The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.082  Saturday, 3 March 2012


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Saturday, March 3, 2012

Subject:     Every Third Thought


Dear SHAKSPER Subscribers,


The dearth of traffic on SHAKSPER since the New Year concerns me. There were times a decade or so ago when I tired of the pet theories, the sometimes incessant carping, and the level of discourse on SHAKSPER. The hours it often took me to edit and format the submissions into digests simply wore me down then. I have, however, had during the past year a return of my energy levels, and I now deeply lament not having daily posts to prepare and distribute to the members. To encourage discussion, I have even attempted to “prime the pump”—to invite comments or provoke discussion as a way to initiate threads—only to have sparks of activity between days and days of quiet.


I have written on several occasions about key moments in SHAKSPER’s history when meta-discussions of the list’s purpose appeared and were debated. I think I would like to start one of these what-is-this-list-for threads myself. 


I did not give birth to SHAKSPER, but I have acted as stepparent to it for the past 21 years. And now both SHAKSPER and I are beginning to show our age. If one were to equate as is done with dogs, for example, one calendar year as being seven years of an Internet list’s life, then SHAKSPER is indeed an old phenomenon. The next questions then would be does it have a future and if so what is that future to be. 


SHAKSPER has from its inception been an edited/moderated conference and will remain so as long as I am its editor. But still one might ask nevertheless should I step down as editor/moderator of discussions and let SHAKSPER become primarily a venue for announcements? 


During the past year, SHAKSPER got an up-to-date web remake. Should SHAKSPER become primarily a web presence, an archive of past discussions and research materials at the site, without the distribution of digests to subscribers?


In recent years, I have initiated new features on SHAKSPER. These include the scholarly materials at the web site, the Roundtable discussions, the SBReviews (SHAKSPER Book Review Project), and so on. I have someone interested in moderating what would be the third SHAKSPER Roundtable. Should SHAKSPER become an occasional site for subscribers to receive Roundtable discussions and Book Reviews?


My meta-purpose in recent years has been to return SHAKSPER more towards its original purpose of serving the academic interests of the Shakespeare community. Now, I sometimes ask myself if in doing so have I strangled the vitality out of the list?


To all of the questions posed above at least two more remain:


1) Should I be planning a future for SHAKSPER without Hardy and what would that future be? 


2) How might SHAKSPER become more active and vital than it currently is?


I appreciate and value all of the support both SHAKSPER and I have received over the years and thank all who have contributed to SHAKSPER in so many different ways.


Best wishes,



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