Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wikipedia says happy UN-birthday to Shakespeare

Happy UN-birthday to Shakespeare today. Anti-Strats get a nice present from the traditionalists at Wikipedia with the main page devoted to today's featured article on the Shakespeare Authorship Question at: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page. Despite Wiki's elimination of all anti-Stratfordian voices from editing the article, the essay's prominent placement indicates the vitality of the issue and provides a slap in the face to Stratfordians on what is traditionally celebrated as Shakespeare's natal day. 
An example of the biased SAQ essay:
At the core of the argument is the nature of acceptable evidence used to attribute works to their authors.[26] Anti-Stratfordians rely on what they designate as circumstantial evidence: similarities between the characters and events portrayed in the works and the biography of their preferred candidate; literary parallels with the known works of their candidate; and hidden codes andcryptographic allusions in Shakespeare's own works or texts written by contemporaries.[27] By contrast, academic Shakespeareans and literary historians rely on documentary evidence in the form of title page attributions, government records such as the Stationers' Register and the Accounts of the Revels Office, and contemporary testimony from poets, historians, and those players and playwrights who worked with him, as well as modern stylometric studies. All these converge to confirm William Shakespeare's authorship.[28] These criteria are the same as those used to credit works to other authors and are accepted as the standard methodology for authorship attribution.
This is inaccurate because those who write about the authorship in no way rely on circumstantial evidence; they are assiduous in their search for truth through primary sources and rigorous analysis. Even a casual perusal of the work of Charleton Ogburn, Joseph Sobran, Mark Anderson, Roger Stritmatter, Diana Price, Bonner Miller Cutting, Earl Showerman and Nina Green to name only a few authorship researchers prove the mendacity of this commentary.


Wiki says: "By contrast, academic Shakespeareans and literary historians rely on documentary evidence in the form of title page attributions, government records such as the Stationers' Register and the Accounts of the Revels Office, and contemporary testimony from poets, historians, and those players and playwrights who worked with him, as well as modern stylometric studies. All these converge to confirm William Shakespeare's authorship."


Stratfordian research contrasts absolutely. Their highly touted title pages, register pages, accounts, and testimonies refer to a writer, but never to a writer from Stratford. And, as for as stylometric studies -- there is nothing to compare the style of the Stratford man with, because nothing exists that he wrote. If traditionalists want to eliminate candidates based on the fact that they do not meet the criteria of stylometric analysis, the Stratford man would not even be in the running.


"All these converge to confirm William Shakespeare's authorship."
Yes, all their "documentary evidence" confirms that William Shakespeare was a writer -- but that evidence says absolutely nothing about who was behind the pseudonym, William Shakespeare. The academy cannot continue to pretend that the argument for the traditional attribution will hold.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Interview with Richard Whalen about The Oxfordian Shakespeare Series

Richard Whalen,MA, co-publisher with Llumina Press of The Oxfordian Shakespeare Series, has  released two editions in the series: Macbeth, which Whalen edited, and Othello, which he co-edited with Ren Draya of Blackburn College. Three more editions are due out soon: Hamlet, edited by Jack Shuttleworth, PhD professor emeritus USAF Academy, may be out by then end of 2011, Antony and Cleopatra by Michael Delahoyde, PhD of Washington State University and The Tempest by Roger Stritmatter, PhD of Coppin State University and Lynne Kositsky are forthcoming. Whalen serves as co-general editor of the series with Dan Wright, PhD of Concordia University and is the author of Shakespeare -- Who was he? The Oxford Challenge to the Bard of Avon (Praeger, 1994), a seminal Shakespeare authorship work for which there is a Kindle edition availableWe asked Whalen about his work on The Oxfordian Shakespeare Series.
What can the reader expect from your Oxfordian editions of Othello and Macbeth that is different from traditional editions of the plays?
RW: In a word, or two, an introduction that summarizes all the solid, significant, easily grasped evidence for Oxford’s authorship of the play, plus line notes that testify to its authorship by a well-traveled, multi-lingual aristocrat who read widely in the classics and was an insider at Elizabeth’s court, plus an appendix that expands on especially significant, new evidence for Oxford’s authorship.
So these new editions are specifically Oxfordian?
RW: Yes, but they are designed for the general reader, just as most of the Stratfordian editions are designed for the general reader. Come to think of it, it would interesting for someone to compare and contrast one or two of the Stratfordian editions of Othello or Macbeth with our editions.
When and why did you decide to publish the Oxfordian editions?
RW: I think Oxfordians have always wondered what an Oxfordian edition would look like, and in 1998, Jack Shuttleworth, then chair of the English department at the USAF Academy (and editor of the forthcomingHamlet) issued a challenge at Dan Wright’s authorship conference. A few years later, I wrote a paper on Macbeth that required a lot of research, and I remembered Jack’s challenge. I thought I would continue researching to see what an Oxfordian edition of the play would look like, and Dan agreed to be co-general editor of the series. I must say I was amazed at all the evidence in Stratfordian writings about Macbeth that supported Oxford as the author.
Do you mean that Stratfordian evidence supports Oxford as the author of Shakespeare's works?
RW: Yes, much more than I expected, although the Stratfordian researchers of course did not realize it.
Was the work difficult and time-consuming?
RW: Yes, and no. Yes, because it requires a great deal of searching in the voluminous literature on the play by Stratfordian scholars to find the nuggets of evidence supporting Oxford– from the earliest Variorum editions to the latest single-volume scholarly editions and the scores, if not hundreds, of articles in journals and in anthologies. It also requires a careful sifting and sorting of evidence to verify validity and pertinence. And all the Oxfordian scholarship must be consulted. But if you like to do literary-historical research, it’s very rewarding. It’s not especially difficult work, compared to just a few decades ago, because of the advance of technology–word processing, Google and Google books, on-line bookstores for out-of-print books, inter-library-loans, Concordia University’s access to JSTOR and LION for journal articles. The texts of many books of interest have been put on line in total, previews or snippets in just the past few years. I used to spend many days (and travel dollars) at the Harvard libraries, now I get it all on my home computer.
Is there original research in the editions of these first two plays?
RW: Not primary source research. Our editions parallel, if you will, Stratfordian editions of the plays. The value of our editions is in the collection and organizing of all the existing and often overlooked evidence that can be found for Oxford as the author. That said, both plays include some original research, for example, the role of the Thane of Ross in Macbeth and the port of Famagusta as described in Othello. Both have been overlooked or ignored by Stratfordian scholars but are significant as evidence for Oxford. Future editions of plays will undoubtedly include results of primary source research that the editors have published in journals or Oxfordian publications.
How did you and Ren Draya work together on Othello?
RW: By email, scores of emails exchanging drafts and comments on each other’s drafts. I wore two hats, as publisher on what the edition should look like physically, and as co-editor with Ren Draya on the research and writing. Ren brought not only her research and Oxfordian perspective but especially her experience as a professor of British and American literature at Blackburn College. I must say I think it worked very well.
What was the most surprising aspect of creating the work?
RW: The great amount of Stratfordian research and interpretation that supports Oxford as the author. Sometimes the Stratfordian scholars appear to miss completely how their finding argues against the Stratford man. It’s quite amazing. For example, at the start of 1.3 a Venetian senator says that estimates of the size of an enemy force often differ. The footnote by E. A. J. Honigmann in his Arden edition says that movements of enemy forces "were reported to the Privy Council exactly as here: cf. HMC, Hatfield House, Part 12 (1602), 386." In our line note, we add to Honigmann's footnote that Will Shakspere, unlike Oxford, would hardly have heard about, much less seen, such reports to the Privy Council. (56) 
How do you feel about your accomplishment?
RW: I have to say it was a most rewarding experience. For me, researching the plays and editing them to write the line notes and introduction gave me a whole new perspective on them. I’ll never read or see them again colored as they were for me by the traditional, romantic view of them as spilled intact from the mind of "genius" who had no life experience to draw upon or personal concerns informing his creative drive (maybe obsession?) to write great plays. He made great literature out of life, just like all writers of genius.
What do you think will be the result of the publication of these Oxfordian editions?
RW: First of all, I hope it will lead to a greater appreciation of the literary genius and tumultuous life experience of the author. Although these editions are aimed primarily at the general reader who loves Shakespeare, I also hope they will catch the attention of Stratfordian professors who are curious about what Oxfordians find in the plays that leads them to think Oxford wrote them. And of course I hope that that in turn will lead them to think that maybe there really is something to the Shakespeare authorship controversy and that they should take it seriously. When I send a review copy to a prominent but very busy Stratfordian professor I suggest going first to the introduction to the play and act one with the line notes. Oxfordians, I trust, will want to see just how "Oxfordian" these plays can be.
Who are the other editors and their plays?
RW: The editors are all Shakespeare professors. Coming soon will be Hamlet, edited by Jack Shuttleworth, Antony and Cleopatra by Michael Delahoyde of Washington State University and The Tempest by Roger Stritmatter of Coppin State University with author Lynne Kositsky. They will be followed by King John by Dan Wright, Henry the Fifth by Kathy Binns-Dray of Lee University, Love’s Labor’s Lost by Felicia Londre of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and Much Ado About Nothing by Anne Pluto of Lesley University. More professors may sign on soon, and our fond expectation is that some day all the Shakespeare plays will be in Oxfordian editions, although probably not in our lifetime.
How are the reviews so far for your edition of Othello?
RW: Quite good: So far, we’ve seen Felicia Londre’s review in Brief Chronicles and Bill Farina’s in The Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter. I hope there’ll be more as word spreads. I haven’t seen any in the literary media or Stratfordian publications, but that may be too much to expect. The first reaction to our Othello, published last year, was by Frank Davis, who emailed that he knew the edition would be good but found it excellent. We’re breaking new ground with these editions and are very interested to know how they are received by Oxfordian scholars and how we might do better in future editions.
How can we buy copies of your editions?
RW: Easiest is by telephone to my co-publisher, Llumina, at 966-229-9244 with a credit card in hand ($16.95 plus shipping). Othello and Macbeth can also be ordered online. 

NOTE: See also SOS News entry: "Oxfordian edition of Othello available from Llumina" 03/30/10.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Oberon spreads the word

Oberon has been in the news twice this week. An article by Dolly Moiseeff was published today in the Farmington Patch titled, "Local Group Loves Shakespeare -- No Matter Who He Was: The Oberon Shakespeare Group (sic) believes the playwright may have written under an assumed name". Moiseeff wrote: 

Yes, there is agreement that Shakespeare is excellent playwright whose work is still immensely popular today. About this, they are passionate. They are equally passionate about what they believe is the mistaken identity of the famous playwright and poet.

And an article titled "New Festival Brings Authors, Books, Readers Together" by staff writer Sharon Dargay appeared on April 9, 2011 in the Observer & Eccentric Hometown Life. The O&E article is about the Michigan Spring Book Festival where Oberon will celebrate Shakespeare's UN-birthday on Saturday, April 16, 2011.


Sources: 
http://farmington-mi.patch.com/articles/local-group-loves-shakespeare-no-matter-who-he-was
http://www.hometownlife.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011104100394

Roof tiles, pottery and animal remains -- oh, my!

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford, England is sponsoring an archeological dig on the site of New Place, where William Shaksper retired after presumably becoming bored with the life of a literary titan. Dr Paul Edmonson, head of learning and research at the trust, reported progress yesterday in a post titled "Digging the Dirt on Shakespeare" on the Blogging Shakespeare web log:
Finds so far include roof tiles, pottery and animal remains which suggest that New Place was at times a high status household, with venison, and salt and fresh water fish supplementing the diet of meat from cows, pigs, sheep, geese and chickens. Shakespeare was a wealthy and famous man by the time of his death in 1616; his daughter Susanna is known to have entertained Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles, at New Place in 1643. It is my hope that the Dig will help us understand more about Shakespeare’s own social status. In purchasing New Place, he was purchasing social cache; Sir Hugh Clopton who built it originally had gone on to become Lord Mayor of London. We might also be able to trace something of Shakespeare’s own renovations of the house (if indeed he made any) when he took up ownership in 1597.
It seems the reporter is inventing a little cachet, himself, since the queen's visit had nothing to do with "Shakespeare". In fact, Susanna's husband, John Hall, never once mentions the great poet and playwright -- his "wealthy and famous" father-in-law, William Shaksper -- in his extensive diaries.


The dig began last year and continues this season. Perhaps discovery of an iron-bound chest stuffed with manuscripts written in Shaksper's fluid hand is imminent.
Signatures at: http://politicworm.com/oxford-shakespeare/to-be-or-not-to-be-shakespeare/why-not-william/the-authorship-question-2/how-he-spelled-his-name/six-signatures/

Monday, April 11, 2011

Listen up! Tom & Tom appear on Craig Fahle show Thursday April 14, 2011

Oberon Chair R. Thom Hunter and Treasurer Tom Townsend will appear on the 11:40 a.m. segment of WDET-FM's highly respected The Craig Fahle Show on April 14, 2011. In honor of April as poetry month Tom and Tom will discuss their favorite sonnet writer and honor the true poetic creator of Shakespeare's works. The Craig Fahle show airs daily from 10 a.m. to noon on WDET-FM, 101.9 on the FM dial. Fahle's daily shows are repeated at 7 p.m. every evening except Friday. The poetry segment of Thursday's show will air again at 8:40 p.m. The segment will also be available to download as a Podcast at http://www.wdetfm.org/rss/.

Tom Townsend, who is a big fan of Fahle's has been working on this project for several months. 

"I have been communicating with one of the producers, Townsend said. "She said this is poetry month, would you be interested in having members of your group talk about poetry. I said yes. I told her about our UN-birthday party at the Laurel Park Place Mall , and said I hoped to be invited back on the show this fall before the movie Anonymous is released. I was asked to bring a sonnet or a poem."

Tune in on Thursday to hear Thom Hunter and Tom Townsend discuss their favorite poet with Detroit's favorite talk show host on American Public Media WDET-FM at Wayne State University in Detroit.

Sources:
http://www.wdet.org/schedule.php

Update 04/15/11:
Link to MP3 file of The Craig Fahle show April 14, 2011 with Thom Hunter and Tom Townsend
http://wdet.org/audio/craigfahle/353/CFS_4-14-11_PODCAST.mp3

Friday, April 8, 2011

Oberon celebrates Shakespeare's UN-birthday April 16, 2011


The Oberon Shakespeare Study Group will host
Shakespeare's UN-birthday celebration
2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16
Laurel Park Place Mall
37700 West Six Mile Road, Livonia, MI 48152

Everyone is welcome and attendees will receive a slice of UN-birthday cake! The celebration will include a panel discussion of the Shakespeare authorship question by:
  • Oberon Chair R. Thomas Hunter, PhD,
  • Oberon founder and Shakespeare Oxford Society President Richard Joyrich,MD
  • Oberon Treasurer Thomas Townsend

Although the Shakespeare authorship question has puzzled Shakespeare lovers for centuries, the topic is intriguing new devotees because Roland Emmerich will release Anonymous -- a major motion picture about the Shakespeare authorship with Vanessa Redgrave, Joey Richardson, Rhys Ifans, and David Thewlis -- this fall.

The Oberon Shakespeare Study Group UN-birthday celebration is featured as part of the Michigan Spring Book Festival held April 15-17 from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from noon until 5 p.m. on Sunday at Laurel Park Place.

The Oberon Shakespeare Study Group is a Michigan group dedicated to the study of the works of William Shakespeare with particular interest in the authorship question. We meet monthly at the Farmington Community Library.


Update 04/10/11: Observer & Eccentric staff writer Sharon Dargay wrote about the Michigan Spring Book Festival in an article titled, "New festival brings authors, books, readers together" published 04/10/11.

Sources:

Anonymous publicity gears up with teaser trailer

Rhys Ifans as Oxford in Anonymous

Yesterday Sony released the teaser trailer for Roland Emmerich's film, Anonymous, about the Shakespeare authorship question. The trailer features a montage of images from the film, voice-over by anti-Stratfordian actor Sir Derek Jacoby, and scoring of the Radiohead song "Everything in its Right Place". The teaser is everywhere on the web with several links on YouTube, citations in entertainment news magazines, and on several Facebook pages including Ben August's Edward de Vere -- Shakespeare page that has a growing fan-base of thousands. One demoralized Stratfordian blogger posted a message titled "Anonymous trailer" with only one line: "I'll just leave this here without comment."


Also several entertainment news sites posted articles this week claiming that Emmerich expects trouble from Stratfordian protesters. A site called Contact Music titled their report, "Roland Emmerich Expects Fury over Shakespeare Movie" , and quoted Empire magazine:
He tells Empire magazine, "I have serious doubts Shakespeare wrote his plays... I'm expecting to have people protesting outside my house. We knew there'd be so many attacks on the film, so we decided to make the film as authentic as possible."
Except the February 14, 2011 Phil de Semlyen article they are presumably quoting, "Roland Emmerich on ID4 Sequel" in Empire Online doesn't include any line about Emmerich worried about protesters. The Empire article includes Emmerich's comment about "attacks on the film" but nothing about protesters ouside his house:
Anonymous is set in the murkily-lit corridors of Queen Elizabeth’s court and gives its own skew on the Shakespearean authorship question – one in which Shakespeare didn’t actually write any of them. It’s a theory that can set mild-mannered English teachers to quill-brandishing murder, as Emmerich and his screenwriter John Orloff are well aware. “We knew from the beginning that they’d be so many attacks on the film, so we said that we’d have to be as authentic as possible. We looked at other films and realised that filmmakers, because of a lack of money or because of the time the films were shot, they’d use what they could get.
"It was mainly churches, but who lives in a church? So we said, 'Let’s not do that – let’s be as authentic as possible with the design costumes.' Because of that we didn’t use any original locations – we built everything, because there’s very little left anyway – and we had to do it for a budget.”
The issue of authenticity was addressed in a May 21, 2010 Empire article also by de Semlyen -- "Bard Target: a Visit to Roland Emmerich's Anonymous":
The authorship question is a fun route into a widescreen Elizabethan world Emmerich is recreating with impressive CGI and 70+ painstakingly hand-built sets. One, a full-scale replica of London’s Rose Theatre, rises imposingly above the low-rise surrounds of Studio Babelsberg, once home to Fritz Lang’s modernist metropolis and Robert Wiene’s monstrous Dr. Caligari.  
Now fans can get a teasing glimpse of what Emmerich has created.

Anonymous trailer at: 


Invitation to dine at Elephant Walk in Cambridge, MA on May 6, 2011

Bill Boyle, Alex McNeil, and Marie Merkel report that although there will be no authorship seminar in Watertown this year, they will host a dinner in Cambridge. Here is their invitation:


The Shakespeare Oxford Spring Dinner 
When: Friday, May 6, 2011
Cocktails at 6:30; Dinner at 7:30
Where: The Elephant Walk, 2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
Why: Much to talk about in 2011!


In the spring of 2009 and 2010, we enjoyed a day-long seminar at the Watertown Free Public Library. This year we thought it would be good to relaunch the evening dinner of years past. There is so much news in the Oxfordian community this year, with the upcoming premiere of Roland Emmerich's blockbuster film Anonymous, the expected completion of two documentaries, Cheryl Eagan-Donovan's Nothing Truer Than Truth and Laura and Lisa Wilson's Last Will and Testament (working title), as well as the long-awaited publication of Richard Roe's The Shakespeare Guide to Italy. Please join us for an evening of good food and good company, in a private room that's ours till 10 p.m.

Dinner will be $40 per person. This includes dinner, taxes and gratuities and appetizers for the cocktail hour. The three-course dinner includes a choice of appetizer, choice of entree and choice of dessert from the "Tasting Menu," a delightful way to experience The Elephant Walk's Cambodian and French cuisine. There will be a cash bar for cocktails or other beverages.

Directions: The Elephant Walk (617-492-6900) is just west of Porter Square, a short walk from the Red Line Porter Square Station, and on the 77 bus line. The restaurant is located in the red brick building across from Walden Street. There is free parking in a lot behind the restaurant.

We will meet downstairs in the restaurant's private party room. Wheelchair accessible through elevator.

RSVP by May 5, 2011. Please include your full name and number attending to: Alex@amcneil.com.

Payment may be made at the restaurant on the day of the event by cash or check only; NO CREDIT CARDS PLEASE! Sorry, but the restaurant cannot accommodate separate cards with a large group.If you'd prefer to prepay, please make your check payable to Alex McNeil and send it to 301 Islington Road, Auburndale MA 02466. 

We hope to see you there!

Bill Boyle
Alex McNeil
Marie Merkel

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Vickers says Shakespeare wrote additions to The Spanish Tragedy

The Spring 2011, Vol. 62, No. 1, edition of Shakespeare Quarterly features an article by textual analyst Brian Vickers titled, "Shakespeare and Authorship Studies in the Twenty-First Century" wherein Vickers attributes additions to the 1602 anonymous edition of The Spanish Tragedy (a groundbreaking play generally considered to have been written in the 1580s and lately attributed to Thomas Kyd) to Shakespeare. The abstract reads:
Authorship attribution studies have traditionally been based on a wide reading knowledge of a text in its historical and generic contexts. With the advent of computers, it became possible to process large quantities of data quickly. However, the first computer-driven attribution methods could only deal with individual words, ignoring grammar, syntax, and all the individualizing features of authorial language. By counting word frequencies and subjecting the word-count information to statistical analysis, it was hoped that authorship problems could be solved. Time has shown that the most this method can achieve is a measure of likeness, not identity. Second-generation research in authorship attribution has opened up a new path, drawing on recent advances in linguistics. Neurolinguists have shown that human utterances often take the form of "chunks" or ready-made groups of words. In parallel, linguists studying large corpora of actual language use have found that certain word groups tend to recur in close proximity. These collocations are partly phrases or idioms in general circulation, partly idiosyncratic formations which an individual speaker or writer uses regularly. By using modern plagiarism software we can establish the distinctive "phraseognomy" of one or more authors within a restricted database, organized by genre and date. Collocation matching, an automated and replicable process, can provide a reliable authorship indicator when dealing with anonymous or coauthored texts. On the evidence given here, it seems certain that the Additions to the 1602 text of Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy were written by Shakespeare.

An online article yesterday titled "Computer Software Proves Shakespeare Co-Authored Plays", on the website Big Think, gives Vickers explanation of how this anomaly might have occurred:
Yet some may ask why Shakespeare, the author of the greatest plays in the English language, would tinker with the works of a lesser playwright from a rival company? Given the success of The Spanish Tragedy in Elizabethan times, this should be no surprise at all. As Sir Brian notes, Shakespeare's theater company at the time--Lord Chamberlain's Men--was free to produce the play, and there is strong evidence that they likely did.* As Sir Brian explains, "it costs a lot less for a Broadway company to revise South Pacific and add a few show tunes than to commission a new musical." The same was true for the four competing theater companies in London who operated during the height of the Elizabethan theater boom. As the premier dramatist for Lord Chamberlain's Men, Shakespeare--like every other dramatist working at the time--was a collaborator. 

Can anyone believe this anachronistic folly? For Stratfordians, the problem with tying Shakespeare too tightly to reputed plays by Kyd (The Spanish TragedyKing Leir, and a possible ur-Hamlet) is that these plays would have been written before the purported Stratfordian author showed up in London (where he presumably developed his genius tout de suite). This evidence pushes the Shakespearean age solidly into the 1580s, too early for the Stratfordian candidate, forcing Stratfordians into contorted positions like Vickers'. 

Of Thomas Kyd, authorship researcher Stephanie Hughes says in her essay "Who were the University Wits?":
Thomas Kyd (1558-1594) was a Londoner like Peele, and a student at the Merchant Taylor’s School during the same play-giving period as Thomas Lodge and Edmund Spenser (late 1570s to early 1580s). The son of a scrivener, what today we would call a professional secretary, there is little solid evidence that Kyd was ever much more than that for clients like Lord Strange. His authorship of the groundbreaking play The Spanish Tragedy is based on nothing more than three words by Meres and a passing mention by Thomas Heywood 30 years later, which, if nothing else, has made him a favorite with scholars as the purported author of dozens of anonymous works including the mythical Ur-Hamlet. Arrested by Cecil’s agents in May 1593, Kyd was imprisoned and racked into turning state’s evidence against Marlowe. Though released following Marlowe’s assassination, he died the following year, shortly after the murder of their patron, Ld Strange.

Sources:
http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/shakespeare_quarterly/v062/62.1.vickers.html
http://bigthink.com/ideas/31800
http://politicworm.com/background/birth-of-the-commercial-press/who-were-the-university-wits/

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review of Dating Shakespeare's Plays

William Niederkorn, who has written previously on the Shakespeare Authorship Question in many publications, including the New York Times recently reviewed the new book, Dating Shakespeare's Plays, published by Parapress in England for the De Vere Society. His review appeared in the Brooklyn Rail and a link to the online version (I don't know how long the link will be active) is http://www.brooklynrail.org/2011/04/books/the-shakespeare-chronology-recalibrated

The book may be ordered directly from Parapress for $43 (http://www.parapress.co.uk/).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Shakespeare authorship question made "featured article" on Wikipedia

The Stratfordian editors of the Shakespeare Authorship Question (SAQ) page on Wikipedia have recently succeeded in placing the page in “featured article” status, effectively closing the page to any further edits for a year. After bullying and banning any anti-Stratfordian editors who attempted to work on the article, Stratfordian editors chose this method to assure that anyone searching for information on the authorship question would find a view skewed toward Stratford.

Rational thought had no position in the scrim before the whistle.

To cite an example of the kind of anti-academic stone-walling at this site, consider the fate of anti-Stratfordian editor Nina Green. Green suggested moving the placement of the authorship topic out of “fringe” status. She cited the publication of new books on the Shakepseare authorship question, major media coverage of the topic, support by important public figures, and a 2007 Education Life survey reported in the New York Times showing considerable support of the topic (17% saw either a good reason, or possibly good reason to doubt the Stratford attribution) among American professors.

Stratfordian Wikipedia administrator Tom Reedy responded, in part, by saying the Shakespeare Association of America bans the Shakespeare authorship question as a topic for papers at its conferences. In reply, Green did what any good researcher would do and sought a primary source on the subject. She produced a letter from Shakespeare Society of America president Russ McDonald, showing the Wikipedia editor to be mistaken. SSA President Russ McDonald wrote the following message to Green:
As President of the Shakespeare Association  of America it falls to me to respond to your query. Mr. Reedy is in error. The SAA does not have 'an opinion' on the authorship question. Moreover, there is no ban on speaking or writing about that topic at our annual conference. Several so-called Oxfordians are members of the organization and have presented papers at that meeting.
This information was disregarded by Reedy as a "moot point". Over a period of several months, Green was treated with disrespect, bludgeoned with various arcane Wikipedia rules, and was eventually banned from Wikipedia – the fate of most anti-Stratfordian researchers on the site.

A Stratfordian editor -- pseudonymously known as Nishidani -- defended placement of the Shakespeare authorship question article on Wikipedia's "featured article"/frozen status even though the contention over the article precludes any such placement by Wikipedia's own rules that call for "stability" in a "featured article". The following quotation by Nishidani is excerpted from a Wikipedia online discussion:
Wikipedia: Featured article candidates/Shakespeare authorship question/archive1 Again, the problem lies in the history of the argument. Of the several thousand books, pamphlet, articles and treatises that have poured from minor presses over 160 years, almost none appear to be written by anyone with an appropriate academic background in the specific field of Elizabethan studies, or even history. It is an uncontested fact, underlined by several extensive quotes once in the footnotes, that the academic Shakespearean community judges this phenomenon as a vein of extra-mural speculation by amateurs, lawyers, judges, journalists, etc., with no formal grasp of the basic rules of historical method and Elizabethan textual analysis. There are indeed a handful of scholars who subscribe to one of these theories, and one or two minor colleges that teach it, but it is a drop in the ocean. How one might tinker with the whole text to avoid even giving the true, but unfortunate impression, that scholars almost unanimously ignore or dismiss what passionate, but overwhelmingly amateur students of the subject persist in arguing, is something we've long mulled. There does not appear to be a solution. But of course if anyone out there can come up with suggestions we'd be more than delighted to look into them. (Nishidani) (talk)14:34, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
This inaccurate and unjustified bias against all discussion of the Shakepseare authorship question brings disrepute to Wikipedia. Brief Chronicles managing editor Gary Goldstein commented on this issue on Nina Green’s Phaeton email list March 2, 2011:
I think this is happening because Wikipedia is the ONLY place on the Internet where banning is allowed, anonymity is permitted, and where mob tactics are encouraged by the rules. It's why most universities don't permit Wikipedia to be used as either a source or a resource for student or professorial research. Not only are pirmary sources forbidden -- the very bedrock of scholarly research - but consensus is the goal, not critical thought. In its organizational structure, Wikipedia is actually hostile to scholarship and that has been recognized by a majority of universities in their own banning of Wikipedia as a legitimate source of knowledge. I'm not worried at what's happening on Wikipedia because it represents a very small channel of public information. Many other channels of information are available. What (Wikipedia editor Tom) Reedy and cronies are doing is poisoning the well for themselves -- their students will compare facts from other sources and realize their teachers have been lying to them. They've gained a tactical victory against us on Wikipedia, but have lost the war.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Propeller tour in Boston May 18- June 19, 2011

In my life, peak experiences always come as a shock; unmitigated joy is always a surprise to me. I wasn’t keen on seeing Propeller. I was afraid they might be one of those Shakespeare companies that substitute butchers’ offal for clear and honest delivery of the language. Oh, I was so wrong. From Richard’s first discontented sneer I knew I was in good hands. Every furnishing, costume, sound, light, movement, and speech express the highest degree of artifice. Every rumored excess from the disembowelment in Richard III to the naked clown with the lit sparkler protruding from his bum in Comedy of Errors serve the drama. If you love Shakespeare, do not pass an opportunity to see this company.
Leslie Staunton at UMS Lobby reported that Propeller will be back in the USA this spring, at the Boston University Theater after their successful run at the Power Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Oberon had the opportunity to see their current tour of Richard III and Comedy of Errors.
May 18 - June 19 2011
Huntington Theatre Company, B.U. Theatre, Boston
Box Office: 617 266 0800
NYT interview with Propeller artistic director Edward Hall, "A Pop-culture twist on Shakespeare . . ." written March 17 and published March 28, 2011.