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The Measure of Middle Dutch: Rhythm and Prosody Reconstruction for Middle Dutch Literature, A Data-Driven Approach.

What does it mean when the rhythm of a literary text is called 'snappy' or 'fluid'? And what are the characteristics of literature that is 'easily engraved on one's mind'? The rhythmical qualities of literature are often described on an intuitive basis, while using vague terms. This is especially true for Middle Dutch literature. The many rhymed texts of our literary history's earliest stages frequently receive labels like these. However, it is often unclear what is actually meant by them. With this research, it is my ambition to provide the highly necessary scientific backing to these intuitive – and therefore potentially biased – statements. Contrary to previous research, I will make use of computational techniques to investigate the rhythmical qualities of Middle Dutch literature. Because these techniques are unprejudiced, subjectivity can be ruled out. As a result, we will achieve a precise and understandable notion of the rhythmicities of literary texts. For the first time ever, we will be able to pinpoint precisely the reasons for certain intuitive observations. Also, by not restricting ourselves to the analysis of individual texts, we will compare the rhythms present in different genres of literature. Without losing ourselves in a jungle of vague impressions, we will therefore be able to put our finger on, for example, the rhythmical differences between the famous texts 'Van den vos Reynaerde' and 'Karel ende Elegast'.
Date:1 Oct 2015  →  30 Sep 2017