Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 80. Tuesday, 12 Mar 1991.
Date: Tue, 12 Mar 91 10:44:09 EST
From: Ken Steele <
Subject: SHAKSPER: The First Eight Months and Beyond...
Dear Fellow SHAKSPEReans;
As many of you may already know, SHAKSPER was originally
conceived as an electronic mail network for members of the
Shakespeare Association of America, to facilitate communications
before and after the annual SAA conferences. A global electronic
conference could accelerate administrative and scholarly
communications, and ultimately incorporate members of the
International Shakespeare Association and other Shakespearean
institutions and projects throughout the world.
In Philadelphia for the April 1990 SAA conference, and encouraged by
members of Camille Williams' seminar on computer applications
(among others), I submitted a brief written proposal to the SAA
executive. It soon became clear, however, that to those who have
never experienced the "new medium," electronic mail is truly
uncharted territory. Some kind of demonstration was clearly required,
both for the executive and for the general membership, at the next
Furthermore, it became clear to me that some kind of "working model"
would be necessary for any such demonstration, and hence
SHAKSPER was launched in July 1990. The project has already
become much more than a mere experiment, of course, with more than
130 members at 113 institutions in 9 countries, and with a wide
variety of on-line resources and some quite stimulating discussions.
In a real sense, then, SHAKSPER already exists, but despite its
considerable growth and activity in the past eight months it seems
still more remarkable to me for its unlimited potential than for its
accomplishments thus far. I believe that, with the endorsement or
affiliation of the Shakespeare Association, SHAKSPER could grow to
many times its current membership, and offer still more resources to
still more Shakespearean scholars. Discussions prompted by
multiple conference sessions could continue in parallel on
SHAKSPER, journal editors and contributors could communicate
electronically, and collaboration or cooperation could take place both
more widely and more effectively.
Membership growth has a snowballing effect: the more
Shakespeareans and resources SHAKSPER can offer, the more
Shakespeareans and resources it will attract. Interest in SHAKSPER
has already been expressed by the International Shakespeare Globe
Centre Project, the Shakespeare DataBank, the Shakespeare Bulletin,
and the Shakespeare Newsletter. Ultimately, a large enough network
of Shakespearean scholars might even attract future electronic
resources from Shakespeare Quarterly, the Folger Library, the Royal
Shakespeare Company, and beyond! I believe that SHAKSPER is
already a most remarkable and rare bird, but it is also still a fledgling
with the capabilities and aspirations to soar far higher.
I am in the process of preparing a computer simulation, paper
brochure, display, and sample diskettes for the Vancouver SAA
meeting later this month, and I hope that the paragraphs above
explain the importance of this to the future direction of SHAKSPER.
Suggestions for the various presentation materials will be most
warmly received, and I invite any comments, suggestions, or
testimonials, publicly or privately, as to SHAKSPER's current and/or
potential value to Shakespearean scholars and students.
The draft SHAKSPER flyer includes information about electronic mail
in general, SHAKSPER's on-line resources (the Fileserver, the
Quarto/Folio Textbase, and discussion logbooks), and SHAKSPER's
daily operations, as well as technical information and instructions for
becoming a member. I also believe that a complete or partial listing
of members will provide important evidence of SHAKSPER's current
geographical range and the scholarly professionalism of its members,
and ask anyone who might object to the use of their name in this
cause to contact me privately.
As always, I would also like to encourage you all to recommend
SHAKSPER to interested colleagues, both at home and in Vancouver.
Unfortunately I can't transmit copies of the brochure via Bitnet itself
(just wait a few years, though...), but you are all welcome to pick up a
copy in Vancouver and post it in your departments.
Thank you again to all of you, who have supported this project from its
conception a year ago until now, and who have patiently endured the
occasional technical difficulty and conversational "dry spell,"
confident that the concept of SHAKSPER and its potential will
ultimately make it all worthwhile.
University of Toronto