Category Archives: Criticism

Maniacal Mental Etymology

In a recent number of the London Review of Books [37.20; 22 October 2015], a poem by Anne Carson gets thinking about etymology: Prepare for thinking (in the car as we go) by reading a book found in the garage, Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, where I learn ‘to think’ comes from root men-, (zero […]

Interview with Paul Muldoon

Here are some excerpts from an interview I did with Paul Muldoon a couple of years ago, which focused on dictionaries and etymology. A full .pdf version of the interview can be downloaded here: [Interview with Paul Muldoon]. PM: I’ve never really been into the OED Online. Maybe I should. I think I might even […]

Method as Tautology

Although it has been available for a while in the advanced access section of Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, and before that Literary and Linguistic Computing, my article on digital methods in literary research has recently been published in its final version. The full bibliographic details are: Williams, David-Antoine. “Method as Tautology in the Digital […]

Published: “Geoffrey Hill’s Etymological Crux”

I’m happy to say that Modern Philology has just published a longish article of mine on etymology in Geoffrey Hill’s work, called “All corruptible things: Geoffrey Hill’s Etymological Crux.” A self-archived copy of the article may be downloaded by clicking here. In the article I trace out some ways in which the intellectual and theological […]

Assessing Poetry Assessor

The web application called “Poetry Assessor” has had a second wave of attention since going back online recently. In this post I want to show why Poetry Assessor doesn’t assess poetry, and to make a broader point about the “Humanities” in “Digital Humanities”: that bad disciplinary training makes for bad interdisciplinary work. It’s a longish […]

Martin McDonagh Spam (?) Scam (?)

A couple of days ago, when someone called me from Pakistan to tell me  Microsoft wanted to disinfect my computer over the phone, an episode came back to me from my first term teaching in Canada. In December of 2010, I was the target of a very odd email fraud. Looking into it now, I […]

Contending and Pretending with Etymology

This morning brought a FB cry for help: As I happen to have my American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (third edition) handy, I quickly came to the answer that English attend and content are indeed from the same root, although not exactly the same Latin root. That is, the historical semantic tree branches off […]

On the origins of bears, and words for bears

A poem by Simon Armitage called “The Great Bear” (from CloudCukooLand, 1997) has a few things to say about, and to, a bear – or bears in general. The poem is modelled as a set of ratifications (“it’s right… And right…” etc.) of ursine legends and myths, actual and invented:  [embedded from Google Books] The […]

Going Live: “The Life of Words”

For over two years, I’ve been posting short posts and articles on topics related to poetry, criticism, lexicography – especially the Oxford English Dictionary – and Digital Humanities, on my research blog, “Poetry & Contingency”. That blog was initially set up to collect thoughts, results, and new research questions generated in the course of a […]