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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: November ::
Dead Horses and Closing Threads
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1901  Thursday, 17 November 2005

[1] 	From: 	Jim Blackie <
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	Date: 	Wednesday, 16 Nov 2005 08:14:21 -0800 (PST)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 16.1889 Dead Horses and Closing Threads

[2] 	From: 	Hardy M. Cook <
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	Date: 	Thursday, November 17, 2005
	Subj: 	Dead Horses and Closing Threads


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jim Blackie <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 16 Nov 2005 08:14:21 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.1889 Dead Horses and Closing Threads
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1889 Dead Horses and Closing Threads

From: Holger Schott Syme - "But SHAKSPER is only as good as its
contributors, and I can't help feel that the way the list has been going
it has moved further and further away from discussions in the field it
is part of-that of the academic exploration of the works and culture of
Shakespeare and his contemporaries."

Wow - First, I've enjoyed reading much of what is posted here and 
greatly admire and thank Hardy for giving a venue for the exchange of 
ideas on the subject not only of Shakespeare's plays, but the man, the 
Elizabethan stage, religion of the time, etc.

I am not an academic. I like to read, I enjoy sharing thoughts with 
others. While not calling Mr. Syme pompous, I am still prompted to 
wonder if he is not imposing an artificial stamp of a non-academic 
exclusionary mindset on what has been, for me at least, a rewarding 
forum and a very happy experience.

Were the groundlings forbidden to stand before the stage and view the 
play, and even (yes!) hurl strange and unfunny comments to the players? 
Was the theater to become an elitist, non-nonsense repository for dry 
chuckles and note-taking, or was it "alive?"

If this person's suggestion is even given any serious consideration I 
will be deeply disappointed in what I took as an active, lively forum 
for debate on ideas and new thoughts. I would urge Mr. Syme, as an 
alternative to putting his own defined barriers around this forum, to 
glimpse at the topic or message he is reading at the time, and, if it 
displeases, confuses or outrages him (while failing to elicit a 
thoughtful reply), simply move on.

This proposed "intellectual" chauvinism reflects the same type of 
thinking that has outlawed the reading of certain inappropriate books 
from our libraries, or denied admittance of the general public into 
"town hall meetings" because the current administration MIGHT be 
embarrassed by questions raised or points made. This sounds as 
outrageous a suggestion as calling the Fox News channel "Fair and Balanced."

Mr. Syme's willingness to point to specific topics as beneath him with 
his pithy comments such as "witness the thankfully short-lived thread on 
Lear's illegitimate son" shows his distain. He sneers at an attempt to 
consider possibilities of what he judges to be (I suppose) _silly_ 
points. Are we to have our topics and thoughts weighed by Mr. Syme for a 
thumbs-up for "rails used on stages" or a thumbs-down on Hamlet because 
it's too familiar?

And if a literacy test is proposed for those who would like to post, to 
ensure they are literate, I think this quizically doulbled negative 
independent clause offered by Mr. Syme should disqualify him from the 
group for inappropriate use of the English language:

(quoth he) - "The list has many well-established figures
as lurkers who only very occasionally participate in discussions, but
that is not, I don't think, a sign of academic snobbery or indifference; "

Sorry for the tirade and the sarcasm, but nothing had gotten under my 
skin as badly as this. I felt it needed to be addressed.

Please, Hardy, continue with your list as it exists. I ask as a 
groundling. I don't want to be forced to ask Mr. Syme if I may be 
allowed to continue; neither would I like to have my contributions put 
to a vote. I trust the current list owner. So Hardy, Please sir, I'd 
like some more.

Non-academic but not uneducated,

Jim Blackie

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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Date: 		Thursday, November 17, 2005
Subject: 	Dead Horses and Closing Threads

While I greatly appreciate the praise and support from Jim Blackie and 
ALL members of SHAKSPER, I have undergone some dramatic changes in my 
life over the past few years, culminating two months ago. As a 
consequence of these circumstances, I feel that I must simplify my life 
and lower my blood pressure in the process.

SHAKSPER was founded as an academic discussion list. To provide some 
perspective let me quote from an essay I wrote that I imagine is still 
forthcoming:

<PROSEQUOTE>
       I met Ken Steele at the 1990 Shakespeare Association of America 
annual meeting in Philadelphia.  We were both member of a seminar on 
computing approaches to Shakespeare.  He told me about his plans for the 
Shakespeare Conference, and I expressed my interest.  About a dozen 
Shakespeareans including myself formed the core of founding members.  On 
February 21, 1992, I became SHAKSPER's co-editor, at first being 
responsible for the file server.  On March 25, I took over the editing 
of the daily submissions into the digests.  On June 3, Ken decided to 
take a leave of absence from his graduate studies, and I became 
SHAKSPER's owner, editor, and moderator.  At the time, there were 293 
members, virtually all from academia.  Commercial Internet service 
providers were just getting started in the early 1990s.  The January 1, 
1992, membership list of 223, for example, contains only eight addresses 
that ended in "com," and none of these are from the Internet service 
providers we are so familiar with now.  The remaining, except for one 
with an "org" extension, i.e., an organization, are Bitnet or Internet 
addresses from academic institutions.  A cursory glance at the current 
membership list reveals over 100 AOL subscribers, about 50 each with 
HOTMAIL and YAHOO addresses, and another 300 or so from other commercial 
or free Internet service providers; of course, some of these are 
accounts of academics, professors and students, who would rather receive 
their e-mail at their home addresses than their institutional ones, but 
a significant number of non-academics are currently SHAKSPER members. 
Through the early 1990s the number of members steady increased: 400 in 
October 1993, 500 in February 1994, 700 in September 1994, and 1,000 in 
March 1995.  Since the late 1990s, the membership has hovered around 1,300.
</PROSEQUOTE>

My desire is to maintain the core academic focus of SHAKSPER without 
sharply altering what it has evolved into. To do this, I intent simply 
to end some discussions earlier than I have done in the past.

I welcome comments, but I have not yet decided whether I will continue 
with this thread.

Hardy M. Cook
Editor


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