Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home ::

ISE: Shakespeare's Life and Times

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.012  Monday, 12 January 2015


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

Date:         January 8, 2015 at 4:48:29 PM EST

Subject:    UVU prof to co-edit Shakespeare web site


UVU prof to co-edit Shakespeare web site

January 07, 2015 1:30 pm

Barbara Christiansen DAILY HERALD

January 07, 2015 


“You lie, in faith; for you are call'd plain Kate, 

And bonny Kate and sometimes Kate the curst; 

But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom 

Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate, 

For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate, 

Take this of me, Kate of my consolation; 

Hearing thy mildness praised in every town, 

Thy virtues spoke of, and thy beauty sounded, 

Yet not so deeply as to thee belongs, 

Myself am moved to woo thee for my wife.” 

― William Shakespeare, "The Taming of the Shrew"


OREM -- William Shakespeare used the name Kate for his central character in “The Taming of the Shrew.”


Two other Kates have come into his realm, nearly 400 years after his death.


Kate McPherson, a professor at Utah Valley University, and Kate Moncrief, a professor at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., have been asked to co-edit a new edition of Shakespeare’s Life and Times, a section of a website dedicated to The Bard.


“I feel really privileged to have been selected for this opportunity,” said McPherson, a professor of English and the Honors Program director at UVU. “They asked me to do it.


“I think Shakespeare’s Life and Times gets a quarter-million visits a month. That is kind of cool.”


Her co-workers are not surprised she was selected.


"This is a great honor for her, but then Kate has a long history of success in Shakespeare studies,” said Stephen Gibson, chair of the UVU English and Literature Department. “Recently, she edited the collection Shakespeare Expressedand will also be writing the introduction and annotations for the New Oxford edition of his play 'Pericles.' As significantly, Kate, her students, and the residents of the Slate Canyon Youth Center have produced some of Shakespeare’s works together.


"She’s an outstanding example of the excellent scholars and teachers at Utah Valley University."


"It’s a great opportunity for Kate, who is more than qualified for this challenge,” incoming department chair Grant Moss said. “It’s also a nice addition to the department’s research profile.”


The two Kates, although nearly across the country from each other, have been collaborating on this project and others. They get together several weekends during the year.


“We are excited about working on it,” McPherson said. “There are more than 300 articles on the site. Each of them has a short entry and further reading on the topic.”


They plan on presenting a preliminary version at the World Shakespeare Congress in 2016, for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.


“If we can get it done by the summer of 2016 that is a good target,” McPherson said. “It is probably a two-to-three-year project before we roll out a fully ramped version.”


It is the first major revision of the site.


The two Kates will not be the only ones involved. McPherson plans on having some of her students do research for the project.


“I think I will employ about six or eight students this spring semester to be my research assistants,” she said.


“I am kind of psyched about being able to involve students in some of the research. That gives a sense of what scholars do.”


UVU has given her a $10,000 Grant for Engaged Learning to pay the students to do the research for the Internet Shakespeare Editions project.


“The ISE is a well-established digital humanities project operated out of the University of Victoria, British Columbia,” McPherson said. “The SLT (Shakespeare’s Life and Times)" is an online encyclopedia of Shakespeare’s life, stage, society, history, ideas and literature, and it is the most visited part of the ISE.


“Kate Moncrief and I now have creative and intellectual leadership on the project, in order to restructure it, appoint and liaise with contributors, and employ student research interns to help update the site. This is a long-term commitment that offers many opportunities for undergraduate research, both inside and outside of the classroom.”


The site was originally established in 1999, and the two Kates will make revisions and commission new articles to bring it into the 21st century. They will be including some of the newest research and developments in Shakespeare studies from numerous sources.

At UVU, McPherson teaches Shakespeare courses and focuses on having her students know his plays the way they were most likely presented in his times. She has also worked on a similar project, with a digital map of early modern London, with links to people, places and organizations.


She said the Bard and his works have endured for good reason.


“Mostly I think it is because he is one of the first authors in English to construct characters with great psychological depth,” she said. “He combined that with tremendous poetry.


"It takes a hold of people. They want to hear it. It crosses cultures in ways that maybe not all literature does.”


The current version of the site may be viewed at


UVU’s web site tells of McPherson’s accomplishments.


She won the university’s highest honor, the Trustees Award, in 2012, it says. She most recently co-edited Stages of Engagement: Drama and Religion in Post-Reformation England  (2014) with James Mardock. She is co-editor, with Kathryn M. Moncrief and Sarah Enloe, of Shakespeare Expressed: Page, Stage, and Classroom in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (2013); and with Moncrief of Performing Pedagogy in Early Modern England: Gender, Instruction, and Performance (2011) and Performing Maternity in Early Modern England (2007). She participated in the National Endowment for the Humanities Institute, Shakespeare’s Blackfriars: The Study, the Stage, the Classroom, at the American Shakespeare Center in 2008, and serves as resident scholar for the Grassroots Shakespeare Company, an original practices performance troupe begun by two UVU students. 

Gay Bard

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.011  Thursday, 8 January 2015


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

     Date:         January 8, 2015 at 7:13:49 AM EST

     Subject:    Gay Bard


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

     Date:         January 8, 2015 at 7:09:44 AM EST

     Subject:    Gay Bard


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

     Date:         January 8, 2015 at 10:44:43 AM EST

     Subject:    Re: Gay Bard 




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

Date:         January 8, 2015 at 7:13:49 AM EST

Subject:    Gay Bard


I have pointed out a number of serious flaws in the David Basch approach to the Sonnets (SHAKSPER, December 28). I did not imagine his approach, its rabbinic bent and the fondness for postulating hidden codes. Each is well represented in his several published expositions on Shakespeare’s works (accessible through any online search which combines his name with that of the poet). 


These techniques of David offer to the suitably faithful a semblance of independent corroboration. However, his response to my challenges (SHAKSPER, January 7) ignores their substance. He, therefore, fails to uphold that semblance.


Instead, he falls back on his allegorically spiritual interpretations of Sonnet 144 and others. David imagines the fair youth and dark lady of the poems to be alter-egos of the speaker of his interpretation (just as some Oxfordians imagine the rival poet of the poems to be an alter-ego of the speaker of their interpretation). He wants us to accept his images as reflections of authorial intention. He thinks them truer than all those other mundane, witty, bawdy, metaphoric and/or allegoric interpretations of the poems (albeit that some of these have at least as good an internal consistency). But still he offers not even a hint of objective justification for the elevation!


Here then is my take of David’s latest position (in this forum, if not elsewhere): that if readers have a form of faith they may interpret Shakespeare’s Sonnets (and plays) from a perspective of that faith. I have long accepted the truth of this condition. Of course, it presents no obstacle to the preferment of any number of other interpretations, including those based on objective evidence.  


As for the solutions to the problems of the Sonnets offered by my argument, David says he will leave it to others to judge. Nevertheless, he proceeds to judge: by dismissing what he terms my “attempts at overlaying speculative and largely invented historical settings in the life of the poet to explain them”. 


Come on, David! You cannot expect to command respect for your opinions if you are not prepared to justify them. Please identify the speculative and largely invented historical settings to which you refer and explain how your assessment disqualifies my reasoning.   



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

Date:         January 8, 2015 at 7:09:44 AM EST

Subject:    Gay Bard


Susan Rojas (SHAKSPER, January7) asks me to clarify the consistency of two of my earlier remarks: (1) that the sonnets are (in substance) autobiography by the non-aristocratic, non-rabbinic poet named Will, whose patron was Henry Wriothesley; and (2) that the prime purpose of the sonnets was to promote patronage via the associated relationship.


I used the term “autobiography” here to represent writings by an author which represent his/her own voice, feelings and motivations (whether or not some of these are hidden or less than wholly truthful, and whether or not the author intended the writings to be published). In this case, I argue that the author’s motivations were to progress a privately-conducted relationship and the patronage expected from it. For this reason, there would indeed be much flattery as well as the display of hurt feelings and so on. I agree that - like all autobiography - it may not be entirely representative of the writer’s true thoughts. For this reason (as for any autobiography) we need to assess its reliability through its consistency with other data: for example, the circumstances of publication and author, the content of others of his/her writings, independent corroboration of situations encompassed.


I hope that this does clarify for Susan. If anyone wishes for an reminder of the techniques which I have used to identify the Sonnets as autobiography, they are summarised here.



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

Date:         January 8, 2015 at 10:44:43 AM EST

Subject:    Re: Gay Bard


Marina Tarlinskaya wrote:


>However, from what we know about his epoch, Shakespeare

>probably was bisexual: it was common during his time and in 

>the theatrical circle in particular, as it had been common in later 

>Roman empire: every fashionable young Roman was supposed 

>to try gay sex at least once.


That is a remarkable sentence, every single element of which could (and should) be challenged. (Like Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman, I have doubts about “and” and “the”.) Marina Tarlinskaya clearly knows different things about “his epoch” (and the later Roman empire - perhaps even gay sex) than the rest of us.


John Briggs

Interpretation versus Reading

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.010  Thursday, 8 January 2015


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

Date:         January 8, 2015 at 6:09:19 AM EST

Subject:    RE: Interpretation versus Reading


Larry Weiss has really opened a Pandora's box.


Unfortunately, he resorts to caricature to explain the difference between ‘reading’ and ‘interpretation’. Of course, the issue is complicated in the case of writing from the distant past, since before we ‘interpret’ we need to generate ‘facts’.  For example, we are reasonably certain of the date of Shakespeare’s son Hamnet’s death; we are on much shakier ground if we think that this ‘fact’ influenced the tragedy that Shakespeare later wrote. The late Terence Hawkes in his books ‘Meaning by Shakespeare’, and in ‘Shakespeare in the Present’ makes it clear that it is WE who generate facts and accord them meaning. There is no such thing as a value-free ‘reading’ - even for professional historians who are fond of claiming the mantle of objectivity. This is nowhere more evident than in the case of Shakespeare’s Sonnets that have been submitted to a plethora of autobiographical ‘readings’ where the autobiography is that of the critic rather than that of the writer.  The other Terry, Terry Eagleton, was quite correct when he said that “King Lear is not about Leeds United”, but whenever we attempt to say what Shakespeare is ‘about’ we invariably import our own values and emphases into the narrative.  This is a much more subtle process than Larry Weiss suggests.  Indeed ‘reading’ and ‘interpretation are two sides of the same coin, and in the case of Shakespeare we delude ourselves if we think that the two are easily separable. Even in the most scientific area of Shakespeare studies, textual scholarship, the ‘facts’ of particular ink marks on a page have no meaning at all UNTIL we gather them together in what we consider to be a plausible pattern that will explain their existence.  We like to comfort ourselves by trying to identify the ‘-ism’ with which a particular critic is publicly associated so that we can pigeonhole her/his remarks and possibly their outlook. Reading symptomatically (since that is what this kind of reading is) has its pitfalls since it lulls us into a false sense of security.  There has been much finger-wagging at Stephen Greenblatt for what is alleged to be his departures from New Historicist dogma, but those departures (and from a dogma to which he has never laid claim) offer some of the most interesting ‘readings’/ ‘insights’ / ‘interpretations’ of the texts with which he deals. Is it not a blight that comes with the routine professionalisation of the discipline that any critical utterance must be constrained by the ‘ism’ to which it is confined by readers?  This is the contradiction that Larry Weiss glosses over, and yet it is probably the most fascinating aspect of what we might call ‘the critical process’.


Happy New Year


As Ever

John Drakakis

The 10 Best Shakespeare-Inspired Pieces of Music

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.009  Thursday, 8 January 2015


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

Date:         January 7, 2015 at 2:46:51 PM EST

Subject:    The 10 Best Shakespeare-Inspired Pieces of Music


From the Guardian:


The 10 best Shakespeare-inspired pieces of music – in pictures


The Observer’s classical music critic Fiona Maddocks chooses some of the best music inspired by Shakespeare – from Purcell to Bernstein to Elvis Costello – to mark the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth 


What have we missed? Have your say in the comments below and your suggestion could feature in the alternative list next week


West Side Story:

Bernstein’s Romeo and Juliet update, complete with balcony scene, was originally about Irish-Polish Catholics and Jews in Manhattan and called East Side Story. Jews were replaced by Puerto Ricans, the musical was retitled, Stephen Sondheim supplied sharp lyrics, Jerome Robbins the unforgettable choreography – the rest is history. The 1961 film made the work a worldwide hit. Mambo gained new life as a shirt-waving encore for Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela. Lou Reed created his own cross-city song in Romeo had Juliette: “Betwixt between the East and West he calls on her wearing a leather vest”



Verdi had a passion for Shakespeare all his life, and dreamed of making an opera of King Lear. He never did, but Macbeth, Otello and the last of his 28 operas, Falstaff (based on The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry IV Pts 1 and 2), are among his greatest works. His creation of Sir John Falstaff nearly outdoes Shakespeare in its combination of wit, wisdom and human understanding. The teasing of the “fat knight” by Mistress Quickly and her fellow merry wives narrowly escapes cruelty thanks to Falstaff’s final resigned benevolence, summed up in the closing fugue Tutto nel mondo è burla about the folly of the world – for many, a top moment in all opera


The Boys from Syracuse:

Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s 1938 Broadway musical – the first ever based on Shakespeare – is a version of The Comedy of Errors, based on a Roman play by Plautus. The 1940 film starred Allan Jones, who played both identical twins, Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse, who were separated in a shipwreck as young children. Many mistaken identities later all ends happily. Ronnie Corbett and Bob Monkhouse appeared in a 1963 West End production. Judi Dench staged it at Regent’s Park. Of the many cover versions of This Can’t Be Love – by Diana Krall, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra – Stacey Kent’s might just be the best


The Lion King:

It’s a long way from Can You Feel the Love Tonight to Hamlet, but think of I Just Can’t Wait to Be King and Shakespearean themes start to resonate. The Lion King, a 1994 Disney film then a stage version, is about lions in Africa but cites the Bible and particularly Hamlet as inspirations. With songs by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, it boasts two bards of its own. The Washington Post called it “Shakespearean in tone, epic in scope” but concluded “it seems more appropriate for grown-ups than for kids. If truth be told, even for adults it is downright strange.” Never mind. It ranks as one of the highest-grossing hand-drawn films in history


Kiss Me Kate:

In Cole Porter’s 1948 hit Broadway musical, the central characters are staging The Taming of the Shrew. Life imitates art when the star and his ex-wife and leading lady start sparring. In 1949 it won the first Tony award for best musical. Hits include Too Darn Hot, Where Is the Life that Late I Led, Always True to You in My Fashion. The key to love and life, it turns out, is to Brush Up Your Shakespeare: “Just declaim a few lines from Othella/And they think you’re a heckuva fella./ If your blonde won’t respond when you flatter ’er/ Tell her what Tony told Cleopaterer” – the more ingenious the rhyme the better


A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

Mendelssohn was first inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream in his teens, writing an overture and then in 1842 incidental music, including the famous Wedding March. The orchestral Scherzo, with its giddy, fairy-feet opening and rude, rustic interventions, is a favourite on the piano and as a ballet too. Purcell’s The Fairy Queen camps it up as a masque. Benjamin Britten’s 1960 opera, with Oberon, King of the Fairies, ethereally sung by a countertenor, was written for the reopening of Jubilee Hall on the Aldeburgh seafront. The Donkey Show: A Midsummer Night’s Disco (1999), a Broadway disco-era musical, is probably best forgotten


Romeo and Juliet:

Tchaikovsky struggled with Shakespeare, since he loathed the English, but he wrote incidental music for Hamlet and The Tempest, and the Fantasy-Overture Romeo and Juliet is one of his masterpieces. He liked the play: “No kings, no marches, no boring old grand opera. Just love, love, love!” When the composer Balakirev heard the love theme, he wrote: “This tune is simply DELIGHTFUL. When I play it, I imagine you lying naked in your bath with your lady friend, washing your tummy with hot lather from scented soap.” Tchaikovsky rather preferred men, but the sentiment is sweet. Check out Prokofiev’s brilliant ballet version


Where the Bee Sucks:

Robert Johnson (1583-c1634), lutenist and composer, worked with Shakespeare, setting lyrics from later plays such as Where the Bee Sucks and Full Fathom Five from The Tempest. Said to be Shakespeare’s most musical play, it has inspired at least 46 operas (including one by Thomas Adès), orchestral works (Tchaikovsky, Arthur Sullivan and Sibelius) and songs (Vaughan Williams, Amy Beach, Michael Nyman). Ben Whishaw’s dreamy Where the Bee Sucks in the 2010 film soundtrack by Elliott Goldenthal no doubt gave teenage girls a new taste for English lessons. Crisp in comparison, Isobel Baillie’s 1943 performance has a virginal charm


Schubert’s An Silvia:

Who is Silvia? is one of Schubert’s best-loved songs, written at the height of his brief career in 1828, shortly before Die Winterreise. The text is from The Two Gentlemen of Verona. It features the lovers of the title and two women, one of whom is Silvia, much wooed daughter of the Duke of Milan. Schubert, whose other Shakespeare settings are Hark, Hark the Lark and Come Thou Monarch of the Vine, reflected the elegance and wit of the original. Of the dozens of recordings, none matches that by the great German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. For more recent one-girl Shakespeare hits try Elvis Costello’s Miss Macbeth or the Band’s Ophelia


Henry V:

Of all the epic soundtracks for film versions of Shakespeare, none matches those awe-inspiring, patriotic scores William Walton wrote for Laurence Olivier: for Henry V (1944), Hamlet (1948) and Richard III (1955). Since Walton had been earning less than £100 per year, these fiercely demanding commissions, with their deadlines and tight structures, gave him new confidence, though he was unable to rid himself of the idea of film music being “low brow”. Olivier put him straight, saying of Henry V: “The music actually makes the film.” Try watching the Battle of Agincourt with the sound down and you see he’s right

Welcome to the New Year

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.008  Thursday, 8 January 2015


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

Date:         Thursday, January 8, 2015

Subject:     PS: To Yesterday’s Post


Dear SHAKSPEReans,


I intended yesterday to comment on SHAKSPER’s health, but I forgot—ah, aging (I am of the nature to grow old, I cannot avoid aging.).


There are 1030+ subscribers to the SHAKSPER Conference who receive the SHAKSPER Newsletters by e-mail.


Last year, I also began a new way to disseminate Newsletters through the social media site Facebook: . Currently, 309 people have “Liked” SHAKSPER FB and can read Newsletters and occasional statuses there. 


If you are a FB subscriber and would like to receive SHAKSPER Newsletters by e-mail instead of or in addition to your FB subscription, please either click the Subscriber tab at the top of the SHAKSPER FB homepage or go to the SHAKSPER web site and click on the to How to Sign Up under the About tab: .


I further urge everyone to explore the riches of the SHAKSPER web site: .


I am sure that 2015 will continue the expansion and health of SHAKSPER.



<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next > End >>

Page 5 of 7

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.