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AHRC-Funded Collaborative Doctoral Award

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.137  Wednesday, 18 March 2015


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

Date:         March 18, 2015 at 11:23:23 AM EDT

Subject:    AHRC-Funded Collaborative Doctoral Award


AHRC-Funded Collaborative Doctoral Award

University of Birmingham

Qualification type: Professional Doctorate

Location: Birmingham

Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students

Funding amount: Not specified

Hours: Full Time

Placed on: 11th March 2015

Closes: 17th April 2015


Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded collaborative doctoral award, to run from October 2015 to October 2018, on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation.’


In 2016, as part of its celebrations of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will mount a nationwide tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in which a different set of local amateur actors will impersonate the play’s ‘rude mechanicals’ at every venue it visits. This ambitious and high-profile event, called ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation’ (see…/a-midsummer-nights-dream-a-play-for…), arises from the ‘Open Stages’ outreach project, launched in 2011, during which amateur companies performing Shakespeare all around the United Kingdom have been contacted, assisted and showcased by the RSC. The Shakespeare Institute of the University of Birmingham and the RSC propose to embed a doctoral student with ‘A Play for the Nation’ to research this rich and complex artistic and social event. Granted access to planning meetings, rehearsals, documentation and performances, the student will study the methods and processes of the RSC and its amateur partners and produce a PhD thesis about their interactions: at the same time the student will be trained in academic theatre history and cultural studies by the university.


‘A Play for the Nation,’ as well as being a landmark in theatre history, will be a test-case in cultural policy, and it demands investigation and analysis as both. Over the three years of the studentship, the doctoral research produced by this student will contribute to a fuller understanding of the place of Shakespeare in the workings of national and local communities.


The student will be co-supervised by Professor Michael Dobson, Director of the Shakespeare Institute, and by Erica Whyman, Deputy Artistic Director of the RSC and director of ‘A Play for the Nation.’ The successful candidate will be expected to have training in a relevant discipline (preferably theatre studies), a serious and informed interest in arts policy, and a deep familiarity with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A Masters degree is desirable.


Candidates should submit an application for study via the UoB on-line system:…/calgs/howtoapply/index.aspx

before 12 noon GMT on Friday, 17th April 2015. Applicants MUST also apply directly to Professor Dobson at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it by the same date, providing a covering letter, CV, research proposal (1000 words max.) and a writing sample (e.g. MA dissertation), to ensure that their applications are considered for this specific opportunity. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon on 30th April 2015.


AHRC funding provides fees and maintenance for UK students. A bursary may be available for a successful EU or International applicant.


The University Code of Practice on Admission of Students can be found at…/policies-…/codes-practice.aspx.


Informal enquiries: Professor Michael Dobson ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )



A Midsummer Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation


To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 2016 we will partner with theatres, schools and amateur theatre groups across the UK for a national tour of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.


The play contains probably theatre’s most famous amateur company, the Mechanicals, with some of Shakespeare’s best-loved characters, such as Bottom, the group’s enthusiastic leading man, and long-suffering director Peter Quince.


We will work with a local amateur theatre company in each city or town the production visits. From each amateur company six actors (and a director) will play the roles of the Mechanicals when the play is performed in their city or town. They will also be invited to perform at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon at the end of the tour.


The fairy train will be played by local school children in each area, from partner schools in our Learning and Performance Network or local school communities.


The production will be directed by our Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman, and produced in partnership with our 12 Partner Theatres:

Find out about:

Auditions and rehearsals>>

How to take part - FAQ>>


A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Play for the Nation is a co-production between the Royal Shakespeare Company and amateur theatre companies. This is an arrangement between the RSC and Equity.


The Learning and Performance Network is generously supported by THE PAUL HAMLYN FOUNDATION


Open Stages is generously supported by ESMÉE FAIRBAIRN FOUNDATION

Adventures in Original Punctuation

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.136  Monday, 16 March 2015


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

Date:         March 16, 2015 at 1:52:42 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: OP


Gabriel Egan replied:


> Downs doesn’t find convincing the explanation I

> suggested for the press variant near the top of

> page G4r in Q:


>> But the variant shorter lines cannot have resulted

>> strictly by accident. If accident began the sequence

>> . . .


> Just to be clear, my suggestion was not of mere accident

> to the type but of miscorrection. But, no, I don’t find this

> explanation terribly convincing either, which is why I

> added the qualifier that it “might, I suppose” have

> happened. The trouble is that the usual explanation isn’t

> terribly convincing either:


Gabriel Egan still isn’t trying to be clear. My comment on the shorter lines wasn’t in reference to his suggestion. What I said was that he’s not “trying to get at the history of the variants because his suggestion doesn’t account for the evidence of the second shorter line.”


Egan’s “dittography miscorrection” does not explain omission of ‘why he hath made’, a line below the omitted ‘you may as’. A second hypothesis would be necessary to augment the first faulty guess. Emendations, however casual, should address all of the pertinent evidence. Otherwise, they occlude by piling up quasi-guesses. 


>> This doesn't conform to the 'general agreement'

>> that the longer lines represent the corrected

>> state. I wonder if Gabriel accepts the general

>> agreement . . .


> . . . I’m expressing dissatisfaction with the usual

> explanation because it requires that after consulting

> copy to insert the missing words the compositor

> nonetheless failed to correct the work “bleak[e]” in the

> same line. We can make sense of “bleake” as a good

> reading based on a Somerset dialect form of “bleat[e]”

> but it’s a bit strained, don’t you think?


Just as we read Egan’s ‘work “bleake”’ as ‘word . . .’ early modern readers took such matters in stride: bleak meant bleat. A factor modern editors probably overlook is that compositors lost earnings fooling with misprints. It’s analogous to John Smith’s 18th-century observation about meager punctuation (as is supposed of Shakespeare, of all people): “for in that case a Compositor has room left to point the Copy his own way; which, though it cannot be done without loss to him; yet it is not altogether of so much hindrance as being troubled with Copy which is pointed at random, and which stops the Compositor in the career of his business . . . .”


> A good reason to question the “general agreement” about

> which is the uncorrected and which the corrected state of

> the type is the absence of other press variants on the same

> forme that might help us decide the ‘before’ and ‘after’ state

> of the type. That is, the general agreement is about just this

> variant and is not based on something else outside of it.


This argument, though I agree with it, is incomplete. If a forme got a facelift, more early wrinkles ought to show. Egan himself acknowledges Blayney’s insistence that playtexts were “foul-proofed,” or corrected before a print-run began. For MV that is certain; errors abounded in the day, yet this is a relatively clean text. So, why wasn’t ‘bleake’ fixed in the foul-proofing? Because some things just weren’t fixed (cf. Q1 Lear); their persistence is not good argument against nearby correction. 


> If Downs thinks that the general agreement is right,

> could he give his explanation for the corrected state

> nonetheless requiring a ewe to “bleake”?


Gabriel Egan knows I accept van Dam’s explanation, as I’ve described. The usual explanation gets things backwards. Argument about Shakespeare’s text should be taken seriously by the “arbiter.” I study these trivialities as a hobby, where the best answer is best (else why bother?) With others that isn’t necessarily the case, but it should be.


Gerald E. Downs

The SATAN is in the details of Romeo(us) & Juliet….AND the King James Bible, too!

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.135  Monday, 16 March 2015


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

Date:         March 13, 2015 at 3:04:37 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: Secret Code


Arnie translates my observation about the number of the beast buried within his last post:


>If I understand you, Lawrence, your point in taking my hyperbolic

>claim of the mammoth size of the improbability of coincidence, 

>and pulling out of it a Satanic numerological pattern, is clever---is

>that it demonstrates that patterns can be ingeniously generated 

>post hoc which have a superficial veneer of prior intentionality.


That puts it perfectly; but I think my method is more amusing, and probably more rhetorically effective than a stiff academic presentation.


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.134  Monday, 16 March 2015


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

Date:         March 15, 2015 at 9:58:49 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: Ardenwatch




John Briggs wrote “It is good to have this news out in the open (if not actually officially announced) - there is reason to believe that the appointments were made two years ago (see SHK 24.0221)”. I am afraid I hadn’t registered John’s earlier post but that may have been because I was not then even in discussion about who the General Editors for Arden 4 might be. The three of us agreed a couple of months ago to take on the awesome and exciting responsibility. No long delays in the announcement at all. And no hidden reasons. Everyone is expecting that Arden 3 will be complete in 2016.


Peter Holland

Shakespeare at Harvard, or Things Rank and Gross

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.133  Monday, 16 March 2015


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

Date:         March 13, 2015 at 4:16:19 PM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare at Harvard, or Things Rank and Gross


I recently attended the opening session of Marjorie Garber’s course on Shakespeare: The Early Plays at Harvard University. The Syllabus for the course lists 15 Shakespeare plays.  It also lists 10 movie versions.  Students are required to watch these movies just as they are required to read the plays, and they must submit writing on both.  The required writing on the plays consists of two papers, 5-7 pages each.  The required writing on the movies consists of “brief (<1 page) responses to at least 4 of the films”—a somewhat shamefaced attempt to acknowledge a distinction in value.  Yet the fact remains that reading and writing about the plays and watching and writing about the movie versions are both mandatory in this Harvard course. 


The movies include such offal as Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet (1996), every frame of which is hostile to words; Michael Almereyda’s Hamlet (2000), in which Ethan Hawke makes the title role sound like Newspeak; Michael Radford’s The Merchant of Venice (2004), featuring Al Pacino’s dolefully tentative and morosely amateurish Shylock; and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing (2013), which Stanley Wells denounced in this forum by stating that he “can’t recommend [it] to anyone who cares for language.”  Yet in her opening lecture Professor Garber described all of these movies as “wonderful films.”  How’s that for lowering standards, corrupting taste and dumbing-down Shakespeare? 


At the risk of belaboring the obvious, I would note that each of these movies is merely another production of a Shakespeare play, that there are hundreds of such productions every year, and that being filmed confers the permanence of celluloid but not the permanence of aesthetic value.  In fact, most Shakespeare movies are shallow, unintelligent and riddled with incompetence:  modish and meretricious at one extreme, stodgy and safe at the other, with any number of fumbling and witless variations in between.  The majority would be quickly forgotten if insecure academics, ever-anxious to be with it and always falling short, hadn’t pounced upon them as curricular material or fodder for their pseudo-discipline of Shakespeare on Film. 


Some may think more highly of these movies than I do, but it is clear that many of them are fairly recent.  Teachers used to have the good sense (and the humility) to wait and see if a work would stand the test of time before presuming to teach it.  (How did Joss Whedon’s 2013 film so quickly earn a place on a Harvard Syllabus?).  By hurrying these movies into their courses and putting them on a near-level with the plays—by showing similar respect to 400 year-old classics and yesterday’s commercial releases—these supposed educators suggest that the films are canonical masterworks of well-nigh Shakespearean stature:  judgments which it is rather too early for them to make.  In doing so, they lionize what may prove to be ephemeral or even pernicious, foster complacency with the quality of current Shakespeare films, and help to ensure that better productions will never materialize.  They also (just possibly) deprive their students of a good education and erode the ranks of those who “care for language.”   


It’s embarrassing to watch learned scholars devolve into cheerleaders for anything that movie studios throw at us.  When I see them genuflect before the likes of a Baz Luhrman—an ignoramus and a vulgarian who cheapens everything he touches, whether it be Shakespeare or F. Scott Fitzgerald—I wonder if they’ve lost all self-understanding and self-respect; and I wonder if their students will ever acquire any.


 --Charles Weinstein

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