Thursday, January 30, 2014

Oberons chose leadership for 2014

by Linda Theil

At the Oberon meeting on Monday night, January 27, 2014, the Oberon Shakespeare Study Group elected leadership for this year. Richard Joyrich was elected chair; Ron Halsted is vice-chair; and Rey Perez was elected treasurer. The office of secretary was not filled. 

Our current chair, Tom Townsend, is unable to accept a position because he and his wife, Joy, are planning a move to Seattle this summer where they hope to participate in a Shakespeare authorship group in the area. Tom and Joy are our great friends and we are so happy they are embarking on this wonderful adventure.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Download 2013 Oberon yearbook free from Blurb

by Linda Theil

Oberon Shakespeare Study Group Yearbook 2013 by edited by Linda Theil | Make Your Own Book

The 2013 Oberon yearbook of weblog posts is now available as an eBook free from Blurb.com. Hardcover and softcover print editions are also available as print-on-demand books sold at cost from the publisher, Blurb.com. The 60-page softcover edition on basic grade paper costs $30.49 plus shipping. To order, go to Blurb at http://blur.by/1fepykT where you can preview the entire book. For free eBook, check "RELATED EDITIONS" under "ADD TO CART" button.

The 2013 yearbook contains posts about the 2013 SOS/SF conference in Toronto, Oberon trip to see Wells and Edmondson in Stratford, Ontario, other events and commentary on the topic of the Shakespeare authorship.

Other Oberon yearbooks are also available; preview editions by clicking the individual book badges in the sidebar of this blog.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Showerman carries SOF support to Concordia

Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship trustee Earl Showerman, MD, said today that he will serve as interim director for the Richard Paul and Jane Roe Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre (SARC) annual Shakespeare authorship studies conference at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon on April 11-13, 2014.

Acting as ambassador for the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship board of trustees, Showerman traveled to Portland this week to confer with Dr. David Kluth -- dean of the Concordia University College of Theology, Arts and Sciences -- who is acting as interim director of SARC since the center's founder and director Daniel Wright, PhD, is no longer employed by the university. (See "Dan Wright leaves Concordia U." Jan. 29, 2014)

A statement by Showerman along with a preliminary roster of conference speakers was posted today on the SOF webpage at "Showerman to act as interim chairperson of SARC annual conference".

Update: January 25, 2014 SOF News: "Keir Cutler will appear at SARC conference in April"

Update: February 22, 2014: SARC interim director David Kluth announced Feb. 20, 2014 that online registration is now available for the SARC Shakespeare authorship studies conference at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon on April 11-13, 2014. In his February 20 message, Kluth said SARC plans to distribute a conference schedule-of-events in March.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Waugaman contributes to Italian journal

Richard Waugaman, MD
by Linda Theil

Richard Waugaman's article "The Psychology of Shakespeare Biography: An Update" will be published in the 2015 edition of the Italian Shakespeare journal Memoria di Shakespeare. The journal -- which prints in both English and Italian -- will devote this entire issue to the topic of Shakespeare's biography. 

Memoria di Shakespeare co-editor Maria Valentini told Waugaman: 
We found your articles extremely interesting and absolutely pertinent to our forthcoming issue on 'Shakespearian biographies'. We would be delighted to have an article by you.
Waugaman's contribution is an update of a 2009 article that originally appeared in Brief Chronicles. Waugaman added:
Some of the updated material [also] comes from my 2012 article in The Oxfordian, “The Psychopathology of Stratfordianism.” I’ll also refer to the power of narratives — Stratfordian versus post-Stratfordian. I plan to add some material about the role of deductive and Cartesian reasoning in Stratfordian dogma — that is, starting with an unquestioned premise, which makes their dogma irrefutable.
Waugaman learned about Memoria di Shakespeare through the European Shakespeare Research Association which distributes news through an email distribution list.

When the updated article is published, Waugaman will post a link on his publications page at Georgetown University where he teaches. More information is also available at his website, The Oxfreudian.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Folger presents conference on Shakespeare authorship

by Linda Theil

The Folger Institute has extended the deadline for National Endowment for the Humanities grants to support travel and lodging to their “Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography” conference to be held at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC on April 3-5, 2014.

The new deadline for aid applications is February 14, 2014. NEH grants are available to qualified graduate students and faculty from US institutions and may be applied for online at the Folger Shakespeare Library: info at “Scholarly Programs Application Guidelines” and “The Folger Institute Application forAdmission”.

Enrollment to the conference is open to all, and those who are not applying for grants must send a registration form that is available online and the $50 registration fee to arrive at the Folger no later than March 21, 2014.

I was delighted to hear that the great Folger plans to address the issue of the Shakespeare authorship and I read the conference précis with interest:
There is no more iconic figure with whom to push forward a fresh critical evaluation of the aims and methods of literary biography than Shakespeare. Within the academy, textual analysis often denies biography any explanatory force, while popular conceptions of Shakespeare look to biography precisely for insight into the works. In the standoff, the genre of literary biography is lost as a subject of serious inquiry. On the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth, the Folger Institute Center for Shakespeare Studies will undertake a rigorous investigation of the multiple—and conflicted—roles biography plays in the reception of Shakespeare today. A cadre of influential scholars, many of whom have written biographies of Shakespeare, will focus discussion on such topics as the distinctions between authorship and agency, the interpretations of documentary evidence, the impact of methods of dating texts on an understanding of Shakespeare’s life, the broadened context for that life of a more robust understanding of theatrical activity, and the possibility that biography is itself a form of historical fiction.
Whoa! ". . . the possibility that biography is itself a form of historical fiction"! That doesn’t sound good. Maybe Shakespeare biographies are historical fiction, but that doesn’t mean all biography is fiction – does it? I mean, all those letters Mozart wrote to his dad – that’s data isn’t it? That’s real biography, isn’t it? That’s not fiction, is it? Just because we don’t have much data on Shakespeare doesn’t mean that all biographical data is suspect, does it?

The Folger website goes on to report that the conference will kick off with the Folger’s annual Shakespeare’s Birthday Lecture which will be audio recorded and available as a podcast at http://www.folger.edu/template.cfm?cid=4769 on the Folger website shortly after delivery, according to Folger Institute Executive Director Kathleen Lynch. The lecture will be given by one of the conference organizers, Dr. Brian Cummings, Anniversary Professor of English at the University of York, UK. The lecture is described on the Folger website:
The Birthday Lecture will be partly an essay in the problem of writing the life of Shakespeare. Professor Cummings will discuss this in terms of the documentary history and its haunting sense of missing links. He will describe the equally strange history of how the Shakespearean archive has come into being: a tale of human love and scholarship and fantasy and projection that has gone into furnishing Shakespeare with an appropriate life history (and even of depriving him of one, and giving the plays to someone else). But the lecture will also reach beyond the peculiarities of the Shakespearean case to ask questions about literary biography as an art form. Most great writers of the twentieth century wished that people would read their writings without reference to their lives. It is not clear, either to authors or to their biographers, that the works are better understood for the existence of biographies. Professor Cummings will therefore make a case for “anti” biography. But he will also ask whether such revisionism is sufficient. What is the life of writing, as opposed to the life of the writer? After all the searching, he will suggest that the reading of a writer creates a life of its own, somewhere between writer and reader, in the mystery that constitutes the act of literature.
Anti-biography, eh? The mystery that constitutes the act of literature? Worser and worser. What actually is the “mystery that constitutes the act of literature” and what does the mystery have to do with Shakespeare’s biography? Will this conference be just an extended apologia for the fact that the traditional Shakespeare has no biography?

Let’s see who else is talking at the conference.

Ian Donaldson, Emeritus Professor of Culture and Communication at the
University of Melbourne, will speak on the subject of “Interfiliations: Shakespeare and the Lives of Others”. Here is what the Folger website says about his talk:
Professor Donaldson will describe the often unwitting dependence of many of the written lives of William Shakespeare on the Romantic notion of literary exceptionalism. He will argue for a need to recover the more particular social elements from which that life draws its principal energies, including the constant interactions that life will have had with the lives of others. He will note in particular the need to attend closely to the habits of collaboration widespread in the theater—a topic that will be further explored in the course of the conference.
Uh, oh! The cee-word, that’s not good. "Collaboration" is the latest straw in the establishment’s crumbling bulwark against anti-Stratfordian encroachment upon the Shakespeare orthodoxy. Stanley Wells in his online diatribe, Shakespeare Bites Back, said: “Any case against Shakespeare falls down as soon as Shakespeare is understood as an honest and open collaborator.”

Why Wells and other Stratfordians believe that creating a multi-Shakespeare somehow makes the Stratfordian more convincing as an author, I have no idea, but the flood of recent material by orthodox scholars on Shakespeare collaborators make the rush-to-collaboration trend undeniable.

The fact that the Folger conference will explore Shakespeare's “habits of collaboration” does not bode well for an unbiased investigation of the Shakespeare authorship problem.

So what else do we have? A discussion of Baconian codes, a little post-modern literary theory, topped off with Katherine Duncan-Jones and Stephen Greenblatt -- a lineup that demolishes any notion that this conference will be much more than a fascinating defense of the standard Stratfordian biography.  

In an effort to discover the conference organizers' intentions, I asked about the conference, and Folger Institute Executive Director Kathleen Lynch very courteously responded to my query. Here are my questions:
  • How did you make the decision to discuss the topic of biography? Were you influenced by the growing public awareness and interest in alternative candidates for writers of the Shakespeare canon? Do you as organizer of the conference hold a position on alternate theories of authorship, either individual or as a collaboration?
  • Can you explain some of the terms you use to describe the proceedings? For example, what do you mean when you say, “ . . . the genre of literary biography is lost as a subject of serious inquiry.”? And, what are “. . . the distinctions between authorship and agency,”?
  • When you say that the conference will entertain the possibility that biography is a form of historical fiction, does that mean that the conference organizers consider biography to be fictional?
  • Are any of your presenters advocates of disrupting the Shakespeare biography status quo, such as David Ellis or Ros Barber?

Kathleen Lynch replied:
. . . You ask about the genesis of the idea. It really is as simple as the fact of the 450thanniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth this spring. As you will also know, the 400th anniversary of his death follows in 2016, and the co-incidence of the two has our Center for Shakespeare Studies turning to some major areas of scholarly work for re-evaluation. With the birth, we look to biography. The nub of the “problem”—as we put it in the conference title—has as much to do with the uncertain status of biography as a scholarly subject of inquiry as anything else—and the fact that we are again in a phase of heightened production of Shakespeare biographies. For some, that will undoubtedly open up to questions of authorship. But for us, there is a more basic question about the writing of literary biography that touches on the lack of firm distinctions among the areas of documentary fact, interpretation, and imaginative recreation. By gesturing in the direction of historical fiction, we aim to provoke discussion. The Center's foundational premise was that no single critical approach, historical perspective, scholarly method, or pedagogical strategy can do justice to early modern texts and contexts. We are gathering some of the foremost practitioners of the art of Shakespearean biography, and we expect lively discussion. But there is no particular “take” that we intend to advance.
I am very grateful for Lynch’s response, but I cannot agree with her that the conference has no “take” on the topic of Shakespeare authorship. The conference sounds fascinating, and I encourage our readers to check out all the material available on Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography: ConferenceSchedule, but don’t expect Ros Barber at the podium.

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For a report on the Folger Institute "Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography" conference see "Visit Seahaven on the Potomac" by Linda Theil published April 7, 2014 on the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship website at http://www.shakespeareoxfordfellowship.org/visit-seahaven-on-the-potomic/

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UPDATE 05/04/14: A podcast of Brian Cummings 2014 Shakespeare Birthday Lecture titled "Biography and Anti-biography" given April 3, 2014 at the Folger Institute conference "Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. is now available on the Folger website at http://www.folger.edu/template.cfm?cid=4769

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Oberons celebrate at Stage Deli

by Linda Theil
 Pam Verilone and Rey Perez enjoy conversation during the Oberon party at Stage Deli.

Oberons held our annual holiday party on January 4, 2013 at the Stage Deli in West Bloomfield, Michigan. This was our first visit as a group to this local institution, but it will not be our last!


Ron Halstead in foreground at left, Robin Browne, Tom Townsend (almost hidden), George and Sharon Hunter. Also in attendance, but not in photo: Rosey Hunter, Joy Townsend, Richard Joyrich, and Linda Theil.

Dan Wright leaves Concordia U.

by Linda Theil

Dr David Kluth, Dean of the College of Theology, Arts & Sciences at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon announced today that Dan Wright, PhD -- founder and director of the Shakespeare Authorship Research Center at Concordia -- is no longer employed by the university. In a letter to Shakespeare at CU listserv subscribers, Dr Kluth said:
. . . As some of you might already know, Dr. Dan Wright was on leave from Concordia University during the second half of Fall semester 2013. I wanted to share with you that Dr. Wright is no longer employed with Concordia University Portland. We appreciate his many years of dedicated service to the University and especially to the Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre (SARC). I’m sure Dr. Wright will continue to provide valuable scholarship to the Shakespeare authorship discussion in the years ahead. We are currently in the process of reshaping the SARC and will keep you posted as events warrant. Concordia University is committed to playing an active role in the international authorship discussion. During this interim period please feel free to contact me with any questions (email: dkluth@cu-portland.edu). More information on the April Shakespeare conference in Portland will be forthcoming. We look forward to the “next chapter” of the SARC.