The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1650 Thursday, 29 September 2005
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: Thursday, September 29, 2005
Subject: Editing SHAKSPER
I received more than 40 replies to my postings of Tuesday - "Editing
SHAKSPER" and "Rhetorical Question" - amazing in that I wasn't expecting
replies to my rhetorical question.
I thank everyone who wrote, and I have saved all of the messages to read
and re-read for ideas and encouragement.
I have been exceedingly busy and did not have the time or energy to edit
Wednesday's digests and today I spent, as I did yesterday, considerable
time working on and consulting about my ailments, so these digests will
not go out until late this evening.
Let me begin with some comments.
It is clear to me now that my two posts are closely related.
One member wrote me, "The number is not the problem. It is that there
is a disturbingly large core of members who insist on having the last
word, even after their ideas have been clearly stated and often
well-known, and others who insist on being so offensive that the injured
party is drawn to say something in reply to maintain his/her dignity.
And another group who perversely misstate the remarks they disagree
with, as if they felt their own opinions could not be supported through
an honest exchange of views. The disruptive feature in all cases is the
egoistic lack of self-control exhibited." He went on, "I don't think
anyone in your position can be expected to find the time and energy to
edit and reject messages that employ these childish or dishonest
debating ploys, but it's what needs doing. If patient, well-informed,
and scholarly types stop participating, Gresham's law will prevail; bad
intellectual currency will have driven out the good."
Well, spending three hours in a day to edit the submissions into digests
is indeed too much time for me with my other teaching, scholarly, and
family commitments, and I am deeply concerned about the quality of
discourse on this list.
There are many reasons for the profusion of submissions on Monday and
Tuesday: the foremost of these is probably that members are not
exercising self-moderation (or "egoistic lack of self-control" if you
wish). Another member wrote me privately that even though he appreciates
the selection of digests that " . . . if I were king of the world and
setting policy for SHAKSPER, I'd probably consider the free labor of the
owner-moderator and try to limit the quantity of email. I'd start by
suggest that subscribers examine their own draft posts and ask, 'Is this
really necessary to advance Shakespeare in the world?'"
I have been inclusive and democratic, but some scholars who have
long-time members, whose work and opinions I value highly, have
unsubscribed recently. Because I would still like to believe that this
list's orientation is scholarly, I have decided to make some changes.
Before I announce them, here are a few things I believe after more than
thirty years studying and teaching Shakespeare.
From the evidence, I believe that William Shakespeare of
Stratford-upon-Avon was a playwright and actor who wrote, on his own or
in collaboration with John Fletcher and others, the play and poems
attributed to him. I believe that Shakespeare probably wrote "A Lover's
Complaint," but I am open to arguments that he did not. I believe that
he probably had a hand in Edward III, but I don't believe that he wrote
the entire play. I am not convinced that Shakespeare wrote Woodstock,
but I am not closed-minded in my belief. I AM highly suspicious of
conspiracy theories of any stripe. So . . .
I will strive no longer to post messages regarding hidden codes or
similar conspiracy-type theories.
I will also strive to end threads that have gone beyond their useful
life, encouraging those who are interested to carry them on privately.
I also pledge to screen Orson Welles's Citizen Kane for the 67th time,
paying particular attention to Kane's Statement of Principles: "Mr.
Kane, you ought not go and make promise you're not going to be able to
In the interests of saving both your time and mine, I am not going to
post the messages I received in response to my two postings. However,
there is one that I cannot ignore.
From: Bill Lloyd <
Date: Tuesday, 27 Sep 2005 11:18:38 EDT
Subject: 16.1630 Editing SHAKSPER
Comment: Re: SHK 16.1630 Editing SHAKSPER
I assumed the Ben Alexander's post on the Fitton-Pembroke Sonnets and
the Pembroke Group Folio was offered for our amusement. The combination
of extra-planetary theories and the supreme confidence with which they
were proposed were quite amusing to me, at any rate.
It reminded me of one of my favorite crackpot books *Our Pleasant Willy*
by Ida Sedgwick Proper. In this the author demonstrates that Edmund
Spenser was really Edward Seymour Earl of Hertford. He in turn had three
sons who produced the writings of Robert Greene, Thomas Nashe and
"bastardized William Shakespeare". We also learn of Shakespeare's
"innumerable literary and musical pen-names", and "the deep love of
Arbell Stuart for him". And this is just the tip of the iceberg. As
Proper confesses [boasts?] in her preface, "It is difficult to make a
concise statement", but the Stratford man had nothing to do with the
myriad works identities of her own private Shakespeare.
Perhaps we could have a Bizarro Day each year on SHAKSPER-- April 1? --
where the Lord of Misrule [Mr. W.H. alias Whoo Hoo!] will preside over a
competition to see who can outdo Auntie Strat in byzantine contrivances.
I'm currently inventing a theory describing how after the Stratford man
was no longer any use to the King's Men he was cashiered, but then found
a job with the rival Palsgrave's company where he was known as-- what
else? -- William Stratford. (Look him up in Bentley.) But perhaps I
shouldn't have tipped my hand-- I'm afraid I'll find this proposal
circulating soon on the inanities.lit.authors.shakespeare newsgroup...
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 Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>
DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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