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Blog: Character Components

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Today I am continuing the entirely UNASKED FOR explanation of What My PhD was about - last time I was on about CHARACTER COHERENCE (what makes a character the character they are and how much that changes over time and media types) so THIS time I'm going to try and BRIEFLY explain how this can be measured.

SO to measure how a character changes we first need to know what we're measuring, and this basically boils down to their CHARACTER COMPONENTS. This is an idea put about by all sorts of people, so a big chunk of the thesis was me doing a LITERATURE REVIEW (which involved, of course, a Literature Search with a range of keywords) of current thinking, from which I got four basic categories as follows:
CHARACTER-SPECIFIC - what they look like, how they speak and what they're called.

STORYWORLD-SPECIFIC - the world around them, including other characters, previous events, and common objects. NOTE that some characters carry these around with them from world to world, such as Sherlock Holmes usually having a Watson with him, or Superman usually having the explosion of Krypton in his origin.
BEHAVIOURAL - how the character interacts with the storyworld, what their motivations are for behaving that way, and how other characters see them. This one was particularly KNOTTY to work out, as most other SCHOLARS who had looked at this just went "How they behave is... um... how they behave" and didn't explain what that actually meant.

AUTHORIAL - finally, it turns out that it matters who "authored" the character, both in terms of the ACTUAL creators (so in comics that's writers, artists, letterers, editors etc) and who we're TOLD are the creatores (whether that's corporate entities like Marvel or Disney, or pretending that, for instance, Mary Shelley had anything to do with the film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein).

These broad categories all had SUB categories as mentioned above which I called DIMENSIONS, and put together this gave me a THIRTEEN DIMENSIONAL MODEL (yes I know it is very cool) of Character Components. With all that sorted out I then devised a way to EMPIRICALLY MEASURE these i.e. a way for ME to measure them which give the same results as if someone ELSE did it, rather than relying on personal opinion. For some aspects this was pretty peasy - for instance, for "Other Characters" I just listed all the characters who appeared in a particular text - but for others it was a bit trickier, such as finding a SURVEY I could use to measure "Personality Traits". I don't want to go into all this in too much detail as a) it is QUITE COMPLICATED and b) I'm hoping to publish this bit as a Proper Book!

Anyway, once that was sorted out I developed a method for entering data on each component, set up a data entry system to do so, and then set about finding myself a CORPUS. In other words, I needed to work out which TEXTS (comics, cartoons, TV shows etc etc) I was going to look at. This turned out to ALSO be quite tricky but also - IF YOU ARE ME AT LEAST - dead interesting, so I'll save that for NEXT time!

posted 4/4/2022 by MJ Hibbett

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Comments:

This is the worst excuse for building a database that I've ever heard of. You've literally written a sequel article to introduce your use of SQL.
posted 6/4/2022 by Primal Spanner.

I think you have a typo in this comment and meant to say "BEST excuse for building a database".
posted 6/4/2022 by MJ Hibbett

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