Understanding Shakespeare is the B.A. thesis project of Stephan Thiel at the Interfacedesign program of the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam. Its goal is to introduce a new form of reading drama to help understand Shakespeare’s works in new and insightful ways and to address our changed habits of consuming narrative works and knowledge through the capabilities of information visualization.

As a result, and based on data from the WordHoard project of the Northwestern University, an application of computational tools was explored in order to extract and visualize the information found within the text and to reveal its underlying narrative algorithm. The five approaches presented here are the first step towards a dicussion of this potentionally new form of reading in an attempt to regain interest in the literary and cultural heritage of Shakespeare’s works among a general audience.

The visualizations were designed as large scale prints (90cm x ~220cm) for an exhibition scenario that would enable a broad audience to re-understand Shakespeare. They were created using mainly Processing and toxiclibs (for geometry and color calculations) as well as several other Natural Language Processing libraries (i.e. Classifier4J). Please be aware that the experience of these works might differ substantially between the web and the original printed version.

Thanks to Conny and my family, Steffen Fiedler, Jonas Loh, Sven Rösch, my thesis supervisors Prof. Boris Müller & Prof. Matthias Krohn, Tomek Ness, Steffen Klaue, Matthias Voß, Marek Plichta, Sebastian Stolz, Patrick Kochlik & Dennis Paul (the-product©) and Till Nagel.

© Stephan Thiel 2010