Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Oberons said goodbye to Townsends at April meeting

Tom and Joy Townsend

Oberons said goodbye last night to our great friends Tom and Joy Townsend who depart May 9 for Seattle, Washington. Tom has served as treasurer of Oberon since its very first meeting in 1999 until he relinquished his treasury duties to serve as co-chair and chair of Oberon for the past two years. Tom's charm and intelligence have been mainstays of our Michigan band and we will miss him and Joy more than we can say. But they have already been welcomed by the Seattle Oxfordian contingent, and Tom is scheduled to present a paper at the Seattle Shakespeare Oxford Society. Words cannot express our deepest wishes for their very great happiness in their new home.

We all celebrated Shakespeare's 450th UN-birthday together with a delicious UN-birthday cake!
Shakespeare's UN-birthday cake!

Celebrating Shakespeare's 450th UN-birthday April 28, 2014 at the Bloomfield Twp. Library: 
Rosey Hunter, Rey Perez, John Rumierz,
Richard Joyrich, Tom Townsend, Joy Townsend, Sharon Hunter
(Present but not in photo: George Hunter and Linda Theil)

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Concordia Conference-Days 3 and 4

by Richard Joyrich

Day Three (Saturday, April 12):

The day began at 9 AM with Roger Stritmatter on Small Latin and Less Greek: Anatomy of a Misquotation. Roger discussed his take on how the First Folio came to be published. In this, he follows generally what Peter Dickson and others have been saying about the Spanish Marriage Crises of 1622-23 when there was an intention on the part of James I to marry his son Charles to the Spanish Infanta Maria Anna (daughter of the king). This proposed match to a Catholic was opposed by the powerful Protestant nobility, among which were the two "Incomparable Brethren", William and Philip Herbert, to whom the First Folio was dedicated. It seems clear that the publication of the First Folio at this time was, in some way, a political statement by this court faction. 

It was also at this time that there was the big push to substitute William of Stratford as the author of the plays. Ben Jonson was hired to help in this endeavor. Roger discussed the form in which Jonson's Dedication to Shakespeare in the First Folio took. It is in the form of what was called a "Triumph". There is a 16-line Exordium at the beginning (containing references to "ignorance", "blind affection" and "crafty malice") and then a 48-line Narratio (in which the line "And though thou hadst small Latin and Less Greek…" appears) and then a 16-line Peroration (containing "Looke how the father's face lives in his issue", i.e. the true Shakespeare is to be discovered in the works).

Roger then demonstrated that Jonson's line about "small Latin and less Greek" is a mixed contrary-to-fact conditional. That is, Jonson is not saying that Shakespeare really had no real Latin or Greek training. The words "though thou hadst" actually mean "even if you had" and Jonson is acknowledging Shakespeare's mastery of these languages, but that this is not the only reason for his literary greatness.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

2014 Concordia Conference-Days 1 and 2

by Richard Joyrich

Day (Night) One (Thursday, April 10, 2014):

This is your intrepid reporter on the spot at Concordia College in Portland, Oregon for the 18th Annual Richard Paul & Jane Roe Shakespeare Authorship Research Center Spring Conference. Actually, that's a bit of a misnomer, since for the past few years the conference was called the Shakespeare Authorship Conference and before that it was called the Edward de Vere Studies Conference. Anyway, I guess it's the 18th year that there was SOME kind of conference at Concordia University here in Portland.

As you probably all know, Professor Daniel Wright, who started the conference, is no longer at Concordia, but Dean David Kluth and Earl Showerman were able to put together a program to keep the Conference going. 

There were quite a few changes that I noticed. There is a new style of nametag, there is a new poster and logo (with the loss of the previous Oxford portrait that we used to see) and there is now a very good syllabus with abstracts and biographies for all the presenters.

The conference started at 6 PM (although many people were there by 5:30, myself included) with a one hour welcoming reception with refreshments. Actually this was just all of us standing around in the hallway in front of where the conference presentations were to be held, but it was nice to see old friends and some new faces.

Then, at 7 PM, we went into the lecture auditorium. Earl introduced Dean Kluth, who told us some of his background (he has only been at this branch of Concordia for about a year, previously having been at Concordia University in Austin). Dean Kluth said that Concordia Portland was still very committed to the Authorship Question even after the departure of Daniel Wright (no details given about this), but that they don't know exactly what form this commitment will take in the future. There will be more discussion of this on Sunday at the end of the conference.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Greenblatt sez sorry to Oxfordians

Stephen Greenblatt speaks during the closing session titled "Where are we now?" at the Folger Institute's "Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography" conference held April 3-5, 2014 in Washington DC.
Photo by Teresa Wood. Courtesy of Folger Shakespeare Library

By Linda Theil

Regarding his mention of Holocaust denial in proximity to the study of Shakespeare authorship in a 2005 New York Times letter to the editor, Pulitzer Prize winning author Stephen Greenblatt, PhD, replied yesterday to Dr. Richard Waugaman’s request to make a public apology for his remarks. Greenblatt said:
. . . I very much regret my Holocaust example, I had meant it only to call into question in the sharpest terms the apparent difference between the NY Times' treatment of scientific consensus and its treatment of historical consensus. But I had not reflected — as I should have — that Oxfordians might draw the implication that I was likening THEM to a particularly abhorrent group.    
Waugaman spoke to Greenblatt at the Folger Institute “Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography” conference held April 3-5, 2014 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. He reported his encounter with Greenblatt in a comment on Hank Whittamore’s Shakespeare Blog in an April 7, 2014 post titled “Shakespeare and the Black Hole of Stratfordian Biography”:
The opportunity to converse with the speakers during the breaks was amazing. I thanked Stephen Greenblatt for graciously retracting one of the speculations in Will in the World during a discussion period the previous day. I then asked him how he’d feel about apologizing for comparing us with Holocaust deniers. He denied that he ever did.I did some research later, and learned that he did in fact bring up Holocaust deniers in connection with authorship skeptics in his brief letter to the editor of the New York Times, published on September 4, 2005:
“The idea that William Shakespeare’s authorship of his plays and poems is a matter of conjecture and the idea that the ‘authorship controversy’ be taught in the classroom are the exact equivalent of current arguments that ‘intelligent design’ be taught alongside evolution.
“In both cases an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on a serious assessment of hard evidence, is challenged by passionately held fantasies whose adherents demand equal time.
“The demand seems harmless enough until one reflects on its implications. Should claims that the Holocaust did not occur also be made part of the standard curriculum?”
So I think Greenblatt has forgotten what he wrote. To his credit, he could not have been more cordial during our chat.
Waugaman followed up with an email to Greenblatt repeating his request for an apology. Waugaman explained his persistence in this matter:
. . . it is my impression that many Oxfordians have been beaten down psychologically over the years by the academic taboo against even discussing the authorship question; as well as by the virulent ad hominem attacks on our allegedly disreputable motives for questioning the authority of the Shakespeare experts. A respected colleague got livid when I told him the Stratfordians are bullies. Well, we know we have to confront bullies. Otherwise, we are implicitly accepting their right to be abusive. All this led me to ask Greenblatt for an apology at the conference, and again by email. . . . I do want to emphasize that, much as Greenblatt was wrong to ever link the authorship question with Holocaust denial, I feel his apology was the decent thing to do. He could have just ignored my email.
Both Waugaman’s request and Greenblatt’s reply appear after the jump.

Tuscany Now uses authorship as marketing tool

Paladian Villa Zamboninal near Verona, Italy, photo courtesy Tuscany Now

by Linda Theil

A London-based, Italian-villa-rental company called Tuscany Now recently chose to highlight the Shakespeare authorship question in a recent post titled “Shakespeare in Italy”. (At last viewing, readers must link direct to the blog because there is as yet no link to blog posts from the Tuscany Now homepage.)

Content creator Phoebe Ryan tied Italian sites to Shakespeare’s work, interviewed principals in the authorship debate, and referred to the work of Richard Paul Roe in his lifework, The Shakespeare Guide to Italy (Harper, 2011) in her "Shakespeare in Italy" post. She said:
In Romeo and Juliet, we see the warring Montagues and Capulets against the backdrop of Verona, then Romeo’s solitude in Mantua. Famous for Juliet’s balcony as well as its inspiring Roman arena, Verona has monopolized on Romeo and Juliet. In Verona’s countryside at a beautiful Palladian villa like Villa Zambonina, you can almost imagine throwing the Capulet ball yourself. Neighbouring Palladio’s own villa, Zambonina’s original owners were closely acquainted with the architect. This is the Italy Shakespeare’s plays conjure. 
Although few suggest that Juliet’s balcony is the real balcony envisaged by the playwright, Richard Paul Roe’ s 2011 book The Shakespeare Guide to Italy does suggest that the bard may have had intimate knowledge of the region.
Ryan agreed to tell us about her work:

Oberon: What does a content and online, public relations person actually do?

Phoebe Ryan: We hope to drive traffic to our site by creating interesting content. 

Oberon: Could you tell me what made you think the authorship question would drive customers to your client?

Phoebe Ryan: We believe that content is of the utmost importance – no one wants to read an advertorial blog, something along the lines of ‘look at the new villa we have on our books’. Well, okay, I might hunger over an Italian holiday, but other than a little envy I’m unlikely to be interested. So I proposed the Shakespeare piece. 

Oberon: How did you become aware of the topic of Shakespeare in Italy, yourself?

Phoebe Ryan: I am interested because I studied English lit and actually spent an ERASMUS year at Ca Foscari University, Venice – the best year of my life, I would say! I think the authorship question is such a weird one, because no scholars that I’ve been taught by give one second’s credence to the idea it might not have been Shakespeare who wrote these pieces. Why? I do agree that fiction could be fiction, but I can’t see how they don’t want to investigate these geographical and linguistic accuracies in Shakespeare’s [work]!

The first notice I took of the authorship question after university was the Anonymous film, which I have to say, I thought was rather poor. There is so much better evidence/hints at de Vere’s hand than the film illustrated. I know it was a good way to get the populus interested – but I do think it was a bit of a string to the bow of the Stratfordian debate.

I personally adore Shakespeare, and I think he is becoming more and more accessible – whether by films as mentioned above, or more modern dramatic versions of the plays, or indeed popular renditions of the tale. Gnomeo and Juliet, for example! The plays are, for me, completely relevant to this day, and so rich and beautiful.  I wanted to contribute to keeping discussion and debate alive, and also wanted to spend my time on something I love writing about!

Oberon: We, at Oberon Shakespeare Study Group, are interested in documenting changes in the population's general awareness of the authorship question, so the interest of a marketing company using the topic to drive sales is of particular interest to us.

Phoebe Ryan: The proof for my clients will be traffic to the blog, links to the site, and the amount of time people stay on the piece. I’m just hoping [the “Shakespeare in Italy” post] generates enough interest to keep interesting options like this open in the future, as it has been a joy spending a couple of weeks writing this piece.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Anti-Strats report on Folger "Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography" conference

Shelly Maycock and Roger Stritmatter at the "Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography" conference held April 3-5, 2014 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. Photo credit: Bill Boyle

by Linda Theil

The anti-Strat community was well represented among the 156 Shakespeare luminaries who attended the "Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography" conference sponsored by the Folger Institute and the National Endowment for the Humanities on April 3-5, 2014 at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.

Anti-Strat attendees included:

These attendees say the conference was a milestone in the annals of anti-Strat activism.

Bill Boyle has reported on the Folger conference in his EverReader blog post, “Authorship by Indirection”.

Roger Stritmatter’s essay on the Folger conference can be read in “Aloha Vere: Folger Library Confronts Problems of Shakespearean Biography” on his Shakespeare’s Bible weblog.
Hank Whittemore commented on the Folger conference in his post, “Shakespeare and the Black Hole of Stratfordian Biography” on his site, Hank Whittemore’s Shakespeare Blog.
A listing of the “Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography” conference proceedings appears on the Folger website at http://www.folger.edu/template.cfm?cid=4653&showpreview=1.

Your Oberon correspondent files this report on the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship news page at http://www.shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/visit-seahaven-on-the-potomic/

Hank Whittamore’s pre-conference discussion appears on his Shakespeare blog at http://hankwhittemore.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/shakespeare-and-the-problem-of-biography-historic-conference-at-the-folger-library-does-it-signal-that-the-current-paradigm-is-in-trouble/
A pre-conference announcement on the proceedings appears on the Oberon Shakespeare Study Group blog at http://oberonshakespearestudygroup.blogspot.com/2014/01/folger-presents-conference-on.html

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

German authorship film wins 2014 New York Festivals award

Still shot of The Globe from the award-winning Shakespeare authorship film Der Nackte Shakespeare (The Naked Shakespeare) directed by Claus Bredenbrock. Photo courtesy Kinofilm

by Linda Theil

Neue Shake-speareGesellschaft (New Shakespeare Society) board member Hanno Wember of Hamburg, Germany sent an update on the German authorship film, The Naked Shakespeare by Claus Bredenbrock. Wember said:
After the “Award of Excellence” (IndieFest, La Jolla, USA, November 2013) the documentary film by Claus Bredenbrock received the “Bronze World Medal, New York Festivals World’s Best TV+Films, USA 2014”, as released today, Tuesday April 8th, 2014, in Las Vegas at the National Association of Broadcasters show.
For more information about the award, see 2014 NEW YORK FESTIVALS TV & FILM AWARDS FINALISTS online listing. Scroll to "Germany" - "Cultural Issues"

Der Nackte Shakespeare (The Naked Shakespeare) was screened at the SOS/SF annual conference in Toronto held Oct. 17-21, 2013. In November 2013, Wember reported to Oberon that the film had been presented with an Award of Excellence from The Indie: a showcase forcinematic gems and unique voices. For that award, The Naked Shakespeare was listed under its production company Westdeutscher Rundfunk (Germany) and was presented the award of excellence for work in the field of arts/cultural/performance/plays. 

Wember says the English subtitled DVD of The Naked Shakespeare costs about $25 including shipping and handling and may be ordered by sending an email requesting the film and including your mailing address to the Neue Shake-speare Gesellschaftat Gesellschaft@shake-speare-today.de. Customers will be billed when the DVD is shipped and may pay via Pay Pal. Wember may be reached directly at wember@gmx.net.