) survival bellows in bewilderment.

Before Trench Coats

September 15th, 2011
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Evidently, I was of the ignorantly mistaken who assumed a simultaneous bearing of literature, as a palpable subject, and that of the detective novel.  That is, until I learned of The Moonstone by nineteenth century author Wilkie Collins, presumably the first novel of its kind, in a Brooklyn College literature course on that century.

The Moonstone, although at times its prose verge on overeager, brims with a consuming, suspenseful plot that I find most enjoyable.  However, what I find most intriguing is its entrepreneurial origin.  What is now so conventional was once innovative and fresh. Fascinating!  I admire artistic boldness in its contemporary form, but hardly ever considered that at some point essentially all genres of literature had sat in as The Moonstone of  its time. (See: my appeal for David Markson.)

Presumably because of the notion by which I was first formally introduced to detective/mystery literature, the genre’s attraction lives on.  This time, I look forward to delving into the subject according to Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s renown creation, who today exists as fundamental to detective literature, but, I can assure you, was once barely so.

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