5.0853 First ALLC-ACH '92 Conference Report (1/50)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Fri, 24 Apr 1992 19:07:11 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0853. Friday, 24 Apr 1992.

Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1992 18:15 EDT
From: John Lavagnino <LAV@BRANDEIS.BITNET>
Subject: ALLC-ACH

ALLC-ACH '92 conference report

Session: Literary applications; Paul Fortier (University of
Manitoba), chair

``Phrasal Repetends in Literary Stylistics'', Ian Lancashire
(University of Toronto)

``A Literary Apprentice'', Elli Mylonas (Harvard University), Mark
Bernstein (Eastgate Systems)

``The Henrik Ibsen Project'', Knut Hofland and Kjell Morland
(Norwegian Computing Centre for the Humanities)

This was a session with two hidden themes: repetition and the history of
humanities computing. Repetition, for the Bergen Ibsen project, was the
repetition of single words throughout Ibsen's works, as revealed when
their concordance was generated from their electronic text---though that
concordance can tell us about things more subtle than the plain
repetition of words, because their text is lemmatized and contains
indications of the references for pronouns. Ian Lancashire's study of
Chaucer extends the unit of repetition to phrases, which don't always
have precisely fixed forms: they're open and they're often linked
together into large networks that suggest related ideas and persistent
concerns, more suggestively than the atomized viewpoint of a concordance
usually can. And Elli Mylonas and Mark Bernstein talked about their
program to seek and graphically display even more loosely constrained
clusters of repeated elements, both of words and of sounds; not as a
direct pointer to significance, but as a method of discovery, of
suggesting possible avenues of investigation to the scholar.

These papers cover the ground from the study of single repeated words,
to the fuzzier category of phrasal repetends, and then to the
speculative search for possibly interesting patterns: and they also
cover the historical span from a project involving large computers,
equally large stacks of printed listings, and years of labor, to work
done on a desktop machine as part of everyday scholarly inquiry, when a
question about a pattern in a text can be answered in minutes rather
than in years. But they also show the continuing and growing value of a
well-designed project: the Ibsen project is now moving on to the
creation of a hypertext Ibsen, a world far beyond what they had in mind
when they got started in 1977. All the work presented in this session
depended on the painstaking preparation of electronic texts, which, once
created, make possible continuing innovations in computer-assisted

John Lavagnino
Department of English and American Literature, Brandeis University