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Quantitative Drama Analytics - Tracking Character Knowledge

Q:TRACK’s research programme interlinks objectives in two research areas: literary and drama history and computational literary studies. In the first area, we are aiming at new insights about the way social knowledge is used to drive or solve the dramatic conflict in plays. We initially focus on the distribution and dissemination of knowledge within the single dramatic world of a play. One outcome of our work programme will be a formal model of the knowledge that all the characters and the audience have within the play’s segment (act, scene, appearance). Such a model, once it has been established, allows visualizing relations as well as drawing inferences. This can support close reading, but also facilitates comparing plays in a systematic way. Once such models can be created automatically, we will “zoom out” and look at dissemination patterns from a drama historical point of view, asking how patterns change over the centuries. It could turn out, for instance, that the relation triggering the anagnorisis (recognition) is transmitted via a character not involved in the actual relation (heralds, servants). To pursue our literary and drama historic goals, we thus systematically reconstruct constellations, modes, and techniques of dramatic knowledge distribution. As an outcome of this project, we hope to gain insights into the blueprints of the art of playwriting. By taking a multi-perspectival viewpoint on character and audience knowledge we not only assure ourselves of a non-interpretive access to the plays. We also provide an intersubjective, meta-historical approach to the identification of text elements that supposedly function as sympathy and empathy control of readers and trigger dramatic effects as the purgation of emotions (catharsis).

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