Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 September 2019
There is a conflict within Shakespeare studies about seemingly new methods that count things in the plays and poems, or about the plays and poems. In this article, I will argue that methods employing numbers are nothing new in Shakespeare studies, so we should be used to them; fears that a kind of numerology is invading the discipline are mistaken. And I will argue that the conflicts really arise not over the understanding of numbers but over the understanding of words. I will offer practical advice on how those unfamiliar with this area of Shakespearian research may distinguish reliable from unreliable investigations, taking in aspects of probability, best practices in using digital texts and tools, and the need to demonstrate any new method’s power to make discriminations we care about.