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Home :: Archive :: 2012 :: July ::
Peer Reviews and Shorthand

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0310  Friday, 20 July 2012

 

[1] From:        Steve Urkowitz < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 19, 2012 11:04:35 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Peer Reviews and Shorthand 

 

[2] From:        Bob Grumman < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 19, 2012 1:37:00 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand 

 

[3] From:        Jim Marino < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 19, 2012 2:43:49 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand 

 

[4] From:        Nick Ranson < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 19, 2012 4:36:19 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand 

 

[5] From:        Larry Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 19, 2012 5:24:51 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand 

 

[6] From:        Tom Reedy < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 19, 2012 5:39:08 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand 

 

[7] From:        Terence Hawkes < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         July 20, 2012 4:42:03 AM EDT

     Subject:     Shorthand 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Steve Urkowitz < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 19, 2012 11:04:35 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: Peer Reviews and Shorthand

 

Dear All,

 

First, I have to disagree with the august Harry Berger, Jr. about the continuation of the SHORTHAND string. Sometimes it takes a while for the story to tease its way out into the air, and I think that’s beginning to happen now.

 

Unlike Paul Werstine, who seems to have transmuted “narrative” into a four-letter word, at least in Shakespearean textual discourse, I have always found narratives to be among the best of our explanatory tools. I learned my bread and butter for several decades mostly teaching writing; I learned that often we make sense out of disparate data by forming a narrative that will help us make pattern out of the fog. We may be dead wrong, “a bush becomes a bear,” but given the time and space to sort out competing narratives we become wise. I think it is Stephen Booth “On the Importance of HAMLET” who points out that we hear and agree with Hamlet’s line about death being “that bourne from which no traveler returns” even as we saw and at least fictively believed that there was a ghost tromping across the stage before us a little earlier in the play. “No traveler returns” AND we just saw such a returned traveler. Booth points out that the mental phenomenon of holding these contradictory, indeed irreconcilable, items in our heads at the same time gives rise to the feeling of acrobatic mental capacity. He says, ever memorably, transmuting the voice-over from Olivier’s film, “Hamlet is the tale of an audience that cannot make up its mind.” The extravagantly contradictory Shakespearean textual data tends to make us feel supremely agile as we negotiate it even while we appear to others to be clumsily stumbling BEEN there, done that. Still do.

 

In any case, reading Gerald Downs’s narrative about his experiences with peer reviews prompted my memories of similar stories. An essay sent to Shakespeare Quarterly in the 1980s sat with them for 18 months, came back with suggestion for revision, went back to them after a couple of weeks, and then sat again, this time for a mere 12 months before being rejected totally. I found an “elsewhere,” in a festschrift, not requiring the same kind of vetting. During a long elevator ride at an SAA meeting I asked another journal editor (dear Arthur Kinney) for advice about finding a place another essay. He said to send it to him, and he ended up printing it in ELR. And the SHAKESPEARE’S REVISION OF KING LEAR volume that Gerald Downs finds so erroneous went to nineteen different academic publishers (in the form of an abstract with a note explaining that I was sending the abstract around to many at once), out of which only one thought enough of the abstract to call for a view of the full text. Whew! I lucked out, and with Princeton University Press. That was in the late 1970s. So, the peer-review process isn’t ideal, but it does work often, and it ain’t the only game in town.  

 

But to turn propaedeutic for a moment, let me suggest to Gerald Downs and those who don’t know about them the Shakespeare Association of America’s annual meeting Seminars.  These are on any Shakespearean topic, and the SAA Board actively encourages any and all suggestions for possible topics. They offer a chance for withered minds like mine as well as to freshly sprouted sources of insight to exchange writings in advance of a meeting and then to come together for (often) animated conversations at the annual convenings of the tribe. Ann Jennalie Cook invented the form, and the richness of our contemporary community’s discourse had been made possible by them. They ain’t fail-safe, of course. I recall one dismal gathering in far-off Brisbane, Australia, where, rather than discussion, we dozen-or-so textual scholars who had traveled half-around the world to talk were punished with not one but two droning 45-minute summations of the submitted papers (which of course we had all previously read), intoned ex cathedra, interruptions NOT invited. Despite such failures of the scheme, usually we get to try out ideas and see reactions outside the hit-or-miss rigors of a peer review process.  

 

So these are some of my narratives. I still think Gerald Downs really can’t see either the forest or the trees, scouring other people’s work for what he finds are egregious errors. (His SHAKSPER review of Grace Ioppolo’s DRAMATISTS AND THEIR MANUSCRIPTS . . . for example—as his comments on my work, too—should encourage readers to look again at Ioppolo’s writing and mine and then to wonder how Downs gets what we write s-o-o-o-o bent out of shape.) And I’d encourage him to join up in the dance, swing those theories and evidences into the whirl, smiling, rather than despair. Ah, Cleopatra, my love; you greeted Antony with your wonderful embracing question: “Comest thou smiling from the world’s great snare uncaught?"  

 

Being wrong isn’t so bad, after all.  Boring, though, is so bad.  

 

Ever,

Steve Urwrongowitz  (Errwrongowitz?) (Errorowitz? )

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Bob Grumman < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 19, 2012 1:37:00 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand

 

>“Do I need to know this?” Etc. 

>

>Cheers

>John Drakakis

 

I love scholarly bickering. To me it’s all part of Shakespeare Studies. As are other things that I’m not interested in.

 

But I don’t suggest they not be discussed, I simply find ways to avoid them. 

 

The only posts I would ban (besides obvious spam) on a website I ruled would be posts that reduce to an expression of the desire that only posts I thought of value be allowed.

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Jim Marino < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 19, 2012 2:43:49 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand

 

As Gabriel says, Douglas Brooks is no longer alive to defend himself from Gerald Downs’ attacks on his character. And some of us were very, very fond of Douglas Brooks.

 

If Downs persists in this behavior, I will challenge him to a duel.

 

Jim Marino

 

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Nick Ranson < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 19, 2012 4:36:19 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand

 

I entirely echo John Drakakis’ comments: anyone else agree?

 

[5] -------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Larry Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 19, 2012 5:24:51 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand

 

Gabriel Egan’s advocacy of double blind peer review is spot on. Under the present regime, many insightful papers are denied publication because the author is relatively unknown or is not in need of support for a tenure application, while a piece of fluff dashed off by a “name” author could not possibly be denied publication.

 

The only thing in Gabriel’s post that I disagree with is his suggestion that the reviewer’s anonymity be lost if the paper is accepted for publication, and that the reviewer’s comments be published along with the paper.  It seems to me that such a scheme would open the door to a variety of other abuses.

 

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Tom Reedy < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 19, 2012 5:39:08 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Shorthand

 

Gerald E. Downs < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it > wrote:

 

<snip>

 

> Most publications can use pre-publication discussion. Obviously, some

>don’t get it. In that respect, peer review is not very efficient. Though not 

>inclined to publish, I have some recent experience trying; assuming for 

>the nonce that I have something of worth to say on topics of interest to 

>me, description of a peer review or two may be in order.

<snip>

> If one realizes van Dam was correct to see STM’s Hand D as that of a 

>copyist, the first part of a difficult question (What’s Hand D?) gets easy. 

>Over the years I wrote it up and showed two scholars in 1996, one of 

>whom suggested publication. His professional interest made me feel an 

>obligation; anyone wishing to follow up would have to wait on me. For that 

>reason (and to credit van Dam, whose work in general gets short shrift) I 

>rushed to submit a paper—in 2004.

>

> Studies in Bibliography (my 2d choice) undertook an eleven-month peer 

>review ended favorably by the same person who encouraged me 

>years earlier. Was I one to look a gift-horse in the mouth? It bothered me 

>to have a leg up, but that was justified by a number of improving revisions 

>and the essay was scheduled for printing in 2007.

> Because of a thread on this group, Douglas Brooks and I corresponded

>in 2004 and I showed him the article for some feedback—but declined his

>request to submit it to his journal for a peer review. It was under review 

>elsewhere and little thought was given to his offer. In 2007 he published 

>the essay without my knowledge. Why? Who knows. Once SB was told, 

>the essay was understandably withdrawn. I took it pretty hard, but 

>mention it now only because Brooks later confirmed that the piece got 

>no peer review. So much for twelve years in the making, yet I’m still 

>mulling over Hand D because it still hasn’t been figured out and it’s 

>pretty interesting.

<snip>

 

Jerry is right in at least four statements: Most publications could use pre-pub discussion; peer-review (especially in this day and age of the Internet) is not very efficient; he was done wrong on his Hand D paper; and the problems of Hand D are pretty interesting. 

 

In fact, I tried to have a discussion with him about his Hand D paper on another venue some years ago, but he abandoned the field before the discussion progressed very far. A few interesting conclusions were drawn, and for the amusement of those who like to read such things, if Hardy will pardon my hijacking of the thread, here’s a set of chronological links of the substantive messages (it’s a lot more interesting than the discussion—or whatever it is—that’s been going on for what seems like six months or better, but that’s just my opinion).

 

1st  message in the thread (mine): https://groups.google.com/group/ardenmanagers/msg/15683905923f181e?hl=en

2. Jerry’s response: https://groups.google.com/group/ardenmanagers/msg/f7316bb737c43217?hl=en

3.TR:  https://groups.google.com/group/ardenmanagers/msg/a1e0708911962674?hl=en

4. JD: https://groups.google.com/group/ardenmanagers/msg/b1771ee5293a2a40?hl=en

5. TR: https://groups.google.com/group/ardenmanagers/msg/6dcb609bda7099f2?hl=en

6. JD: https://groups.google.com/group/ardenmanagers/msg/484eb5d0bf7f54d2?hl=en

7. TR: https://groups.google.com/group/ardenmanagers/msg/1cd2fbbe5c95d221?hl=en
8. Peter Groves chimes in: https://groups.google.com/group/ardenmanagers/msg/7b4d2e33f2daf57d?hl=en

9. PG: https://groups.google.com/group/ardenmanagers/msg/19a0d0fef0a7cebb?hl=en

10. TR: https://groups.google.com/group/ardenmanagers/msg/0a9ca50819ec183f?hl=en&

 

Tom Reedy

 

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Terence Hawkes < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         July 20, 2012 4:42:03 AM EDT

Subject:     Shorthand

 

Gabriel Egan’s defence of peer review, let alone ‘double-blind peer review’, strikes me as extremely odd. What does he think editors are for?

 

Terence Hawkes

 
 

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