Speaker Series Announcement: Beyond the Tagore Variorum: The prospect for large textual databases

sukanta chaudhuri

Tuesday, March 25 4:30pm, 106 McCormick Hall

In this presentation, Sukanta Chaudhuri draws on his experience of the Tagore Online Variorum "Bichitra" to review the prospects and functions of large textual databases. He will begin with a quick review of the Tagore site. Analyzing salient examples, he will assess the exciting possibilities of textual 'big data', as also its major challenges. He will indicate the novel insights and perspectives opened up by large textual databases. He will also argue that textual material requires a special approach that might affect the compiling and mining of all big data. The Bichitra Tagore Online Variorum (http://bichitra.jdvu.ac.in) is the world's biggest literary database (140,000 pages of primary data). It comprises images and transcripts of nearly all manuscript and significant print versions of Rabindranath Tagore's works in Bengali and English. It also includes an electronic bibliography, a timeline, a search-engine-cum-hyperconcordance, and an innovative three-tier collation program. The project was executed by the School of Cultural Texts and Records, Jadavpur University, with Sukanta Chaudhuri as co-ordinator and Sankha Ghosh, poet and Tagore scholar, as adviser. A team of 30 project staff worked for two years on the website, alongside many other consultants, advisers and contributors. Sukanta Chaudhuri was educated at Presidency College, Kolkata and the University of Oxford. He taught at Presidency College, Kolkata and then at Jadavpur University, where he founded the School of Cultural Texts and Records. He is Professor Emeritus at Jadavpur University and, for 2013-14, a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. His chief fields of study are Renaissance literature, textual studies and translation. His last major book was The Metaphysics of Text (Cambridge, 2010). He has completed a two-volume anthology and companion to Renaissance pastoral poetry (Manchester: in press), and is preparing the Third Arden edition of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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