Search Visualiser: New Exhibition Preview & Lecture at Keele

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Posted on 24 September 2013

Search Visualiser: New Exhibition Preview & Lecture at Keele

09 October 2013; 6pm for 6:30pm, Westminster Theatre and Art Gallery, Chancellor's Building. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

New software makes it possible to view texts in a way that gives fresh insights into their structure and nature.

A new lecture and exhibition at Keele University uses this approach to examine how Helen of Troy and Maeve of Connaught are depicted in the Iliad and its Irish counterpart, the Cattle Raid of Cooley. The visualisations show how strikingly differently the two women are portrayed – Helen as a spectator on the battlements of Troy, and Maeve as a protagonist waging war on the battlefields of Ireland.

This is a multidisciplinary collaboration that brings together art, computer science, literary studies and social science. The software, Search Visualizer, displays a text schematically, with the locations of chosen keywords shown in coloured highlight.  The images are visually striking, and also give powerful insights into the structures of the texts. The software was invented at Keele University by Dr Gordon Rugg and Dr Ed de Quincey, who are multidisciplinary researchers.

The speaker is Dr Rugg, former archaeologist and English lecturer turned computer scientist at Keele, who is co-inventor of the software at the heart of this talk. He is one of the researchers who recently discovered literary structures in Genesis, popularised in the media as the “Genesis Death Sandwich”. A major theme in his work is systematically translating between media – for instance, turning text or sound into images – to give fresh insights. He is collaborating with cold case researchers, forensics experts and others in applications of this work to real-world problems.