A text visualization project exploring the intersection between the rise of English artistic theory and Renaissance drama

Shakespeare (1564-1616) is remembered as a poet and perhaps the greatest playwright of all time. Still widely taught in schools and universities, his literary legacy lingers some 400 years after his death. While over the centuries, scholars have studied his corpus through a variety of analytical lens, this project examines Shakespeare's dedication to the visual arts, specifically portraits. Throughout his poems and plays, Shakespeare makes use of artistic language and includes portraits as stage props. Why does he do this? How does reference to the visual arts reflect upon drama, as his own textual and visual multi-media form?

During the English Renaiassance, the term 'shadow' held many meanings: Painting and Drawing; An unreal appearance; Applied rhetorically to a portrait as contrasted with the original; also to an actor or a play in contrast with the reality represented; An obscure indication; a symbol; An imitation, copy. How does Shakespeare make use of the variety of meaning behind artistic terminology and what can that tell us about Renaissance drama as a whole?

Inherently negative, dramatic use of artistic terms such as shadow tend to reflect upon the workmanship, status, and professionalism of the dramatist, whose own form, like painting, was in a period of transition. The graphs below are meant to provide an introductory exploration into Shakespeare's wide use of these terms and the effect these allusions have on readers and viewers.

Bubble Map 1

Artistic Terms in the Early Plays

Explore the frequency to which artistic terms appear in Shakespeare's early plays.

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Artistic Terms in the Later Plays

See the frequency to which artistic terms appear in Shakespeare's later plays.

Bubble Map 2

Shakespeare's Corpus

Explore the frequency to which artistic terms appear across Shakespeare's First Folio.

Bubble Map 2

Artistic Terms in Manuals

Explore how Renaissance visual and rhetorical manuals use artistic terms.

Bubble Map 2

Artistic Terms in Timon of Athens

See how artistic terminology is connected in Timon of Athens.

Links Graph 2

Artistic Terms in the Comedies

Explore how artistic terms are connected in the Comedies.