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Shakespeare Digital Challenge

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.314  Friday, 11 July 2014


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

Date:         July 9, 2014 at 5:55:44 PM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare Digital Challenge


From Alexa Huang, Chair of the MLA Committee on the New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare 




The New Variorum Shakespeare Digital Challenge: The Second Round


The MLA Committee on the New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare (NVS) is sponsoring its second digital challenge to find the most innovative and compelling uses of the data contained in one of the NVS editions. This year the MLA is making available the XML files and schema for two volumes, The Winter’s Tale and The Comedy of Errors, under a Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0 license.


Scholars can freely download the XML files and schema from GitHub:


The committee seeks entries featuring new means of displaying, representing, and exploring this data in the most exciting API, interface, visualization, or data-mining project. It is especially interested in entries that combine the NVS data with another Shakespearian project, such as Folger Digital Texts, Internet Shakespeare Editions, or Open Source Shakespeare. The goal is to see the possibilities of the NVS in digital form and, in particular, the innovations in scholarly research that might be enabled by opening up the NVS’s code. Projects will thus be judged both on the quality of the interface they provide for the NVS and on the insights produced by the mash-up.


The deadline for entries is 1 September 2014. The committee will assess the submissions and select the winner no later than 1 October 2014. The prize of $500 and an award certificate will be given at the 2015 MLA convention in Vancouver.


Entries may be sent to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Questions about the NVS Digital Challenge should be addressed to Kathleen Fitzpatrick, director of scholarly communication, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


For more information about our partner projects, please contact Michael Best ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), of Internet Shakespeare Editions, or Eric Johnson ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), of Open Source Shakespeare and Folger Digital Texts.


Please note that our partners are available to answer questions about the resources, not to provide technical support.


For more info and to see winners of the first round, visit:

Star Wars Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.313  Wednesday, 9 July 2014


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

Date:         July 8, 2014 at 9:15:00 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Star Wars Shakespeare


Gee, Hardy, you tantalized us with the intro to the story about the Star Wars Shakespeare by Ian Doescher but didn’t quote from the trilogy.  No Tantalus I, here are extracts to soothe the savage Internet beast:


Thou overladen glob of grease, thou imp,

Thou rubbish bucket fit for scrap, thou blue

And silver pile of bantha dung! Now, come…

—C-3PO speaking to R2-D2, Verily, A New Hope Act I Scene 2


Nay Nay! Try thou not,

But do thou or do thou not,

For there is no “try.”

—Yoda to Luke, The Empire Striketh Back Act III Scene 7


A gangster, aye, a gangster, O!

‘Tis well to be a gangster.

A blaster ever by thy side,

A stately barge in which to ride,

A fair, young damsel to thee tied,

‘Tis well to be a ganster…

—The Max Rebo Band, The Jedi Doth Return Act I Scene 2


If thou couldst ever put thy pride away,

Belike my prejudice would fall aside.

—Leia, The Empire Striketh Back Act I Scene 2


To march to the detention block’s unwise!

To make our way to danger folly ‘tis!

To there present ourselves is passing mad!

To boldly go where none hath gone is wild!

—Han Solo, Verily, A New Hope Act IV Scene 2


It may be Rebellion faces

Certain dangers that may sever

Our strong bonds that held us ever.

Mayhap something comprosmising,

Even like an Empire Rising.

Thus present I our conclusion:

Hint of Fate, or Fool’s illusion?

—R2-D2, The Jedi Doth Return Act V Scene 4


My duty done, I convey cheers to all!

Al Magary

Shakespeare to Exit the Vault

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.312  Wednesday, 9 July 2014


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

Date:         July 8, 2014 at 4:11:14 PM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare to Exit the Vault 


Shakespeare to exit the vault from The Washington Post


Shakespeare to exit the vault

By Ron Charles

July 8 


In the canon of Western literature, William Shakespeare’s First Folio is “the jewel of our house.” Published by the playwright’s colleagues in 1623, just a few years after his death, this extraordinary book contains 36 plays and is the sole source for such immortal works as “Macbeth,” “The Tempest” and “As You Like It.” Without the First Folio, our theater, our culture, our very language would be incalculably impoverished.


Remarkably, 82 First Folios — about a third of the copies believed to exist — are housed in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington. For decades, scholars have traveled here to study these rare books in the library’s environmentally controlled vault, deep underground.

But now the Folger has announced an ambitious plan to set the books free. To commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616, the library will loan a First Folio to every state in the union, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


“We do things that are vital for scholars all the time,” says the Folger’s director, Michael Witmore. “But this is the one that will have the greatest impact on the public.”


To insure that as many people as possible have a chance to see this traveling exhibit, the organizers are encouraging libraries, museums, historical societies and other cultural venues to apply to host a free four-week display in their state or territory. (Applications are due Sept. 5, 2014.) The express purpose of this program is to reach an audience beyond scholars — or billionaire collectors like Paul Allen, who bought a First Folio in 2001 for more than $6 million. “We want people to see this book, who could not have seen it without this initiative,” Witmore says.


Already two years in the making, the 2016 exhibit is a complex collaboration with the American Library Association and Cincinnati Museum Center, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.


“Just seeing this book travel around the country,” Witmore says, “will reinforce thinking about the importance of books, the importance of this writer and the deep sense of access that we can still have. Shakespeare has been a kind of ‘thought companion’ for us as a country.”


But moving tens of millions of dollars of rare books around the United States for a year sounds like a risk that would make any rare book conservator cry “strange screams of death.” Aren’t these First Folios “beauty too rich for use”?


No, says the Folger’s exhibitions manager, Caryn Lazzuri. “We’re not preserving these things just so they can be closed in a basement for the next 400 years. We’re a private research institution, but we’re also a public institution. We’re taking these books outside of the vault, and we’re sharing them with people, which is central to the mission of just about every library I can think of.”


In the next breath, she admits, “The logistics of it are a little bit intense. We have not done anything this big before.”


That challenge is heightened by the ALA’s determination to involve venues that have never displayed a multimillion-dollar treasure before. “We really don’t know at this point what kind of institutions are going to apply and what their display situations will be like,” Lazzuri says. “A public place like a community college or public library would be ideal, but they may not be able to meet our requirements. An academic library would have the right conditions, but may not draw the public in. We’re sort of hoping to have a mix of places.”


To be selected as a host site, organizations must propose a series of Shakespeare-related programs for scholars and the public in their own communities. Beyond that, they must demonstrate an ability to keep the book safe. The Folger will help by providing insurance, a specially designed case and curatorial instructions. Each site must have professional guards present whenever the venue is open to the public, and specific environmental conditions must be maintained: 65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, 45 to 52 percent humidity and relatively low light.


Over the course of 2016, 18 First Folios will be transported around the country by the Cincinnati Museum Center, which is also helping to design a set of large panels that explain the significance of Shakespeare and “this most goodly book.”


In each venue, the folio will be opened to Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” soliloquy. “We considered a couple of different plays,” Lazzuri says, “but ‘Hamlet’ is so well known, and that speech is one of the most taught passages.” It also makes for a fascinating presentation on variations in the surviving texts: In the 1603 first quarto, for instance, Hamlet says, “To be or not to be; aye, there’s the point.”


Another consideration was identifying enough First Folios in the collection that are travel-ready — something only a library with 82 to choose from could do. The Folger curators looked for copies that could open well to “Hamlet,” act 3, scene 1; that had clear type on the page showing his famous soliloquy; and that didn’t have unique marginalia, which would make the book too valuable to leave the library.


“I’m both excited and nervous about it,” Lazzuri says. “If something goes wrong, it’s probably my fault.”


Don’t worry. As someone once said, “All’s well that ends well.”

Global Shakespeare—Announcement and Job Opportunity

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.311  Wednesday, 9 July 2014


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

Date:         July 9, 2014 at 10:03:50 AM EDT

Subject:    Global Shakespeare—Announcement and Job Opportunity


I am the administrator working on Global Shakespeare which is a new partnership between Queen Mary University of London and Warwick University which aims to shape the future research agenda in Shakespeare studies across criticism, performance, history and media; from television to digital reproduction. It is being led by David and has recently been launched with a Masters programme beginning 2014/15.


Our website is


And we are very excited to be recruiting two Global Shakespeare Research Fellows through Warwick with a deadline of 23rd July. The job advert is live and is can be accessed through this link.


Anna Boneham 

Executive Officer Global Shakespeare

Queen Mary University of London

University of Warwick

Ian Doescher: The Bard Behind William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.310  Tuesday, 8 July 2014


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

Date:         July 8, 2014 at 9:59:32 AM EDT

Subject:    Ian Doescher: The Bard Behind William Shakespeare’s Star Wars


Ian Doescher: The Bard Behind William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

By Frannie Jackson

July 1, 2014


“I always wanted Han Solo’s confidence and swagger,” Ian Doescher says. “My personality is way more C-3PO, but Han was always who I wanted to be.”


It makes sense that the creator of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars identifies with the brilliant yet cautious droid who happens to speak six million languages. A Yale graduate with a knack for writing in Elizabethan English, Doescher is the author of Verily, A New Hope and The Empire Striketh Back from Quirk Books. The final book in the trilogy, The Jedi Doth Return, hits shelves today, completing the canon of titles transforming the original Star Wars films into Shakespearean plays—and all in iambic pentameter, no less.

But let’s back up for a moment. How does a creative director for a marketing and research firm with a PhD in Ethics become a writer marrying the culture surrounding Star Wars with the most famous author in the English language?


“I grew up with the Star Wars movies since before I have many memories,” Doescher says in an interview with Paste. “We had them on VHS back in the day, so they were part of the fabric of growing up in my family.”


Doescher’s love for the franchise continued into adulthood, including the occasional urge to binge watch the original trilogy in one sitting. In fact, viewing the films in succession contributed to the idea of his book series.


“About two years ago, three things happened,” Doescher says. “I watched the Star Wars trilogy with some good friends of mine for the first time in a few years, I read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies—one of those first mashup books—and then I went to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my family.”


One of the plays Doescher attended at the festival was The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor that tackles the topic of gay marriage in Iowa. The modern take on the classic play in tandem with reading a novel setting Pride and Prejudice in the zombie-ravaged countryside of Regency England sparked Doescher’s idea.


Doescher reached out to Jason Rekulak, the man responsible for developing and editing the New York Times bestselling novel pairing Jane Austen with hoards of the undead. Rekulak responded with enthusiasm, telling Doescher he’d take a look if the author wrote something.


“I spent the next three weeks putting together the first act, and I stayed really close to the original movie in terms of translating the lines but not adding in a lot of extra stuff,” Doescher says. “I sent it to Jason [Rekulak], and he called me and said, ‘I really want to do this. The next step is to get Lucasfilm on board.’”


Lucasfilm was intrigued by Doescher’s concept, but they urged him to take a more active role in shaping the story before signing off. “They wrote back and said, ‘We like what he’s done so far, but we want to see if he can have more fun with it … take it outside the bounds of the movie,’” he says. “It’s so wonderful for me both as a writer and as a Star Wars fan to be able to have that freedom.”


After Doescher revamped the opening scenes (making R2-D2 cheekily speak in English when other characters aren’t listening, for example), Lucasfilm granted Doescher the licensing rights. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars was born.


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