Nancy Pollard Brown, d. August 18 in Oxford

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.375  Wednesday, 26 August 2015


From:        Marianne L. Novy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 26, 2015 at 10:28:33 AM EDT

Subject:    Nancy Pollard Brown, d. August 18 in Oxford


Nancy Pollard Brown taught many students Shakespeare and other courses  at Trinity College in Washington DC from the late 1950s (I believe) to the late 1980s. She won a national teaching award from the Danforth Association, and went out of her way to help me and many other students, who remember her fondly for that as well as her brilliance and dynamism in the classroom.  She ran Trinity’s Oxford program for a while (as her nephew writes below). While at Trinity she did much research at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and had strong connections there. In an example of ecumenical spirit, though she was Anglican her research was mostly on Catholic writers in sixteenth and seventeenth-century England, such as Robert Southwell.


There will be a memorial for her in Oxford in St. Barnabas Church the week of August 31. For information contact her nephew and next of kin, Bob Grose, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. +44 (0)1548 821018


Perhaps the Folger will have one as well? Perhaps combined with the college? 


Thank you!


All best wishes,

Marianne Novy (Trinity class of 1965)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Professor of English, University of Pittsburgh





World Shakespeare Bibliography PhD Fellowship

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.374  Tuesday, 25 August 2015


From:        Laura Estill <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 24, 2015 at 4:44:20 PM EDT

Subject:    World Shakespeare Bibliography PhD Fellowship


The World Shakespeare Bibliography Online is pleased to announce a PhD fellowship (also posted here:


World Shakespeare Bibliography Online PhD Student Fellowship

The World Shakespeare Bibliography is seeking doctoral fellows interested in early modern literature and/or digital humanities. 


The selected fellow will be an incoming PhD student in English at Texas A&M University. The World Shakespeare Bibliography PhD fellow will serve as a graduate research assistant in the English Department at Texas A&M, which pays a monthly stipend and includes health insurance. The University pays tuition for students holding fellowships and assistantships.


The World Shakespeare Bibliography PhD fellow will work for the World Shakespeare Bibliography for one year. The fellowship is for nine months, with a strong likelihood of summer support. After the first year, students will be shifted to a graduate teaching assistantship in the English Department, at the same funding level. Students are also eligible for many additional funding opportunities, through the English Department, the College of Liberal Arts, the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, Cushing Memorial Library and Archives and the Melbern C. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research). Graduate assistantships are renewable for a total of five years, contingent on good progress toward the degree.


The successful applicant will have the opportunity to learn about the cutting edge of Shakespeare scholarship and will gain work experience in a longstanding global digital humanities project. Fellows will have the opportunity to work in a vibrant department with strengths in early modern studies and digital humanities. World Shakespeare Bibliography fellows will be encouraged to take advantage of the rare book collection at the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives and opportunities available through the Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture. The World Shakespeare Bibliography PhD fellow will be eligible to apply for funded conference travel, a student exchange to Aberystwyth, Wales, and further training programs such as the Digital Humanities Summer Institute. Texas A&M is a member of the Folger Institute Consortium, and our students and staff regularly participate in Folger Shakespeare Library events.


Ideal applicants will be strong academic candidates with interest in early modern studies and/or digital humanities. Basic computer skills required: specific training will be given upon arrival. The strongest candidates will be self-motivated, detail-oriented students looking forward to gaining new research skills. Second languages are helpful but not required.


To apply, please complete the application for Texas A&M’s PhD in English (information here). In your statement of purpose, please include a sentence that indicates your interest in applying for the World Shakespeare Bibliography PhD fellowship. Please append a 150-word paragraph detailing why you would be a good candidate for the fellowship and why it appeals to you. Applications are due 15 December 2016 for fall 2016 admission and start of fellowship.


If you have questions about graduate study in English at Texas A&M University, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you have questions about the World Shakespeare Bibliography, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Please share with all who might be interested.   




Dr. Laura Estill

Assistant Professor of English

Texas A&M University

Editor, World Shakespeare Bibliography

MV Dialog

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.373  Monday, 24 August 2015


From:        Pervez Rizvi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 22, 2015 at 10:53:44 AM EDT

Subject:    Re: MV Dialog


Spike Milligan started his book ‘Hitler: My Part in His Downfall’ by writing ‘After Puckoon I swore I would never write another novel. This is it...’ In the same spirit, I hadn’t intended to argue any more with Jim Carroll but, with Hardy’s indulgence, I’ll make one further long post in the hope of bringing some closure to this argument.


I will write just one paragraph (this one) about the randomness point. Typically, researchers say “If the data were random, we would expect it to look like X. But our data looks like Y. There is a statistically significant difference between X and Y. Therefore something interesting is going on.” If someone points out that the difference between X and is not statistically significant, they are not saying that the data is random. They are saying that even if it had been random it might still have looked quite like Y. No one is saying that Shakespeare wrote words at random. 


But let’s forget that now and accept for a moment that the approach you’ve used is valid. You wrote earlier in this discussion (joining two of your posts):


Assuming the number of lines in the WordCruncher version of the folio is the same as reported by Pervez (109,220), the frequency of “man” per line is 0.01654. The expected frequency of “man” twice in a line is therefore 0.01654 x 0.1654 = 0.0002736, which should result  in 0.0002736 x 109220 = 29.9 occurrences of “man” twice in a line.  There are in fact 38. Now, I could say that I simulated with a computer program the placing of “man” in 109,220 lines of text at the given frequencies, repeated it 1,000 times, found the average (29.3) and the standard deviation (5.2)..... Shakespeare put “man” in the same line far more than it occurs when adding the word randomly at the same frequency to a text that size. Therefore, the clustering of “man” in the same line is not “random”.


That last sentence may be inadvertently misleading in its wording since it appears to be based on the misapprehension that random data must be evenly distributed. I suppose you meant to write ‘Therefore, the clustering of “man” in the same line is statistically significant.’ If so, then notice that the difference between your expected value (29.9) and the actual value (38) is 8.1, which is 1.56 standard deviations, since you found the standard deviation to be 5.2. Few people would consider that statistically significant. Usually, to be safe, you’d want your data to be at least 2 standard deviations away from the average to call it significant; to be really safe, 3 standard deviations.


Incidentally, you don’t need to do a computer simulation for this. If you know the sample size N (here, N=109220) and the probability p (here, p=0.0002736) then the standard deviation is the square root of Np(1-p). This formula gives the standard deviation as 5.47 which is close to what your simulation gave you.


As I wrote before, I am not denying that you might possibly be on to something. No one denies the existence of image clusters in Shakespeare, such as the ones Caroline Spurgeon found. No one denies the existence of idea clusters, such as the association of illegitimate birth with the counterfeiting of coins. But I said that you would need to look at other words too, because I suspected that there would be lots of the kind of associations that you think you are seeing with ‘man’. I just did a search of the Folio text [see note 1 below], looking at words that occur between 1500 and 3000 times, and for which the actual number of lines with two or more occurrences is more than 3 standard deviations away from the expected (using the same method to work out the probability that you used). I found 15 such words. For example, ‘come’, ‘their’ and ‘loue’ (i.e. love) which occur twice on a line far more often than we’d expect by using your technique. Or, if I look at all words that occur more than 1500 times and require only 2 standard deviations, the number of hits rises to 56. For how many words are you going to claim that Shakespeare had some ‘association’ in his mind? And what about the negative evidence? Words like ‘enter’, ‘which’ and ‘vpon’ (i.e. upon) occur twice on a line far less often than we’d expect from using your technique. Are you going to claim some negative association which caused Shakespeare to recoil from using them twice in a line?


The reality is that you can always find stuff like this if you know how to play around with the data. It doesn’t mean anything usually. Even if the data you had shown us were statistically significant, it would not be enough. The statistical formulae are blind to context; e.g. a formula doesn’t know that the word ‘bond’ occurs disproportionately often in the trial scene in MV because it is what the trial is about. So even when you find statistically significant data (which is usually easy to do) you still need to provide old-fashioned literary or bibliographical arguments to support your claim.


Note 1. Various caveats apply. Since we are interested in words, not spellings, we should use a modern-spelling text, not the Folio. I happen to have the Folio text already in a database on my laptop so I used it. Asking if two words are on the same line is only a rough way of asking if they are close together. To do it properly, we’d need to ask if they are within X words of each other, regardless of which line they are on. The number of lines varies from edition to edition, because of prose passages. I used N=109220 because that is the official number of lines in the Folio, from Hinman’s Norton facsimile (he ignored play titles and lists of dramatis personae). If you are using the Riverside text, which comes with WordCruncher, then the number of lines will be different, not least because of Pericles and TNK. And of course not everything in ‘Shakespeare’ is by Shakespeare.


Note 2. Squaring the probability of one event to derive the probability of its happening twice, without considering other factors, is statistically naive. In the UK we had the tragic case of Sally Clark a few years ago. Two of her babies had died of so-called ‘cot death’. She was tried and convicted of their murder. An eminent paediatrician called Professor Sir Roy Meadow testified at her trial that the probability of two cot deaths in the same family was 1 in 73 million. The probability he cited had been worked out by squaring the probability of one cot death, rather as you have done with ‘man’. As some people recognised immediately, it was a gross misuse of statistics and possibly helped to send an innocent woman to prison. (She was released a few years later on another ground of appeal and died young of alcoholism.)



Great New Shakespeare Resource

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.372  Monday, 24 August 2015


From:        Akiva Fox <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 22, 2015 at 12:29:36 PM EDT

Subject:    Great New Shakespeare Resource


I’m thrilled to announce the launch of Clear Shakespeare, a word-by-word podcast for teachers, students, readers, directors and performers of Shakespeare’s plays.


The first batch includes an hour-long introduction to Shakespeare’s world and theater, as well as the long and complicated path his works took over the last 400 years. It also includes a 9-part breakdown of Hamlet, defining difficult words and syntax, highlight unusual diction and poetic devices, and adding historical and cultural context. New plays will be added in the coming months and years. You can find all those podcasts at


I hope you’ll take the time to listen to and enjoy Clear Shakespeare, and to use it with your classes and theater companies. Please don’t hesitate to write if you have questions or comments on the project.



Akiva Fox



“Doing” Shakespeare: The Plays in the Theater”

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.371  Monday, 24 August 2015


From:        Harry Keyishian <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         August 23, 2015 at 3:39:26 PM EDT

Subject:    “Doing” Shakespeare: The Plays in the Theater”




“Doing” Shakespeare: The Plays in the Theater” is the topic of the 2015 annual Shakespeare Colloquium at Fairleigh Dickinson’s Florham campus on Saturday, October 24, from 9:30-3:30 p.m.  Speaker are professors Donovan Sherman (Seton Hall University), Sidney R. Homan (University of Florida), Cary Mazer (University of Pennsylvania), and Nancy Selleck (UMass Lowell).  


The colloquiums have been organized since 1992 by Harry Keyishian, Professor Emeritus of English at Fairleigh Dickinson University. They are open to the public and free of charge. New Jersey teachers may receive professional development credit for their participation.


Donovan Sherman’s topic is “Timely Knowing: Intimate Reading in Cymbeline.” He will consider the many ways characters in the play mis-read both texts and each other. Sidney R. Homan shares his experiences as a director in his talk, titled “Those Seemingly Simple Moments in Shakespeare That Aren’t Really So Simple.”  Cary Mazer discusses “doubleness” in Shakespeare, when there is a difference between how characters are written and how they are understood by audiences.  In her talk, “Direct Address: Shakespeare’s Audience as Scene Partner,” Nancy Selleck demonstrates what happens when the playwright makes his audience his “scene partner.”  She will be joined by FDU actors Jenna Cormey and Michael Gardiner. 


The Colloquiums are supported by the Columbia University Seminar on Shakespeare, by Fairleigh Dickinson University, and by private donations. 


The event takes place in Room S-11 of the Science Building, which is handicap-accessible. Lunch may be purchased at the school cafeteria. Registration is not required, but is appreciated. You may contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register or for questions, or call 973-433-8711, or write Harry Keyishian, GH2, Fairleigh Dickinson University, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison NJ 07940. 


Harry Keyishian


Fairleigh Dickinson University Press

Professor Emeritus, Department of Literature, Language, Writing, and Philosophy 

Fairleigh Dickinson University


Subscribe to Our Feeds


Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.