The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0553 Tuesday, 10 December 2013
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Subject: Rollout of Newly Designed Internet Shakespeare Editions Site
Today in Facebook I saw two announcements of interest to all Shakespeareans. I will discuss the ISE here and MoEML in the next digest. But let me begin with my sincerest congratulations to Michael Best and Janelle Jenstad.
Michael Best, Coordinating Editor of ISE, wrote on The ISE Facebook page:
“Gasp. Whew. The new ISE site is up and running as of today. Months of work, but worth it. Check it out at http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/.”
Janelle Jenstad, Assistant Coordinating Editor of ISE, also wrote about the newly designed ISE site launch:
“Launched like a rocket! The new-look ISE site is up and running. Check it out. New look, smarter navigation, easier access to resources—and more content. Check out the left column of each page for features that allow you to search and view the site in different ways. We welcome your feedback. A big thanks to the many who contributed. Our editors, our Editorial Board, and the great team here at the University of Victoria that guided us to this point. Max Terpstra and Telka Duxbury led a great team of programmers and research assistant.”
I have had look at the site and it is truly impressive. Kudos to all.
To celebrate the launch, I am reproducing the December 2013 edition of The Shakespeare Herald, the ISE newsletter.
The Herald: December 2013
Welcome to the second issue of The Shakespeare Herald, the newsletter of the Internet Shakespeare Editions (ISE). In this issue, we trumpet our plans for redesign and the new texts we’re working on, as well as updates on the Chronicle, our mobile site, and our Making Waves campaign. And we wish all our readers the very best for the holiday season.
The ISE continues its tradition of introducing Shakespeare on stage and (digital) page in new and intuitive formats. We bring fully-edited, peer-reviewed works to a computer—or mobile device—near you.
As we are currently in the midst of a redesign, we want to know what you would like to see on the site. What kind of features would enhance your digital Shakespeare experience? Let us know on our Facebook page or send us feedback.
A Notable Word from the Coordinating Editor
Claudio. Benedick, didst thou note the daughter of Signior Leonato?
Benedick. I noted her not, but I looked on her.
(Much Ado About Nothing TLN 159-160 )
Typically, Benedick is teasing. His young friend Claudio wants to know whether Benedick was impressed by the attractive young Hero, daughter of their host. Benedick pours cold water on his enthusiasm by punning on “note”—he saw her (noticed her), but did not pay attention to her (note her).
We do this all the time. We notice things, we note things, and we take notes on the things that strike our notice. Until recently, one of the features of reading online was that there were no margins to scribble in, no way of adding our own thoughts to those we were reading on the screen in front of us. One of our copies of the first quarto of King Lear, from the British Library, has manuscript notes in it of this kind.
Now this is changing. One of the new tools we can offer those who become Friends of the ISE is the capacity to take (and save) notes as they work on our site. Friends (or clients of libraries that have become Friends) can log in, and can then access a link in our newly-designed Toolbox to permit them to highlight text, then enter their notes in a text box.
Because our works are produced by scholars, and peer-reviewed, the underlying text on the page will be unchanged—but visitors to the site can work online, creating their own web of comment for later reference, much as many of us do with a physical book we are studying.
If you have become a Friend of the ISE, please try out this notable feature.
New Texts Published
If you are in the mood for a shout of English patriotism, or need a good fiery comment to fire at a teenager who is being unusually challenging, the ISE now has modern-spelling texts ready for you to quote.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
(Henry V, (Modern, Folio), TLN 1084 )
I would there were no age between ten and three and twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest, for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting. . .
(The Winter's Tale (Modern), TLN 1504 )
James Mardock’s Henry V and Hardin Aasand’s Winter’s Tale are now fully published online. For each play you will find extensive introductory essays, explanatory notes on the language of the play, meticulous recording of textual variants, and a full complement of supplementary works from the period that provide a context for the study of Shakespeare’s plays.
One of the most powerful features of a digitally published work is that it can be improved over time. In the next months we will be adding multimedia, both in the provision of extensive graphics and some video clips of performance.
More on the way
We have recently published modern-spelling texts of Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II and Henry IV, Part Two.
Our New Look and Additional Features
“Fresh array and entertainment” (As You Like It, TLN 2207)
We are pleased to announce the launch of an enhanced and updated version of the site. We have taken advantage of advances in browser technology and interface design by offering a cleaner look and more detailed menus to guide our users through our extensive Shakespeare resources. We have also taken this opportunity to upgrade a number of features of the site, and to add some more tools for research.
Over the years we have made many changes and improvements to the site, at one stage experimenting with adding advertisements (we ended that experiment when they brought in very little to support the site). But in the rapidly-evolving world of the Internet we need to keep up with changing technologies and user expectations. The background graphic design and navigation of the site has been unchanged for several years, and it’s a tribute to the fine work done by our designers, Roberta Livingstone and Chris Chong that it lasted so well. When we first created our splash page, we were rather worried that it would ask too much of the then-narrow bandwith of most users on the Web. But times have changed, and it’s now possible to update the fonts, the general appearance of the site, and the means of navigating through it.
Enhanced menus at the top of the screen take you directly to the area of the site that has the information you seek.
We have moved our Toolbox and Page Contents from the right of the screen to the left. We found that some visitors were missing these features because they had become so used to ignoring advertisements in this space.
For Friends of the ISE we have added some new research tools:
The capacity to take and save notes on any page of the site.
A printable view of all annotations in any scene of the play (when fully edited).
Our thanks again to Roberta Livingstone, who worked with Jon Valade from IdeaZone in producing the graphics and the improved navigation. Our team of programmers and research assistants, under the leadership of Max Terpstra and Telka Duxbury, have worked hard to bring the new version to our global audience.
An Update on the Chronicle
At the end of August, some ISE team members ventured out to see a special production of Twelfth Night at the annual Victoria Fringe Festival. The Japanese Ryuzanji Company put on a Rakujuku Kabuki style adaptation of the play, set in imperial Japan. “Rakujuku” loosely translates as “having fun troupe,” and the actors’ energetic performance never betrayed their average age of 61. The ISE crew enjoyed the performance so much that Janelle ended up going back for another showing with her children. You can find our collaborative review of the innovative and entertaining production on the ISE Performance Chronicle
Have you seen a Shakespeare production that you wish you could review? Are you a scholar, actor, student, or passionate theatergoer who loves to write? We’re always looking for more reviewers.
As an online journal devoted to contemporary Shakespeare theater reviews, the Chronicle provides a unique platform for theater practitioners, scholars, critics, and the general audience to analyze and discuss contemporary Shakespeare productions. The Chronicle calls attention to the different ways Shakespeare is performed around the world, and, through your contributions, will create a substantial and permanent database of informed criticism for future Shakespeare lovers and scholars. Photographs and other artifacts are heartily welcomed, and will be added to ISE’s Shakespeare in Performance database.
The Chronicle allows you to browse or search the reviews, post a review, comment on and rate others’ reviews, subscribe to receive email notification for a new review of a particular play, and search reviews for specific information.
If you are interested in contributing a review, please go to the site and create a logon id for yourself. You can enter details of a production, then review it. Or, if you prefer, you can email sipadmin[at]uvic.ca for more information.
After the Launch: Our Mobile Site
As we promised in our first issue of The Shakespeare Herald, we have launched the first version of our mobile site so that you can carry the ISE (and Shakespeare, by association) in your pocket wherever your journeys may take you. Developed for Android and Apple iOS, our mobile site has garnered interest by users both on tablets and phones. Not surprisingly, our most visitors are coming to us via iPad and iPhone, though some are using Android-powered devices. As intended, those of you visiting us via mobile device are viewing only the specific pages you need and staying just long enough to find the information required, presumably to use us to win an argument, and move along with your intense scholarly debate. We’re happy to help!
Still, less than 10% of our site traffic is coming from our mobile site. Remember that we are here to help you prove yourself right or your friends wrong in all aspects of Shakespearean debate. Need to determine which version of a line is the most authentic? Planning a Shakespearean night out and want to know when and where the next show of Measure for Measure is? Check us out on your phone or tablet and we’ll hook you up.
Haven’t tested the mobile site yet? Explore Shakespeare’s life and times, read the plays and poems, browse the performance database for adaptations of your favorite play.
We’d love to hear your feedback! Submit your comments, questions, and ideas to help us optimize the mobile site.
“Making Waves” with Friends of the ISE
Friends of the ISE are helping to create a legacy, allowing students around the globe (pun intended) to discover Shakespeare and learn why his works still inspire a passion in readers and performers four hundred years after his death. As innovators in the emerging field of open-access and digital scholarship, we are thrilled to invite you to join our thriving network of libraries who are building a sustainable future for the ISE so that we can continue providing your students and faculty with the best, most accessible Shakespeare resources.
Over the past year and half, over a dozen libraries across Canada, America, and Europe have partnered with the ISE to raise funds to ensure the that we continue to provide open access to peer-reviewed Shakespeare resources. As a result of these partnerships, we’ve passed our first milestone: we’ve raised $50 000 towards our $1.5 million goal, enough for us to create an endowment fund from which the revenue will eventually provide sufficient funds for the maintenance of the site, independent of granting agencies. This year we aim to double that.
For well over a decade the Internet Shakespeare Editions has been making the best literature freely available to those who thirst for knowledge. Now we are inviting you to become our partner as a Friend of the ISE.
Friends of the ISE receive additional benefits for their students and faculty. Our tool-box, designed especially for and accessible only to Friends of the ISE, includes a print-ready view of each page and a pop-up window with a formatted citation of each page. We have also recently added a print-ready view of all explanatory notes in the edited texts – a valuable tool for those who wish to work in detail on one of the fully edited and peer-reviewed plays. In addition, your institution will be acknowledged on our site.
Join our growing list of Friends
Not affiliated with an institution? Individual memberships for independent scholars and researchers will be available soon!
For more information about the Making Waves campaign and becoming a Friend of the ISE, explore the library and individual membership pages or contact us directly by email at
or by phone (250) 472-5152.
Shakespeare in the News
Year round here at the ISE we are constantly on alert for new Shakespeare facts or features in the news. Almost four hundred years after his death, Shakespeare is still showing up and proving his relevance around the world. Ever the master of the popular media in his time, Shakespeare permeates todays social media (as shown on our Facebook and Twitter pages).
Shakespeare and Robben Island
Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
(Julius Caesar, TLN 1020-25 )
Nelson Mandela, imprisoned on Robben Island, highlighted these words in the much-thumbed copy of Shakespeare's works sneaked into the prison. Check out this moving video from VOA News where the director of the Folger Shakespeare Library talks about the copy of the Complete Works they have in their collection that shows the influence of Shakespeare' on prisoners on Robben Island. They read, learned from, and were entertained by Shakespeare during their sentences.
Mandela would also have read these words, deeply appropriate as a tribute to the remarkable man who read them:
The last of all the Romans, fare thee well!
It is impossible that ever Rome
Should breed thy fellow.
(Julius Caesar, TLN 2589-91 )
We are privileged to have shared this world with Nelson Mandela, a man who combined so fully the virtues of integrity and humility with strength and remarkable political acumen.
Shakespeare as collaborator
Finding a lost Shakespeare work would be an extraordinary coup for any scholar. And there have been many candidates over the years, from the attribution of "A Funeral Elegy" to the recent claim that Theobald's play Double Falsehood was a version of the lost original, Cardenio, known to have been written by Shakespeare and his collaborator in two other late plays, John Fletcher.
The latest candidate is not a play, but some additions to an earlier work, Thomas Kyd's hugely popular revenge play The Spanish Tragedy. In August, the New York Times published an article reporting on the attribution of the additions to Shakespeare. The play was first published in 1592, then later, with the additions, in 1602. It was not uncommon for theater companies to update popular plays with topical passages, or speeches that picked up on changing tastes.
The passages were recently subjected to computer-aided stylistic analysis by Brian Vickers, who published an article in which he claimed a “definite attribution” to Shakespeare (Shakespeare 8:1 2012). The New York Times piece quotes Shakespeare Scholar Douglas Bruster, who has followed up with arguments based on what we know of Shakespeare’s handwriting and its effect on the published work. The ISE’s General Textual Editor, Eric Rasmussen, comments “We don’t have any absolute proof, but this is as close as you can get.”
The passages focus on the protagonist of the tragedy, Hieronymo, who has been driven mad by the murder of his son. One is an added monologue where he muses on the nature of the bond between father and son, wondering why a child should have a stronger hold on the parent than any other young animal:
What is there yet in a son
To make a father dote, rave, or run mad?
Being born, it pouts, cries, and breeds teeth,
What is there yet in a son? He must be fed,
Be taught to go [walk], and speak. Ay, or yet?
Why might not a man love a calf as well?
Or melt in passion o'er a frisking kid [young goat]?
As for a son? (3.9)
This may or may not be Shakespeare, but it is strong blank verse, and communicates an anger, if not madness, that is convincing. In due course The Spanish Tragedy will no doubt appear on our sibling site, Digital Renaissance Editions. When it does so, perhaps the additional passages will magically appear on the Internet Shakespeare Editions as well. In the digital world such magic is not difficult to program.
BBC Shakespeare to be released
The BBC is planning to release over 1,000 hours of Shakespeare materials—in audio and video—in time for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death in 1616. An article in The Sunday Times (6 October) described the plans set out by the Director General of the BBC, Lord Hall, Baron of Birkenhead (aka Tony Hall). Lord Hall plans to return to something closer to the original aims of the BBC from its early years, when its mission was “educate, inform, entertain.”
[An aside: in an age when arguably almost all television is focused purely on the third aim in this list, some attempt to return to the importance of education would be hugely welcome.]
The Times remarked that the release of the materials will mean that “Viewers will be able to compare Sir John Gielgud’s 1948 Hamlet with the 1972 version by Sir Ian McKellen and the 2009 production by David Tennant. This wonderfully stimulating (educational, informative, entertaining) approach is exactly the aim of our own database of Shakespeare in performance. We will do our utmost to acquire as many of these materials as they become available for open access use.
[Another aside: playing Hamlet for the BBC seems to lead to an inevitable knighthood—so there is every likelihood that David Tennant will become the first Dr. Who to become Sir Doctor Who.]
The ISE is made possible by generous support from the University of Victoria, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and by libraries that have become Friends of the ISE.