The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0390  Thursday, 4 May 2006

From: 		Steve Roth <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Wednesday, 3 May 2006 12:10:21 -0700
Subject: 	Citing Sources and Scholarly Discussion

My two cents on Hardy's hobby horse:

I agree with him 1000%, am often frustrated by the unscholarly prattling 
on this list. (Short bits of it are often amusing and interesting; long 
threads, not.) I can skim by/through/over it, of course; unfortunately 
Hardy can't.

In an attempt to define "unscholarly prattling," how about this: posts 
that are just the posters' opinions, completely or mostly lacking 
references to the other scholarly discussion.

IOW, "IMHO" should not qualify a post (in the poster's mind) for posting 
to the list. (Unless it is Peter Holland's HO, Anne Thompson's, Stanley 
Wells's, or the like.)

An example is the lengthy 2003 non-discussion of James Hirsh's Soliloquy 
book that I mentioned in a post yesterday. Beginning here:


None of the posters (except the initiator, and moi) seems to have read 
the book. It devolved into YAHD (yet another Hamlet debate).

By contrast, view the thread on Lukas Erne's Shakespeare as Literary 
Dramatist from the same year, starting here:


Most of the posters had read the book in detail, and discussed it in a 
scholarly manner--including references to, citations of, and quotations 
from related scholarly publications. (There is the occasional diversion 
beginning with lines like "I have Erne's book on order. So I don't know 
his arguments, ...")

(Excuse me if I'm citing examples in which I was an active 
poster--they're ones that come to mind quickly.)

So a key criterion for riding Hardy's horse, IMHO, would be 
participating in the larger scholarly conversation that has been ongoing 
about Shakespeare for some centuries, by referring to specific pieces of 
that conversation, with citations.

Learned quotations from/references to/discussions of obscure primary 
sources, of course, are deliriously welcome as well; they sometimes 
constitute original scholarly research in their own right, worthy of 
publication. See for instance Marti Markus's incredible post on 
Elizabeth rules for chess, from 2001:


The expectation described here may sound "elitist"--an unspoken and 
(IMHO) happily accurate accusation I seem to hear among posters 
uncomfortable with Hardy's smaller saddle. ("Everyone's ideas are 
equally valid," right?) But it's an opinion coming from an amateur and 
outsider (moi again) who has been pleased to find Shakespearian academe 
to be an imperfect but remarkably welcoming meritocracy--as long as you 
do your homework. (Right Dave?)


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