The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0512 Thursday, 28 August 2008
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: Thursday, August 28, 2008
Subject: Petition Regarding Arden Shakespeare's Termination of Patricia Parker
On 13 August 2008 (SHK 19.0460,
http://www.shaksper.net/archives/2008/0463.html), I appended an Editor's Note to
a post detailing the termination of Prof. Patricia Parker of Stanford University
by Cengage, the international corporate entity that, for the time being, owns
and publishes the Arden Shakespeares, and urging readers to sign the petition at
the website established by Prof. Richard Halpern, the Sir William Osler
Professor of English, at Johns Hopkins University:
http://reinstatepatparker.com/Home.html on Prof. Parker's behalf. This petition
and the ones now being organized in Germany, Canada, and Spain are important in
informing the executives of Arden/Cengage of the extent of the dissatisfaction
felt by the members of the target audience at which the Arden editions are
aimed. Currently, 425 persons have signed the petition sponsored by Richard
Halpern; and, as I just said, other collective and private actions are underway
across Europe and North America.
Many events have transpired since the first post regarding this matter on
SHAKSPER. One involves a letter from Ronald G. Dunn, the President and CEO of
Cengage Learning, that was e-mailed to many of those who had either signed the
Halpern petition or had written to Cengage and-or the Arden general editors
protesting Prof. Parker's termination. Mr. Dunn's letter prompted Prof. Gary
Taylor, the George Matthew Edgar Professor of English at Florida State
University, to reply to Dunn and copy his reply to the Arden editors. Many
subsequently urged Prof. Taylor to contact me, requesting that I distribute his
response on SHAKSPER.
He has done so, and I have agreed to distribute it because it is clear to me
that Patricia Parker was unjustly terminated and deserves the necessary time and
editorial cooperation to finish her Arden edition of MDN. In the interim since
the first posting on SHAKSPER about Dr. Parker's termination, I have
investigated thoroughly the circumstances and have been made privy in detail to
the facts of the thirteen-year history of the tribulations Prof. Parker has
endured and of the considerable expenses she has expended in striving to bring
her exciting edition to fruition. I understand that Prof. Parker literally has
boxes and boxes of document that support every claim that she has made.
Therefore, I urged anyone who has not done so seriously to consider visiting the
petition website that has been establish to protest her termination
<http://reinstatepatparker.com/Home.html> and to sign the petition on her behalf.
Hardy M. Cook
Editor of SHAKSPER
Professor of English
Bowie State University
What follows is the "Letter from Gary Taylor to Richard Dunn," regarding the
termination of Patricia Parker, which I have reformatted for appearance sake but
have in no other way changed.
-Hardy M. Cook
From: Gary Taylor [
Sent: Saturday, August 23, 2008 9:54 AM
Subject: Pat Parker v. Cengage
Dear Mr Dunn,
This is all very sad.
It is sad for every scholar who has ever worked on an Arden edition. Arden
editors and general editors include many of our best Shakespeareans, and many of
my best friends.
It is especially sad for Keir Elam, and for Anthony Dawson and Gretchen Minton,
whose exciting new Arden editions of Twelfth Night and Timon of Athens--the
fruit of years and years of labour--have finally been published this year, only
to be overshadowed by this controversy.
It must be sad, and worrying, for Katherine Duncan-Jones and Henry Woudhuysen,
editors of Shakespeare's Poems, due to be published in a couple months [sic: see
note below], and for every other scholar working on a not-yet-published Arden
edition--including the editors and general editors of the forthcoming Arden
Early Modern Drama editions of Shakespeare's contemporaries, a series which is
very badly needed.
It must be particularly sad, and upsetting, for Richard Proudfoot. Although to
my knowledge no one has publicly said so, I have heard from several Arden
sources that Richard was the General Editor assigned to work with Pat Parker
from the beginning of her contract. That is hearsay, but I know from personal
experience that Richard is a decent and very learned man. I have known him
since 1978, and I'm indebted to him for many things, including most recently his
allowing the Oxford Middleton to make use of his very careful collations of
press variants of two Middleton plays. I've seen Richard three times this year;
indeed, in the last six months I've spent more time with Richard than I have
spent with Pat Parker in a lifetime.
Why then should I defend Pat Parker? Why should I defend her when my old and
dear and diplomatic friend Peter Holland--who has been kind to me since 1975,
when I first met him--asks us all to suspend judgment?
To suspend judgment is to acquiesce in the status quo. In a case like this, to
suspend judgment is to side with those who have institutional and professional
and financial power, against an individual who claims to have been wronged.
What has Cengage lost, by Pat Parker's alleged failure to deliver her text on
time? Money. What has Pat Parker lost? Not only the future royalties she might
receive, not only all the money she has spent preparing her edition (in my
experience always in excess of royalties), not only the years of work she has
dedicated to this project. Pat Parker is fighting for her reputation. As we all
know, scholarly reputations can be destroyed by what people say about you at
conferences and over the internet. And if you cannot publish your work--and an
edition prepared to satisfy Arden criteria cannot be published elsewhere--you
cannot provide your peers with anything to counter those rumors about you.
I am not a lawyer. I am just an editor. Editors cannot suspend judgment; we have
to choose, almost always on the basis of incomplete information. As an editor, I
see, from Pat Parker, a very detailed public written account of a series of
claims about her own actions and the actions of Arden management. She claims
that she has on hand documentation for each of her statements. On the other
side, I see, from Cengage--and in particular from you in your latest public
statement--no reply to any of those specific charges; I see, instead, a simple
reiterated claim that Parker is entirely to blame, and that Cengage did nothing
wrong. Cengage does not give specific dates or refer to specific documents.
Effectively, Cengage is saying "Just trust us." I do not trust governments, or
corporations, who say "Just trust us".
I asked you, in an earlier letter, to provide an explanation for the decision to
cancel Parker's contract. I did not, in that earlier letter, demand that you
reinstate Parker. I simply asked you to answer questions. You have still not
answered them. Your failure to answer them cannot be due to Parker's "cease and
desist" request, because you continue to make damning public statements about
her. And surely a corporation like Cengage has better lawyers than an individual
Both sides agree that Parker has not yet delivered a complete text. But that
fact in itself cannot explain Cengage's decision. When I met Richard Proudfoot
in 1978 he was working on an edition of "Edward the Third" for Oxford University
Press, as part of his projected edition of the Shakespeare Apocrypha. (I believe
he had been working on that edition since the 1960s, but that is hearsay.)
Richard's Oxford edition was never published. Richard is now working on an
edition of "Edward the Third" for the Arden Shakespeare. So he has been working
for at least thirty years, and perhaps forty, on an edition of "Edward the
Third" which he has not yet finished. I dearly dearly hope that Richard will
finish his Arden "Edward the Third", because I am sure that it will be a
magnificent contribution to scholarship. I would be appalled if Cengage
terminated Richard's contract. But if Cengage is willing to wait for Richard,
why is it not willing to wait for Pat?
Please, let Richard Proudfoot finish "Edward the Third", and let Pat Parker
finish "A Midsummer NIght's Dream", and let all the rest of us go back to our
students and our committee meetings and our attempts to find a few hours to do
our research, with a clear conscience. What do you have to lose by reinstating
Pat? Don't do it for Pat. Do it for Shakespeare.
[p.s. The Woudhusen/Duncan-Jones edition of Shakespeare's Poems is, of course,
already in print. This mistake was pointed out to me within an hour of the
circulation of my letter, and I have already apologized to both Henry and
Katherine. I've also looked at their edition, and even on a quick inspection I
can say that it is as fine an example of Shakespeare editing as I would expect
from two such distinguished scholar-critics. I singled them out, in the original
version of my letter, because I believed that their Arden edition was in press,
and therefore that they were in no danger of being fired. I could replace their
names with the names of other editors of forthcoming Arden volumes, but I do not
do so because several such editors have already written to me about this case,
asking me not to name them, for fear they will be punished by Arden/Cengage
management. I have heard that Pat is the fifth editor to be terminated by Arden
under Mr. Dunn's watch; that is hearsay, but I can say from personal knowledge
that at least some other distinguished scholars are very worried about being
terminated. If this can happen to Pat Parker, who is safe?]
George Matthew Edgar Professor of English, Florida State University
General Editor, The Oxford Middleton
Director, History of Text Technologies
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 opinions
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