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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: July ::
RT: Shakespeare's Intentions Reactions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0421  Sunday, 20 July 2008

[1] From:   John E. Perry <
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     Date:   Friday, 18 Jul 2008 21:57:00 -0400
     Subt:   Re: SHK 19.0412 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

[2] From:   Judy Prince <
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     Date:   Saturday, 19 Jul 2008 00:10:08 -0500
     Subt:   Re: SHK 19.0412 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       John E. Perry <
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Date:       Friday, 18 Jul 2008 21:57:00 -0400
Subject: 19.0412 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0412 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

As a humanities non-professional, I hope I'm not out of order making some 
comments that I believe are along the lines of my professional 
scientific/engineering experience?

 >I think the greatest difficulty facing the Roundtable is, ironically,
 >the electronic medium. There is a growing body of research to show that
 >literacy behaviours differ significantly when readers engage with screen
 >text versus traditional print media, some researchers even suggesting
 >that reading cognition is itself evolving (see, for example, Coiro, di
 >Sessa; there is also a recent article in _The Atlantic_ by Nicholas
 >Carr, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?")

Not having read the article to which Professor DiPietro refers, I will only 
comment that in my experience, those of my colleagues who use Google stupidly 
also use other professional resources stupidly. Blaming Google, or more 
generally the Internet, makes me suspicious of motives and techniques.

 >The nature of the electronic medium might therefore be
 >counter-productive to the kind of reflective critical encounter the
 >Roundtable seeks to encourage. In short, I suspect many on the list are
 >not reading longer digests, or not reading them fully, nor are they
 >forming independent critical responses to them, and not merely for want
 >of interest in the topic.

As one of the -- guilty? --, I dug much more deeply into the Roundtables than I 
do into the regular discourse. This isn't to say that I read every bit of them. 
But I got much more than proportionally more benefit from the Roundtables from 
the reading I did.

As a participant in many scientific conferences and seminars (hoping they are 
similar to humanities conferences and seminars), I would like to summarize my 
impressions of Professor diPietro's analysis and suggestions, perhaps more 
explicitly than his contribution:

All the conferences I attended were characterized by prepared papers, with no 
provision for dialog except for brief question-and-answer periods after the 
presentation. These periods were frequently more interesting and valuable than 
the presentation.

What could have been more productive were the panel discussions, but they were 
characterized by panel members prepared for only one aspect of the discussion, 
and too often got bogged down in egocentric sniping.

The regular SHAKSPER discussions have many of the benefits and faults of the 
conference panel discussions, but the more thoughtful participants make it 
highly worthwhile -- at least to us non-professionals.

The Roundtables, on the other hand, have been marvelous. Except for a few early 
missteps, I think the most powerful benefit has been that most participants 
really knew what they were commenting on, took time to think over both the 
material they were commenting on and their comments, and many of them referenced 
their sources (for me, at least, this simply lent a veneer of attentiveness, 
since I did not follow up by checking them out).

Professor DiPietro's suggestions for improvement look good to me. I hope they 
are implemented and work as he foresees.

To me, who have neither the time nor the inclination to study in depth such 
matters as presentism or the question of authorial intent, the Roundtables have 
been highly educational and truly fascinating.

I'm looking forward eagerly to the next one.

John Perry

[Editor's Note: Let me interrupt here to solicit suggestions for Roundtable #3. 
What would you, John, and other non-Shakespearean members of the list like to 
study in depth in the Roundtable format? And what would those of you who are 
Shakespearean academics care to explore from amongst the issues of interest in 
discipline? Further, who among the members would care to guest moderate a new 
Roundtable? Or would anyone like to suggest a possible guest moderator from our 
ranks or perhaps someone who is not at the moment a SHAKSPER member but who 
might be persuaded to take on the task and to follow in the steps of our 
admirable Hugh Grady and Cary DiPietro? I will respect any requests for privacy 
regarding the suggestions. And once again, my congratulations and sincerest 
thanks to Cary DiPietro for a job well done. -Hardy]

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Judy Prince <
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Date:       Saturday, 19 Jul 2008 00:10:08 -0500
Subject: 19.0412 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0412 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

I agree with several of your points, Cary, and am eager, as is Hardy, to see 
some of your recommendations carried out:  1)  Threads or Roundtables which 
invite a diverse mix of academics, near-academics, and non-academics, as well as 
actors, directors, playwrights, set-designers, and others in the theatrical 
communities; 2)  A steady open-ness to open-ness -- inviting culture, race, and 
gender-diverse participants; 3)  The offering of readings/resources in an 
ongoing, topic-specific way, rather than as an initial "assignment" as 
background; and, finally,  4)  An editorial/advisory enthusiasm for encouraging 
writing styles that are more immediate, less abstract; more colloquial, less 
formal. Writing that engages readers, particularly in heavily-researched areas 
such as SHAKSPER studies, is more difficult to write than writing that often 
obscures meanings ("foggy" writing). We all can manage clearer writing. Allow me 
a brief instructive joke:  An applicant for a position as executive secretary 
replies to the interviewer who's asked if she can take dictation in shorthand as 
well as longhand:  "Yes, but it takes longer."

Now let me enter an issue that may be more important to this list than some of 
us are aware. A growing number of us researchers, SHAKSPER-lovers, theatre 
practitioners, and writers do not have access to JSTOR and other sites, nor do 
we have the funds necessary to buy books sufficient to the often exciting 
demands of our research. Some of us are retired academics and some of us have 
never had a faculty affiliation, but we have much to offer, and we seek much, or 
we would not continue with SHAKSPER.

My appreciation for your enlightened enthusiasm and your recommendations.

All the best,
Judy Prince


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