Dispersal of Shakespeare Folios Protest Petition and Professor Woudhuysen’s Letter
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0436 Thursday, 5 September 2013
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Subject: Dispersal of Shakespeare Folios Protest Petition and Professor Woudhuysen’s Letter
I received from Al Magary <
> a link to an on-line petition organised by the Bibliographical Society, if any subscriber would like to join the protest: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/senate-house-library-university-of-london-reconsider-the-proposed-sale-of-its-first-four-shakespeare-folios
And I received from Professor Woudhuysen permission to reproduce his letter of protest:
Oxford OX1 3DR
From the Rector
Professor H.R. Woudhuysen FBA
Tel direct line: 01865 279772
Tel Office: 01865 279804
30 August 2013
Dear Mr Pressler
You kindly wrote to ask whether I would be willing ‘to support the University’s actions’ in seeking to sell four Folios from the Sterling bequest and sent me various documents intended to explain the University’s reasons for doing this. I have read the documents carefully and, although I am grateful and flattered to have been shown them at this point in the process, I have come to the conclusion that I am not able to offer the support that you seek and that I am entirely against any such move. You say you do not ‘feel that there will be substantial opposition’ to the sale; I do not think that this will be the case and, as a supporter of research libraries, as someone deeply interested in books and their histories, and as a Shakespeare scholar, I shall do all that I can – publically and privately – to prevent any such sale. I have opposed other ‘disposals’ of this kind through the Bibliographical Society (of which I should shortly become a Vice-President) and through articles for The Times Literary Supplement and shall do the same – and more – with the Sterling Folios if the University decides to go ahead with the sale.
The arguments against such ‘disposals’ are well rehearsed and should be familiar to you, but the documents that you have sent me to do not answer them directly, show a failure to understand simple bibliographical methods, and are evasive about several important matters. It would be a relatively easy task to go point by point through the documents that you have sent me indicating misunderstandings, lack of clarity, and contradictions in them. If I were writing a full response to them, I would concentrate on: the question of the University’s moral right to sell these books; on the nature and intentions of Sterling’s original gift (what he meant by ‘permanently housed in the University library’); why the Folios are not in any sense ‘duplicates’ (certainly not ‘essentially duplicates’) whose ‘academic value … is small’; that the UK copies of the First Folio have received very little bibliographical attention and the subsequent Folios almost none at all; and I would want to dig a little deeper into the argument that they are ‘rarely accessed by users’. I would want to have a better and clearer explanation of the University’s handling of the ‘two Sterling Library Capital Funds’ and of how they relate to Sterling’s original substantial financial endowment (see the entry for him in ODNB), the larger library, and the University’s overall research expenditure. If ‘From 2000 onwards, with one exception, this figure [expenditure on special collections] has been pegged at £10,000’, I would want to know from where the £25,000 for the purchase of the Auden MS came. I am also curious as to what the force of ‘pegged’ is in that statement. In addition, I would want a much clearer explanation of how if National Research Library funding were restored by the government, ‘the funding available’ would be shared ‘between the qualifying libraries on the basis of footfall’.
Turning to other matters, the documents state that ‘The University has reviewed the whole of its historic collections and also the Sterling Library’; I would like to see this review if I may and I would like to see the research and reports that must have gone into the formulation of the proposed collecting policy of ‘acquiring major works and archives of 20th Century and 21st Century English literature’ or of ‘modern and contemporary authors in the English language’. As your research and reports would, I am sure, show, this is one of the most competitive, complex, and sought-after markets for contemporary collectors and I would want to be reassured that Senate House currently has the expertise and experience to buy wisely in this field: if it has not, then will a new appointment be sought and if so, how will this be financed? I have to say that listing incunabula ‘with an English imprint or provenance; more precisely, a London imprint’ among the material that it is proposed to add to the Sterling Library does not indicate a great deal of knowledge of the market for such items. Equally, the examples of material that might have been acquired at the Roy Davids sale (handled, of course, by Bonhams) all date from the 19th century and indicate a degree of confusion about what the primary area for new acquisitions is to be – the Davids sale, by the way, was, as most dealers and collectors would agree, sui generis in a number of ways.
There seems to be some uncertainty about how much the four Folios are expected to fetch: this is described as being ‘between £3m and £5m’ or ‘£3.5m to £4m’. What plan has been developed in case they do not sell? Would they then be sold separately and split up after being together since at least the 1830s? I would want to know for certain that such a sale of the Folios really ‘would mean never needing to realise such an asset again’. I would want to be assured that the effect of the proposed sale on future donors and funding bodies (not least the Friends of the National Libraries) has been fully explored at national and international levels. The question about the effect the ‘disposal’ might have on future bequests is simply ducked and the stated wish ‘firmly to establish Senate House Library as a destination for world scholars’ betrays an extraordinary lack of confidence about the current status of the Library. I would want to know what work and what research have been done into alternative strategies for increasing the endowment for special collections and for disseminating information about their richness and importance.
As to the process behind the sale, it is clear from the documents that the timetable for it has already been established. Bonhams have been appointed to sell the Folios, which will ‘be touring four American cities (New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco) and Hong Kong during September and October’. ‘The auction date is currently scheduled for’ 12 November 2013 and is intended be part of what is described as ‘The UK’s most prestigious book auction’ (other auction houses might find this idea unusual); ‘this is the date the Trustees would wish to be able to sell the four Folios’. The Trustees seem to have decided on committing themselves to the sale, yet in your email message to me you state that you would like my views ‘before we go into a public consultation on this proposal’. I would be interested to know how these two approaches can be reconciled and what the nature of the ‘public consultation’ will be.
A full response to your message and the attached documents would ask all these and many more questions. On the basis of the documents that I have seen, it seems to me that the sale and its implications have not been thought through properly and that the Trustees have already taken a decision to sell the books through Bonhams, making any public consultation merely decorative. The decision will, I hope, attract a great deal of opposition from supporters of Senate House and if executed, it will, I fear, make many who are supporters of the library and possible donors to it turn their charitable interests elsewhere. Libraries that sell books attract not just controversy but close scrutiny of the ways in which they are run. The rationale for the sale is muddled and prompts questions about the current management of the collections. Basing the sale of major assets on a complete failure to recognise their cultural and bibliographical significance does not augur well for using the proceeds of such a sale (if they materialise) to purchase material from this most volatile and unstable end of the market. The new areas for collecting that are being proposed indicate to me, at least, a very basic lack of knowledge about and experience of collection development.
I am sorry to write about this initiative in such negative terms and would be happy when I am back in the UK to talk at greater length to you and to Roger about why I think this move is wrong. Since you marked the documents you sent me as ‘Highly Confidential’, I shall not show them to anyone else, but I would like to reserve the right to make this response available to other parties and to use this and the information in the documents to try to stop the sale.
GW Digital Humanities Institute Inaugural Lecture
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0435 Thursday, 5 September 2013
From: Hardy Cook <
Date: September 5, 2013 10:06:42 AM EDT
Subject: GW Digital Humanities Institute Inaugural Lecture
GW Digital Humanities Institute Inaugural Lecture
Addressing the Text: Reflections on Shakespeare, Digital Access, and Libraries
Time and Location: 3 pm on Friday September 6 in Post Hall on the George Washington University, Mount Vernon Campus. Followed by a reception.
The talk will explore the ways in which large scale digitization projects have created new access problems while solving old ones; it will also show some underlying similarities between the physical codex and the digital surrogates that we are now creating for printed books: both are “massively addressable objects,” simply at a different scale. The plays of Shakespeare are only one place where this convergence can be explored; they will serve as a point of departure in this talk.
Dr. Michael Witmore is Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library and author, most recently, of Shakespearean Metaphysics and Landscapes of the Passing Strange: Reflections from Shakespeare (with Rosamond Purcell).
He is part of the Mellon funded digital research initiative Visualizing English Print, 1470-1800 and maintains a blog on digital approaches to literary studies at Wine Dark Sea.
[Editor’s Note: I am planning to attend. –Hardy]
Marshall Grossman Lecture Series UMdCP
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0429 Tuesday, 3 September 2013
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: September 3, 2013 3:28:09 PM EDT
Subject: Marshall Grossman Lecture Series UMdCP
The Marshall Grossman Lecture Series at the University of Maryland, College Park presents:
Paul Menzer, Mary Baldwin College
September 18, 4:30pm
Tawes Hall 2115
The four-hundred-year performance history of Shakespeare’s plays is full of anecdotes – gossipy, trivial, frequently funny, and only ever loosely allegiant to fact. “Shakespeare, Anecdotally” argues that such anecdotes are a vital index to the ways that Shakespeare’s plays generate meaning across varied times and varied places. Furthermore, particular plays accrete peculiar anecdotes – stories of a real skull in Hamlet, superstitions about the name Macbeth – and therefore express something immanent in the plays they attend. Anecdotes constitute then not just a vital component of a play’s performance history but a form of vernacular criticism by the personnel most closely involved in their performance.
Ayanna Thompson, George Washington University
“Othello in the 21st Century: To Perform or Not To Perform?”
November 6, 4:30pm
Tawes Hall 2115
Although as Dympna Callaghan has said, “Othello was a white man”—that is, the role was written to be performed by the white renaissance actor Richard Burbage in black make-up—the part has come to represent the pinnacle for the classically trained black actor (e.g., Ira Aldridge, Paul Robeson, Earle Hyman, Roscoe Lee Browne, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, and more recently Chiwetel Ejiofor). Yet starting in the late 20th century, many black actors began refusing to play Othello. This talk analyzes the debates about Othello’s role in the 21st century; it addresses the complex and dynamic relationships between Shakespeare, race, and performance.
Rob Wakeman, University of Maryland
Graduate student article workshop
“The Tathed Stage”
November 20, 4:30pm
Tawes Hall 2115
The agroecological concept of "tathing" stresses the important relationship between trampling sheep and fertile soil. In this article, I consider the stages of the Towneley and Chester Shepherds' Plays as sheepfolds sated with all manner of lively ovine materials. Wool, mutton, urine and feces, breath, and the warmth of bodies are passed between the actors and animals on their path toward the discovery of the Agnus Dei. Against readings that maintain the use of sheep, food, and animal waste would have been mimed or otherwise rendered “imaginary,” I argue that the concept of a tathed stage provides the plays' metaphors their organic complexity and the plays' allegory its fertile soil.
Visiting in Spring 2014: Erika Lin (George Mason University), Claire Sponsler (University of Iowa) and Henry Turner (Rutgers University)
All are welcome! Events are free and open to the public.
Scott A. Trudell
Department of English
3243 Tawes Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
Dispersal of Shakespeare Folios
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0428 Tuesday, 3 September 2013
From: Al Magary <
Date: September 2, 2013 6:55:13 PM EDT
Subject: Dispersal of Shakespeare Folios
Germaine Warkentin wrote on FICINO: Renaissance and Reformation Studies and then reposted the message below from SHARP-L:
From Simon Eliot, a most informative letter. Simon is Chair in the History of the Book, and Deputy Director, Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies at ULondon's Institute of English Studies. Germaine
From Simon Eliot, a most informative letter. Simon is Chair in the History of the Book, and Deputy Director, Centre for Manuscript and Print Studies at ULondon's Institute of English Studies. Germaine
Jason Scott-Warren has copied Henry Woudhuysen’s excellent letter to SHARP-L but, as I had just completed the note below, I thought that I would nevertheless circulate it.
Colleagues ought to know of a troubling development in Senate House Library (SHL), the central library of the federal University of London located in Bloomsbury next to the British Museum. Its Trustees and Mr Christopher Pressler, its current Librarian, are proposing to sell no fewer than four of the Library’s Shakespeare Folios (the First, Second, Third, and Fourth), all of which have been together since at least the 1830s, and all of which were given to the University by Sir Louis Sterling (originally an American citizen) in 1956.
By selling these irreplaceable items, Mr Pressler aims is to create an endowment fund to attract more readers and thus help to restore the Library’s government funding as a National Research Library that it lost in 2006. An entirely admirable aim but not, one would think, easily advanced by selling off major research materials, such as Shakespeare Folios, that were given to the University for safe and secure keeping. SHL serves many research institutes, not the least of which is the Institute of English Studies which has, among its senior research fellows, a number of internationally-renowned scholars of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. It also acts as a centre for the Arden edition of Shakespeare’s plays.
So far all this has been done behind closed doors. A public consultation is promised but as the books have already been transferred to the auction house Bonhams (why Bonhams?) and the sale date agreed (12 November this year), this will be a very strange form of consultation.
Of course this is not just a matter of selling off a remarkable set of historically important books to highest bidder. It will cast a long and dark shadow over SHL. Who in the future will trust it? How many collections will it not be offered, how many givers will turn away with the reasonable feeling that the Library and its Trustees cannot be trusted?
This is not the first case of a library asset stripping its collections, nor will be the last, but it is a particularly egregious example. If we as book historians remain silent and do nothing, this will happen ever more frequently and ever more ruthlessly.
Call for Papers: Authors, Artists, Audiences, Plymouth State University’s 35th Annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0427 Tuesday, 3 September 2013
From: Medieval and Renaissance Forum <
Date: September 2, 2013 11:35:57 AM EDT
Subject: Call for Papers: Authors, Artists, Audiences, Plymouth State University’s 35th Annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum
35th Annual Medieval and Renaissance Forum
Plymouth State University
Plymouth, NH, USA
Friday and Saturday April 25-26, 2014
Call for Papers and Sessions
“Authors, Artists, Audiences”
Keynote speaker: Rebecca Krug, Professor of English, University of Minnesota
We invite abstracts or panel proposals in medieval and Early Modern studies that consider how authors, artists, and audiences functioned in personal, political, religious, and aesthetic realms.
● How are authorship and artistry defined in different contexts?
● What roles do audiences play in creativity and expression?
● How are reading and viewing conceived of or portrayed?
● What relationships exist among creator, creation, and consumer?
● How do such ideas hold meaning today?
Papers need not be confined to the theme but may cover many aspects of medieval and Renaissance life, literature, languages, art, philosophy, theology, history and music.
Students, faculty, and independent scholars are welcome.
Undergraduate sessions are welcome and require faculty sponsorship.
This year’s keynote speaker is Rebecca Krug, associate professor of English at the University of Minnesota, who specializes in late medieval English literature and culture. She is the author of Reading Families: Women’s Literate Practice in Late Medieval England (Cornell University Press, 2002) and of a number of essays, including recent pieces in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Culture and in A Cultural History of Gardens in the Medieval Age. She is currently writing an essay about lunar gardening in the medieval and modern worlds as well as completing a book about Margery Kempe.
For more information visit www.plymouth.edu/medieval
Please submit abstracts, a/v needs, and full contact information to Dr. Karolyn Kinane, Director
Abstract deadline: Monday January 15, 2014
Presenters and early registration: March 15, 2014
Shakespeare Santa Cruz to Close
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0426 Tuesday, 3 September 2013
From: Kurt Daw <
Date: August 29, 2013 9:33:36 PM EDT
Subject: Shakespeare Santa Cruz to Close
The sad news this week is that UC-Santa Cruz has decided to close its resident company, Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Here is the news release:
My personal blog post on this topic can be found at:
Professor of Theatre Arts
San Francisco State University
Shakespeare Santa Cruz to end 32-year run due to budget problems
Arts dean to convene committee to explore ways to create a financially feasible theater company that is closely integrated with the campus
August 26, 2013
UC Santa Cruz announced today that this will be the final season for Shakespeare Santa Cruz (SSC), the professional repertory company in residence at the campus.
The current season, the 32nd since the festival debuted on campus in 1981, will conclude this year following the annual holiday show in December.
“The campus has provided Shakespeare Santa Cruz with a large amount of financial support in hopes that the company could become more financially self-sustaining,” said David Yager, UCSC dean of the arts. “Unfortunately, with each passing season, it has become clearer that this goal is not attainable."
”Many talented, dedicated, and generous people have made Shakespeare Santa Cruz a theater company to be proud of,” Yager added. “Despite their considerable efforts and generous support from the campus, it has become obvious that ticket sales, sponsorships, and private support are just insufficient to keep the company going.”
The decision comes almost five years after SSC raised $419,000 in emergency donations in December 2008 — support from the public that guaranteed at least a 2009 season. Despite that one-time emergency patch and a push for ongoing private support in the years that followed, the company's dependence on campus funds has not declined.
In fact, it has grown. Campus contributions to the company over the past 10 years have totaled $2.13 million. Almost $1.5 million of that has come since 2009, the year after the fundraising drive.
Even with an initial campus contribution of $250,000 during the most recent full fiscal year, revenues still fell short of planned expenditures by nearly $500,000 — effectively making the total shortfall $750,000 for 2012-13.
The end-of-year $500,000 shortfall took the company's cumulative debt from $1.48 million to $1.98 million.
Alison Galloway, the campus's executive vice chancellor, said the campus's overall budget challenges—caused by years of reduced state support — have made it harder each year to support SSC. “We have had to make very tough decisions about the budget — including making cuts to academic programs,” she said. “We care deeply about SSC and very much appreciate the program and its value. But we also have to be accountable to our students, who are paying more than ever and need courses to graduate on time."
Yager said the closure of Shakespeare Santa Cruz after the current season doesn't necessarily mean that UCSC cannot be home to a theater company — and he anticipates creating a blue-ribbon committee to "reimagine how our campus could host a company that is financially stable, academically relevant, and closely aligned with the activities of a major research university."
"It is sad to see Shakespeare Santa Cruz end, and we are very appreciative of the many people who have supported the company — through their contributions, sponsorships, and ticket purchases,” said Yager.
He also thanked the people responsible for the company's artistic achievements. “Over the past three decades, we’ve had incredible actors, designers, and directors who have been a part of this extraordinary theater company, and we want to recognize all of them.”
“I also want to thank the countless dedicated staff and volunteers who have supported those artists and made all those shows possible over the past 32 years,” said Yager.
“But I believe the time is right to take a new look at how to create a sustainable model for theater at UCSC.”
Yager added that “Shakespeare to Go” — a program that currently brings Shakespeare to nearly 8,000 students (grades 5 and up) throughout the Central Coast each spring — will be retained.
“The plans are to integrate Shakespeare to Go into our Theater Arts Department and continue to raise private money to make sure it can operate,” said Yager.
Editor's Note: The current summer festival will conclude as scheduled on September 1.
Shakespearean London Theatres (ShaLT) Public Lectures
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0425 Tuesday, 3 September 2013
From: Gabriel Egan <
Date: August 29, 2013 1:12:54 PM EDT
Subject: Shakespearean London Theatres (ShaLT) Public Lectures
Over the summer of 2013 a series of public talks by leading theatre historians was given at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London on various topics around theatre in Shakespeare’s time.
The talks were part of the ‘Shakespearean London Theatres (ShaLT)’ project and were audio-recorded for anyone to download from the ShaLT website at http://shalt.org.uk/downloads.
The full list of talks you can download is:
* Prof Andrew Gurr ‘Why was the Globe Round?’
* Prof Peter Womack ‘The People’s Tragic Hero’
* Prof Julie Sanders ‘Ben Jonson, Bankside and the Blackfriars’
* Prof Tiffany Stern ‘Stuck Up and Down About the City’
* Prof Joanne Tompkins ‘Virtual Reality and London’s Early Stages’
* Prof Jean E. Howard ‘Rich City, Poor City’
* Dr Farah Karim-Cooper ‘Fashioning the Female Face’
* Prof Martin White ‘When Torchlight Made an Artificial Noon’
* Prof Ralph A. Cohen ‘The New Blackfriars’
* Prof Gary Taylor ‘1+1=3’
* Prof Martin Butler ‘Exeunt Players’
The audio files are all offered under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike licence (CC-BY-SA) that allows you to do anything with them—including putting them into your teaching materials, burning them onto a disk and selling it, adapting them as tap-dances for Broadway— so long as you acknowledge the speaker and don’t attach a licence more restrictive than this one.
The ShaLT investigators, myself and Andrew Gurr, are grateful to De Montfort University, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council for financial support that made these talks possible. We are especially grateful to the speakers themselves for their contributions.
American Shakespeare Center
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0419 Thursday, 29 August 2013
From: Peter Hyland <
Date: August 28, 2013 9:33:11 PM EDT
Subject: American Shakespeare Center
I assume that many members of this group will (like me) be attending The Blackfriars Conference in Staunton, Virginia in October, but I wonder if all members of the group are fully aware of the remarkable work done by the associated acting group at the American Shakespeare Center. This small repertory company, as its name implies, stages Shakespeare’s plays, but it also has an unparalleled record of staging non -Shakespearean plays from the early modern period. Over the past decade or so the company has staged not only comparatively popular plays like The Alchemist, Doctor Faustus, The Duchess of Malfi,and The Roaring Girl, but also plays that few other professional companies in the world can afford (or have attempted) to stage, such as Dido, Queen of Carthage, The Blind Beggar of Alexandria, Look About You, and The Custom of the Country. By my count the company has mounted productions of almost thirty non-Shakespearean early modern plays since 2003. All of this is done in a beautiful replica of the Blackfriars Theatre that allows for genuine experimentation with “original practices” and a wonderfully intimate and relaxed experience for audiences.
Although tickets are not expensive, the actual work of staging does not come cheap. Staunton is an oddly isolated town, and the ASC needs all the help it can get, with promotion, and with groups coming to see the plays. If there is any possibility that you can take groups to the Blackfriars, you should surely do so. Check out the possibilities at:
It is increasingly true that postgraduate students are looking beyond Shakespeare for research topics, and the ASC provides astonishingly rich resources for facilitating this, including involvement with staging. If you don’t already know about it, look it up, and tell everyone you know.
[Editor’s Note: I whole-heartedly second Peter’s remarks. I have followed the ASC and its predecessor the SSE since the 1990 performance of Julius Caesar at the SAA Meeting in Philadelphia. Although I have not participated in one of Ralph Cohen’s NEH Summer Seminars, those who have are prolific authors of essays and books on the intersection of original theatrical practices and Shakespearean performance and criticism. I will be attending the Blackfriars Conference. It is one of my all-time-favorite Shakespeare conferences. If you are a theater professional, Shakespeare scholar or teacher, or lover of Early Modern Theatre, you owe it to yourself to attend this conference in the autumnal Shenandoah Valley, surely one of nature’s most beautiful expressions of color is to be seen at this time of year. Papers are short and to the point. Presenters keep to the agreed upon period lest they hear the ominous thunder sheet, and those who go over their time are carried off stage by THE BEAR! Ya gotta love it! –Hardy]
New Digital Humanities Position at University of Tasmania
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0418 Thursday, 29 August 2013
From: Rosemary Gaby <
Date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 8:00 PM
Subject: New Digital Humanities Position at University of Tasmania
Reference Number :249 - Professor / Associate Professor of Digital Humanities
The University of Tasmania was founded in 1890 on the best of academic traditions that embrace excellence and commitment to free inquiry in the creation and application of knowledge. Ranked in the top 3 percent of universities worldwide and in the top 10 research universities in Australia, the University has a strong and distinctive Tasmanian identity which underpins teaching and research that is international in scope, vision and standards.
Digital Humanities investigates the intersection of computing and humanities, in particular, how digital media affects the humanities disciplines in which they are used, and how humanities can contribute to computing and digital studies. The implications of this growing field are gaining relevance beyond the humanities and contribute to understanding globalization, mass information and social and cultural change.
The University is seeking to appoint a Professor / Associate Professor to lead research, teaching and creative practice in digital humanities. The appointee will strengthen research leadership on the Launceston campuses, consolidate and grow existing research culture and facilitate interdisciplinary research with staff in the humanities, social sciences and other faculties.
Candidates will have a PhD and an international reputation in a relevant humanities discipline with successful research collaborations using digital media, strong commitment to effective research training and demonstrated success in generating funding from a range of sources. Proven leadership and effective relationship management skills are considered essential.
The appointment will be made at either Level E or Level D in line with Opening UTAS to Talent: The UTAS Academic. This continuing position is located in Launceston. Travel to other campuses is required.
The closing date for applications is 11 October, 2013. To register early interest, please call Jandy Godfrey, Academic Search and Onboarding Manager, University of Tasmania on 61 3 6226 7879 or email
Dr. Rosemary Gaby
University of Tasmania
School of Humanities
Review of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0416 Tuesday, 27 August 2013
From: Annie Martirosyan <
Date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 2:57 PM
Subject: Review of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt
27 August 2013
Shakespeare by No Other Name
By Annie Martirosyan
Linguist, Shakespeare researcher, Lecturer in English language
I might have started my journey with Shakespeare as an anti-Shakespearean. Well, at least, that’s what anti-Shakespeareans believe will happen to you if only you open your mind and let the enlightening rays of truth in. I clearly remember the first lecture on Shakespeare at university. Open swung the door and in came the lecturer waving in her hands a journal with Shakespeare’s signatures and portraits and out flew, self-consciously, the first sentence: “Shakespeare never wrote those plays!” What followed was a dismissive rant about Shakespeare and Stratford-upon-Avon. Luckily, I never had enough imagination to be turned into an Oxfordian. I was bored at the lectures. Shakespeare’s creativity with language, the simpleness, subtlety and ludicity of his texture was what really tickled my mind.
The so-called authorship controversy has been around for a good while to annoy academics, confuse newcomers to Shakespeare and to promote tiring ideas about a hollow version of alternative history. Anti-Shakespearean theories make devout efforts to create an anti-historical truth where everyone else is worthy of being Shakespeare but Shakespeare himself. Where they preach about a “better” author with a better education, academics and Shakespeare professionals are dubbed “Establishment” protecting Shakespeare of Stratford. Reason and respect are expected for theories so utterly unreasonable and disrespectful.
Recently, a number of esteemed Shakespeare professionals have produced a comprehensive and informed book on the topic. Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy is edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells and published by Cambridge University Press.
The need for an organised response arose after the release of the widely sensationalised epic failure of a film called Anonymous which should fairly much irritate even the Oxfordians by its overdone distortion of history.
If it [Anonymous] had followed its own plot to its logical conclusion, then Oxford would have conducted a homosexual affair with the Earl of Southampton, Oxford’s own biological son by an incestuous union with his own mother. . . . these implied relationships do not prove that Oxford was William Shakespeare, but they do prove that he was John Milton, for how but by personal experience could Milton have conceived the variously incestuous trio in Paradise Lost, Satan, Sin and Death? -- Alan H. Nelson
Shakespeare Beyond Doubt consists of three parts. In “Sceptics”, the authors take a close look at the roots of anti-Shakespeareanism which started in 1856 when an American lady named Delia Bacon became determined to prove Shakespeare was, in fact, Francis Bacon. Like bubonic plague, the idea infected many others and today there are over 70 candidates promoted for a post they will never get. Among other prominent candidates are Marlowe, Edward de Vere - 17th Earl of Oxford, and Elizabeth I.
Mathematically, each time an additional candidate is suggested, the probability decreases that any given name is the true author. -- Matt Kubus
In “Shakespeare as Author”, the scholars expand on interesting topics like extant allusions to Shakespeare to 1642, Shakespeare’s collaboration with other playwrights, his schooling. The chapter by David Kathman on Shakespeare’s Warwickshire connections and the Warwickshire words in his plays is especially noteworthy.
In general, anti-Shakespearians’ depictions of sixteenth-century Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwickshire are rooted in distortions, driven by an irrational hatred of William Shakespeare of Stratford and all he represents. Those who would deny Shakespeare’s authorship and disparage his home town must turn a blind eye to a mountain of evidence showing that Stratford’s leading residents, including Shakespeare’s closest friends there, were educated and cultured by just about any standard. -- David Kathman
MacDonald P. Jackson shows how stylometric analysis of Shakespeare’s texture proves the collaborative nature of the works. Anti-Shakespeareans, instead, automatically deny this evidence by favouring a proposition that a single author with a better formal education penned the canon.
In the final part of the book, “A Cultural Phenomenon: Did Shakespeare Write Shakespeare?”, the scholars ruminate on the cultural, political, fictional treatments of Shakespeare’s authorship. Stuart Hampton-Reeves looks at the bombastically named Declaration of Reasonable Doubt which invites signatures from people doubting Shakespeare’s authorship. The website triumphantly lists the merely 470 people of “academic status” - whereas ironically, it is usually the academia which is under anti-Shakespeareans’ attack for supposedly deifying Shakespeare. The statistics Hampton-Reeves presents only go to show how few are the academics out there interested in promoting anti-Shakespeareanism in formal education.
The book ends with a logical and conclusive Afterword by James Shapiro. The selected reading list provided by Hardy M. Cook and the Notes speak about the highly professional level of the essays in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt.
Among other Shakespeareans, Paul Edmondson’s intelligent and organised regular responses to anti-Shakespearean (ad)ventures are particularly rewarding. I have repeatedly used the term anti-Shakespearean, and not anti-Stratfordian, throughout the review. The former is a more precise term which Edmondson has put into current use. As Edmondson similarly observes, to consider the playwright’s roots as unworthy of his creations is to deny Shakespeare himself.
Shakespeare Beyond Doubt shows, once more, that the fickle authorship controversy still exists not because there is no evidence that Shakespeare was Shakespeare but because anti-Shakespeareans refuse to acknowledge it and prefer the creative route of constructing an imaginary and speculative truth. History does not work like that. It is not a Hollywood movie.
Those who fail to be able, for snobbish or other ‘ignorant’ reasons, to locate the genius of the work in Shakespeare of Stratford, have failed to do what the editors of the First Folio in their prefatory epistle demanded: which is, that we should ‘Read him.’ -- Barbara Everett
. . . Time has passed. My former Oxfordian lecturer is a colleague today and, as I have discovered of late, favours Roger Manners - 5th Earl of Rutland, now. It speaks volumes about anti-Shakespeareanism, doesn’t it?
2013 Colloquium at Fairleigh Dickinson University
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0415 Tuesday, 27 August 2013
From: Harry Keyishian <
Date: August 26, 2013 9:20:52 PM EDT
Subject: 2013 Colloquium at Fairleigh Dickinson University
Julius Caesar will be the subject of the 2013 Shakespeare Colloquium at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ. This annual gathering, now in its 21st year, will take place on Saturday, October 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., in room S-11 of the Science Building. These colloquiums are free and open to the public.
Shakespeare’s Roman tragedy has always been important in American culture and in the school curriculum. Sometimes seen as a defense of rebellion, and sometimes as a critique, it will be discussed at this colloquium in its full complexity by four scholars who focus on the play’s rhetoric, its portrayal of women, its treatment of human agency, and its afterlife in adaptation.
Speakers this year are Eric Johnson-Debaufre (Harvard University), Naomi Liebler (Montclair State University), Hugh Grady (Arcadia University), and Iska Alter (Hofstra University). Coordinators of the colloquium are Harry Keyishian and Bianca Calabresi, both of Fairleigh Dickinson University.
New Jersey teachers may obtain professional development hours for their participation. Forms will be available at the colloquium.
Registration is not required, but is welcomed for planning purposes. To register, or for further information, write to Harry Keyishian at GH2-01, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ 07940, or by e-mail to
S-11 is handicap-accessible. Please contact the coordinators for further information or assistance. The colloquiums are supported in part by the Columbia University Seminar on Shakespeare. Additional contributions are welcome and may be made out to FDU-Shakespeare.