Linked Reading: Mapping a Global Renaissance with 53,829 Texts

Lecture | February 9 | 5-6:30 p.m. | 127 Dwinelle Hall

 James Lee, University of Cincinnati

 Department of English

This talk adapts digital methods to redefine our understanding of a squarely humanistic problem: the history of race in Shakespeare’s era. If we only read Shakespeare’s plays, the Renaissance world looks fairly small, tracing a map that would include political adversaries like France, Spain, and Holland and a distant imagination of Italy and the Ottoman Empire. However, if we expand our textual scale to explore tens of thousands of Renaissance texts, then England’s worldview suddenly looks global, with thousands of authors discussing far-flung regions such as Cambaya, Peru, Java, Brazil, and Japan. By using large scale text mining techniques to analyze thousands of texts beyond the scope of a single famous author and even the capacity of the individual reader, Lee tells a very different story about the multiple discourses of race that helped motivate England’s earliest efforts to define its place in a global context in the era before colonialism.

 Elizabeth Honig, Professor, HIstory of Art, elizahonig@yahoo.com