Machine Learning and the Experience of Allusion: Experiments in Classical and Eighteenth-Century Poetry
Speaker: James Gawley, University at Buffalo and Paris-Sorbonne
Poetic allusion is the art of incorporating the verses of one’s predecessors into one’s own work. As such, allusion proves the bona fides of the educated poet and, at its most successful, helps the poet to supplant his forebears by improving upon their turns of phrase. For the reader, allusion deepens a verse’s meaning by adding a second, older context to a poetic image. For the researcher, allusions provide insight into an author’s influences and reading habits.
This presentation will discuss the operating theory behind the Tesserae and Tesserae-OBVIL projects. It will also present an experiment, wherein predictive models are compared against reader-reaction studies of allusion. This machine-versus-man comparison shows us which similarities are observed by readers, and which are missed. The difference in language use between observed and unnoticed poetic parallels constitutes a useful recipe for the effective use of language.