Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 1003.  Monday, 12 December 1994.
(1)     From:   Douglas M Lanier <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 11 Dec 1994 14:48:01 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Shakespeare as multimedia
(2)     From:   Michael E. Cohen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 11 Dec 1994 12:47:02 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0998 Shakespeare as Multimedia [R]
(3)     From:   Benjamin A Ostrowsky <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 11 Dec 1994 16:43:30 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0998 Re: Shakespeare and Media
From:           Douglas M Lanier <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 11 Dec 1994 14:48:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Shakespeare as multimedia
I've not had that much experience with Shakespeare as multimedia, but I do see
various ways in which this new technology might be useful, especially to
teachers.  First is the issue of convenience:  using videotapes in class can be
a logistical nightmare, particularly if you are showing several different clips
to classes for comparison;  CD-ROM technology might easily collect several
performances on a disk, and make showing such clips much simpler.  The same is
true of images and supplementary visual material many of us use in our
classrooms--to have those images collected in one place and to be able easily
to show them to students would be a godsend.  Even audio passages collected in
one place would be helpful.  I can't tell you how many valuable minutes of
class time I've lost (along with the attention of my students) as I've fumbled
with tapes or struggled with the primitive search capacities of VCRs.  (There's
also an issue of the deterioration of video and audio tape, something CD-ROMs
are not as susceptible to.)
A second issue is flexibility.  With videotape, you usually must plan ahead to
show a passage or passages, and the class discussion must rather inflexibly
focus on those passages because it's just too time-consuming to find a second
passage you hadn't counted on coming up in conversation.  The CD-ROM's search
capabilities make finding such a passage much simpler and faster, and thus
potentially allow for a more open-ended discussion of video in class.  The same
is all the more true for images.  Now, I must bring into my class all the
pictures I anticipate being relevant to the discussion, and I often find myself
trying to describe one I've forgotten or couldn't have anticipated.  With a
CD-ROM, I would have a much larger (and richer) group of images to call upon
during discussions, and the logistics of getting and storing them is vastly
simplified.  (The same is true of musical excerpts or audio performances.)  The
CD-ROM might allow me to become a more flexible teacher, allow me to conduct
classes as open-ended discussions rather than lectures structured by the
demands of the present technology.  It means, potentially, that I can be more
attentive to the non-textual aspects of Shakespearean drama.  (And I'm not
advocating here that we not spend much of our time on the text.)
There's also a economic and political aspect here.  At many smaller schools,
video, audio, and image resources are severely limited.  (I speak as one who
has taught at such schools.)  CD-ROM technology is relatively cheap:  the
CD-ROMs themselves are actually much cheaper to produce than videotapes (at
least so I'm told by my colleagues working on these matters), and the machines
to play them are dropping in price precipitously.  Potentially this technology
might help smaller libraries and programs offer access to materials usually
restricted to larger universities.  Sure, they aren't "primary" materials in
the strictest sense, but they might become the most economic alternative for a
smaller school.
I use the word "potentially" throughout the above discussion for good reason.
The promise of CD-ROM technology has not been borne out in most recent
products, though a few CD-ROMs show some of the possibilities.  And the price
is still too high, the technology too new (how many of us were stuck with
Sony-BETAs?), the range of products too paltry for most of us to use daily.
(No small part of the problem is copyright, based largely still on the
assumptions of print culture.)  But the potential is there, particularly with
the advent of write-able (is this a word?) CD-ROMs, which may make us all into
potential multimedia authors.  There's much hype about CD-ROM, and one is right
in being skeptical, but it's not all hype.
I should quickly add that I have no connection with any CD-ROM authoring
enterprise;  I've just been intrigued by the possibilities of what I've seen.
One that points the way to a possible future is the CD-ROM *The Anglo-Saxons*,
which might be useful for a variety of undergraduate courses in early Britlit.
(I have no link to the publisher or authors of this work.)
Sorry for the length.  Cheers,  Douglas Lanier
From:           Michael E. Cohen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 11 Dec 1994 12:47:02 -0800
Subject: 5.0998 Shakespeare as Multimedia [R]
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0998 Shakespeare as Multimedia [R]
In SHK 5.0998, Jung Jimmy asked
>I am beginning to wonder what value the multimedia depiction of the plays
>provides.  What in particular would a teacher, (or anyone I suppose) derive
>from some of the multimedia versions? [. . . I]t seems like multimedia
>versions only provide a "slicker" presentation of the material. What do
>multimedia, or what should multimedia presentations do that actually
>enhance the education process?
I am not being flip when I pose the following rhetorical question: What value
do the print depictions of the plays provide? After all, the plays are plays;
what value does printing the (putative) scripts of the plays on paper provide?
In fact, I would suspect the value varies depending on a variety of factors:
who is purchasing the book, who prepared the book, and what is IN the book are
just a few of those factors. Some people are quite happy to have no Shakespeare
volumes in their homes, some are happy with a $3.00 Globe reprint, some will
see no value in anything less than a Riverside edition, or New Cambridge, or
First Folio facsimile, or [fill in your favorite].
As for multimedia versions, it depends, just as with paper books, on the
version and the purchaser. "Multimedia" itself is as vague a term as "book":
the forms it can take, and the quality (itself a relative property) of such
productions can vary widely.
J. Jimmy, your question, therefore, cannot really be answered in its present
form; it is a little too broad. I can tell you about the multimedia Shakespeare
publication I produced (the Voyager Macbeth CD), and talk about some of its
value as I perceive it.
To begin, it includes the complete text and apparatus of a respected scholarly
edition as its basis, so it has whatever value such material has in paper form.
Because the text is stored in digital form, however, the multimedia edition can
provide the extra value of allowing the reader to navigate much more quickly
through the material, making such print conventions as "see below" and "cf.
5.2.17n" actual links (click and go there), rather than mere references. Is
speed and ease of use value or "slickness"; when does a quantitative change
become a qualitative one? You must decide that for yourself.
The multimedia interface I helped design and program provides for a
multi-layered presentation--on paper, notes that "translate" Jacobean language
into modern English (useful to the first-time reader) must share page space
with detailed discussions of staging, sources, analogues, etymology, and so on,
making a paper edition that includes such material rather forbidding to the
beginning student. The multimedia edition separates such notes out; scholars
can choose to read with the full range of notes available, while first-timers
can read the play with the more technical notes "filtered" out and still choose
to go deeper any time they like. Is such a multi-layered presentation strategy
valuable or mere "slickness"? I think it is valuable, but, again, it depends on
the individual reader.
Multimedia editions can include performances as well as texts. Readers of the
CD I produced, for example, can compare how the RSC under Trevor Nunn performed
Macbeth 5.1 with how Polanski filmed it. Is this valuable? I think so; others
may disagree, or they may agree with the concept of performance illustrations
but disagree with the performances Braunmuller, Rodes, and I chose to include.
Multimedia editions can link performances to the text; there is a difference
between watching a video with a book open in front of you and trying to keep
the performance and your place in the text synchronized (especially with
something like Welles' adaptation as the performance), and having the "pages"
of a multimedia edition turn in time with the performance. There is also a
difference between using the search buttons on a VCR or laserdisc player to get
to a particular place in the performance and simply clicking on the line that
you want to hear or see. Are these conveniences slickness or value?--I think
they are both, but, again, your mileage may vary.
Finally, I think in your question you are really asking several questions:
(1) Is multimedia useful as a method of presenting Shakespeare's works?
(2) Are current multimedia Shakespeare publications any good?
(3) Are there guidelines for producing "valuable" multimedia Shakespeare
I can answer (1) with "yes"; (2) with "some are, some aren't"; and (3) with
"yes--but the guidelines I follow may not be to your taste or address your
Sorry to natter on...I'm going back to lurk now.
From:           Benjamin A Ostrowsky <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 11 Dec 1994 16:43:30 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 5.0998 Re: Shakespeare and Media
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0998 Re: Shakespeare and Media
Jimmy Jung asked:
> What in particular would a teacher, (or anyone I suppose) derive from some
> of the multimedia versions[?] I know I am phrasing this poorly, but it
> seems like multimedia versions only provide a "slicker" presentation of the
> material.  What do multimedia, or what should multimedia presentations do
> that actually enhance the education process?
As an undergrad in an English Renaissance Drama course, I read a play per week.
 My greatest difficulty in becoming familiar with the work has been the
multitude of characters and names -- so, for a final project, I have webbed up
Jonson's _Epicoene_.  It's hardly ready for use as a study tool, but you may
see the usefulness of linking each character's name to his home page.  Be
gentle in your criticism, please.  You may find the project at
"http://www.ucet.ufl.edu/~bostrows/project.html".  When I have spare time, I'll
flesh it out -- for now, enjoy the skeleton.

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