The project has received funding from the Swedish Research Council (2010-2012) and from the Department of Languages and Literatures.
Researcher: Marcus Nordlund
The research project Shakespeare’s Insides is the first comprehensive and fully systematic study of all soliloquies and solo asides in Shakespeare’s plays. Its unique mixed methodology—a combination of computer-assisted coding and traditional interpretive practices, from close reading to sociohistorical analysis—offers new and distinctive insights into one of the most closely studied authors in world literature.
The first step in the research process was the creation of the Shakespeare’s Insides Database (SID), a collection of all soliloquies and solo asides (dubbed “insides” for short) in thirty-nine Shakespeare plays. These texts were annotated in the software programme nVivo 10 according to variables of literary interest (such as act, dramatic subgenre, probable time of composition, dramatic speech acts, selected figures of speech, and character attributes such as gender and class). Having access to such comprehensive and detailed data makes it possible to generalize dependably about Shakespeare’s authorial habits, and, by extension, to identify situations where the author departs in interesting ways from his habitual practices.
The second concrete outcome of this project is a monograph of around 85,000 words (currently in its final stages of preparation). It uses the broad patterns and significant exceptions unearthed by the SID database as a backdrop for new perspectives on a broad range of Shakespeare plays: from early comedies (The Taming of the Shrew and The Two Gentlemen of Verona) to histories and tragedies (most notably, Hamlet and Richard II) and late romances (The Tempest and The Two Noble Kinsmen). Chapter 1 is entitled “Direction,” with a pun on the theatrical and the spatial sense of the word. What dramatic conventions appear to have governed the physical direction in which Shakespeare’s actors delivered their insides on the stage, and what effects do they have on our appreciation of his plays? Chapter 2, “Divergence,” explores a number of situations in Shakespeare’s plays where the sharp boundary between inside and dialogue becomes muddled in dramatically productive ways. Chapter 3, “Dialogue,” is a stylistic study of dialogical tendencies in Shakespeare’s insides, with a specific focus on selected figures of speech and related techniques that imbue Shakespeare’s insides with paradoxically dialogical qualities. Chapter 4, finally, is entitled “Distribution.” It explores tonal and interpretive consequences of the large-scale distribution of insides within and between Shakespeare’s plays, with particular attention to how Shakespeare guides audience sympathy for his characters through the selective distribution of insides
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