How does Milton’s verse and Defoe’s funky  death-by-compound-sentence style compare to our contemporary English? The marked differences in the structures of seventeenth-and eighteenth-century poetry and fiction can fall hard upon non-English majors and literature obsessives alike, leaving some to believe the fault lies in their comprehension abilities. Visualization of these differences will illustrate how our modern English and  Milton’s sometimes esoteric word order and verse structure share more similarities than one might initially notice. Corkpit, at http://interrogator.github.io/corkpit/index.html provides visual corpus analysis that, with some initiative, can provide greater clarity to works like Paradise Lost and Robinson Crusoe, while connecting traditional and digital pedagogy. Treebanking provides a clear look at parts of speech and their relation to one another, and plugging in poetry and prose from past eras has the potential to assist students at all levels to understand the relation of these classic, culturally significant works to the language and meaning of our day.

Advertisements