I have recently finished my thesis for graduation at Utrecht University.
I've tried to discover the possibilities of poetry analysis using a
computer and TEI-markup as opposed to poetry analysis without a
computer. For analysing my tagged poems I used the SGML-browser Panorama
Free. I would like to report some of my findings.
I found that using a computer and TEI to analyse poems has good results,
but I also found some disadvantages:
It is a problem to tag a poem in such a way that all forms of poetry
analysis can be performed. A specific problem is that no tags are
available for the encoding of assonance and alliteration. In general,
the TEI verse workgroup advises the use of FSA, SPAN or NOTE to encode
features for which no specific tags have been designed such as metaphor,
themes, images, allusions, topoi, styles etc. If one wanted to tag all
of the above things would get very complicated, since there are only
three options available to encode far more than three features. Of
course there is the possibility of designing one's own tags, but I
haven't explored that option due to lack of time.
A serious disadvantage of TEI is that it is not possible to use the
metrical attributes with the DIV element. These attributes have to be
used with the lower level LG element (in my case). Nevertheless, in the
Guidelines (paragraph 9.4) it is said that metrical attributes should be
used at the highest level possible, usually the DIV element. I have
posted earlier on this list about this fault in the TEI Guidelines,
without receiving any comments from TEI designers.
In spite of these shortcomings using TEI markup has proved to be very
rewarding in poetry analysis. In the poems (seven poems by one Dutch
20th century poet) I tagged, I found a connection between deviations
from metre and the semantic level. Certain rhythmic diversions of the
metre were almost always used in places where words connected with
'music' occurred. Further, I found some interesting cross-connections in
the use of metaphor in the different poems and gained insight in the
poet's use of semantic fields. Using TEI markup can lead to a different
way of looking at poetry, and thus to finding out new things about
poems, which haven't been discovered before.
I'm looking forward to any comments.
Greetings from Linda van den Brink in Utrecht, the Netherlands.