Agreeing with Urkowitz

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.198  Wednesday, 14 June 2017


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

Date:         June 13, 2017 at 3:19:48 PM EDT

Subject:    Agreeing with Urkowitz - Formerly "Texts of King Lear"


I meant to respond to these posts by Steve Urkowitz (which I agree with %100 by the way) much earlier but a combination of bad sciatica, a longer commute and forced relocation prevented a timely response.


Here’s one of Steve Urkowitz’ responses from May 23, where he quotes part of an earlier post by Gerald Downs:


Urkowitz: --->Here's a conclusion to a recent Blind Guy One narrative: note the diction of “superfluous” and “fatuous,” “corrupt” and “self-interested.”


Downs--->"The malady surely extended to passages in prose, where “space-metal” was conserved by using margins so wide that restoration in Q1 presented a difficult problem. I believe one solution was to remove superfluous text. Whether the cuts were recorded or discovered during F redaction, their frequent restoration indicates probable eyeskip omission of other text. That would explain the lack of normal evidence in Q and F and the fatuous nature of the F additions. Perhaps some examples will show why the inference is virtually forced: remember, Q is a corrupt report made over by a series of self-interested print house agents."


The method of labelling something obviously good as bad probably has a name that I’m not aware of (not quite “poisoning the well”, where you begin an argument with something that actually is bad) but it’s a common technique in the pseudo-scholarship of Shakespeare studies. Vickers, in his awful book on supposed Shakespearean plays that may be co-authored, uses the technique as well as a variation on the poisoning-the-well technique, where he quotes some other idiot’s (like T.M. Parrott) poor opinion of Titus Andronicus before he begins his own disparagement.


For example, when Vickers wants to find likenesses between Titus and Peele, he accepts the F1 editorial changes:


Q1 2.2 The hunt is vp the Moone is bright and gray,

F1 2.2 The hunt is vp, the morne is bright and gray,


Early in the morning the moon could be up, and it would be both bright and grey, so the original Q1 version makes sense. But Vickers wants to find some comparison between this and Peele’s Old Wives Tale


OWT: The day is cleare, the Welkin bright and gray


so he accepts the F1 version.


But when Vickers wants to use Parrott’s disparagement of the line in 1.1 that uses the word “pantheon”, he again uses the version that makes the least sense:


“Ascend, fair Queen, Pantheon. Lords, accompany”


which a modern editorial choice. Both Q1 and F1 have “pantheon” modify “lords”:


Q1: Afcend faire Queene: Panthean Lords accompany


F1: Afcend Faire Qeene[sic],

Panthean Lords, accompany


Vickers quotes Parrott concerning the first version above, Co-Author, p157:


“As [Parrott] put it, ‘though one rose from the dead to persuade us, no ear trained to the music of Shakespeare’s verse could accept such lines as his’, indeed, Parrott could not find a single trace of Shakespeare’s hand in the whole act.’” 


Which is idiotic, since the act is full of Shakespeare’s usual touches. If you assume that “pantheon” in this case is just a figurative way of saying “most high”, and “accompany” is pronounced “accomp’ny”, it’s just a typical feminine ending. 


Later (May 24th), Steve points out the use of hendiadys in Hamlet:


“Before looking at LEAR, first consider another instance of Shakespearean authorial revision from another multiple-text play. The rhetorical figure hendyadis—where two nouns linked with the conjunction “and” are used to describe another noun, as in “a rogue and peasant slave”—was included in rhetorical handbooks. In a prize-winning, often-reprinted essay in PMLA (1983) George T Wright noticed that alone among professional playwrights of his time Shakespeare regularly uses the figure hendyadis, averaging five or six instances in each of his plays.”


The Wright paper should be essential reading for any student of Shakespeare’s style. But Vickers uses another trick in the pseudo-scholar’s handbook, that of redefining the term in question, a kind of moving-the-goal-posts trick. Foster used hendiadys in his argument for the Funeral Elegy as Shakespearean, so Vickers proceeded to re-define the examples in the Elegy as non-hendiadys, and to re-define many of Wright’s examples as well! Foster also pointed out many of the likenesses between the Funeral Elegy and “A Lover’s Complaint”, so Vickers then tried to re-define ALC as non-Shakespearean, and the attribution to Davies that resulted is one of the more absurd attributions in the history of Shakespearean scholarship. This technique is not confined to Shakespeare studies, it happens in the sciences too.


Over the last 5 years or so it has been claimed that Neanderthals mated with early modern humans. Such claims are easy to make when you rely on statistical analysis of genomes, without references to the fossils, or even without reference to basic concepts in evolution, such as speciation. That these two mated seems as unlikely to me as chimps and orangutans mating:


But without the pictures, how would you know? The Neanderthal bones are vastly thicker, the orbits are much larger, the skull is low and long, the rib cage is conical like a gorilla's:


If they mated, why didn’t human forms become more robust, rather than more gracile? Why would they differentiate in the first place if they could mate? Years ago on the ANTHRO-L listserv I postulated that the larger eyes of the Neanderthals could mean that they were crepuscular and/or nocturnal, that they therefore occupied a significantly different environmental niche, and that would explain the speciation, as well as their robustness, as they might have had to grab and fight animals by hand rather than use a bow and arrow. Now, that may be completely wrong, but at least it makes sense. But when you point out the physical differences, the proponents of the mating theory just re-define what makes a fossil “modern human” versus “Neanderthal”, and begin to include the more robust forms. The neandertal issue is also much like Vickers’ tricks with attribution in that Vickers depends on you not having a collection of Peele or Davies on hand to examine so you can see how ridiculous the claims are, he can just take words out of context at will.


Jim Carroll




Shakespeare and Marx Conference at Garrick’s Temple

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.197  Wednesday, 14 June 2017


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

Date:         June 14, 2017 at 12:59:40 AM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare and Marx Conference at Garrick’s Temple








10.00: Chair: Richard Wilson (Kingston University)

 David Hawkes (Arizona State University)
‘Marx and Shakespeare Today: Towards an Ethics of Representation’


11.00: Coffee


11.30: Chair: Kiernan Ryan (Royal Holloway University)

Chris Fitter (Rutgers University)
‘Shakespeare and the Tudor Ferment: A Marxist Homecoming?’

Gabriel Egan (De Montfort University):
‘Shakespeare::Marx && community::writing’


13.00: Lunch (Bell Inn, Hampton)


14.00: Chair: David Schalkwyk (Queen Mary University)

 Christian Smith (Independent scholar, Berlin)
‘“Ay, his breast. So says the bond”:
Marx, Shakespeare and the Theory of Labour Power’

Martin McQuillan (Kingston University):
‘Marx’s Timon: Reading and Quantitative Easing’


15.30: Tea


16.00: Chair: Aaron Kitch (Bowdoin College)

Hugh Grady (Arcadia University):
‘Shakespeare and Marx:  A Select Genealogy’


17.00: Round Table Discussion


19.45: Chamber Concert: Marx’s Music (Lovekyn Consort)


Tickets are £20 (includes sandwich lunch, coffee and tea) and £12 for the concert.


All proceeds go to supporting the Temple.


Please register for the symposium and / or concert on Eventbrite

Getting to the Temple

See also the Facebook event page!




An Evening with the Executive Who Oversees the Olivier Awards

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.195  Monday, 12 June 2017


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

Date:         June 10, 2017 at 9:47:18 PM EDT

Subject:    An Evening with the Executive Who Oversees the Olivier Awards


An Evening with London Arts 

Executive Julian Bird, Who 

Oversees the Olivier Awards 


Monday, June 12, at 6 p.m.

The National Arts Club

15 Gramercy Park South, New York

No Charge; Open to the Public


A key member of the audience for this year’s Tony Awards will be Julian Bird, who oversees the British ceremonies that parallel America’s most prestigious theatrical gathering. 


Mr. Bird heads both the Society of London Theatre, the West End producers’ organization that bestows the Olivier Awards each spring, and UK Theatre, a consortium that represents performing-arts institutions throughout the nation and hosts a UK Theatre Awards luncheon each October in the City’s historic Guildhall. 


In recent years, the Shakespeare Guild has presented its annual Gielgud Award in this venerable setting, paying homage to Sir Donald Sinden in 2014, Dame Eileen Atkins in 2015, and Vanessa Redgrave in 2016. 


Mr. Bird works closely with his American counterparts, and among the many topics to be explored is speculation that Kevin Kline, who received the 2002 Gielgud Award and is favored to win another Tony for his scintillating performance in Present Laughter, may soon be starring in a London production of this Noel Coward classic.    


For more about Shakespeare Guild offerings, most of them featuring conversations hosted by John Andrews, visit www.shakesguild.org or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..





Planned Interruptionl

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.196  Wednesday, 14 June 2017


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

Date:         Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Subject:    Planned Interruption


Dear Subscribers,


Tomorrow afternoon, I leave for two weeks in England—Devon and West Sussex.


Keep submissions coming and I will get to them when I return July 1.





B&L 10.2 (Shakespeare and Dance)

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 28.194  Wednesday, 7 June 2017


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

Date:         June 5, 2017 at 10:53:02 AM EDT

Subject:    B&L 10.2 (Shakespeare and Dance) is out


The new special issue of Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation (10.2), “Shakespeare and Dance,” guest-edited by Elizabeth Klett, is out! This beautifully illustrated release includes video footage of dances from Romeo and Juliet, in an essay by Emily Winerock (http://www.borrowers.uga.edu/783478/show); gorgeous pics of a Tempest ballet in an essay by Elizabeth Klett; and “raunchy dances” from Omkara in an essay by Madhavi Biswas. Other contributors include Sheila Cavanagh and Linda McJannet, Amy Rodgers, Nona Monahin, Lisa Dickson and Andrea Downie, and Emma Atwood. Please

share widely: http://www.borrowers.uga.edu/


Sujata Iyengar

Professor of English

Co-general editor of  Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation

Department of English

University of Georgia

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



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