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Home :: Archive :: 2012 :: July ::
Peer Review/Shorthand

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0322  Tuesday, 31 July 2012

 

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

     Date:         July 29, 2012 6:32:06 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Peer Review 

 

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

     Date:         July 30, 2012 12:57:28 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Peer/SHand

 

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

     Date:         July 29, 2012 7:51:28 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Shorthand 

 

 

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

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

Date:         July 29, 2012 6:32:06 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Peer Review

 

[Editor’s Note: I believe that private exchanges should take place offline. I probably should have caught Gerald Downs’ claim regarding Gabriel Egan’s role as referee and requested that it be conducted offline, but I did not. From that point, I was caught in a loop of catch-up. Egan has the right to respond to Downs, Downs the right to respond to Egan, and so on. My apologies to subscribers for my part in this portion of this ongoing thread. However, as I have said on countless occasions over the past twenty years, subscribers have a role in self-moderation also. –Hardy]

 

Gerald Downs is right that I was a referee of his essay on “Shorthand, Othello, and the Walkley Quartos”. The verdict finally came down to a matter of expression: the argument was so poorly expressed that I thought Shakespeare Quarterly’s readers would not be served by its publication. SHAKSPERians have now had a chance to judge for themselves whether Downs is capable of constructing a coherent and persuasive case for what he would have us believe.

 

My report began by observing that Downs’s anonymity had been lost because his article refers directly to his previous work.  Double-blind peer review was not upheld and I suggested that Shakespeare Quarterly might for that reason want to set my report aside. I did not mention to Shakespeare Quarterly that I had previously advised Downs on draft material towards the essay, since that would be relevant only if it threatened to dispel anonymity and anonymity had already been lost. I don’t think that having previously advised a writer on their work disqualifies a referee from reporting on the version presented to a journal, so long as the double-blind process is upheld. Of course, the referee would have to have forgotten giving the advice or to whom it was given. I don’t think I’m more than averagely forgetful yet in this case I had forgotten not only the original advice to Downs but also forgotten doing the refereeing.

 

Indeed, I nearly sent a SHAKSPER posting denying that I was the referee, based on a thorough search of my self-archive which contains every email back to 2000 and every standalone file I’ve created since 1992. Then I realized that an online refereeing system would leave no trace in my archive and I checked the systems that I have accounts on; finding that I had done this report for Shakespeare Quarterly was a surprise. I maintain that it is quite possible for refereeing to remain blind even if the referee has previously advised the would-be contributor, so long as anonymity is not lost because the referee recognizes the work. In the present case, anonymity was lost through the contributor’s self-reference, which I think the journal editors should have spotted and removed. (That is what we do at the journal Shakespeare that I co-edit.) If SHAKSPERians think I’m wrong about anonymity in these cases and think that peer review worth discussing here (as I do), then I’d be interested to listen to counter-arguments.

 

Lastly, Downs misuses ellipsis to give a false impression of my view of D. F. McKenzie’s work. The way Downs quotes it, my report appears to say of attempts to reconstruct the processes of book manufacture by studying running-title reuse, spelling habits, and damaged type recurrence that “This entire methodology . . . was effectively invalidated by D. F. McKenzie in landmark papers in 1969 and 1984”.

 

This is not how McKenzie’s papers are usually understood and is not my view of them. In fact, I wrote that “This entire methodology—or at least Bowers’s way of deploying it, based on his faulty assumptions that there was no concurrent printing and compositors were consistent—was effectively invalidated by D. F. McKenzie . . .”. The qualifying clause about Bowers’s deployment is essential to my meaning and should not have been omitted by Downs. Misrepresenting others’ views by misusing ellipsis is one of the serious flaws in the writing of Gerald Downs.

 

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

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

Date:         July 30, 2012 12:57:28 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Peer/SHand

 

>And could you also please answer the question of why you’re sure I was 

>the reviewer of your rejected journal article. If you’re no longer sure, a 

>statement to that effect would do instead.

>

>Gabriel

 

Harry Berger asks: Why is this on a Shakespeare site?  Isn’t there an Egan site?

 

I second this point.

Julia Griffin 

 

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

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

Date:         July 29, 2012 7:51:28 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Shorthand

 

Steven Urkowitz replies:

 

> Gerald Downs figures out that ARE is a spelling

> substitution for what we would more familiarly see

> or rather ourselves would write as ERE, meaning

>  “before.” Good figuring. But the trusty OED reveals

> that such a spelling ARE was not a confusion.

 

Spellings, even accepted spellings, often cause confusion.

 

> It was used at least once, and is cited. “Look it up,”

> as we used to say before Googling came in. Q1

> here is not senseless or corrupt, it’s only different.

 

One of my principles is to trust Q1 more than F, even though it’s often corrupt. The Q1 reading is fine and it serves a purpose: Edgar speaks as if he doesn’t know Edmund (who must be in plain sight). His plan is to dare Edmund to fight without revealing his own identity. F misses the point to claim equal nobility, which would rouse everyone’s curiosity and obviate the ruse of the “right to bear arms.” I’m somebody ‘cause I got a sword. Takes a gun these days. But this Darth Vader didn’t want to be recognized (if for no other reason than added excitement).

 

The latest OED 'ar-' entry for ‘ere’ is 1547. Both ‘ere’ and ‘are’ would be among words regularized in print by 1608. Q1 has tons of odd-spelt words, but a reviser’s supposition may well have been that ‘are’ means ‘are.’ That seems to be indicated by retention of the verb-subject order in Q1: ‘Yet are I’; ‘Yet am I’. Seems like faulty patchwork to me.

 

It isn’t enough to cite a spelling. Statistics have to come into play. How many ‘ares’ are really ‘eres’ in the printed works of the day? Not many, I suppose. Let’s say one in ten thousand; That means confusion when it does happen.

 

> F’s reviser revised it to something else. That’s what

> revisers do. Revising authors.

 

There is nothing in this passage to indicate authorial revision. It does indicate revision of Q1.

 

> Stenographers? I don’t think so.

 

No one could possibly claim that a stenographer revised Q to F. But 'are' could be a phonetic representation of 'ere'. I wouldn't make that claim on such minor grounds, but a glance at Bordox shows just how goofy one stenographer's spelling was, and phonetic error in Lear has been suspected since Day One.

 

> People who examine play manuscripts of the period

> report that copyists faced with illegible text would leave

> blanks to be filled in later by someone (like an author)

> more familiar with what should go there.

 

The manuscript that comes to mind is Alleyn’s part for Orlando, where the blanks were filled in by rereading the copy, not by the author. That play is preserved by shorthand reporting. I haven’t yet rejected the idea that the player’s part is also taken from a report, but I’m getting close. Remember, the play was sold twice. Why not three times?

 

Gerald E. Downs

 
 

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