The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0423 Wednesday, 3 November 2010
Date: Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Subject: Typo in My Own Anonymous Post
Sorry, folks. I just re-read my own post only to discover a SIGNIFICANT
typo. My post should have read as follows.
Dear Tom and Tony:
I am afraid that I did not express myself as clearly as I had wished.
My entire point was that scholarly evidence IS scholarly evidence. THE
reason that I cannot accept the anti-Strats is that they do not USE
scholarly evidence. Were they able to and were that evidence to prove
their case by standards of generally accepted scholarly evidence, then I
would have to accept. Would I not? The problem is that this evidence
does not exist because the truth is that William Shakespeare of
Stratford-upon-Avon DID INDEED write the works attributed to him.
What I am concerned with is establishing a procedure by which academics
and scholars can explain to the GENERAL PUBLIC how the Oxfordians, for
example, distort evidence, use what they considered evidence that would
not stand scholarly scrutiny, and outright lie or simply take their own
fantasies for reality.
How often are you each asked by non-academics when they learn that you
teach or otherwise study Shakespeare something to the effect of "I have
heard that Shakespeare really did NOT write the plays himself. What do
you think?" Well, this sort of encounter happens to me a lot -- In fact,
at lot more than I am even comfortable with. I usually respond something
along the lines of "There is absolutely nothing to that."
When the film Anonymous is released the number of people who will be
asking did he really do it (probably with a wink and a smile) will be
increased a thousand fold. It doesn't even matter that the Oxfordians
are upset about this film too -- that the screenplay is based on the
work of someone so extreme that even orthodox Oxfordians don't want to
have anything to do with his theories. Nevertheless, I am convinced that
with the release of this film my dismissal will not even be considered.
When I first started teaching film in the early 1970s, I went to a
screening of Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde" at a first run theater on North
Avenue in downtown Baltimore. At the conclusion of the film, after
witnessing the orchestrated, slow motion deaths of the Warren Beatty and
Faye Dunaway characters, a young African-American woman, probably in her
late teens or early twenties, got up from her seat in front of me, began
waving her fits at the screen, and yelled "AND THEY CALL THAT JUSTICE."
As I thought about what I had witnessed, it was obvious to me
1. that this young woman had, on a deep level, believed that she had
just seen something which had reproduced the HISTORICAL REALITY of the
deaths of Bonnie and Clyde,
2. that she had accepted what she saw on the screen to BE reality,
3. that she was talking as if what she had seen in the fictionalized,
cinematic version of a couple of ugly and trashy bank robbers was truth
4. that she felt on a gut level that Bonnie and Clyde were beautiful and
were ambushed and mercilessly slaughtered in a slow motion volley of
machine gun fire which had been recreated on the cinema screen.
I know the power of cinema and I know that once Anonymous is released
that academic Shakespearean will not be able to simply dismiss the
claims of disbelievers. I want to be prepared.
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