Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 280. Thursday, 31 Oct 1991.
Date: Thu, 31 Oct 1991 09:29:00 -0500
Subject: Multimedia _Hamlet_
I recently attended a CD-ROM conference in Washington, D.C. and
encountered a product which IBM will be issuing which I think
will be of some interest, especially given the ongoing interest in
e-text of Shakespeare.
The new series is called Illuminated Books and Manuscripts (TM) an
attempt to create multimedia learning tools for a personal workstation
(IBM of course). The keynote address of the conference was used to
introduce it (very slick). One of the first "books" available is
What the multimedia approach does is allow video, text and audio to be
combined into one experience. Many of you may already be using this
level of technology but for me, with my monochrome Hercules orange
screen and plodding 20 MB IBM clone, it was eye-popping! Using a
mouse the operator can focus on various "tools" to help
interpretation. These are: Define, Context, Interpret, Method, and
Link, though it looks as though there may be some unique ones for each
book. These in turn bring up video of the time period, scholars
discussing interpretation of specific parts of text, the text itself,
interpretation over time and a bibliography. The video chosen for
_Hamlet_ is the Olivier film (in the brochure it looks colorized)
which leads me to question just what they're going to do with all that
I was unable to actually look at the program operating. The example
used in the keynote address was Tennyson's "Ulysses" and "Letter from
a Brimingham Jail" by Martin Luther King, Jr. IBM had a booth in the
exhibition hall but had hardware problems and this system wasn't up.
We needed to get out of D.C. before rush hour so I couldn't wait. It
might be something which shows up at a CD show in your area. I wasn't
quite sure when it was officially going to be on the market but I'll
bet IBM would tell you about it if you asked.
I'll reproduce the blurb from the brouchure I have plus the hardware
requirements. This is where I have the most questions. Who can
afford this?? Apparently the goal is to make these programs personal
resources but the hardware requirements seem to require institutional
investments. I can see purchasing them for my library but not for me.
I never got a price quote (perhaps its not firm yet) though one of the
computer folks I went with mentioned $1600 per program.
Unsubstantiated rumour that.
The upshot is that I would still be interested in pursuing public
domain e-text of Shakespeare. I'm willing to type and learn about all
these markup programs and protocols which I've never heard of. (The
recent discussion has been fascinating, but cryptic.) Most students
and scholars can't afford these kind of texts from the commercial
realm. If I could have them ftp into a site from my library and
download texts it would be ideal. It would introduce students to the
idea of looking at texts electronically, help my professors save money
and my library space (and money!).
TAKE A LOOK AT SHAKESPEARE'S CLASSIC PLAY
People tend to learn more and remember more when they are
active participants in the learning process. With the
Illuminated Books and Manuscripts, you become involved and
engrossed in the process of exploration and discovery.
Participate in a production of Hamlet to study society of
that time or to improve your speaking skills. Review scenes
performed by actors to *See* and *Hear* the gestures, the
accents, and the emotions.
The Illuminated Books and Manuscripts lets you examine the
*Link* of psychology and human existence to the tragedy of
Hamlet's revenge. Master the *Tools of the Writer* that
Shakespeare and others used to produce such dramatic
Have learners try those techniques on their own pieces and
*Analyze* one of the other literary works provided with the
Illuminated Books and Manuscripts. Learners can research
the work on their own, then attach definitions and
contextual meanings, record their opinions, get other
people's *Opinions*. *Explore* the theme of the work, write
an essay about it, and connect it to the work to create a
new addition to the Illuminated Books and Manuscripts!
_Hamlet, Prince of Denmark_ is one of Shakespeare's best
known tragedies. It illustrates the reasons why he is
considered one of the world's greatest poets and plywrights.
Uncover the roots of the play, how it was originally
performed by the French in a different version than what we
are familiar. (sic)
Take a look at the actual play itself -- the main characters,
the events, the places. You can read a quick description of
them and of the entire play or maybe only about a particular
scene, without searching through the whole work. Or better
yet, see that scene performed for a clearer understanding of
the emotions being described.
Was Hamlet a hero ... for committing murder as revenge upon
his father's killer? Was he really insane? Or was he just
How many different versions of _Hamlet_ are available? Are
they all written in Elizabethan verse so thou has to seek
interpretation? Grasp the Shakespearean language by
immediately requesting definitions of Elizabethan terms.
See and hear how Shakespeare provides vivid, dramatic
descriptions to paint a picture of the characters. Apply
those techniques to your own writings and create your own
Explore the major themes presented in _Hamlet_: tragedy,
psychology, human existence. Examine psychological
identities, relationships, and the intensity of the tragedies
The Illuminated Books and Manuscripts is recommended for use with the
IBM Personal System/2 Model M57 SLC with 6 MB of memory and an 80 MB
hard disk drive. The following components are also required:
--IBM VGA Monitor or Large Screen Computer DIsplay
--IBM PS/2 Mouse
--IBM SCSI Internal CD-ROM Drive
--Pioneer LD-V8000 LaserDisc Player
--M-Audio Capture/Playback Adapter Card
--Matrox Illuminator-16/Micro Channel Video Card
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA 22807