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Louis Marder’s Remaining Collection Placement

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.187  Thursday, 16 April 2015


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

Date:         April 15, 2015 at 4:20:40 PM EDT

Subject:    Louis Marder’s Remaining Collection Placement


I am Lou Marder's granddaughter. 


I can’t believe it it’s been more than 4 years since I rescued boxes and boxes and boxes of paper from heading to the dumpster (it seems some of my grandfather’s proclivities skipped a generation). As you know, the “valuable” collectibles ended up going to auction (with largely depressing results), and the books to an antiquarian bookseller. That still leaves a whole lot of stuff


I think what I’m hoping for is answers/suggestions/ideas...maybe connections/referrals...  please feel free to forward my e-mail to anyone who might be a resource...or if you feel it would be appropriate, post relevant portions to SHAKSPER or other groups... 



Initially I did manage to catalog his journal collection:

(I’ve since found others tucked away in files...started adding these yesterday in purple. I’ve also tossed a couple titles since cataloguing. A few of the titles—MLA, Theatre Notebook, a few others I think—are still being sent, but recent issues are in another box in storage). I think where I got sidetracked 4 years ago was in my hunt for a database that would accept OCR-friendly scans/photos of title pages, as well as a speedy way to acquire those images/pdfs. I think I was also stumped (overwhelmed?) regarding how to advertise/publicize the availability of the collection. Next thing I knew it was 4 years later. 


I know that many of the titles have long since been completely digitized, and others are just not relevant to anyone. There are a few that are extremely rare (only one or two holdings worldwide according to the OCLC; if I recall correctly, one or two titles didn’t show up at all!), and others that aren’t necessarily rare but also don’t appear to have been digitized. I’m ashamed to say that I’m hoping to find buyers for as much as possible, but I’d rather donate (so long as someone pays for shipping) than recycle. 



The above inventory does not include back issues of The Shakespeare Newsletter. I initially offered the whole lot to Iona College ...they didn’t have a place for them, nor the funds for shipping. I do, however, plan to send them the subscription books and a bound volume of 1951-196.... Last week I found all his correspondence files related to SNL submissions....and so on. He was involved in so many things that so much of the correspondence could be cross-referenced under multiple index entries. Ugh. Back to that in a bit.


Last week... I went through the 19 boxes of SNL, setting aside a max of 10 of each issue (then, guilt-ridden, a second set of 10, then maybe five if....? The first time I ran across 50+ copies of a single issue I worried that maybe he’d forgotten to mail out that particular issue! I was relieved (in a sense; guilt-ridden in another) when I started encountering mass quantities of other issues as well. That said, as I glance through correspondence files and run across numerous letters mentioning missing/delayed issues and subscriptions.... Ugh. Anyway, I boxed up the “max of 10” issues (as well as a single set for myself; I’m missing only about six or seven post-1964/pre-Iona issues). Not that I know what to do with those (I’ll come back to this too), but, do you think it’s reasonably safe to dump the remainder into recycling, or do you know of a market for these somewhere? It’s bad enough that his collection and library was split up, and that his SDB dream was never realized, that I feel awkward about tossing too many issues of SNL.


Correspondence/research files

Having been a professional historian at one time, I feel like I’m sitting on a potential gold mine—a gold mine and a noose. I’m not sure if this is common or not, but his correspondence files almost always contain copies of his own outgoing letters in addition to the letters he received. 


Last week it hit me that, while I’d been assured that my aunt hunted high and low for someone to take Lou’s collection, his papers were likely the last thing on her mind, so I contacted UIC. I figured I’d follow up with Kent State, UNC-Pembroke, Columbia, and Brooklyn College, if UIC isn’t interested. In the meantime, however, I’ve continued perusing what’s here. 


One category of files that I’ve come pretty close to disposing is the mass of correspondence in response to his advertisements seeking Shakespeareana and the masses of receipts and business cards for his purchases. I’ve found a few interesting bits of correspondence, as well as provenance information for items long-since sold (e.g., proof that a dagger did indeed belong to Edwin Booth, who made it, how the seller came to have it, etc. It really annoys me every time I run across something like this that “tells a story” about something from his collection). But, just as I’m about to dispose of all but a handful of letters and such, I imagine a possible research topic for which someonesomewhere would consider even this pile of paper to be valuable. <sigh> I am my grandfather’s granddaughter.


SDB files. At least one entire box of the above consists of SDB submissions. Is someone still working on this (under a different name, perhaps)? Have things in this box already been entered? Or has the whole project been abandoned? Another “complication”—separating SDB submissions from correspondence about the whole SDB process/dream...  



Here is where things get really crazy. In spite of being “my grandfather’s granddaughter,” I didn’t catch the Shakespeare bug, but I am fascinated by his passion, his drive, etc., and as I’ve read some of his correspondence, articles he’s written, and articles written about him I wonder if there might be a “story” here. Several “stories,” in fact, and not just limited to an audience of other Shakespeare scholars and/or fanatics. Hell, even just compiling a collection of his essays/editorials from 40+ years of SNL seems like “something” ... a jumping-off avenue. For a few days I was bouncing back and forth between the SNL boxes and the correspondence boxes, and I would find references in correspondence to something I’d seen in passing in SNL, or in some other box, or a reference in SNL that explained some massive pile of souvenirs/ephemera/memorabilia. Cross-references in physical space/objects rather than in an index. Often things that, taken alone, don’t seem especially interesting, but that become relevant when the three or more “outposts” are brought together. I know and appreciate Lou Marder far, far more now than I ever did when he was alive, but my interest here is in him as an interesting and eccentric individual who had a wealth of knowledge and non-stop ideas and vision. I won’t say he was failure as a father, husband, and grandfather, but, well.... his interests and talents were devoted elsewhere. In other words, it’s not sentimentality that keeps me buried in his papers and wondering whether there is something here.


Clearly (I think it’s clear, anyway), one of the more significant topics is his pursuit of the SDB. I was blown away when I found a letter he wrote in 1957 proposing the idea. 1957! A couple days ago I came across the roster for an IBM seminar he attended in 1958 – all sorts of scientists, engineers, corporate reps, and him (also a psychology prof). Anyway, so much of the correspondence on the subject (directly with IBM, Kodak, and many others) goes well over my head, but if some “computer historian” were writing an account of his “journey” (perhaps his and his contemporaries’)....


Similarly, accounts of some of his other greater passions, e.g., the authorship controversy (including the friendship between him and Francis Carr), The Globe reconstruction, teaching Shakespeare, would be better written by someone who knows Shakespeare... yet there’s something about Lou’s way with words (and passion) when he wrote about these things that it seems like there is potential for the topics to be interesting to someone like me... I’m writing/thinking in circles. Trying to put my chaotic brainstorm into an e-mail to a stranger. 


There is one folder filled entirely with correspondence with his Chinese friends (fans of Shakespeare). I also had no idea how many times he’d been “published” in places other than SNL, nor in how many articles have been written about him. 


I would even be interested in including the more challenging aspects of his personality and efforts, e.g., the ADHD likelihood (the greatest argument we ever had was when I revealed to him my own Adult ADHD diagnosis, inattentive type), and how it impacted him, personally and professionally. How it helped, how it hurt, and whether it can help explain some occasional poor decisions. Forty years’ worth of correspondence reveal recurring themes. :)


There are also other bunches of stuff are in limbo between (among?) archives/salable/trash/donations – programs, posters, engravings (book illustrations), slides, LPs, filmstrips, etc. 


Anyway, this has all been preventing me from getting on with my life, both in the physical sense (too much stuff to move from point A to point B, too “valuable” to just throw away) and in the intellectual/emotional sense (sense of obligation, overwhelm, fear of doing the wrong thing, and yet also believing there’s a worthwhile writing/research project here but not knowing where—or having the confidence—to begin). Ages ago I had an idea of creating a Lou Marder website...if only I had. On the one hand I’m in an excellent place now (literally and figuratively) for finally doing it, but on the other, unfortunately, the need for income and getting rid of an enormous amount of stuff has become too urgent.


Kind of ironic, isn’t it? Confidence is one thing that Lou Marder never lacked.


Thank you for wading all the way through this, and in advance for any assistance/leads you can offer!


Laurie Marder

Gobbo Name

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.186  Wednesday, 14 April 2015


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

     Date:         April 14, 2015 at 6:29:56 PM EDT

     Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Gobbo 


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

     Date:         April 14, 2015 at 6:59:19 PM EDT

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER:  Gobbo 




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

Date:         April 14, 2015 at 6:29:56 PM EDT

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Gobbo


I suspect I may have missed something in the former exchanges in this thread, as I’m not altogether sure why William Blanton’s three criteria are necessary – that is, studies “(1) by experienced trial attorneys who have (2) familiarized themselves with sixteenth century English law and trial procedure and (3) who have analyzed the Trial Scene as though it were a trial.”


Maxine Mackay’s 1964 SQ article, “The Merchant of Venice: A Reflection of the Early Conflict Between Courts of Law and Courts of Equity” fulfils the second and third criteria, but must it be dismissed for failure to meet the first?


And from within the field of legal scholarship, I can’t be sure if Professor of Law John Denvir met the first criterion before he published “William Shakespeare and the Jurisprudence of Comedy” in the Stanford Law Review, 1987, but his description of Portia’s strategies in the trial scene look to me like they at least speak to some knowledge of the first criterion, if not direct experience. Similarly, Professor of Law Carrie Menkel-Meadow’s article, “Portia Redux” from the Virginia Journal of Social Policy and the Law, 1994-95, addresses questions of Portia’s behaviour in the context of broader discussions about “woman’s lawyering” and trial conduct historically and in the modern era.


Of more contemporary vintage, and which should surely not be disregarded in the present discussion, are at least three studies by Professor Tim Stretton, who may or may not fulfil the first criteria, but who has certainly more than met the second and third criteria (his bio and selected publications can be found here: – I think it may be helpful here if William Blanton could explain why failure to meet the first criterion would disqualify Stretton’s studies (or any others that meet the second and third criteria – and of these there are many) from consideration in these discussions? I’m afraid that if it is simply a matter of claiming to be the first to meet all three criteria, it’s hard for me to see the point -- I’m sure all of us could find a similar set of three criteria for any of our publications, allowing us to stamp a pioneering claim on the territory in question. 





Associate Professor Laurie Johnson

(English and Cultural Studies)

University of Southern Queensland


Vice-President of ANZSA (Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association)



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

Date:         April 14, 2015 at 6:59:19 PM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER:  Gobbo


[Picture, at your preference, James Mason or Tony Hancock clearing his throat, straightening his wig, and bringing a hand to each lapel, thumbs tucked behind. Slowly, he begins to speak.]


“M’lud, gentlemen and ladies of the jury, my learned opponent Mr Blanton is, by his own account, a JD with honors from the University of Texas School of Law and was a litigator in Houston for 20 years.

This much he has told us, and this much we must, in all courtesy, grant him.


He stands before you today with a theory about the spellings in the quarto and Folio editions of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. He wants you to believe that Shakespeare was able to control just how his words were spelt in the editions of his plays.


He claims no expertise [shaking head] in how books were printed, but he has an opinion on it. “I do not believe”, he tells us, “that some unknown compositor, tasked with using a perfectly legible copy of Q1 with a few mark-ups, would bother to change the spelling from Q1 unless it was one of those few mark-ups”.


My learned opponent has told you, the jury, nothing about the reasons compositors might have had for changing spelling. He has not troubled you with stories of a compositor’s spelling habits being traced across the Folio. He has not laboured to acquaint you with the evidence for how this particular compositor spelt a word here, or there, in other plays in the Folio.


He need not trouble you with the details of hand-press printing or labour to acquaint you with the evidence that has been so painstakingly acquired by the diligence of others. He need take no pains because, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Blanton has something much more potent than evidence or logic or reason.


He has, it must be acknowledged, that most puissant of all weapons: belief. And when belief rears its mighty form no puny combatants dressed in the frail armaments of fact and logic can withstand its force. [Long pause for this inescapable truth to settle in the jury-members’ minds.]


“Anyway, that’s what I believe”, thunders Mr Blanton.  To the pedants and nay-sayers he casts his dismissive “You and other professionals may well disagree”.  In the name of all that you hold dear, ladies and gentlemen, do not trouble Mr Blanton with the complications that would stand between him and his beliefs. He has formed ‘em. [Slowing now.] He has put ‘em into a presentable habit. And now he must air ‘em.  No power in the land can deny him that right, nor should it seek to.


But you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, what do YOU believe?”


Gabriel Egan

Criticism of Erne

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.186  Wednesday, 14 April 2015


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

Date:         April 15, 2015 at 7:43:26 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Erne


Gerald E. Downs wrote:


>Jim Carroll further observes:


>>. . . this idea that Shakespeare did not have interest in

>>having his plays published has never made any sense to me.


>That’s OK, because no one says that. The question is whether the

>evidence (the early editions) indicates Shakespeare’s participation 

>in the process that actually occurred. The answer’s ‘No.’


Actually, I’m prepared to say that: I’m almost certain that I’ve said it before. The idea is anachronistic: poems were regarded as ‘literature’ (especially by Shakespeare), but plays weren’t. There was certainly a demand for published playscripts, but they were probably regarded as ‘novelisations’ - and the Bad Quartos are certainly of that quality. Just about the first person to wish to publish his plays was Ben Jonson - and he was mocked for including his plays in his folio ‘Works’. One contemporary wag said that Jonson had forgotten the difference between Work and Play. Jonson would likely have taken a copy of his Works to Stratford as a present for Shakespeare. I have no idea if Jonson’s Works killed Shakespeare or if he simply drank too much at the launch party... Had he lived, Shakespeare could well have changed his mind and wished to publish his plays - his former colleagues certainly did, hence the Pavier Quartos and the First Folio.


John Briggs

R.I.P. Bill Godshalk

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.185  Wednesday, 14 April 2015


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

     Date:         April 15, 2015 at 7:18:35 AM EDT

     Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Bill Godshalk 


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

     Date:         April 15, 2015 at 9:12:38 AM EDT

     Subject:    Bill Godshalk 




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

Date:         April 15, 2015 at 7:18:35 AM EDT

Subject:    RE: SHAKSPER: Bill Godshalk


It is with great sadness that I received the news of Bill Godshalk's death. We met once at an SAA conference, but he was a lively, and witty correspondent in the early years of SHAKSPER, and the many bouts of sparring in which we engaged never sunk to the level of gratuitous insult to which the list has been recently subjected. Some of the funniest exchanges also involved the late Terry Hawkes. Bill holds a memorable place in the history of SHAKSPER.


My deepest sympathies to his family


John Drakakis



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

Date:         April 15, 2015 at 9:12:38 AM EDT

Subject:    Bill Godshalk


Very sad to hear the news about Bill Godshalk.   He was a long-standing friend to the electronic journal EMLS, and served on our Editorial Board from the very first issue in 1995.


He was also way ahead of his time, in that even earlier than that he was one of the first Shakespeare scholars to make his work publically available in electronic form.  In May 1993 he posted the typically excellent essay on the SHAKSPER mailserver.  This was before graphical browsers for the internet.  To get the essay, you had to type an instruction to your computer to TELL LISTSERV AT UTORONTO GET 12NIGHT ALLONOTH SHAKSPER.  It seemed very bizarre, back then, that you could type commands like that into a machine and get back in exchange high-quality Shakespeare criticism, but Bill saw its potential sooner than most.  



Professor of English

Sheffield Hallam University

‘Cry, Trojans!’: Wooster Group’s Take on ‘Troilus and Cressida’

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.184  Wednesday, 14 April 2015


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

Date:         April 15, 2015 at 10:51:15 AM EDT

Subject:    ‘Cry, Trojans!’: Wooster Group’s Take on ‘Troilus and Cressida’


Review: ‘Cry, Trojans!’ Is the Wooster Group’s Take on ‘Troilus and Cressida’

By Ben Brantley

April 7, 2015


There’s smoke rising from the tepee that occupies upstage-center at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. But as hard as you may look, you won’t find the fire — dramatic, emotional or intellectual — in “Cry, Trojans!,” the befuddled and befuddling work in which the mighty Wooster Group lays siege to Shakespeare’s “Troilus and Cressida.”

This being a production of an iconoclastic company that likes to occupy several dimensions at the same time, that smoke is only virtual, a rising wisp on a screen. Such is the classic stuff that the Wooster Group’s mind-bending dreams are made on. And there are plenty of the sort of witty, senses-melding touches here that have become Wooster signatures.


Staged by Elizabeth LeCompte, one of the troupe’s founders and its artistic director, this Native American-themed production features artful layering of voices artificial and real, and eye-popping costumes that might have been culled from an epochs-spanning cultural compost heap. There is also exactingly choreographed movement, often synced to replicate scenes from movies on video monitors.


But to what purpose? Since its founding in the mid-1970s, the Wooster Group has been performing acts of blessed profanation on sacred texts, including Chekhov’s “Three Sisters,” Eugene O’Neill’s “The Emperor Jones” and Racine’s “Phèdre.” As a rule, the company’s text-scrambling, anachronism-flaunting productions confuse only to clarify, and usually wind up commenting astutely not only on their source materials but also on our changing perspectives in interpreting them.


Yet “Cry, Trojans!,” which opened on Tuesday night, only piles obscurity onto a play that has baffled and divided scholars, critics and audiences for centuries. The most unclassifiable of Shakespeare’s works, probably written shortly after he completed the great existential question mark that is “Hamlet,” “Troilus and Cressida” is a tragicomic, antiheroic history play, steeped in a sticky cynicism that tars everybody and everything in it.


Seldom performed before the 20th century, this portrait of love, betrayal and hypocrisy during the Trojan War seemed well matched to the anti-militaristic mood that swept Britain and the United States during the Vietnam era. It is, after all, a play that pronounces on the legendary conflict at its center: “All the argument is a whore and a cuckold.”


Those words are spoken by the toxic Thersites, “a deformed and scurrilous Greek,” who makes Shakespeare’s other misanthropes (Timon of Athens, Jaques from “As You Like It”) look like Pollyannas. Those words are not spoken (unless I missed them, which is possible) in “Cry, Trojans!,” and Thersites himself sadly makes only a cameo appearance.


That’s because this version concentrates largely on its Trojans, and not the Greeks who invade their land to recapture one of their own, the cursedly beautiful Helen. Such lopsidedness was not always true of “Cry, Trojans!”


The show began in England as a coproduction of the Wooster Group and the Royal Shakespeare Company, with the Britons doing the Greeks (under the direction of Mark Ravenhill) and the Americans embodying their adversaries. It was staged (and widely dismissed) as a binational venture in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2012.


So now the Wooster Group, whose work is always a work in progress, has rethought the play, although conscious thought seems to have had very little to do with it. The Greeks are often missing in action. The overwhelming emphasis is on team Trojan, presented as Native Americans, whose tribal gear wittily includes backpacks that resemble ancient statuary. (Folkert de Jong and Delphine Courtillot are credited with “set elements, props, costumes.”)


I’m pretty sure there’s been at least one Wild West “Troilus” before, which makes sense if you choose to read the play (and, really, you should not) as an account of a colonialist invasion of an indigenous people. Anyway, that doesn’t seem to be an allegory that much interests the Wooster Group.


Instead, Ms. LeCompte and company seem to be searching for — and dissecting — the enduring archetypes within the love story of Shakespeare’s title characters, doomed lovers embodied here by the Wooster stalwarts Scott Shepherd and Kate Valk. These characters are not naturals, though, for the kind of magnificent implosion practiced by the troupe upon the African-American railroad porter in “Emperor Jones” and the love-sickened queen Phèdre.


Both those parts were taken on by Ms. Valk, the group’s longtime leading lady and its most brilliant exponent of acting as a disembodied chain of mechanical mannerisms. But she’s unable to make much sense of the faithless Cressida, whom she portrays as a skipping Pocahontas type, given to flatline flirtation.


It’s a single-note, if impeccably executed, performance that emphasizes what’s least interesting about Cressida. Mr. Shepherd — who dazzled as the inexhaustible narrator of “Gatz,” the Elevator Repair Service’s epic staging of “The Great Gatsby” — is even more unvarying as Troilus, whom he presents as an adenoidal, whiny adolescent.


Suzzy Roche, in a frizzy fright wig, shows up as the doom-saying Cassandra; Greg Mehrten, looking like Bloody Mary from “South Pacific,” is Cressida’s prurient uncle Pandarus; and Ari Fliakos, with a Scottish burr and a welcome light wit, is the martyred Hector. The male cast members put on masks to portray the warring Greeks. But most of the great speeches belonging to those characters have been excised.


So what are we left with? Well, mostly a single high concept that doesn’t take us anywhere beyond its own limited picturesque terms. Variations on Native American customs, accessories, war dances and tribal languages are deployed here, and are no doubt the product of the extensive research and discipline that is the Wooster Group’s hallmark.


But don’t expect much illumination on Shakespeare or indigenous American culture. The production runs a sluggish two and a half hours, but you do have the option of watching the movies projected in the video monitors on either side of the stage.


These include the psychosexual teenage weepie “Splendor in the Grass” (starring Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood) and “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner,” a 2001 tale out of Canada based on Inuit myth. To its credit, “Cry, Trojans!” made me want to revisit “Splendor” and acquaint myself with the intriguing “Atanarjuat.” So I can say that at least I took away something from a Wooster Group production that is largely, and atypically, empty.


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