Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oberon colleague Susan Nenadic will teach Shakespeare authorship controversy in Ann Arbor

Oberon colleague Susan Nenadic of Ann Arbor will teach a Lifelong Learning non-credit class on the Shakespeare Authorship Controversy at Washtenaw Community College this fall. Four weekly sessions from 6-8 p.m. will begin September 20 and run through October 11, 2011 on the Ypsilanti campus of WCC. Registration information will be available when the fall classes are posted July 13, 2011 on the college website at:

Nenadic taught history and English in Saline Area Schools. Since her retirement in 2004, she has taught women’s history for non-credit programs at WCC, the University of Michigan, and Eastern Michigan University. She has completed a book about nineteenth-century working women titled A Purse of Her Own, and is currently consulting with a publisher.

Recently, while discussing ideas for non-credit classes at WCC, a new administrator asked: “What else can you say about Shakespeare?” Nenadic replied, “I can tell you he didn’t write the plays.”

Class structure
Nenadic plans to structure the class as an inquiry into the authorship, and believes her approach will be very popular, saying, “People are fascinated by this.”

“I want this to be a discussion; I don’t want anyone to be threatened by it, but I think the facts speak for themselves. It's great to talk about [Edward] de Vere as the author, but if you get too fringe you just alienate people.”

On Charles Beauclerk’s book Shakespeare’s Lost Kingdom, that promulgates the controversial “Prince Tudor” theory of Shakespeare authorship, Nenadic said, “I might be able to buy that Elizabeth had a baby when she was 15 or 16, but the idea that she had [a child] when she was on the throne of England – that just isn’t going to cut it in my book.”

Regarding class content, Nenadic said:
The first thing I want to discuss is why it matters who wrote the works. I’m not going to proselytize. I’m going to talk about the plays they’ve studied, and ask ‘What would you have to know to write those plays?’ We’ll talk about the man from Stratford and ask, ‘Does he have those qualities? Of course the answer is, ‘No.’ We’ll spend some time learning what we do know about this man from Stratford. I’m going to say, ‘If he didn’t write it, who did? If he didn’t write it, how could you fool everyone so completely?’ We’ll talk about the production of the plays, and the generation-and-a-half gap in theater in England that is, to me, part of how [the correct attribution] got lost. English history -- we need to know what’s happening in seventeenth-century England. Then we’ll spend about three hours on Edward de Vere. We’ll be lucky to get it all in. . . . I’m going to approach it as a puzzle. Every week we’ll put the puzzle together a little bit more. But there will never be that last piece. Until we have that last piece -- a physical artifact – there will always be a question.
Although class members will not be assigned required reading, Nenadik will provide a bibliography for her students to include Mark Anderson’s Shakespeare by Another Name; Charlton Ogburn Jr.’s Mysterious William Shakespeare; F.E. Halliday’s inquiry into the performance history of the plays,The Cult of Shakespeare; and Sarah Smith’s novel Chasing Shakespeares.

Nenadik will also offer her Shakespeare Authorship Controversy class later in the fall at Eastern Michigan University’s Elderwise program and next spring at the University of Michigan’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.