Hiatus and TLS

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.019  Sunday, 15 January 2017

 

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

Date:         Sunday, January 15, 2017

Subject:    Hiatus and TLS

 

Dear SHAKSPER Subscribers,

 

Once again I will be travelling to Devon on Thursday, January 19 and returning on January 26. I will be taking my new MacBook Pro, but it is not likely I will be able to edit SHAKSPER while I am away.

 

I spent the day yesterday catching up with months of back issues of TLS. I found 20 or so articles that I am going to be posting under the “From TLS” heading. I will provide excerpts, but anyone who does not have a TLS subscription can feel free to contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. fir a complete copy of each.

 

Hardy

 

 

 

Co-Author

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.018  Friday, 13 January 2017

 

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

     Date:        January 12, 2017 at 5:20:18 PM EST

     Subj:        Re: Co-Author

 

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

     Date:        January 13, 2017 at 4:26:45 AM EST

     Subj:        Re: SHAKSPER: Co-Author

 

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

     Date:        January 13, 2017 at 9:29:53 AM EST

     Subj:        Re: SHAKSPER: Co-Author

 

 

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

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

Date:        January 12, 2017 at 5:20:18 PM EST

Subject:    Re: Co-Author

 

I’m pleased that Gabriel and his team are going to continue this research. As he says, there is much to be done, and I can’t help wondering if the Authorship Companion is a few years premature, with the subject still needing more time to settle down.

 

Jim Carroll is obviously less appreciative of this work than I am but he does make some points worth thinking about. 

 

Since most of the histories were written early and most of the tragedies written late, how can we distinguish between differences in word adjacencies that are due to change of genre or to changes in style over time? 

 

Most of the collaborations are thought to be in the early plays. So if it really is the case that word adjacencies change over time then how do we go about constructing a WAN for early Shakespeare without the risk of circular arguments; in other words, if we use our prior beliefs about which plays or scenes are collaborative and exclude them from the data used to construct the WAN, how could we safely use that WAN to detect non-Shakespearean material in those same early plays? The work done so far by Gabriel’s team did not run into this problem because they made an unstated assumption that WANs do not change over time. If the assumption is false then we have a problem in the method.

 

It strikes me now that the better a playwright is, the harder it is to be sure what his WAN really is. A great playwright gives a distinctive voice to each of his main characters. By contrast, in plays by mediocre playwrights the characters sound all alike, at least when they have the same social rank. It seems quite possible that WANs constructed using speeches by kings will be materially different to ones constructed using speeches by rude mechanicals. If so, then we have another problem, since it is then necessary to take account of dramatic context rather than treating a play as just a stream of words.

 

If I were doing this work, I would be thinking of narrowing its scope at first to cover only the 20 or so Shakespeare plays in which co-authorship is not currently suspected. I would spend quite a lot of time kicking the tyres of this core set of 400,000 or so words, testing what might be called the internal consistency of the WAN method by trying to answer questions like the ones above. Only after that would I consider expanding the scope to other authors and to co-authored plays.

 

Notwithstanding all that, I am looking forward to seeing the Authorship Companion, as well as the Critical Reference Edition and (perhaps some day) the Complete Alternative Versions, though the whole lot will make quite a dent in most people’s wallets.

 

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

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

Date:        January 13, 2017 at 4:26:45 AM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Co-Author

 

Dear SHAKSPERians

 

Jim Carroll’s understanding of my article in Shakespeare Quarterly about Marlowe’s writing being present in the three Henry 6 plays would be considerably enhanced by reading it. He thinks its authors are “relying on abstract word counts” but it really isn’t about word counts at all: it’s about the proximities of each function word to each other function word. Nobody has measured that before, so our results agreeing with other studies by different means is especially significant.

 

Carroll’s report on his manual counting of the frequency of a single function word, “for”, across a range of texts is entirely beside the point: that just isn’t our method. I’d be happy to help him try to replicate our method if he’s interested, but the first step would be to read the article and understand it. If he has trouble accessing it, I’ll gladly send him (or any SHAKSPERian) a copy.

 

Carroll makes it sound like he has read the article by claiming that it has “sophisticated looking statistical tests with lotsa jargon ‘n stuff”, but there are no sophisticated (or simple) statistical tests in it. There is some mathematics that will be new to most humanists, involving the notion of Entropy from information theory and the idea of storing one’s results in what is called a Markov chain. I honestly believe that these are things that it is worth trying to understand if one wants to engage with the current state of scholarship about authorship attribution. Any reader who disagrees with Pervez Rizvi that our article is good at making these ideas intelligible should, in my view, look out for a forthcoming book from Cambridge University Press by Hugh Craig and Brett Greatley-Hirsch on the computational measurement of dramatic style, which has a superb explanation of what high Entropy and low Entropy in language look like in practice.

 

I suppose Carroll means me when he wishes that “one of the people involved would stop being coy and tell exactly what sections of the H6 plays are not by Shakespeare”. The article tells the reader exactly that, so again I’m led to conclude that he hasn’t read it. I could quote just the conclusions here on SHAKSPER, but that would be to misrepresent the article, and since I’m happy to give a reprint to anyone I don’t think doing that would advance the debate.

 

I’m conscious of Hardy’s disapproval of debates that are just between two people, so unless someone other than Jim Carroll chips in on this thread I’ll shut up now.

 

Regards

Gabriel

 

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

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

Date:        January 13, 2017 at 9:29:53 AM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Co-Author

 

Gabriel Egan wrote:
 

 

Finally, Pervez is exactly right to acknowledge that the press reporting of scholarly work is never as nuanced as the scholars would like. The caveats he is “sure Gabriel will concede” are indeed ones I concede and they are not present in the press release.

 

I’m sorry, but that’s just not good enough. Scholars may not be responsible for how the press reports their work, but they are responsible for their own press releases! There is absolutely no excuse for caveats not being present in press releases - newspapers will ignore them, of course, but that shifts the responsibility. Anyone who denies this doesn’t know how to write press releases.

 

John Briggs

 

 

 

Velz, Barton, Foakes Next of Kin

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.017  Friday, 13 January 2017

 

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

Date:        January 12, 2017 at 4:52:24 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Kin

 

I am also aware that next of kin is not necessarily the executor, but the next of kin is a good place to start when trying to find the executor, don’t you think?

 

I think the best place to start is the records of the probate courts.

 

 

 

Heather Wolfe, Folger Library Curator

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.016  Friday, 13 January 2017

 

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

Date:         January 12, 2017 at 8:12:05 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Wolfe

 

Heather Wolfe, Folger Library Curator

 

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

 

The Heather Wolfe story can’t be quite like this, surely, if it’s so new?  Oxfordians, etc., have never questioned that Shakespeare the player was the man from Stratford; the point of dispute is whether this Stratfordian player is also the playwright.  Unless she has found a coat of arms that says that, I can’t see what has been proved ...

 

Julia

 

The answer to Julia Griffin’s query is quite simple. I liken it to the distributive property used in algebra, that is, If A=B, and B=C, then A=C. In other words, if William Shakespeare of Stratford was the person who had a coat of arms, and if the armiguous gentleman William Shakespeare was the author, then William Shakespare of Stratford was the author. In fact, we know that Shakespeare of Stratford was indeed the person who inherited a coat of arms and the title of “gentleman” from his father, not only because of the arms displayed upon his tomb monument but also by the title “gentleman” placed after his name in several legal documents after his father’s death. And we know that William Shakespeare the author was referred to as “Master”–the honorific reserved for gentlemen in the Elizabethan era–by several contemporaries and in official records (Stationers Registry). So the William Shakespeare of Stratford, gentleman, was the same Mr. William Shakespeare named as the author on the title page of the First Folio and elsewhere in various contemporary poems and accolades.

 

What Heather Wolfe did was discover documents that included his first name, William, therefore removing any ambiguity about who was referred to as a player, as well as the original documents naming him as a player (the one we had was an 18th century copy). The documents also strongly imply that W.S. was involved in the eventual granting of the arms in 1598-9, which has long been suspected.

 

For a more detailed summary of the copious available evidence for Shakespeare’s authorship that is routinely denied by so-called “skeptics”, see my and David Kathman’s essay, “How We Know That Shakespeare Wrote Shakespeare: The Historical Facts.” Another good overview of the evidence can be found in the Wikipedia article, Shakespeare authorship question.

 

Tom Reedy

 

 

 

Speaking of Shakespeare with Columbia's Jean Howard

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.015  Friday, 13 January 2017

 

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

Date:        January 12, 2017 at 7:09:11 PM EST

Subject:   Speaking of Shakespeare with Columbia's Jean Howard

 

Speaking of Shakespeare

With Columbia's Jean Howard

 

Wednesday, January 18, at 8 p.m.

The National Arts Club

15 Gramercy Park South in Manhattan

Admission Free; Reservations Requested

 

We’re delighted to launch our 2017 Speaking of Shakespeare series with one of today’s most influential thinkers. A Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and a leader who has presided over the Shakespeare Association of America, Jean E. Howard is the author of such books as Shakespeare’s Art of Orchestration (1984), Engendering a Nation: A Feminist Account of Shakespeare’s Histories (1997), and Theater of a City: The Places of London Comedy 1598-1642 (2007). She has co-edited two indispensable collections, The Stage and Struggle in Early Modern England (1994) and Marxist Shakespeares (2000), and she serves as a co-editor of The Norton Shakespeare and as general editor of the Bedford Contextual Editions of Shakespeare.

 

One of Professor Howard’s current projects is Staging History, a volume about Shakespeare’s impact on key modern playwrights, and we hope you’ll join her and the Guild’s John Andrews for a lively NAC discussion about that and a variety of other engaging topics. 

 

Visit www.shakesguild.org for details about Shakespeare Guild offerings. There you’ll read about such highlights as our recent Gielgud Award presentation to Vanessa Redgrave in London’s venerable Guildhall, and you’ll see how you can help support such worthy endeavors. For inquiries, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

 

 

 

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Search

Make a Gift to SHAKSPER

Consider making a gift to support SHAKSPER.