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Posts Tagged ‘visualizing drama

Some craven scruple of thinking too precisely on th’ event*…

Readers will know that your correspondent is a fan of infographics (c.f., e.g., “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,”Victorian Visualization,” and “I See“).  Today’s featured visualization is one that raises as many questions as it answers– but one that merits attention, if for no other reason, for its beautiful weirdness.

Stephan Thiel at the Interface Design program of the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam acted on an unquestionably noble impulse:

…to introduce a new form of reading drama to help understand Shakespeare’s works in new and insightful ways and to address our changed habits of consuming narrative works and knowledge through the capabilities of information visualization.

As a result, and based on data from the WordHoard project of the Northwestern University, an application of computational tools was explored in order to extract and visualize the information found within the text and to reveal its underlying narrative algorithm. The five approaches presented here are the first step towards a discussion of this potentially new form of reading in an attempt to regain interest in the literary and cultural heritage of Shakespeare’s works among a general audience.

The resulting images, captured at Understanding Shakespeare, may or may not help– but they are absolutely fascinating.

Consider one of Stephan’s five approaches, “Visualizing the Dramatic Structure”

The goal of this approach was to provide an overview of the entire play by showing its text through a collection of the most frequently used words for each character. A scene is represented by a block of text and scaled relatively according to its number of words. Characters are ordered by appearance from left to right throughout the play. The major character’s speeches are highlighted to illustrate their amounts of spoken words as compared to the rest of the play.

The Taming of the Shrew (click on image or here to enlarge)

Explore other plays in this way, or check out the other four approaches at Understanding Shakespeare.

* Hamlet, Act 4, scene 4, 40-41

As we reach for our facsimile First Folios,
we might recall that in Britain on this date in 1752 absolutely nothing happened.  There was no “September 3” (nor September 4-13) in Britain that year, as 1752 was the year that Britain converted from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, which required an adjustment of 11 days.  Thus, that year British calendars went from Wednesday, September 2 directly to Thursday, September 14.

Most historians believe that persistent stories of riots in England at the time, demanding “give us our eleven days,” are an urban legend, fueled in part by an over-enthusiastic take on Hogarth’s 1755 painting “An Election Entertainment”: