The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0339  Monday, 15 July 2013


From:        Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         July 12, 2013 6:06:48 PM EDT

Subject:     Anti-Shakespearean


First, I “realize this discussion is about a term and not about the banned topic.” Second, I haven’t planned to read SBD or SBD?


Hardy Cook cites Edmondson and Wells:


> But to deny Shakespeare of Stratford’s connection

> to the work attributed to him is to deny the essence of,

> in part, what made that work possible. . . . Shakespeare

> was formed by both Stratford-upon-Avon and London.


Now I suppose Edmondson and Wells make no argument on the topic in their book and that here they are simply stating a belief. Otherwise, they beg the Question. The terms should be meant in part to avoid fallacious argument.


> The phrases ‘the Stratford man’, ‘actor from Stratford’

> and even ‘anti-Stratfordian’ perpetuate this kind of divide.

> These terms concede that it is possible to separate an artist

> from his or her background and cultural context.


Begging the question again, but the terms are not the best. Over time anti-Stratfordian has earned a spot in the lexicon. The others can be seen as disrespectful to the orthodox. Shakespeare of Stratford is better, or in unambiguous situations, Shakespeare.


Worrying over loaded terms is not too important if the scholarship is shooting blanks. My advice to Shakespearians, whoever they may be, is not merely to avoid the question-begging (assuming the very point at issue) while preparing to argue (elsewhere) the tabu topic; but to avoid exactly what Edmondson and Wells are trying to protect in this citation.


Presumption about Shakespeare’s “background and cultural context” is not good for textual scholarship. It engenders biographical & theatrical assumptions that don’t fit the evidence, which is distorted or ignored to please the preconceptions. Better to follow the evidence, setting aside as many such notions as possible. Textually, one is better a heathen.


Gerald E. Downs


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