Culture Magazine

At Last, After 40 Years, Someone is Listening [#DH]

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
a computational model of Shakespeare's "Sonnet 129" (1976)—an unheralded project by @bbenzon #HEX01 pic.twitter.com/vXdeNcs6tH — James Ryan (@xfoml) November 14, 2017

That's from the First Workshop on the History of Expressive Systems. The image you see on the screen originated in my computer in Hoboken, NJ, and was being viewed, via Skype, in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.
These people aren't literary critics. They're into gaming. That is to say, they are interested in stories, in creating interactive stories, and they think in computational terms. And that's how I've been thinking about literary texts for over 40 years. I can talk to them about Shakespeare, Coleridge, and Conrad in computational terms, but also Francis Ford Coppola, Walt Disney, King Kong, Gojira, and others. They need to know what I know, and vice versa.
The diagram in that image is from my 1976 article, Cognitive Networks and Literary Semantics, MLN 91: 1976, 952-982. Given the importance of MLN as a journal, and the fact that that particular issue was a special one commemorating 100 years of publication, I figured it would mark the beginning of a spectacular academic career. WRONG! Oh, the intellectual work's been good, at times even thrilling, but the literary academy wanted to go to Kansas (though that is not, perhaps, how they thought of it) and I wanted to go to the moon.
Have I found some fellow astronauts?
Stay tuned.

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