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date: 17 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

We are living through a revolution in our ability to study Early Modern literature and culture: EEBO‒TCP offers the possibility of searching something close to the entire corpus of surviving Early Modern printed books. Such access enables us to consider questions involving larger numbers of documents than have hitherto been the norm. However, investigating at scale requires different approaches to scholarship: it is not practical to close-read tens of thousands of texts. To make the most of these new resources, we must integrate traditional literary scholarship with new approaches. This chapter gives an example of such a combined approach. We consider the language of 554 printed plays from the Early Modern period. We explore two research questions: (a) is there a distinct ‘language of tragedy’? (b) is there a distinctively Shakespearean language of tragedy? We aim to show how computational and traditional literary techniques can be combined to answer these questions.

Keywords: digital humanities, computational analysis, EEBO-TCP, early modern drama, reading at scale, close reading, Principal Components Analysis

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