The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0001  Friday, 1 January 1999.

From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, January 1, 1999
Subject:        New Year's Greetings

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

Best wishes for the season and Happy New Year. As you will note above,
today marks the beginning of the tenth year of SHAKSPER discussions.
Today, January 1, 1999, there are 1425 SHAKSPEReans, from Argentina,
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus,
Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Guam, Hungary,
India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Malaysia, Mexico,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Saudi
Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey,
United Arab Emirates, and the United States. If you would like a list of
the members, send the command GET SHAKSPER MEMBERS to
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I decided to celebrate the occasion by going into the SHAKSPER archives
and pulling a few of the New Year's Greetings from the past.  What
follows will be an extremely long post, so please feel free to hit the
delete key at any time.  I have done only a minimum of editing to these

I begin with SHK 1.0001, Ken Steele's first message to SHAKSPER, dated
Thursday, July 26, 1990.  This is followed by SHK 5.0001 a greeting from
me from Saturday, January 1, 1994. Next is 7.0001, the first SHAKSPER
mailing from Bowie State University after the list was migrated from the
University of Toronto (Thursday, January 4, 1996).  Finally, I have
included SHK 8.0001 of Thursday, January 2, 1997, the posting in which I
explain a bit about what I do to edit SHAKSPER and request information
for my 1997 SAA paper, "The Politics of an Academic Discussion Group."
If you have not had enough and would like to read this paper, send the
command GET SAA1997 SHAKSPER to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Again, best wishes for the new year,

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 1, No. 1. Thursday, 26 Jul 1990.

Date:         Thu, 26 Jul 90 15:05:52 EDT
From:         Ken Steele <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Subject:      Initial Message

Dear Fellow SHAKSPEReans;

       Welcome at long last to the Shakespeare Electronic
Conference, SHAKSPER!

       This mailing is Volume 1, Number 1, the official
beginning of what will rapidly become a large and
geographically-widespread electronic community.  Direct
recipients of this message will have already received some of
the test messages from Volume 0, either directly or in the
original logbook.  (The Volume 0 logbook has now been purged
from the SHAKSPER Fileserver -- I will keep a single copy as
a memento.)

       Many of you may have already realized that SHAKSPER
owes its initial conception to HUMANIST, the Humanities
Computing discussion group founded by Willard McCarty several
years ago at the University of Toronto.  If SHAKSPER succeeds
it will be largely due to the model established by HUMANIST,
and to the considerable assistance generously offered me by
Willard himself.

       This welcome is "at long last" from my perspective,
although perhaps not from your own.  SHAKSPER's gestation has
lasted more than a year, from the first twinkle in my eye, to
the proposal made to the Executive of the Shakespeare
Association of America at the 1990 Annual Meeting in
Philadelphia this spring, to the nuts-and-bolts decisions and
configurations made this month on Listserv.  (Note that the
SAA's official decision regarding the extent of its
endorsement of and/or participation in SHAKSPER will not be
made until the 1991 SAA conference in Vancouver.)

       My limited firsthand experience of childbirth leads me
to fear that I might be stretching the analogy somewhat, but
I do indeed feel as though I have been in labour for the past
twenty-four hours: since the public announcement of SHAKSPER
yesterday, subscription requests have been flooding in and I
have barely been able to keep up with the automatic and not-
so-automatic mailings therefore required.  Already the
considerable benefits of a moderated list are apparent: you
would all have received dozens of misdirected subscription
requests otherwise.

       Although official SHAKSPEReans currently number fewer
than twenty, rest assured that this is only the tip of the
proverbial iceberg: thirty Shakespeareans expressed strong
interest in SHAKSPER via private correspondence long before
the public announcement was made, and another thirty-two
subscription requests have arrived today.  The dozen names in
the membership list reflect only the few who have now
submitted their autobiographies and have been given full
membership privileges.  (Incidentally, please inform me if
any errors have been inadvertently introduced into your

       Self-evidently a mid-summer start date entails certain
disadvantages: many potential members are absent from their
e-mail accounts for research and leisure, and announcements
may fail to reach others as well.  (The travel plans of the
editor add yet another layer of complication...).
Nonetheless, a Bitnet discussion group on Shakespeare is long
overdue, and once Steve Younker completed the delicate
configuration of SHAKSPER, I could wait no longer.  A
chimerical Shakespeare conference, appearing on ListServ
indexes worldwide but remaining inactive, would destroy
whatever momentum the project had already achieved.

       As SHAKSPER continues to grow and evolve, it will
doubtless continue to attract new members from the e-mail
community.  I hope that the resources and opportunities for
discussion SHAKSPER offers will also be attractive to
Shakespeareans who are currently reluctant to try e-mail.
I am trying to infect others with my enthusiasm for e-mail
and for this Conference, and I hope you will all find
something here to recommend as well.

       Your notes, queries, announcements, comments, reviews,
or questions are welcome.


                                  Ken Steele
                                  Editor, SHAKSPER
                                  University of Toronto

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0001.  January, 1, 1994.

From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, January 1, 1994
Subject:        New Year's Greetings

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

I wish you all the best for this New Year.  Much has happened on this
conference in 1993, and we have much to look forward to in 1994.

SHAKSPER was founded on July 16, 1990, by Ken Steele and a group of
thirteen or so interested Shakespeareans (including myself), many of
whom had met at the 1990 Annual Meeting of the Shakespeare Association
of America in Philadelphia.  I became SHAKSPER's coeditor in February
1992 and editor in June of 1992.  Despite the July founding date, our
year begins with January 1, so we are now entering our fifth year as the
above header indicates.

One of the things that has happened to SHAKSPER this past year is that
it has grown. We currently have 462 members from Australia, Brazil,
Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan,
Korea, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Canada and the
United States.  The SHAKSPER FileServer contains a file-SHAKSPER
MEMBERS-that lists all of SHAKSPER's member in alphabetical order by
node.  I will send in a moment that file out to all our members.  It is
essentially a directory of the membership and can be used to search for
the e-mail address of any of SHAKSPER's members.  If you are interested
in learning more about our members, you can examine the Biography files.
If you would like to get copies of all the SHAKSPER Member Biographies,
you should send a one-line mail message (without a subject line) to
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., reading "GET BIOGRAFY PACKAGE SHAKSPER."

The second major SHAKSPERean happening of 1993 was the quality and the
amount of the discussions.  In 1993, there were 978 digests, and these
digests generally contained contributions of many members.  To give you
an idea of how much was discussed this year, here are the numbers for
our past three years: in 1990, there were 142 digests; in 1991, 336; in
1992, 407.  Something is clearly happening here.  The FileSever also
contains files recounting our past discussions.  Yesterday, I brought
the 1994 Index up-to-date.  If you would be interested in obtaining a
copy, send a one-line mail message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., reading

I have been delighted with SHAKSPER in 1993, and I look with great
anticipation to our discussions of 1994.  I know full well that it is
the membership that makes SHAKSPER the interesting community it is.
Currently, we are Shakespearean textual scholars and bibliographers,
editors and critics, but we are also professors and high school
teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, actors, poets,
playwrights, theatre professionals, librarians, computer scientists, and
interested bystanders. This variety is essential to the success of this

Again, best wishes for the New Year to you all.

Hardy M. Cook
Editor of SHAKSPER

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0001.  Thursday, 4
January 1996.

From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, January 4, 1996
Subject:        SHAKSPER Is Back: Bowie State Welcomes the Members of

Dear SHAKSPEReans:

SHAKSPER's move from the University of Toronto to Bowie State is now
partially complete. Needless to say, we discovered more problems than we
had expected before the Christmas break; after that the University was
virtually closed until after New Year's; after that we discovered we had
made several mistakes; and thus the long interruption in service.
However, most appears well now.

As a reminder, the new list address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., while
LISTSERV is now This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Please make note of both
these addresses.

The basic procedures remain the same.  Mail your submissions either to
the list address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or directly to me
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., but please give me a few days to catch up.
Remember, SHAKSPER is moderated, so all submission come to me before I
edit them into digests and send them out to you.

As it turns out, LISTSERV works quite differently on UNIX than it does
under VM.  As a result, I am in the process of completely redoing the
Filelist.  This means that many LISTSERV command will not work at the
present and as I just found out some command, such as the DATABASE
FUNCTION, will not work at all.  It's going to take some time for me to
work through the backup of submissions, get the fileserver set up, re-do
most of the explanatory files, learn about UNIX, and somehow get my ISA
preparation together.  Please bear with me.

I would, however, like to express my deepest appreciation to Steve
Younker, the LISTSERV Maintainer at the University of Toronto and to the
University of Toronto for hosting SHAKSPER since its birth in July 1990
and for assisting me when I took over as SHAKSPER's editor.  Thanks,

I would also like to thank Jerry Rossignuolo, the System Administrator
at Bowie State University's Computer Science Department.  Jerry
undertook the technical end of the move down here; no small task
indeed.  Thanks, Jerry.  He and I will be maintaining LISTSERV and
SHAKSPER at Bowie State, and we have many plans for placing the past
years logs on our gopher server and setting up a SHAKSPER WWW site.


Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0001.  Thursday, 2 January

From:           Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, January 2, 1997
Subject:        New Year's Greetings and More

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

I would like to offer my best wishes to all of you for a healthy and
prosperous New Year and ask for your indulgence in a very long posting
of my own.

SHAKSPER was founded on July 16, 1990, by Ken Steele and a group of
thirteen or so interested Shakespeareans (including myself), many of
whom had met at the 1990 Annual Meeting of the Shakespeare Association
of America in Philadelphia.  I became SHAKSPER's co-editor in February
1992 and editor in June of 1992.  Despite the July founding date, our
digest numbers follow the calendar year, so we are now entering our
eighth year with approximately 1,250 members from thirty-one countries.

If you will allow me a few moments, I would like to describe my work in
bringing SHAKSPER to you and then to ask for your assistance on my
upcoming Shakespeare Association of America seminar paper.

I am currently a Professor of English and Interim Chair of the
Department of English and Modern Languages at Bowie State University.
Founded in 1865, Bowie State, an historically black institution, is a
member of the University of Maryland System.  It is a regional
comprehensive university of more than 5,000 students, offering 20
undergraduate majors and 13 graduate programs with a graduate program in
English that is under girded by Humanities Computing in its final stages
of approval.  Faculty at UMS regional comprehensives have a four course
per semester teaching load; chairs have a fifty percent reduction.  So I
currently teach two courses per semester, chair the largest department
in the School of Arts and Sciences, continue to prepare my edition of
Shakespeare's *Poems* for the Internet Shakespeare Editions, produce
four Table of Contents columns and the Summer Festivals List for *The
Shakespeare Newsletter*, serve on a number of boards, and spend
approximately one hour a day working on SHAKSPER.  I also DO have a
family, which includes my wife and teenage and three-year-old daughters.

Most of my work for SHAKSPER involves preparing the digests, into which
I group related messages.  Each digest has a header and a table of
contents.  The table of contents includes the name and e-mail address of
the person making the submission, the date of the submission, and the
subject of the submission.  I also lightly edit the submissions
principally to keep a consistent look and feel.  This light editing
includes occasionally correcting typos, deleting emoticons and
Internet-speak abbreviations, reducing signatures to the barest
essentials, and so on.

Many SHAKSPER files require regular updating: some daily, some weekly,
some monthly, and other when needed.  This updating of files is just one
of the tasks of maintaining the SHAKSPER file server.

SHAKSPER is not open to automatic subscription and prospective members
are requested to supply brief autobiographies of themselves. Thus,
another part of my work for SHAKSPER includes adding and deleting
members and maintaining the biography and membership files.  I also
respond to personal inquires and attend to technical problems associated
with running a listserv.

One might reasonable ask why I spend so much time on these tasks.  The
easy answer is that I normally enjoy what I do; however, there is also
the issue that the work is important to me because I have such low
tolerance for unmoderated discussion groups and I am concerned with the
product itself.

My moderation brings to the membership organized digests with a
consistent format, yet approximately once a year someone complains of
the quality of some of the submissions. One such complaint arrived a few
weeks ago and I will post it as the next digest of this year, but I want
to add that naive questions from non-academics have provoked some of our
most memorable threads.  This meta-issue about the nature of the
Conference poses a dilemma for me - the works of Shakespeare are
appealing in ways that perhaps no other body of literature is. Thus, as
much as I want SHAKSPER to be an exclusively academic list, many
non-academics compose its membership. One way that I responded to my
dilemma was to announce on Friday, April 26, 1996, my intention of
forming a SHAKSPER Advisory Board (SHK 7.0320).  At that time, I wrote
the following:

>I have been slow in making any changes in the manner in which SHAKSPER
>operates, but circumstances are such that I now feel a change is in order.

>I have encouraged diversity and inclusiveness; nevertheless, SHAKSPER was
>founded as an "academic" conference and I still view it as such. Our current
>membership of 1250 includes many Shakespearean textual scholars and
>bibliographers, editors and critics, but it also includes professors and high
>school teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, actors, poets,
>playwrights, theatre professionals, librarians, computer scientists, and
>interested bystanders. The variety of SHAKSPEReans has led to wide-ranging
>discussion, but many have lamented the recent infrequency of the engaging
>scholarly exchange that SHAKSPER was intended to cultivate.

>I want SHAKSPER principally to be a forum for serious academic discussion
>(especially since electronic alternatives exist) and to that end I intend to
>establish a SHAKSPER Advisory Board.  This board will be composed of from four
>to six Shakespearean scholars from within its membership.

>The purpose of the SHAKSPER Advisory Board will be to advise the editor

>       1)  On matters of policy affecting the entire conference,
>       2)  On resolving complaints, and
>       3)  On determining the appropriateness of certain posting.

>A LISTSERV discussion group of its nature is different from a journal
>(electronic or traditional) and peer-reviewed posting is not possible or
>desirable; however, I do need advice from peers regarding issues that affect
>the conference and particular posting that are questionable.

On Tuesday, May 14, 1996, I announced the membership of the Board:
Michael Best, Thomas Bishop, Edna Boris, Ralph Alan Cohen, Kurt Daw, Roy
Flannagan, Phyllis Gorfain, Terence Hawkes, Dale Lyles, Cary Mazer,
Michael Mullin, David Schalkwyk, and Raymond G. Siemens (SHK 7.0370). I
have consulted with the Board on a number of occasions and have found
the advise of the members extremely useful.

What I would like to do now is to use the meta-issue - what is SHAKSPER
for? - as an opportunity to gather information for my upcoming SAA
seminar paper.  I will be a participant this year in the "Politics of
Electronic Texts" seminar. My abstract for my intended paper follows:

>"The Politics of an Academic Discussion Group"

>As the owner/editor/moderator of SHAKSPER: The Global Electronic
>Shakespeare Conference, I am interesting in exploring some issues I have
>faced in the past few years in my labors with SHAKSPER and their larger
>implications. SHAKSPER is not open to automatic subscription, but I
>generally do not turn requests for membership down.  SHAKSPER is
>moderated, but there are only a few topics that I have ruled off limits.
>SHAKSPER digests are formatted and lightly edited, but I often wonder if
>there are limits I should put on myself - in other words, is any editing an
>intrusion on the medium itself.  These and other issues are all related to
>the larger issue I wish to explore: what academic currency does a
>listserv such as SHAKSPER have - what place do the conversations in
>an informal medium like a listserv have in the greater academic world?

In terms of "academic currency," I know that many have used SHAKSPER
discussions in teaching, in planning performances, and in scholarly
papers.  At last year's World Congress, the session on Characters was in
some part inspired by SHAKSPER discussions and our discussions have also
led many of us to recognize our critical diversity, especially our
differing cross-Atlantic orientations.  However, I would like to learn
more by posing four questions and encouraging members to respond either
through the list or personally to me (if you wish your response to be
personal, please indicate so).

What part if any has SHAKSPER had in any of your scholarly publications?
What part if any has SHAKSPER had in your teaching?
What part if any has SHAKSPER had in other areas of your professional
What other parts has SHAKSPER played?

I am genuinely not interested in "fan" mail, but I would like to hear
from members and use those responses in preparing my paper for the SAA.

Thanks so much for putting up with such a long post, and once again
Happy New Year.


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