Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

"Doo Comedies like you wel": A Digital Approach to Language-Learning Dialogues and Renaissance Drama

Fri, March 31, 5:30 to 7:00pm, Palmer House Hilton, Floor: Third Floor, Salon 12


Using the textual tagging software Docuscope, this paper attempts to clarify the relationship between Renaissance drama and the polyglot language-learning dialogues of authors including John Florio, Claudius Hollyband, and William Stepney. In the past, critics often viewed these multilingual manuals as “sources” for Shakespeare and his contemporary dramatists, or more simply referred to the dialogues as “theatrical.” It is my contention, however, that grouping the dialogues with the drama and subjecting both to a principal component analysis enables us to observe the precise linguistic features that have seemed so “theatrical” to critics. Indeed, this approach renders visible several overlapping characteristics of the language in comedie (particularly “city comedies”) and the language in Florio, Hollyband, and Stepney’s manuals. These findings, as I will show, permit us not only to question the boundaries of city comedy, but to reverse the established paradigm and consider Renaissance plays as staged dialogues for early language-learners.