HyperHamlet: the cultural history of Shakespeare's play in quotations

HyperHamlet is a databank of quotations from and allusions to Shakespeare’s Hamlet that was developed at the English department of the University of Basel. Hyperhamlet contains some 10'000 annotated entries that can be accessed at www.hyperhamlet.unibas.ch. Searches as well as new contributions can be made from the public domain.

Continuing the tradition of Shakespeare reception studies, HyperHamlet takes historical material and current research trends into new directions. Instead of the histories of adaptation, performance or criticism, it is the "recycling" of single phrases and motifs that receives systematic attention for the first time. The number and diversity of Hamlet quotations necessitates an electronic research medium, but in contrast to the growing number of scholarly electronic editions that focus on textual history, HyperHamlet focuses on the ways in which Shakespeare’s play has become a source for other texts. The groundbreaking corpus concept for intertextuality research recontextualizes the results of philological research, embodies poststructuralist concepts of intertextuality (the "docuverse") and can be applied to any other text with a substantial intertextual reception history.

Hyperhamlet takes the form of an electronic text of the play with hyperlinks to later texts which re-use phrases and lines or refer to scenes and well-known motifs. References from every cultural area are encoded and searchable for bibliographical information, literary parameters (author, date and genre of quoting text, function and marking of quoted string in quoting text etc.) and linguistic features (formal relationship between original passage and the form it takes in the quoting text etc.). This allows linguists as well as literary scholars to establish tailor-made data sets. Most of the references currently recorded are in English; samples from several other languages have been edited and uploaded, but the research priority was the development of systematic search procedures for English data, using scholarly literary databases and published research as well as print sources and the Internet.

HyperHamlet was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation from 2006 to 2010. The project team included Prof. em. Balz Engler as the initiator of the project and Prof. Dr. Annelies Häcki Buhofer as the co-director. The project manager and main editor was Dr. Regula Hohl Trillini and the co-editor lic. phil. Sixta Quassdorf. Programming was first in the hands of Prof. Dr. Lukas Rosenthaler, while the final IT solution was built by Dr. Tobias Roth. Ricardo Páramo Peláez designed the user interface. The student assistants Christian Gebhard, Olivia Rottmann, René Wallrodt, Maria Tranter and Chantal Battilana helped search and edit the data.

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