Saturday, 1 November 2014

warm, misty, day of the dead, open, visualizing, accident, old friends

Astonishingly warm morning - week indeed! Quite like it but also a part of me yearns for more seasonal weather.

Saving on heating bills. System not switched on since the spring, although we have had a few log fires to dry the air.

Enjoyed a misty canal-side walk in Oxford the other morning - top pic. Very atmospheric and calming.

Meanwhile at the Latin American Centre a Day of the Dead Altar has been constructed in memory of Gabriel García Márquez - see the paper skulls above and this interesting NPR article for the historical provenance of Day of the Dead Altars and an explanation of their elements and symbolism.

I've been preparing for my Continuing Education Open Day event next Tuesday (Fiction reader - fiction writer). The is fully booked, though there may be some returns nearer the day.

Have signed up for this intriguing event in Oxford next week: Visualizing Literature: Trees, Maps and Networks by Dr Jan Rybicki, Assistant Professor at the Institute of English Studies, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland. As the blurb says:

'Stylometry, the study of countable elements of (literary) language, has reached a critical moment in its development. It has transcended its earlier application in authorial attribution; it now aims at testing and challenging or confirming the existing models of literary history by going through more data than a traditional literary scholar ever could: big collections of texts that are analyzed with a whole new arsenal of quantitative statistical methods that rely on various distance measures to establish new, or confirm the old, patterns of similarity and difference between the oeuvres of individual writers, groups, genres, themes, traditions... But in doing so, stylometry now faces a new challenge of how to visualize such a big amount of literary and linguistic data.'

Another fascinating Digital Humanities event. While I am excited by the possibilities that the Digital Humanities offer us for analysing fiction, I remember visiting a friend who was doing a Linguistics DPhil in 1989, when I was attending Linguistics masters seminars with a view to taking my interest in Stylistics further. My friend was analysing the recurrence of a particular word in Shakespeare's plays and showed me reams of spreadsheets (reams of paper in those days) and I thought, Where are the plays! Digital Humanities offer possibilities but it is vital to keep contact with the wonderful works of literature themselves.

Downloaded Joseph Losey's film Accident, screenplay by Harold Pinter and starring Dirk Bogarde, on iTunes the other weekend. I'd not seen the film since 1984. It was dated, has a strangely simplistic take on the academic and aristocratic 'establishments' but is still utterly compelling. Great to see views of Oxford from the sixties and how these have changed - or haven't.

Just had a lovely lunch with old friends who we haven't seen for several years. Five Alls, Filkins. A wonderful, warm occasion!

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