Step One: Look at the signs making up the first word. Identify what each individual sign is based on which signs they aren’t. Acknowledge the order these signs are written in, and then take in the whole word.

Step Two: Identify the language the word is written in, and find the image in your mind that that particular word correlates to in said language. This will be explained in more detail in Step Three.

Step Three: Identify the meaning of the word based on comparison and contrast. Let’s pretend the word is ‘baseball’. A ball is a round spherical object. A baseball is not a basketball because it is not called a basketball, so it must be another kind of ball. This will be done quickly and automatically for most words.

Step Four: Continue to read through the poem. You must be aware that the letters and sounds forming the words mean nothing– it is only through analyzing in the above fashion that you will find any coherent meaning.

Step Five: Note the order the words are written in, and base a conclusion on the understanding of these words and what they mean when put together. Continue to read the poem this way so that it creates a coherent total.

Going by these steps, I imagine that a Semiotician would be somewhat annoyed by Shakespeare’s Sonnet 65. Once he/she completed the initial basic steps he/she would find that Shakespeare does not use words based on the meanings one derives via comparing and contrasting similar words. For example, he uses the term ‘summer’s honey breath’ at one point. Based on the above steps, one would find ‘breath’ to mean the air pushed out through the mouth by one’s lungs. It would not mean ‘breeze’ to them because the word ‘breeze’ was not used. Language is extremely technical in this regard, and using the above steps the reader would come to believe that Shakespeare is talking about the season of summer breathing through its mouth breath that smells like honey.

This continues on with other phrases. For example, ‘That in black ink my love may still shine bright’ would result in the analysis that the speaker’s love is actually emitting light from black ink. The problem with these steps is that they are far too literal and do not allow for the connotation of words.

Hovering Example

October 19, 2011

“That in black ink my love may still shine bright.”

-William Shakespeare, Sonnet 65

Going by this analysis, a New Critic would be very pleased. It breaks down the poem line by line and bases its analysis on what is actually in the poem as opposed to the life and times of William Shakespeare. There is a heavy focus on connotation, which may cause some protest, but otherwise the poem would make no sense. After all, one would need to assume that the poet didn’t actually mean that the summer possesses honey breath. The only truly major issue I could find when attempting to think like a New Critic was the author’s assumption that Shakespeare misused a term (‘SB thinks it is a misapplied term, the precise meaning being ‘”to try an action” – i.e. to have jurisdiction, to be judge’). A New Critic would reject this analysis, instead saying that the poem was written exactly the way it was meant to, and that regardless of what the poet meant the meaning is what is already there.

Technology Map

October 12, 2011

Richter’s map still applies even with digital technologies, but it’s much more heavily slanted toward rhetoric and the ‘audience’ side. Most of what is on the internet is meant to be seen and understood by an audience– for example, this blog. Perhaps we could expand on the different subcategories– are we focusing on getting an audience to agree with us or are we simply trying to entertain? Writing for an audience is a very broad description, and seeing as the internet connects so many people together we must work on defining it further. One end of the spectrum could be pure entertainment, the other end pure education, and there could also be branches for the sort of audience to be reached– for example, young? Old? Many? Few?

An example:

Whew, today’s class was really┬áhectic, and I normally like hectic.

I think that Wordle and Ngram are useful Digital Humanities tools. In some ways they are new ways of doing old things, but by they save so much time. If we’d tracked word usage over time and/or made Wordle-like pictures based on finding frequently used words it would take up several classes. Instead we were able to do it quickly and still have time to analyze what we found. These technological advances may not be entirely new, but they allow us to do more with what we have.