Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 86. Monday, 13 Apr 1992.
Date: Fri, 10 Apr 1992 16:57:00 -0400
Subject: Shakespeare's Language and Computers
With Peter Hoben Wehr (a consultant at the Michigan State University
Museum), I'm developing a SuperCard program on Shakespeare's language.
My goals are similar to those I had in preparing _Unlocking Shakespeare's
Language: Help for the Teacher and Student_ (NCTE, 1988). The program
helps students find and classify the main causes of difficulty in
Shakespeare's language (it helps them develop what reading specialists call
metacognitive awareness). I've also prepared a forty-five minute
videotape to introduce the program.
After a student opens the program and selects a cutting from one
of nine representative plays, the program presents a main display that
has three areas. To the right is the text field (where the programmed
cutting from the play appears). Above it is an info field. To the left
is a palette with nine buttons. After the student reads an introduction
to the cutting and reads the entire selection, he or she is ready to
perform a series of search-and-classify operations.
To work on the cutting, the student first selects from the cutting a piece
that he or she believes must be a common cause of difficulty for modern
readers. The piece may be as short as one word or as long as four lines.
Then the student chooses from the palette a button to classify the
cause of difficulty. For example, the student may select "abuse" from
the text and then choose from the palette "Familiar Word" (short for
"Familiar Word with Unexpected Meaning"). Or the student may select
Macbeth's "As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air / With thy keen sword
impress as make me bleed" from the text and then choose from the palette
"Arrangement" (short for "Unusual Arrangement of Words").
When the student makes two appropriate selections (one from the text, one
from the palette), the program provides a pleasant bit of music, a
complimentary message in the form of a quotation from Shakespeare,
and some helpful information. The helpful information may come as
an interlinear translation, words added to an elliptical construction,
a colloquial rearrangement of words, or as commentary in the info field.
Are others at work on similar or different programs on Shakespeare's
language? Are there enough of us that we can propose a seminar
on Shakespeare's language and computers for a meeting of the Shakespeare
Association of America? I'll be in Kansas City
next week at the SAA meeting (I'm in Russ McDonald's seminar on rhetoric
on Thursday afternoon). I'd enjoy hearing from others with similar interests.
English, Michigan State Univ.