Tracing Regularities in Pedro Calderón de la Barca's Dramatic OEuvre with a Computational Approach

Hanno Ehrlicher & Sebastian Padó

Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600-1680) was one of the most prolific writers of the Spanish Golden Age (‘Siglo de Oro’), producing over a hundred dramas over the course of his life. In literary studies, the comedia nueva of the Spanish Golden Age is often assumed to be “irregular” compared to the works of French classical theatre. However, if each work was totally unique, how did Calderón produce such as vast œuvre? In this project, we aim at identifying recurring patterns in Calderón’s work, taking advantage of a recently created corpus of about 200 of his dramas (110 comedias nuevas and 84 autos sacramentales). We ask questions such as: Which regularities can be observed in the lexis, the semantics, and the dramatic structure used in these works? Which repetitions in the use of character constellations and typical characters can be observed in both of the sub-genres Calderón used, the comedias and the autos sacramentales? Specifically, we will integrate qualitative and quantitative methods of literary analysis to analyze a four primary aspects of the comedias and autos sacramentales with regard to recurring elements: (a) analysis of choice and use of vocabulary, providing us with a fine-grained genre classification beyond the binary division into comedies and tragedies (using distributional methods); (b) identification of recurring character types and character interactions (using social network analysis); (c) characterization of overall dramatic structure anchored in utterance distribution and metrical structure; (d) analysis of the temporal dynamics of the observed regularities, which also enables us to propose datings of previously undated dramas written by Calderón. Finally, we will test the transferability of the methods developed in this research project on dramas written by other authors of the Siglo de Oro.