“The Briefcase” was first published in 1990 as part of Paul Muldoon’s Madoc: A Mystery. Composed of rhythmic symmetry, “The Briefcase” is a sonnet with inverted rhyme, repeating outward from the central four lines. These four lines, which respectively close on “cloudburst”, “torrent”, “first” and “daren’t”, correlate to f-g f-g in the rhyme scheme. Looking at the poem’s rhyme from the beginning, we can trace it as follows: a-b-c-d e-f-g f-g-e-d c-b-a. Muldoon’s use of poetic symmetry in such a fashion provides us with our initial clue to the meaning of “The Briefcase”. Continue reading →
Irish author and journalist, Mark Evans, published his first non-fiction book with Mercier Press back in 2007. Recently, he decided to try something different, and took a step into the world of fiction. With his new book, Mrs God, now available on Amazon, I had a chat with Mark about writing epic fantasy on a small scale.
Mrs God is something of an epic on a small scale. Would you agree with this?
Absolutely. Yes, there are angels and demons leaping about the place and swords and longbows doing a lot of damage. And yes, the story begins before the big bang before coming right up to the present day. But at the centre of Mrs God is a tale about a ‘woman’ and a baby. It’s a book about belonging and growing up and, most of all, about having a purpose in life. It just happens to feature kick-ass archangels too. Continue reading →
First thing first, what can your fans expect from you in the future? Anything exciting in the works?
Currently, I am working on the third book for Ace of a military space opera series, Cutter’s Wars. First one is out, second one will be out in the next few months, third one, early in 2015, if I get it done…
Star Wars fans with an interest in novels from the franchise will be familiar with the works of Michael Reaves and Steve Perry, authors of Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter and Shadows of the Empire, respectively. Reaves and Perry have also collaborated on a number of books, the most recent being Death Star, published by Del Rey in October 2007. Using the aforementioned single-author novels, I formed an authorial signature of both Reaves and Perry. Then, utilising stylometry’s rolling Delta* method, I analysed their contributions to the text of Death Star.
Yesterday I attended The Limits of the Archive: Classification, Management, Digitization, an IRC-funded workshop hosted by Dr Carrie Griffin and Dr Mary O’Connell at University College Cork. The purpose of the workshop was to lay the foundation for digital research into 19th Century antiquarian book-collector and amateur printer, Charles Clark. The programme included respected scholars and practitioners from a variety of relevant fields, each of whom participated in numerous discussions in relation to digital projects of this nature.
I recently saw a tweet from blogging guru, Geoff Talbot, that read: “Never tell an artist to get a real job”. It led to an interesting discussion with Kelli Russell Agodon, a brilliant individual with every right to the mantle of “artist” (and the person who brought the tweet to my attention in the first place). Kelli, a writer, poet, editor and publisher, made the point that it annoys her when people classify her art, in this case literature, as a “hobby”. As a recipient of multiple prestigious awards, grants and residencies, one can safely describe Kelli as an artist by profession. However, while there are undoubtedly many professional artists like Kelli whose work and social contribution is trivialised, it is arguably more common to find individuals who seem to think that intent is equivalent to accomplishment. Indeed, many people have failed to comprehend the crucial difference between art as profession, and art as pastime. Continue reading →
Presenting at last year’s DHSI Colloquium, I introduced an application that I designed for the iPad, intended to allow users to add annotations to the Cantwell Collection, a collection of W. B. Yeats first editions held in the Boole Library at UCC. The application, I argued, was based on a need to, as reflected in the title of the paper, “annotate the bibliographic code”. In essence, my suggestion was that, by availing of digital tools and resources, scholars could annotate images of any visual or material elements related to their research. In other words, digital imagery allows us to annotate high-quality replications of rare books covers and paintings, etc. While this is anything but a novel idea, there is a lack of relevant tools available for scholars (though the wonderfully feature rich imageMAT is nearing completion), and thus, my application focusing on the Cantwell Collection was born.
I presented the tool to the DHSI community, which allowed users to add annotations to digitised copies of the Cantwell Collection, and was immediately shown the error of my ways when the first question was asked: “Can I load my own images into this, or is it just for scholars looking at Yeats?” Foolishly, I’d not considered the wider community, and had instead narrowed my focus to one of the champions of material modernism. Yeatsians would undoubtedly have found the application useful, but we’re not all Yeatsians (I’m not even a Yeatsian myself, beyond having used his collections as examples in my work on paratextuality and bibliographic coding). Thus, following the DHSI Colloquium, I ventured back to the drawing board, and devised an application that allows scholars to annotate their own images, whatever they might be.
As a cinematic examination of postcolonial Britain, Stephen Frears’ My Beautiful Laundrette, written by Hanif Kureishi, is highly effective in its purpose. Here, I will discuss the ways in which the film explores postcolonial identity, particularly in relation to the politics of gender, questions of sexuality and the family unit, as well as the cultural connotations that are inherent across each of these. Continue reading →
Experimental texts pose something of a quandary to electronic textual analysis in that they tend to abandon those typical statistical trends required to form an authorial signature. Computational stylistics, for all its analytic diversity, is utterly dependent on the integrity of its authorial signature if it is to be used as an approach to analysis. If you want to see why computational stylistics is the realm of digital humanists and not purebred statisticians or computer scientists, run Finnegans Wake through R. Of course, the nature of experimental texts, while problematic in relation to any analysis based on computational linguistics, also presents the opportunity for textual explorations of a refreshingly unpredictable fashion – it is in experimental works that the digital humanist can hope to produce results that are truly unexpected, even if the unexpected is precisely that which is expected. Enter Dave Lordan, and the wonderfully crafted First Book of Frags, his recent collection of experimental short stories. At first I had intended to offer a traditional review of the text, but these will undoubtedly be in plentiful supply, and with time against me and my curiosity piqued at the prospect of running a brand new experimental text through the digital gauntlet, I couldn’t resist but take a computational approach. This decision was of course influenced by the fact that this is a collection of experimental short stories – 16 unique segments – mouth-watering to a cluster fiend such as myself.
Amongst his many other accomplishments, Ian Fellows will long be remembered as the scholar who gave us empirical word clouds. Using his innovative R package, I generated such a visualization of the top 50 most frequently used words in Lordan’s collection, excluding those that would be considered common. Common words only have significance in the development of an authorial signature, and thus would have served little purpose to this particular aspect of the analysis.
50 most frequent uncommon words in Dave Lordan’s First Book of Frags