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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: November ::
Authorship
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 926. Wednesday, 16 November 1994.
 
(1)     From:   James Forse <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Nov 1994 12:21:35 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Actor/playwrights
 
(2)     From:   Robert Teeter <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Nov 1994 20:07:49 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0918 Authorship
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Forse <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Nov 1994 12:21:35 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Actor/playwrights
 
To Molier one can add Heywood, a contemporary of Shakespeare, Sam Shepherd from
our own time, Davenent and Gerrick if one counts the very extensive rewrites
each did.  And there are references to plays by Burbage and Heminges, and
survivals of plays by Armin.  I would say being an actor neither qualifies nor
disqualifies play writing.
 
J.Forse:Hist.:BGSU
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert Teeter <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Nov 1994 20:07:49 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 5.0918 Authorship
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0918 Authorship
 
Pat Buckridge wrote:
 
> The SHAXICON study has now been somewhat more fully explained.
> Dave Kathman is right to suppose that his initial summary led me to infer,
> wrongly it appears, that an order of composition was an *explicit*
> assumption of the study.  I continue to think it is probably an *implicit*
> assumption.  He and Don Foster both make the surprising claim that a
> chronological sequence for the plays and poems is 'wholly determined by
> [the] statistical data'.  Now, I can allow for a bit of rhetorical
> exaggeration, but this sort of statement verges on being seriously
> misleading to those of us who aren't all that statistically numerate, but
> want to know what's going on behind all the numbers - and, just
> conceivably, it may even be symptomatic of a methodological blind spot in
> the study.
>
> As far as I can see, the chronology is clearly neither 'determined' nor
> 'generated' by the data; it is *induced* from it by applying a quite
> particular interpretive assumption to what the statistical procedures do
> generate, namely a set of lexical distribution patterns for Shakespeare's
> plays, poems and characters.  To translate these patterns into a
> chronological sequence of plays requires the assumption that the
> distribution-differentials for characters were caused by the author
> memorising the speeches of certain characters in order to perform them as
> an actor.  Surely you can see that (a) this is not the only possible
> explanation for the existence of these distribution patterns, and (b) it
> *is* dependent on your assuming that the author was an actor.  Indeed, Dave
> Kathman made this rather important concession in his most recent posting,
> when he wrote: 'Now, it's true that when he started his study Foster
> assumed . . .that the person who wrote the plays . . . also acted in them.'
> He then goes on to deny that the distribution patterns were generated by
> this assumption, which of course I never suggested they were.  My point
> was, and it remains, that the *interpretation* of the patterns (in
> 'mnemonic' terms) is dependent on the 'actor' assumption.  And it is.
 
It sounds to me more like the common scientific technique of the hypothesis.  A
scientist makes certain assumptions and then devises an experiment to see if
the facts fit the theory.  Don Foster, in his ingenious study, has managed to
find evidence in Shakespeare's plays consistent with their author being an
actor.  As Dave Kathman says, the burden of proof is on the Oxfordians.  Since
there is no positive evidence linking their man with the plays, they must
explain Don Foster's results.
 
> Dave's impulse to get the whole thing sewn up and finalised, even if
> it involves riding roughshod over logical and methodological difficulties,
> strikes me as a touch precipitate.  No offence intended, but that's the
> kind of thinking that sent witches to the stake.
 
First phlogiston and now witch burning?  If Messrs. Foster and Kathman are
begging the question, then Mr. Buckridge is setting up straw men.
 
> Just one final point, one that I put on hold several months ago and never
> got back to, and which has now clearly become relevant again.  It's this.
> Why do people assume that Shakespeare must have been an actor in order to
> have been a great playwright?  It seems an extraordinary assumption when
> you think about it, but it's one that's very commonly made, especially on
> this list.  How many great playwrights can anyone think of who were also
> full-time professional actors?  I can think of Moliere, period.
> (Acknowledgments to Charlton Ogburn who posed the same question years ago.
> As far as I know, nobody ever answered).
 
Does Sam Shepherd count?
 
Why do anti-Stratfordians always assume the author of Shakespeare's plays had
to be a nobleman (or royalty, for those who believe Queen Elizabeth wrote the
plays)?  It seems obvious that Shakespeare could pick up all he needed from
reading standard histories, from performing at court, from mixing with people
of varied classes, including Southampton and his circle.  Many of Shakespeare's
contemporaries managed to write about royalty without being noblemen.
 
How many great playwrights can anyone think of who were noblemen?
 
        Robert Teeter
        San Jose, Calif.
 

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