The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0196 Wednesday, 5 February 2003
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: Wednesday, February 05, 2003
Brian Vickers wrote, "While I understand our moderator's wish to ban the
futile claims of Oxfordians and others from proliferating here, I
believe that authorship studies within the accepted canon are a
legitimate, indeed essential component of well-balanced Shakespeare
scholarship, and I hope that these will not be banned."
I am in complete agreement and believe that some clarification about my
position is in order.
In an essay I am writing for a special edition of *College Literature,*
I go into this issue in much greater detail. What I am attempting to do
here is to put in context my position.
The debate on SHAKSPER between Oxfordians (including those who
identified themselves merely as anti-Stratfordian) and those for whom
there is no question that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare began in earnest
in April of 1994 (SHK 5.0310, 5.0320, 5.0332, and following). After a
lull, the debate resumed in early May (SHK 5.0420, 5.0455, and etc.).
After several heated exchanges, I wrote that I was weary of "the
continuation of this discussion" and announced that "ALL future posting
advancing the case of anyone (Oxford, Bacon, Queen Elizabeth, or William
Shakespeare of Stratford) as the author of the plays and poetry we
discuss as the works of William Shakespeare will be listed under the
subject of Authorship with no further designations so that anyone not
wanting to be bothered with reading them can delete these digests
knowing full well what they are about" (SHK 5.0455). October, November,
and December saw the proliferation of "Authorship" postings. Although I
had continued to label every posting on the matter simply as
"Authorship," I was becoming fatigued by the demands that these posting
were making on my time and patience. On December 12, I volunteered to
share my expertise with anyone who wished to set up an "Authorship"
list, admitting that "I was tired of this discussion the first time it
was brought up" (SHK 5.1002). On Saturday, December 17, in one of the
longest digests I had up to that point compiled for SHAKSPER, I made the
"I admit that I shall NEVER be convinced by any anti-Stratfordian
argument - I am too reasonable a person to fall for another conspiracy
theory. Similarly, I assume that the arguments of Dave Kathman and
others will never convince an Oxfordian to become a Stratfordian. Thus,
I see no point in continuing this discussion. To cut it off would not
be censorship; it would instead be blow for reason and would return a
semblance of respectability to this academic conference. However, I do
not propose, at this point, to cut off discussion - not yet. I have
"SHAKSPER (pronounced Shakespeare) comes to more than 850 members in 23
countries because of me. Because it is moderated (and I would have it
no other way), someone (read ME) has to edit and format the digests.
This work takes time - lots of time. I simply do not see why I should
be spending an extra hour a day granting an air of respectability to a
position I feel is academically untenable."
"So my proposal. Why not have this discussion migrate to the Oxford
list to give me a break? Anyone wishing to continue the discussion can
do so there. Further, there would be added benefits of potential new
members for the Oxford list. . . .
"So if those few members involved in this topic agree to move it to the
Oxford list, then I'll announce such a move and we can go about the
business of this conference" (SHK 5. 1009).
Finally, on December 27, I called a halt to the topic:
"The mail I have received has overwhelmingly supported me in my desire
to relocate the authorship discussion to another place. I suggested
that it move to the Oxford list, but one of that list's editors, Marty
Hyatt, informed me that he had no desire to host the authorship debate
on the Oxford list. Marty Hyatt mentioned, however, that the discussion
would be appropriate for the usenet newsgroup rec.arts.theatre.plays.
This seems a reasonable suggestion to me, and I would encourage anyone
interested in continuing the discussion to do so there" (SHK 5.1025).
This solution pleased me but not the hard-core "Authorship" addicts. In
a April 19, 1995, posting Marty Hyatt issued a Request for Discussion
(RFD) to establish an unmoderated Usenet newsgroup dedicated to the
"poetry, plays, and history of author William Shakespeare" (6.0319). A
second RFD was posted on June 9, followed by two Calls for Votes (SHK
6.0562 and SHK 6.0592), and soon after
What I, in effect, was "banning" were postings by anti-Stratfordians.
I am not opposed to postings about authorship (without a capital)
studies, as Brian Vickers puts it, "within the accepted canon."
As the owner, editor, and moderator of SHAKSPER, and the person who pays
ALL of its bills, I have the right to choose what I will distribute to
the membership and what I will not.
Which brings me to my next point, recently there have been submissions
by anti-Stratfordians that, while not advancing the cause of Oxford or
another claimant overtly, have been designed to attack the "Shakespeare
establishment," as they would term it. I have posted some and refused
others. I am not interested in having SHAKSPER co-opted by those with an
agenda that I vigorously oppose, and I will be even more vigilant in the
future about posts of this second type.
I hope I have made myself clear.
I will consider any responses to this message as personal e-mail to me,
not meant for posting to the list.
Hardy M. Cook
Owner/Editor/Moderator of SHAKSPER
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook,
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://www.shaksper.net>
DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.