Becoming SHAKSPER’s Associate Editor

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.199  Tuesday, 4 July 2017


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

Date:         Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Subject:     Becoming SHAKSPER’s Associate Editor


Dear Subscribers,


Since I have been taking regular trips to England, there have been several interruptions in SHAKSPER service. During these interruptions, discussion wanes. Because I am now considering participating in a three-year Dharma Teacher Training Program offered by Bodhi College, my regular trips to England might possibly continue. As a result, I am beginning a search for an Associate Editor who I can train to take over from me when I am away. The thirtieth anniversary of SHAKSPER is approaching, and I have given thought to handing over the list to a worthy successor. The problem is that SHAKSPER is like my third daughter and giving her up feels as if I am putting a cherished child up for adoption.


If you might be interested in such a position, please read the information below so that you know what you would be getting into and then send me CV and essay about why you believe you have the interest and qualifications to edit SHAKSPER during my absences.





I sometime feel that editing and moderating SHAKSPER requires the patience of Job, the judgment of Solomon, a personality that tends toward having OCD, skin thick as steel (preferably Teflon-coated), and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. SHAKSPER was founded as an “academic” conference, and I still view it as such


On May 14, 1987, Willard McCarty then of the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at the University of Toronto founded HUMANIST as “a Bitnet/NetNorth electronic mail network for people who support computing in the humanities.” HUMANIST was the prototype for all academic e-mail distribution lists. Kenneth Steele, then a graduate student at the University of Toronto, inspired by HUMANIST, decided to found a similar list dedicated to Shakespeare. The name he chose was SHAKSPER; at the time, for technical reasons, list names could be no longer than eight characters. On July 26, 1990, Steele’s dream became reality.


I met Ken Steele at the 1990 Shakespeare Association of America annual meeting in Philadelphia. We were both members of a seminar on computing approaches to Shakespeare. He told me about his plans for the Shakespeare Conference, and I expressed my interest. About a dozen Shakespeareans including myself formed the core of founding members. On February 21, 1992, I became SHAKSPER’s co-editor, at first being responsible for the file server. On March 25, I took over the editing of the daily submissions into the digests. On June 3, Ken decided to take a leave of absence from his graduate studies, and I became SHAKSPER’s owner, editor, and moderator. At that time, the 293 members were virtually all from academia. As of July 4, 2017, about a thousand subscribers receive SHAKSPER Newsletters (a digest of e-mails discussion threads and announcements, edited into a single newsletter that is then e-mailed to subscribers). In addition, the SHAKSPER Facebook page has almost 890 followers. On the Facebook page, I post a table of contents to the Newsletter’s digests with links to the individual discussion threads, announcements, and so on.


SHAKSPER is an edited and moderated e-mail discussion list. Most of my work for it involves preparing the daily newsletters, into which I group related messages into threads. Several times a day, I check the inbox of This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., the account to which all SHAKSPER submissions are routed. I delete spam and other irrelevant messages. I respond to inquiries from members and non-members as appropriate. I do not answer questions from students requesting I do their homework assignments for them, although on occasion I direct some to an Internet or library resource that might assist them. I do not post messages directed to individuals and not of interest to the conference. Furthermore, I can intervene when an inadvertently mistaken forward or personal response comes to the list rather than to the person to whom it was intended, avoiding both the sometimes-embarrassing mistake and the inevitable apology for it. I also can “kill” messages that someone may write and afterwards have second thoughts about posting. Finally, inappropriate topics, such as the so-called “Authorship” controversy that has been banned from discussion since the mid-1990s, are returned to the submitter without comment. 


When I come across a message intended for the list, I save that e-mail as a rich-text file in a folder on my hard drive. I assign each of these e-mails a short name and number identifying it as belonging to an on-going thread or as being a new inquiry, announcement, or other communication for SHAKSPER. Once a day, usually in the morning, I edit and format the messages into a newsletter. Each newsletter has a header and a table of contents for ease in reading and citing. The table of contents includes the name and e-mail address of each person making a posting, the date of the submission, and the subject. I format these digests in Word, using macros I have created to manage repetitive tasks. My formatting involves imposing a consistent “look and feel” to the newsletters – all paragraphs are single-spaced and flush with the left margin. I remove unnecessary carriage returns so that each paragraph will word wrap in any browser-mailer used to read it. Paragraphs are separated by a single blank line. I also lightly edit, correcting obvious typos, reducing signatures to the barest essentials, and generally making the digests conform to a recognizable style, the full block format, I have imposed on them over the years. After I have finished formatting and editing individual “articles,” I use the Joomla platform to save and then to format them into a newsletter that I e-mail to all members on the list. In addition to these “articles,” digests, and newsletters, many SHAKSPER pages require regular updating: some daily, some weekly, some monthly, and others as needed. This updating of pages is just one of the tasks of maintaining the SHAKSPER web site, work that I have been trying to “farm” out in recent years. SHAKSPER is not open to automatic subscription; prospective members are requested to supply brief autobiographies. Thus, another part of my work for SHAKSPER includes adding and deleting members and maintaining the biography and membership files for my own use. Technical problems associated with running a list are handled by Ron Severdia, who hosts SHAKSPER and who moved SHAKSPER from the Listserv platform to Joomla. 




If you have read this far you may be interested in being considered for the positions of SHAKSPER’s Associate Editor. Again, I am requesting a CV and an essay expressing your interest and qualifications. Keep in mind that I have been a Department Chair and have read thousands of CV and cover letters.


SHAKSPER has made my professional reputation, and being SHAKSPER’s Associate Editor would be an appropriate place for a young assistant or tenure-track professor to make her mark.


Thank you for your time and consideration.



Hardy M. Cook, Ph.D.  

Professor Emeritus 

Bowie State University 

Editor of SHAKSPER: The Global Electronic Shakespeare Conference <>   

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



PS: I recently learned that I have been selected to be a recipient of the 2018 Who’s Who “Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award.” The 2017 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award recipients include Lynda Carter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Tim Cook, Colin Powell, and other academics and professionals. I will be included on the 2018 Lifetime Achievement web site and in the 2018 Who’s Who in America with a page of my own.



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