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On this course, you will explore Shakespeare’s language and, more generally, the language of his time.
Over four weeks, you will be introduced to “big data” corpus methods (methods that use computers to explore large volumes of language data) which you can use for your own investigations, and will explore how words and meanings pattern across plays, characters, and more.
Along the way, you will find out why various beliefs about Shakespeare’s life and language–like that he coined an extraordinary number of new words–are actually myths.
What topics will you cover?
- The general features of the English of Shakespeare’s time, from spellings through words to grammar;
- The nature of Shakespearean texts, including how their production affected their language;
- How huge collections of texts can be explored by computer to highlight meanings (and in a more subtle and yet empirical way than current Shakespearean dictionaries);
- The myths about Shakespeare’s language (e.g. that he coined an extraordinary number of new words); and
- How fresh light can be shed on the linguistic styles of plays and characters through corpus methods.
What will you achieve?
By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...
- Demonstrate an understanding of Shakespeare’s language and empirical methods for its analysis
- Evaluate common myths surrounding Shakespeare’s language;
- Compare the language of Shakespeare with that of his contemporaries
- Investigate the linguistic traits of characters and plays
- Apply corpus linguistic concepts and methods