Performance and Symposium: Marston's THE DUTCH COURTESAN in Toronto

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 30.088  Tuesday, 5 March 2019

 

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

Date:         March 4, 2019 at 5:18:22 PM EST

Subject:    Performance and Symposium: Marston's THE DUTCH COURTESAN in Toronto

 

Please pre-register for theatre tickets March 21-24 (RSA members at the Toronto meeting can purchase for 19 March) and for the conference, by going to the website for the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto, one of the hosts for RSA:

 

https://www.cdtps.utoronto.ca/events/production-marstons-dutch-courtesan.

 

Dr H M Ostovich  <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Founding Editor, Early Theatre <http://earlytheatre.org/>

Professor Emerita, English and Cultural Studies

McMaster University

 

 

The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 30.087  Sunday, 3 March 2019

 

[1] From:        Thomas Merriam <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         March 2, 2019 at 7:01:11 AM EST

     Subj:         The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS 

 

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

     Date:         March 2, 2019 at 6:28:03 PM EST

     Subj:         Re: NOS 

 

[3] From:        Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         March 3, 2019 at 7:32:07 AM EST

     Subj:         Re: SHAKSPER: NOS 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Thomas Van Ness Merriam <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         March 2, 2019 at 7:01:11 AM EST

Subject:    The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS

 

With regard to Gabriel Egan’s citing of play length as evidence that reducing the number of Shakespeare plays increases their evidential definition, it must be said that play length is not an independent random variable belonging to a real or hypothetical statistical population. The central limit theorem does not apply to play lengths. 

 

Relative frequencies of function words are random variables and do provide evidence of authorship provided the evidence is taken from valid samples of single populations, unadulterated by more than one author.

 

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         March 2, 2019 at 6:28:03 PM EST

Subject:    Re: NOS

 

Modern stylometric studies of Shakespeare’s plays should carefully account for textual contamination. Unfortunately, non-specialists may rely on Shakespeareans who steer them wrong. I’ll examine the NOS-backed (and backing) 2016 WAN articles, “Stylometric Analysis” and “Attributing Authorship” (for short, SA & AA for shorter), by Gabriel Egan and others—In hopes of showing what I mean. Textual examples may be interesting in other respects.

 

[Shakespeare] is the undisputed sole author of 28 plays . . . . [For] faithful representations of authors’ styles, we remove artifacts introduced by modern transcriptions by using the earliest editions available of each text . . . with the exception of Shakespeare’s First Quarto editions. . . . As there is currently no scholarly consensus on which editions are more authoritative, to be consistent we use 1623 editions for all Shakespeare texts. When using original transcriptions we have to account for the fact that many words had multiple accepted spellings . . . . (SA)

 

Most Q1 editions, including Shakespeare’s, faithful or not, are themselves artifact-filled and -reduced transcriptions. Despite scholarly ‘inconsensusty,’ Q1s precede F versions (1623), many of which reprint the first editions. Moreover, the reprints are variously and significantly altered. Their use is inconsistent with the stated method for other authors and chronological ‘artifacts.’ Shakespeare isn’t the undisputed author of numerous alterations and the Folio is many times (sometimes big-time) removed from original transcriptions. F-only texts are generally corrupt, in fact and by (whence) extrapolation. Nevertheless, by the likes of the SA blurb, mathematicians and readers may form mistaken impressions of Shakespeare’s received-text suitability for abstruse and technical analysis.

 

Because WANs multiply what might be called ‘statistical noise’ until measurable data accrue, there may be value in noting textual variants betwixt Q1s and F, vast numbers of which affect words, adjacencies, and Networks as the ‘vectors’ go every whichaway before they go thataway: “And there I stood with a error in my back”: (Larry Verne).

 

NOS credibility relies on its foundational claim that F King Lear represents Shakespeare’s own revision of Q1 itself, sometime betwixt (this to fool the WANnabees in my future nightmares) 1608 and April, 1616. Because I guess NOS 2016 is dedicated to preserving that theory through Brexit extensions (at least) and because F Lear is Markov Chain bait (steal only what can be swum with, Markov once said—don’t quote us), Q1 Lear is a good place to start most every investigation. Is Shakespeare responsible for variants, or not? There are many ways to vary WANs without waving wan. They may even be poetically eliminated: ‘White man sit on well’ (B. Hill). The question is, who varies them? Before I look into that, I’ll quote the most thoughtful of scholars, P W K Stone (1980, p. 9):

 

“The text in the Folio is held to have been printed from a copy of Q1 after its correction by reference to a manuscript. If this is so, if all the variants in the F text derive from this manuscript source, the task must have been very thoroughly, In fact fastidiously performed. Hundreds upon hundreds of changes are involved, a large number of them affecting matters of small detail. Plurals are substituted for singulars, and singulars for plurals where, from the viewpoint of sense, either would do equally well; that is often carefully altered to which; betwixt, you, oh become between, ye, ah; elsewhere between, ye, ah become twixt, you, oh. Let us assume, however, what is occasionally suggested, that many, most, or all of these ‘indifferent’ [What is he quoting?] changes were the result not of the collation itself but of editorial officiousness, or even of compositorial caprice—although it is difficult to imagine the motives of a copy-editor who alters that to which [Not for me—it’s the Condell & Heminges Quarto Cure], while, as for the compositors, all the evidence goes to show that, if they were allowed to regularise spelling and punctuation, they were otherwise expected to reproduce their copy as they found it. But, however that may be, the F text abounds in minor alterations of another, less ‘indifferent’ kind—the substitution, addition or omission of pronouns, conjunctions, and the like, changes of tense, of word order and so on, which do not leave the meaning unaffected. These small but significant alterations must be, and always are, presumed to derive from the authoritative manuscript copy. If they do, they bear witness to a fairly high degree of care and accuracy in the collation.

 

It is all the more extraordinary, then, to find the collator committing so many oversights and blunders. The number of errors in F, in fact, errors which cannot be ascribed to compositorial mishaps, puts the collation theory to considerable strain, and places the editors who espouse it in a difficult position.”

 

Despite a likelihood that Stone was forced (by Scolar Press, who couldn’t even spell) to expunge all his jokes, his book is essential (not least for many reasons). The problem King Lear history (historiography even, whatever that means) must be resolved. It’s no WANs business otherwise. Text is all-important, as I’ll try to show. Gabriel Egan and co- must take the position that variants are WAN, Markov, and entropy inconsequent. Then we come to R3, LLL, Shrew, 2H4, etc. All obviated by 0.75 to the 4th power, or not?

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------

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

Date:         March 3, 2019 at 7:32:07 AM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: NOS

 

Dear SHAKSPERians

 

I am a little clearer on why I find it hard to understand what Gerald Downs is asking, now that he has explained that when he put words in quotation marks he “wasn’t quoting but paraphrasing”. The trouble is, he also uses quotation marks when he really is quoting, so his readers have no way of knowing whether something in quotation marks is a direct quotation or a paraphrase.  It’s hard to respond to someone who does that.

 

I also struggle with Downs’s phrasing. He writes that “In practice, Gabriel describes the exclusion of evidence negative to a professed belief” and my guess is that Downs here uses “negative to” to mean “that is inconsistent with”. I’ve never heard anybody use “negative to” that way, and it’s just one example from a whole series in which I’m unsure just what Downs means.

 

I also have difficulty detecting Downs’s tone. Take his sentence “He [Egan] may have been training his co-authors and readers to accept the Shakespeare Folio as good data for WANs”. Is that sarcasm? Is Downs saying that Shakespeare’s Folio texts are for some reason unsuitable for computational analysis of his style?  I can’t be sure.

 

I thought I’d at least laid the PageRank analogy to rest, but Downs remains discontent with my explanation that the ‘limit probability’ calculation of node-weight in the Markov chain that is PageRank’s model of a series of webpages is the same ‘limit probability’ calculation of node-weight in the Markov chain that is a Word Adjacency Network. But that’s all I really can say. The analogy with PageRank is that the same mathematical notion of ‘limit probability’ solves the same problem of apparent infinite regression in a Markov chain in both cases.

 

Regards

Gabriel Egan

 

 

 

Richard III at STC

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 30.086  Sunday, 3 March 2019

 

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

Date:         Sunday, March 3, 2019

Subject:    Richard III at STC

 

On Thursday, I saw Richard III at the Shakespeare Theatre (STC), directed by David Muse, who worked for Michael Kahn at STC for seven years before becoming artist director at Studio Theatre (home of best productions of contemporary theater in DC) nine years ago. After thirty-three years, this is Michael Kahn’s final season as artist director at STC. I have had my issues with Kahn, but he is a major force in DC theater. I have generally preferred his non-Shakespearean productions to his Shakespearean ones.

 

The unchanging set appears as an abattoir/morgue with what looks like a surgical lamp on a crane attached to the ceiling.

 

The cast was perhaps the most diverse I have witnessed, especially at STC — black and white, male and female, young and older, and a little person who played the Lord Mayor of London. Richmond is played by a woman as a woman for no discernible reason. At times, I felt I was watching Richard III among the hipsters. There is much extraneous stage business such as characters in background sharpening knives. The cast provides a percussive soundtrack to much of the production.

 

At the interval, the woman sitting next to me (after I had made the comments before the production began that the best Richard I have seen was Stacy Keach and that I had seen more Richard IIIs than I can remember) asked me what I thought. I hesitated a long time before saying that it was not to my taste. What I didn’t say was there were times I was dozing. I found the vocal register to be far too screeching throughout. I liked the way that the night before the battle was staged. To reduce confusion among the audience, the names if the characters and their ranks were projected at the top of the set when they first appeared on stage. At first, I thought there might be a foretaste of Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt — there wasn’t.

 

When I was in graduate school for my Ph.D., I took a seminar with the chair of the Theater Department, who also was a reviewer for a local paper. That professor once said that people who pay for tickets to a production have a financial investment in liking that production whereas reviewers who get their tickets comped do not have such an investment. I pay the high price of tickets to STC, but I feel as though I am more like a reviewer who did not. For this reason, I generally keep my opinions to myself when I am in attendance.

 

 

 

A Buoyant Tale of Nell Gwynn Follows a Thoughtful Realization of King John

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 30.084  Sunday, 3 March 2019

 

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

Date:         March 3, 2019 at 8:28:27 AM EST

Subject:    A Buoyant Tale of Nell Gwynn Follows a Thoughtful Realization of King John

 

An enjoyable Nell Gwynn by Jessica Swale: I saw a performance of it at the Folger this afternoon, which included a recitation of Dryden's famous epilogue for Nell Gwynn at the end of the play (I quote it). So I wrote a blog-review, preceded by a long delayed other blog-review of the Folger's remarkable production of King John earlier this year. I admit I really understood King John for the first time. They are having quite a good year at the Folger!  

 

https://ellenandjim.wordpress.com/2019/03/02/a-buoyant-tale-of-nell-gwyn-follows-a-thoughtful-realization-of-king-john/

 

Ellen Moody

 

[Editor’s Note: I second Ellen’s endorsement of the Folger Theater’s Nell Gwynn. I unfortunately had to miss the King John because of illness. -Hardy]

 

 

 

The Shakespeare Canon and the NOS

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 30.083  Saturday, 2 March 2019

 

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

Date:         March 2, 2019 at 2:59:35 AM EST

Subject:    Re: NOS

 

As others have learned, Gabriel Egan answers criticism with obfuscation rather than straightforward explanation. For that reason, I mean to address others and expect no scholarly reply from Gabriel.

 

Although the round but optimal 100 has been discussed, it's unclear to me.

 

Downs doesn't say what is unclear about this number (100) of function words so I can't help clarify it.

 

Gabriel probably knows “the round but optimal 100” I question is a list of the “most common function words in the Early Modern period,” according to Gabriel in one article, and is also “the [100] function words listed in Appendix 1(b) that were found in training . . .” in his other article. The lists are identical, so one of the descriptive statements cannot be true. Gabriel doesn’t explain how the “training” settled on the listed words. He could have, I presume. Nor does he identify which of the 211- word list flunked out, or which replaced them. Gabriel won’t clarify these matters—someone else might help.

 

I note that 100 is not only a nice, round number; it’s also the “optimal number”: coincidence happens. But my comments refer to the hows and wherefores of the set—Gabriel knows that.

 

Something (Someone?) must be trained to attribute texts to their known authors: A foregone but scientifically iffy proposition--to prove what we know.

 

I can’t tell if Downs is asserting this . . .

 

That’s my assessment only. I’m not sure what’s being trained, or whether that’s the ‘optimal’ word. In practice, Gabriel describes the exclusion of evidence negative to a professed belief. He may have been training his co-authors and readers to accept the Shakespeare Folio as good data for WANs. 

 

SA's 'most common' words wouldn't be found by any training starting from the 'most frequent function words in Shakespeare and Jonson's chosen texts,' . . .

 

Downs doesn’t say why they wouldn’t and doesn’t identify the source of his quotation “most frequent function words in Shakespeare and Jonson’s chosen texts” and this quotation does not appear in the essay “Stylometric analysis of Early Modern period English plays” which is what Downs seems to mean by his abbreviation “SA”.

 

Gabriel of course knows that I refer informally to the two articles as SA and AA. He won’t address the questions, perhaps he can’t. I wasn’t quoting but paraphrasing a passage in AA that I cite just above: “First, we rank the [211] function words listed . . . in order of their frequency of occurrence in the Shakespeare and Jonson canons.” Remember, SA’s ‘most common words’ are those of the ‘Early Modern period.’ Gabriel shows all lists in alphabetical order. The SA list cannot derive from the one training session Gabriel describes, or from any list formed by replacing some of the ‘most common.’ Gabriel understands the question, I’m sure.

 

How is the "PageRank" problem analogous?

 

one I can answer. 

 

But he doesn’t, really. He just says there’s an analogy.

 

Remember, even a 'leftmost more common target training word' was 'edged' off the Top 100 when it didn't contribute to 'accurate attribution.'

 

Again, I can’t find the quoted words (“leftmost more common”) in either of the essays that Downs claims to be responding to and he hasn’t attributed it. I don’t think the reader ought to “Remember” what is in that quotation because it seems based on a misunderstanding of the Word Adjacency Network method.

 

Again, gathering a paraphrase. The function words eliminated in training are from the ‘most common.’ Gabriel weighs the ‘leftmost’ himself. If it should end up on the wrong side of the fence, it’s sent home. What’s not to understand? I don’t expect Gabriel to answer questions; it’s his job not to. My remarks are for others to consider; the articles are readily available. My interest is more in how the Shakespeare texts stack up for the stylometric tests.

 

Gerald E. Downs

 

 

 

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