Team

Principal Investigator
David-Antoine Williams

David Williams is Associate Professor of English at St Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo, where he teaches classes on poetry, criticism, and British literature. This is his project and these are the people who are making it happen. A bit of personal background and a CV can be found elsewhere on this site.

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Undergraduate Research Assistants
danielle griffin

Danielle is a third-year English Literature and Rhetoric student who began working on The Life of Words for her first co-op term. Among other things, she has been thinking about the way practical limitations of the written word have influenced language. Danielle sees The Life of Words project as an opportunity to further her interests in semantics, semiotics, linguistics, and literature.

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Cosmin Dzsurdzsa

Cosmin is in his third year at the University of Waterloo, where he is studying English Literature. His interested in poetry goes beyond scholarly criticism, however, as he’s a practising poet. For him, working on The Life of Words is a way to investigate and also engage with the history of textual production in English. In his own academic career he hopes to research philosophical hermeneutics and theologically-oriented conceptions of language.

 

NONHUMAN Associates
LifeofwordsBot

LOWBOT is a series of algorithms with a strong interest in inspecting OED quotations alongside large text corpora. It does much, and says little. However, it loves to tweet regularly (very regularly), and can be followed here. NB. The image to the left is not actually LOWBOT, who did not provide a photo for this page. It is actually a more advanced model, Poet Bot (not to be confused with Bot Poet), who lives with Savage Chickens, by Doug Savage.


project alumni
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Adam BradleY, BA (mcMaster), MA, PHD (Waterloo)

Adam earned his PhD in both the departments of English Language and Literature and Systems Design Engineering. He is interested in the intersections between technology and traditional literary studies with a focus on early 20th century poetics. His current work is concerned with macro-level visualizations of the OED and ways that this understanding of the dictionary can be applied to poetry. Other interests include modernist literature, classical languages, and ancient rhetoric.

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Chris Giannakopoulos, MA (Waterloo)
cgiannakopoulos

Chris was a Master’s student in the English Department at the University of Waterloo. His research focussed on how words in poems might inform our broader conception of how language ‘does what it does’. Other interests include: word puzzles and riddles, the history and theory of rhetoric and semiotics, Classical and Hellenistic art and architecture, and anything written by Roland Barthes.

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John Sardo

John was a second-year pure mathematics student with a strong interest in English literature. He said: “My favourite part of the work is being exposed to an extremely diverse range of literature by reading the works that OED passages come from.”

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jessica verschoor

Jessica was a first-year undergraduate student in the Honours Arts program, with plans to double major in Medieval Studies and English. She reported enjoying her work on The Life of Words, as it fostered her expanding vocabulary, and exposes her to a wide variety of texts. She has been especially impressed by how many and how many different kinds of works one author can produce. Jess’s favourite word is evidently.

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Alda Wu
alda

Alda was a third-year student in the Accounting and Financial Management program at the University of Waterloo. At The Life of Words, she explored topics outside of her regular course of study. One thing she noticed while investigating and tagging OED quotations is the relative lack of female authors represented there. Even more interesting, the works she came across by women are mainly focused on topics often considered “feminine” in some way (such as cooking, housekeeping, etc.) and weren’t very scientific or research-based. [N.B.: The issue of gender representation is an active one in OED studies, and has been written on by Charlotte Brewer (2005 & 2012) and Elizabeth Baigent (2005), among others. -D-AW]

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Kirstin XIE

Kirstin was a third-year student in the Accounting and Finance Program. She enjoyed learning more about how our use of language in literature shapes the language itself.

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Matthew Sleiman

Matt received his BA in English Literature at the University of Waterloo, and was at one point the senior undergraduate RA on the project. He told us: “While researching the genre origins of words, I thought it was interesting how many of the words come from religious works: not just the Bible, but sermons and commentaries as well. Aside from the fact that they needed to create words to make ‘the ineffable’ effable, the writers of these works themselves became creators in discussing the story of creation.”

Sai KALVAPALLE
saik

Sai was an Honours Psychology Major with a Minor in English Literature.  One of the first things Sai noticed in tagging OED quotations was the variety of genres a single surname can yield. One good example is  entries marked with the author tag “A. Hamilton” – most of the Alexander Hamilton entries [by both the American founding father and the East India Company  Captain] are letters, journals, or our miscellaneous “other” category, but there is also Allan Hamilton, the doctor who described “nervous diseases”, Lady Augusta Hamilton, who wrote about marriage rites and midwifery, Augustus Hamilton, who documented Maori culture, and the list goes on. Sai quickly learned the importance of taking clues from other metadata, such as quotation dates, when scanning author names.