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Home :: Archive :: 1990 :: September ::
Query: Image Clusters and Allusions (49)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 1, No. 54. Tuesday, 11 Sep 1990.
 
Date: Mon, 10 Sep 90 20:31:28 edt
From: Tom Horton <
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Subject: Imagery in Shakespeare
 
I know very little about recent trends in the study of imagery in
Shakespeare (been reading a lot of software engineering lately, I'm
afraid), but I'm curious about the idea of *image clusters*, which I
think were first defined by Caroline Spurgeon back in 1935.
 
If my memory serves, she found that Shakespeare had a habit of using
a number of words in relative proximity to invoke a certain image.
(Maybe a reader of SHAKSPER can throw out a good example with relative
mental ease.  I seem to remember the idea of dogs, candy, licking...
used to conjure up a negative image of flatterers.  But I'm not sure.)
 
I encountered these more recently (say, 7 years ago) when looking at
some work on the authorship of *Edward III*.  This person attempted
to show that the occurrence of particular image clusters in that play
could be used as evidence of authorship.  (I didn't find this
argument particularly convincing.)
 
Well, the reason I'm asking about these is that I'm currently
investigating a program design that might be useful for finding
allusions based on simple word occurrences.  It occurred to me that
my strategy would be useful for finding image clusters in large corpora.
 
Of course, the proper question for a programmer to ask immediately
after having such an idea for an application is:  DOES ANYBODY CARE?
Seriously, are scholars still interested in image clusters for any
reason?  Feel free to suggest articles or books, but summaries would
be most helpful.
 
Also, do folks out there have any applications that might benefit
from software that finds "allusions" based on the relatively close
occurrence of a set of words?
 
Tom Horton
Department of Computer Science
Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, FL 33435  USA
Phone:  407/367-2674   FAX: 407/367-2800
INTERNET:  
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    BITNET:    HortonT@fauvax
 

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