The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1241  Monday, 25 July 2005

From:           Ross Clement <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           22 Jul 2005 16:33:39 -0500
Subject:        "Reduction of Shakespeare to Numbers"

Dear all,

I have two questions. One academic, and the other not academic. The
academic one first.

In the relatively short time I've been working in the very computerised
version of authorship attribution, I've heard many second hand comments
about people who are very concerned about "reducing Shakespeare to
numbers". The books and journal papers I typically read are by those
interested in computer analysis of texts, and hence they are
unsurprisingly sympathetic to the view that relatively short lists of
numbers can represent some sort of "essence" of Shakespeare. I have
heard of conference audiences being extremely negative about work that
includes such severe reductions/simplifications. What I'd like to do is
find out more about the arguments against "reducing Shakespeare to
numbers", and understand more about arguments against. In particular, if
there are books, journal articles, and/or conference articles arguing
the case against "reductionism", I'd very much like to read them so that
I can understand more of the issues involved. Any recommendations?

The non-academic question:

I'm familiar with a number of ways in which Shakespeare's plays have
been reworked into very different things. The example I'm thinking of is
the movie _Forbidden Planet_. If I were to read or re-read one of
Shakespeare's plays, and then read/watch/listen to one of these
reworkings, what would people recommend? This would be for
entertainment, not study.

Ross Clement
Senior Lecturer in Artificial Intelligence
Harrow School of Computer Science
University of Westminster

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