Love Sonnet Generator

My Love Sonnet Generator is pretty simple to use. On the main page there is a brief description that explains the purpose behind the generator, which is to help people create their own Shakespearean love sonnet. Shakespeare can be difficult to interpret, so the machine uses four different questions to try to identify how the person perceives and understands love. Each page includes its own question and hyperlinks for selecting a response, and then another hyperlink to proceed to the next question. These hyperlinks are critical for the person to successfully navigate through the generator. After each response the person gives, a stanza from a Shakespearean sonnet is populated that coincides with the response they gave. However, if someone is unhappy with the specific stanza that was populated, they can use the "back" button or restart the generator using the link at the top so that they can select the other response to the question. Additionally, those who wish to learn more about the project can use the "background" link to bring them here so that they can learn more. Once all of the questions have been answered, a complete sonnet is populated for the person to use and share with their loved ones.

Deformance is apparent in the use of questions about love to try to identify stanzas from Shakespeare's sonnets that reflect an individual's own perspective. Traditionally, a reader would read a single Shakespearean sonnet from start to finish. However, through this generator I "deform" the reader's experience. McGann (as cited in Ramsay, 2011) uses reading a poem backwards as an example of deformance because it alters the way in which the poem is read. McGann explains this as "turn[ing] off the controls that organize the poetic system at some of its most general levels" (as cited in Ramsay, 2011, p. 33). The outcome of this, according to McGann (as cited in Ramsay, 2011), is that "we are brought to a critical position in which we can imagine things about the text that we didn't and perhaps couldn't otherwise know" (p. 33). This is particularly applicable, I think, to the love sonnet generator because of how it pairs a particular response to a question to an excerpt of a Shakespearean sonnet. For many readers, Shakespeare can be difficult to read and interpret in part because of his use of Early Modern English, so deforming the text allows another entry point for readers since the question and their response is written in plain English. They can take their understanding of the question and response and use that to make meaning out of the excerpt that is populated. Additionally, Shakespeare's sonnets are deformed in another way because each potential response to a question populates a stanza from a different Shakespearean sonnet (8 in total). This results in the final sonnet populated being a mash up of 4 different sonnets. Taking this approach provides opportunity for readers to use their own experiences to make sense between the disparate stanzas. Ramsay (2011) describes this as "fill[ing] in gaps, mak[ing] connections backward and forward, explain[ing] inconsistencies, resolv[ing] contradictions, and, above all, generat[ing] additional narratives in the form of declarative realizations" (p. 62). Taking this approach allows for the sonnet to more fully reflect the person's perspective.

Using this question and answer form to discover a person's perception of love is similar to the electronic logic found in hypericonomy where "the intuitions are not left in the thinker's body but simulated in a machine, augmented by a prosthesis" (Ulmer as cited in O'Gorman, 2006, p. 88). This emergence of intuition outside of the thinker's body is reflected in Freud's and Lacan's discussion of "deferred understanding" (p. 89). They discuss this through the lens of psychoanalysis where a person initially describes a conscious recollection and by doing so they come to terms with an unconscious revelation that emerges. O'Gorman (2006) describes this as "deferred understanding, an understanding-too-late, arrived at by means of a detour through the realm of nonsense..." (p. 89). Although the Love Sonnet Generator does not make use of images or visuals, which are typically associated with hypericonomy, it does still utilize this conscious method of asking questions and receiving responses as a means for discovering the unconscious, or perhaps more accurately something that is difficult to pin down and define, like love. Through responding to the questions, people are able to discover their own perspectives on love that they may find difficult to articulate through alternative contexts. Their own understanding of love is then articulated through a Shakespearean sonnet so that their perception of love can be manifested in some fashion outside of the body.


O'Gorman, M. (2006). E-crit: Digital media, critical theory, and the humanities. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.

Ramsay, S. (2011). Reading machines: Toward an algorithmic criticism. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.