Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Memo to an Internet Critic - huff and puff and tweak the wording

At the end of October when it debuts in cinemas worldwide, the movie Anonymous will undoubtedly bring many new eyes and ears to the Shakespeare authorship mystery.

In the meantime, movie fan sites like IMDB have been hosting ongoing online debates that are never short on definitive opinions stated definitively. (Film nerds are not known to be shrinking violets when it comes to expressing their point of view.)

In one recent conflagration, I was called out for being "completely wrong" and "completely clueless." Other adverb-laden barbs loudly and boisterously made their presence known too.  

So what was the critique? It concerned a sentence I wrote in a 2006 online discussion forum about my book. (The same sentence also appeared in Appendix C of "Shakespeare" By Another Name -- "The 1604 Question.")

As I'm now in the midst of making some minor edits to the next edition of SBAN that will be appearing in September -- more on that soon -- I wanted all the more to know exactly what I'd gotten wrong in Appendix C so I could make the correction

The critic's contention and my examination of his contention follows after the jump.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Who Was "Shakespeare"? - The Essay Contest

This year the two major American Oxfordian membership organizations -- The Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society -- are sponsoring an essay contest for high school students (or those who graduated from high school in 2011).

The four possible essay topics involve considering if the authorship debate is based on valid evidence and if it matters; analyzing the movie Anonymousand (its one not-strictly-authorship-related question) discussing the role and significance of the Shakespearean heroines. 

The Shakespeare Fellowship has posted a gallery of winners and honorable mentions from 2002. Contest rules and details for this year are here (PDF). 

The prize values are $1000 for first, $800 for second, $600 for third and three $200 honorable mentions. If you're a high school English or history teacher or know one please consider/pass along this blog post.  Previous years have seen upwards of 600 entrants, and with the attention Anonymous will bring to the topic, that number may well go up this year. 

This is a great way to engage the next generation of Shakespeare fans and students about that "fine mystery" (as Charles Dickens put it) about the Bard's identity. "I tremble every day," Dickens continued, "Lest something should come out." 

Creative Commons image by Keith Williamson