Vector Modeling Semantic Change and Literary Meaning: the case of Hamlet and Early Modern Religious Controversy

Mark Dahlquist, Miami University of Ohio

This project uses Word2Vec to model, decade-by-decade, the VEP-TCP corpus of English texts printed between 1560 and 1660. I use the model produced to examine the changing meaning of the word “scandal” during this period, and as a way of approaching a traditional textual problem in Shakespeare studies: the meaning of the “dram of eale” passage that occurs in Hamlet at 1.4.36-38.

Bridging the gap between “distant” and “close” approaches to literary texts, this paper demonstrates how vector modeling tools and techniques can serve literary scholars exploring long-standing interpretive questions.