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The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0442 Thursday, 1 November 2012
Date: October 31, 2012 7:22:44 PM EDT
Subject: Re: SHAKSPER: Digital Shakespeare
I’m pleased to hear of Alan Young’s success in using electronic materials in the classroom. I too find that projecting the text onto a screen is preferable to saying “let’s all turn to 3.4.22” because everyone is instantly looking at the same thing. But rather than use an iPad for this, I use my regular laptop because it has all 3,000 books of mine that I’ve digitized (and around the same number of articles), including all the major editions of Shakespeare. It also has a lot of films ripped from DVD to the hard disk.
So, if someone says “but my edition has ‘your philosophy’ not ‘our philosophy’ at that point” I can throw their particular edition onto the screen and we can all go through the collation and the explanatory notes and see where the variant comes from. Or, if someone raises how a particular moment might be staged, we can all look at that moment in each of several film versions. This is a bit trickier as it relies on me remembering the play well enough to find exactly that moment in the film, but with a ripped MP4 file one can jump to any moment in a fraction of a second, whereas DVDs are so clunky that one risks losing the students’ attention while the disk whirls around trying to catch up with your search.
These pedagogic benefits alone are for me justification enough for whatever licence agreement violations I committed in ripping the films and scanning the books. Then there’s research payoff . . . Paper books and DVDs don’t come anywhere close to this kind of usefulness and I can’t see any justification for keeping them. I acknowledge Louis W. Thompson’s point about direct light as opposed to reflected light, but find that projecting the image overcomes all objections about eye-fatigue.