Current Postings


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0178  Thursday, 19 April 2018


From:        Sally-Beth McClean <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         April 18, 2018 at 12:56:46 PM EDT

Subject:    REED News


REED: Berkshire, ed. Alexandra F. Johnston, Launched!


Announcing REED’s second digital edition, for the county of Berkshire, edited by Alexandra F. Johnston. Now freely available at REED Online:


We are pleased to make available the long-awaited records for Berkshire and equally delighted that for the first time users will be able to search across two collections for locations, people and a wide range of topics, such as summer games or the King’s Men. We anticipate an ever-growing list of results as more collections are published online.


The REED: Berkshire records illustrate a rich popular entertainment tradition. The most prominent details of mimetic activity come from the parish of St Laurence, Reading, which has preserved records running from 1498 to 1573, among the fullest and richest in England. Virtually every kind of mimetic activity is featured--an Easter play with evidence from 1498 to 1537, an early sixteenth-century Creation play, a Robin Hood game, morris dancing, church ales, maypoles, and Hock gatherings. Reading was a stopping place for all kinds of late medieval travelling entertainers as well as for some of the most prominent professional companies, including Queen Elizabeth’s, the earl of Leicester’s, and King James’ players, along with those of other royal family members in the early seventeenth century. Noble households are also well represented in the collection, which includes an edition of “The Entertainment of Queen Elizabeth” by Lady Elizabeth Russell at Bisham in 1592.



Critical Survey on Shakespeare and War?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0177  Tuesday, 17 April 2018


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

Date:         April 17, 2018 at 1:50:52 AM EDT

Subject:    Critical Survey on Shakespeare and War?


Special 30th anniversary issue of Critical Survey 30:1 (2018)

Shakespeare and War


Guest editor: Patrick Gray


Editors: Bryan Loughrey and Graham Holderness




Shakespeare and War: Honour at the Stake

Patrick Gray


Shakespeare in Sarajevo: Theatrical and Cinematic Encounters with the Balkans War

Sara Soncini


John of Lancaster’s Negotiation with the Rebels in 2 Henry IV: Fifteenth-Century Northern England as Sixteenth-Century Ireland

Jane Yeang Chui Wong


Shakespeare’s Unjust Wars

Franziska Quabeck


Sine Dolore: Relative Painlessness in Shakespeare’s Laughter

Daniel Derrin


The Better Part of Stolen Valour: Counterfeits, Comedy, and the Supreme Court

David Currell


Hamletism in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39

Jésus Tronch


Where Character is King: Gregory Doran’s Henriad

Alice Dailey


Review of Franziska Quabeck, Just and Unjust Wars in Shakespeare (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2013)

Elizabeth Hoyt


Review of Irena R. Makaryk and Marissa McHugh, eds., Shakespeare and the Second World War: Memory, Culture, Identity (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2012)

Gašper Jakovac



Patrick Gray

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

Durham University




UPDATE CFP: Computational Methods for Literary-Historical Textual Studies

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0176  Monday, 16 April 2018


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

Date:         April 15, 2018 at 8:23:17 AM EDT

Subject:    UPDATE CFP: Computational Methods for Literary-Historical Textual Studies




The conference described below now has the following confirmed plenary speakers and topics:


Arianna Ciula (King’s College London) “Modelling Digital Humanities: Thinking in practice”


Ruth Ahnert (Queen Mary University of London) “The cult of networks”


Rebecca Mason (Glasgow University) “Imposing structures on legal historical documents”


Anupam Basu (Washington University in St Louis) “Spenser’s spell: Archaism and historical stylometrics”


Allesandro Vatri (Wolfson College Oxford and Turing Institute Cambridge) “A computational approach to lexical polysemy in Ancient Greek”


John Nance (Florida State University) “Title to be confirmed”


David L. Hoover (New York University) “Simulations and difficult problems”


Marco Buchler (Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities) “Title to be confirmed”


Hugh Craig (Newcastle University, Australia) “Digital dating: Early modern plays and the ‘ever-rolling stream’”


Willard McCarty (King’s College London) on “What happens when we intervene?”


Gary Taylor (Florida State University) on “Invisible writers: Finding ‘anonymous’ in the digital archives”


Paul McNulty (Cambridge University) “Methods and interactive tools for exploring the semantics of essentially contested political concepts”


John Jowett (Shakespeare Institute) “Shakespeare as digital text”


The DEADLINE for paper proposals is 1 May 2018. The original Call for Papers follows ...


Conference: Computational Methods for Literary-Historical Textual Studies. 3-5 July 2018 atDe Montfort University


The Centre for Textual Studies at De Montfort University in Leicester, England, is running a three-day international conference to showcase and explore the latest methods for analyzing literary and historical texts using computers.  A particular focus will be the ways in which literary and historical scholarship will turn increasingly algorithmic in the future as we invent wholly new kinds of questions to ask of our texts because we have wholly new ways to investigate them. The conference will bring together, and put into fruitful dialogue, scholars using traditional literary and historical methods and those exploring and inventing new computational methods, to their mutual benefit.


Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers on our topic, which might cover such matters as:

  • More markup or smarter algorithms?: The future of text analysis.
  • Is anything just not computable in literary-historical textual studies, and does it matter?
  • Where are we with Optical Character Recognition?
  • Are texts Orderly Hierarchies of Content Objects, really?
  • Can (should?) one person try to learn traditional and digital methods of textual scholarship?
  • XML but not TEI: Using roll-your-own schemas
  • New developments in Natural Language Processing
  • Regularizing historical spelling variation: Is it necessary? How can we do it?
  • Getting started with digital textual analysis: Reports from unwearied beginners
  • Is it too easy to get results with computers and too hard to avoid big errors?
  • Teaching textual analysis using computers
  • Does it matter if non-computational colleagues don’t understand our work?
  • Showcasing new technologies
  • Is digital practice changing textual theories?
  • When is a source text digital transcription good enough?
  • Teamwork versus lone scholarship: Does working digitally make a difference?
  • Where does textual analysis meet digital editing?


The conference is generously funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, which includes the provision of eight student bursaries, worth 200 GBP each, to help cover the costs of attending to give a paper.  Students wanting to apply for bursaries should indicate so in the paper proposal.


To apply to give a paper, please send the title of the paper and a description (200-300 words) to Prof Gabriel Egan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>. If you are a student applying for one of the bursaries, please say so in your proposal and add a couple of sentences describing your circumstances in a way that makes us want to give you the bursary.


DEADLINE for paper proposals: 1 May 2018.



Gabriel Egan

De Montfort University.

Director of the Centre for Textual Studies

National Teaching Fellow

Gen. Ed. New Oxford Shakespeare






CFPs: RSA and ACMRS, New Technologies

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0175  Monday, 16 April 2018


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

Date:         April 13, 2018 at 2:10:13 PM EDT

Subject:    CFPs: RSA and ACMRS, New Technologies


Dear SHAKSPER-ians,


Below please find two CFPs for “New Technologies and Renaissance Studies” (RSA and ACMRS).



Laura Estill

Associate Professor of English

Texas A&M University

Editor, World Shakespeare Bibliography



Call for Proposals: New Technologies and Renaissance Studies

RSA 2019, 17-19 March, Toronto


Since 2001, the Renaissance Society of America annual meetings have featured panels on the applications of new technology in scholarly research, publishing, and teaching. Panels at the 2019 meeting will continue to explore the contributions made by new and emerging methodologies and the projects that employ them.


For 2019, we welcome proposals for papers, lightning talks, panels, and or poster / demonstration / workshop presentations on new technologies and their impact on research, teaching, publishing, and beyond, in the context of Renaissance Studies.  Examples of the many areas considered by members of our community can be found in the list of papers presented at the RSA since 2001 ( and in those papers published thus far under the heading of New Technologies and Renaissance Studies ( 


Please send proposals before 30 April 2018 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Your proposal should include a title, a 150-word abstract, and a one-paragraph biographical CV, as well as an indication of whether you would consider or prefer an online presentation. We are pleased to be able to offer travel subventions on a competitive basis to graduate students who present on these panels; those wishing to be considered for a subvention should indicate this in their abstract submission.


We thank Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages & Renaissance ( for its generous sponsorship of this series and its related travel subventions since 2001.




Call for Papers: Digital Humanities in Medieval and Renaissance Studies


25th Annual ACMRS Conference,

Magic, Religion, and Science in the Global Middle Ages and Renaissance

7-9 February 2019, Embassy Suites Phoenix-Scottsdale Hotel


For the past several years, the Renaissance Knowledge Network (ReKN: has sponsored sessions at the ACMRS annual conference exploring the intersection of computational methods and Medieval and Renaissance Studies. For the 2019 gathering, we invite paper proposals that explore any topic related to the study and teaching of the Middle Ages and Renaissance and its intersection with the Digital Humanities, including and beyond those aligned with the general theme of the conference.  Please send paper proposals including a title, one paragraph abstract, and brief biographical statement by 1 November 2018 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


We thank Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages & Renaissance ( and ACMRS for its support of these panels in the past.





The Question of Hamlet

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 29.0174  Friday, 13 April 2018


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

Date:         April 13, 2018 at 6:13:40 AM EDT

Subject:    The Question of Hamlet



The Question of Hamlet

James Shapiro

April 19, 2018 Issue



Hamlet and the Vision of Darkness 

by Rhodri Lewis

Princeton University Press, 365 pp., $39.95


AGIP/Bridgeman ImagesJean-Louis Trintignant in the role of Hamlet, at the Théâtre de la Musique, Paris, 1971


In the decades after it was first staged, probably in 1600, Hamlet seems to have been popular, though not especially so. It was performed at the Globe Theatre, in Oxford, Cambridge, and elsewhere, and revived at least twice at court. But editions of Hamlet were published less frequently than those of Richard III, Richard II, or even Pericles, and aside from echoes of it in the works of other dramatists, the play is mentioned by only a couple of Shakespeare’s contemporaries (one saying that it appealed to the “wiser sort,” another that it managed to “please all”). It wasn’t until 1711 that anyone wrote at length about Hamlet; the Earl of Shaftesbury spoke of it then as the Shakespeare play that “appears to have most affected English hearts” and was perhaps the most “oftenest acted,” which likely owed much to the popularity of Thomas Betterton, one of the great Hamlets.


Another century would pass before Hamlet became Shakespeare’s most celebrated play, a position from which it has yet to be dislodged. Much of the credit for this goes to Romantic writers in Germany and England who were drawn to its intense exploration of the self and who saw their own struggles reflected in Hamlet’s. Goethe’s coming-of-age novel Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (1795–1796) turned Hamlet into a model for subsequent portraits of the artist as a young man. William Hazlitt wrote that “it is we who are Hamlet…whose powers of action have been eaten up by thought,” and Samuel Taylor Coleridge declared: “I have a smack of Hamlet myself, if I may say so.” “We love Hamlet,” Lord Byron would add, “even as we love ourselves.”


Searching through surviving records from Stratford-upon-Avon not long before this, Edmond Malone discovered that Shakespeare’s son Hamnet (the spelling was interchangeable with Hamlet) had died at the age of eleven in 1596. Malone was the first biographer to create a chronology of Shakespeare’s works and reconstruct his life out of his plays and poems. Unsure of when to date King John, and assuming that “a man of such sensibility” as Shakespeare would not “have lost his only son…without being greatly affected by it,” Malone proposed that such heartfelt lines as “Grief fills the room up of my absent child” made it likely that King John was written in the immediate aftermath of Hamnet’s death.


[ . . . ]


Hamlet had initially been published in a pair of quartos, printed in 1603 (Q1) and 1604–1605 (Q2). A third version of the play appeared in the First Folio edition of 1623 (F1), which trimmed 230 lines from Q2, added 90 new ones, and included a number of substantive changes. When Nicholas Rowe freshly edited Hamlet in 1709 he drew on passages deriving from both the Q2 and the F1 versions (at the time no copy of Q1 was extant), producing a kind of “best bits of Hamlet” that would be more or less copied for the next three hundred years. Then, in 1823, a copy of Q1 was belatedly found, calling into question much of what was understood about the play. This earliest printed version differed considerably from the other two and was considerably shorter. Was Q1 pirated or perhaps written much earlier? Were Shakespeare’s plays trimmed in performance? Did Shakespeare revise his work? Since that discovery, scholars have fiercely debated these questions, which are as consequential for the ways in which we imagine how Shakespeare wrote as they are for how we interpret Hamlet.


[ . . . ]


By the 1980s, these psychological approaches were swept aside in favor of ones better suited to a generation of academics that had come of age during the cultural turmoil of the 1960s. New Historicists refocused attention on the politics of Hamlet, including the triumph of the opportunistic Fortinbras, whose seizure of power at the play’s end had long been cut in performance. I recall watching elderly playgoers gasp at a production in which Horatio’s sentimental farewell to Hamlet (“Good night, sweet prince,/And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest”) was now followed by the entrance of Fortinbras, who, as he recited the play’s final line—“Go, bid the soldiers shoot”—unholstered a pistol, put it to Horatio’s head, and pulled the trigger.


Harold Jenkins’s popular Arden edition of the play (1982), which had followed the time-honored practice of conflating the multiple versions of Hamlet, was now deemed suspect, and was replaced in 2006 by a new Arden edition that published all three versions—Q1, Q2, and F1—separately. As New Historicists became interested in Shakespeare’s faith, the (quickly disabused) notion of a Catholic Shakespeare had lingering ramifications for how Hamlet, on his return from Protestant Wittenberg, confronts the ghost of a father come from Purgatory. It’s hard in retrospect to determine whether the desire to rethink the theological underpinnings of Hamlet drove scholars to recast Shakespeare’s own beliefs or vice versa.


I’ve taught Shakespeare to Columbia undergraduates for three decades, and while my students over the years haven’t changed their minds much about A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Macbeth, they have about Hamlet. As in everyone’s classes on the play, the conversation in mine inevitably turns to why Hamlet delays. Back in the 1980s, thanks to the influence of a generation of high school teachers who had seen the 1948 film of Laurence Olivier’s Oedipal Hamlet and had likely read Hamlet and Oedipus, I could always count on a few students to say that Hamlet couldn’t readily avenge himself on a man who acted on his own desires to kill his father and sleep with his mother. (These days no student mentions the Oedipal theory, and when I offer it as a possibility, the suggestion is met with groans or laughter.)


[ . . . ]


Another question that the book doesn’t clearly answer is whether this is a story about a bad student—Hamlet—who merely regurgitates half-digested scraps of a Renaissance humanist education he doesn’t fully grasp, or whether he is a true product of that humanist tradition and conveys its arguments accurately, arguments that are revealed to be shallow and self-serving. Was Shakespeare—who never attended a university yet knew his Seneca and Tacitus—ever this invested in classical humanism, as Lewis wants us to believe? I’m not persuaded by his claim that Hamlet likely speaks his most famous soliloquy while holding a copy of Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations.


I searched in vain while reading this book for what drove this grim argument—before finding a provisional answer in “Hamlet: Then and Now,” a short essay that Lewis recently posted on the Princeton University Press website. He argues there that Shakespeare

offers us an unflinchingly brilliant guide to the predicaments in which we find ourselves in Trumpland and on Brexit Island. Not by prophesying the likes of Farage, Bannon, and Donald J. Trump…but by enabling us to experience a world in which the prevalent senses of moral order (political, ethical, personal) bear only the most superficial relation to lived experience. 


[ . . . ]


Reading this book prompted some speculation of my own. I wondered what it revealed about the disillusionment of scholars like Rhodri Lewis, who, Hamlet-like, expected, when their turn came, to inherit an academic kingdom. With funding for higher education slashed, literature departments downsized, full-time faculty replaced by adjuncts, and illustrious universities like my own choosing to hire only at the entry level to replace those of us who will be retiring, the prospects facing the next generation of academics are dismal. Depressingly, there is only a single position advertised this year in all of North America for a senior Shakespeare scholar. The need to make a splash, even to overstate claims, is understandable.


Lewis’s Hamlet is not mine, nor is his Hamlet. The difference in our approaches and conclusions may simply be generational. But I admire his relentless questioning of underexamined beliefs that have long guided our reading of Hamlet and, if he is right, have been instrumental in leading us into the political mire in which we now find ourselves.




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