Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Blogoshpere 16 January – 22 January 2012

Somewhat late but still here is a list of the most interesting and informative blog posts published last week. The "Early Modern" set includes meditations about Shakespeare’s Coriolanus triggered by the release of the new filmic adaptation with Ralph Fiennes and Gerald Butler. Some historically minded posts feature Dick Wittington, Henry Howard, the marriage of Henry VII and Yorkist Elizabeth. Furthermore there are two posts related to cultural history, one exploring the usefulness of the experimental-speculative divide in Early Modern natural philosophy, the other meditating about the Italian-Hungarian cultural relationships. Digital Humanists wrote about infographics, an educator’s vision about the near future of higher education, about open access, and reacted to Stanley Fish’s blog post about Digital Humanities. In the “Others” set one may read about Prezi’s new initiative. So, again I learned much last week, so happy reading to you as well!

Early Modern Studies:

Paul Edmondson in his “Coriolanus in Conversation” writes about Ralph Fiennes’s Coriolanus in a highly appreciative tone. The post is accompanied by an audio recording of a discussion led by Edmondson and Paul Prescott at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust this week. Both the post and the discussion deserve attention.

Sylvia Morris’ “Ralph Fiennes as Coriolanus: noble warrior or boy of tears?” Is an informative post considering Fiennes in Shakespearean roles. Her last sentence sums up the post, so I’ll paste it here: “Looking at the Shakespearean roles Fiennes has taken during his career it’s easy to see how this one was a part he was waiting to take, while the film also hits the mark as a twenty-first century action movie.”

Liz Dollimore this time pointed at a source to Shakespeare’s Coriolanus in her post entitled “Shakespeare’s Sources – Coriolanus.” She convincingly argues that “Shakespeare’s main source for this play was Sir Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans.” Her argument consists in putting a quotation from Plutarch next to one in Coriolanus. The two parallel texts really speak for each other.

David Fallow makes a case in his “Shakespeare and the Pantomime Cat” for the claim that though Shakespeare and Dick Whittington seemed to have shared a fate leading from poverty to fame, neither of them followed this pattern.

Claire at The Anna Boleyn Files writes about the circumstances of Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey’s execution. This post, entitled “19 January 1547 – Execution of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey” is not so much his poetic appreciation but rather a historical introduction flavoured with a bit of poetry.

In another post, “18 January 1486 – Marriage of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York” Claire reveals the problematic nature of the marriage between the victor at Bosworth Field and Edward IV’s daughter. The complex procedure involved the interplay of the Parliament, the Pope, declaring Elizabeth to be a legitimate daughter of Edward.

Peter Anstley in his “Experimental Philosophy and the Straw Man Problem” reconsiders in an enlightening way their experimental-speculative distinction from the point of view of an objection.

Zsombor Jékely’s “Italy and Hungary in the Renaissance (Book review)” is a post that is fascinating to me, as it is a rather informative one on Italian-Hungarian cultural relationships back in the Renaissance and now.

Digital Humanities:

Another reaction to Stanley Fish by Geoffrey Rockwell entitled “The Digital Humanities and the Revenge of Authority” is a meditation that does not intend to argue with or refute Fish, but rather to change the concepts through which a meaningful discussion may emerge. Rockwell clarifies the field with phrasing three questions that can be the basis of further discussions. When exploring the first, he defines Digital Humanities in a rather telling way: “I personally think the digital humanities is a craft that brings computing practices, concepts and language to the building of digital artifacts in the humanities.” I think this is a claim worth pondering about.

Melissa Terrass’ post, “Infographic: Quantifying Digital Humanities” offers a digital infographics of Digital Humanities as a high resolution image and a really nice printable version. Great post for Digital Humanists and for others as well.

This is a thought-provoking—what else could it be??—interview with Cathy N. Davidson about her book, about her vision as an educator. The title is “Steve Wheeler’s Q&A with Cathy Davidson

Amanda French’s post, an open letter, “On Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications” is an important contribution to the open access discussions. A must-read post, indeed.


Some fascinating news for Prezi users: as the title of the blog post claims “Introducing Prezi U – a community hub for everything Prezi in education” a new feature of Prezi was launched for educators which includes a library, a forum and articles to be read.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Blogoshpere 09 January – 15 January 2012

Last week I found a great variety of posts in the blogosphere worth reading and meditating about. The posts that have something to do with Early Modern England include nine post with a wide range of fields discussed. There is, of course, Shakespeare in many clothes: sources and some religious background to Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy. Besides Shakespeare, we could read about Marlowe, gossiping, brothels, turnS of the calendar year, execution, about marginalia for theatre and book historians. Less in number but no less thought-provoking are the posts that pertain to Digital Humanists. Stanley Fish for example continued his meditation about Digital Humanities demonstrating distinction and much erudition—not that I am surprised by this—in his second take on the topic. Furthermore one of my favourite topics is discussed last week, namely a study about the academic use—or not use—of web 2.0 tools. So, again I learned much last week, so happy reading to you, as well!

Early Modern Studies:

Samuel Thomas in his Gossip in Early Modern England delineates the origins and uses of the word “gossip” from its medieval beginnings up to the time when it received its modern, mainly negative connotation. In the story we find “god-siblings” and Margaret Cavendish, and other early 17th-century printed material dealing with gossiping. A fascinating story, indeed.

H.M. Castor reviews the long history of the change in the turn of the year, i.e. the shift from March 25th to January 1st in his “Old year, New year.” This is both an intriguing story and a learned study in social history. It is worth reading for all.

Liz Dollimore argues in her Shakespeare’s sources – Henry VI part 3 that Shakespeare most of the time relied on Holinshed as a source for this play, but sometimes he turned for other sources. She claims that Holinshed used Hall’s Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families as his ultimate source, sometimes even verbatim, still there are parts in Hall which do not appear in Holinshed. One part, at least, seems more dramatic in Hall, and consequently Shakespeare went back to Hall in this case, i.e. in the scene when Edward IV makes a not so modest proposal to Lady Grey.

If somebody would like to read about Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy, they should consult Ewan Fernie’s “Shakespearience 4: Hamlet’s Depression.” In this post they will meet Luther, the gravedigger scene, mysticism testifying the never-ending interest in both the play and in this monologue.

If somebody is interested in EM executions, then they—and others as well—will find “Heads Will Roll…But How Far?” at the Early Modern News Networks rather informative. The post is about the execution of William Laud, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, on January 10th in 1645, and locates the event within the EM ritual of executions and their representations in newsbooks of the time.

I cannot resist the temptation to advertise this post, “Searching for Hungarian Shakespeares” by Paul Edmondson, as it is about a young and talented Hungarian Shakespeare scholar, Julia Paraizs a friend and colleague of mine. The post presents her current research project, and the reason why she spent some four months in The Shakespeare Centre.

Holger Syme in his Well-Read Plays IV” this week meditated about annotations and marginalia in the third quarto of Thomas Heywood’s Rape of Lucrece (1614; STC 13361a), the Folger’s first copy of Philip Massinger’s The Duke of Milan (1623; STC 17634), the Folger’s second copy of Massinger’s The Bond-Man (1624; STC 17632), the Folger’s copy of the first quarto of the anonymous Edward III (1596; STC 7501) and some other works. His claim this time in his on words is this: “All of them [the particular copies he has written about—Zs.A.] seem to show readers engaged in efforts to make their playtexts more readable. But, as I hope to persuade you, making a play readable, or reader-friendly, did not necessarily mean erasing its origins as a performance script or altering its status from theatrical document to literary work.”

Dainty Ballerina last week published a post, “Vill you not stay in my bosom tonight, love?,” about one of the most elegant and famous brothels in the 17th Century, named Holland’s Leagure. In the post one may find literary and bookish descriptions of the brothel from its contemporaries, and also she let’s the reader peep into the underworld of 17th-century London. This is a study that is to be read by historians of EM culture, especially because of the detailed references section.

Adam G. Hooks’ “Anonymous Marlowe” explores the facets of the creation of an authorial persona, as it happened in the case of Christopher Marlowe. This is done through arguing that a poem, i.e. “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love,” attributed to Marlowe could hardly have been written by him. Hooks meticulously presents the reader the history of this attribution. He then concludes his post with this fascinating sentence: “If Marlowe the author was made by the posthumous publication of his works, he was subsequently unmade as readers appropriated (and failed to attribute) his works in the years that followed.”

Digital Humanities:

Stanley Fish’s second note on Digital Humanities, “The Digital Humanities and the Transcending of Mortality” discusses the theme of Digital humanities in the matrices of single- versus multiple authorship, singe- versus multi-directional experience, institution versus outsourcing, paywall versus open access, and explores the theological and political aspects of DH. In this discussion Fish quotes from big fishes in the DH guild from Kathleen Fitzpatrick, through Matthew Kirschbaum, to Mark Sample, Mark Poster and Jerome McGann. Fish ends his meditation with “What might those contributions [of DH—Zs.A.] be? Are they forthcoming? These are the questions I shall take up in the next column, oops, I mean blog.” I, thus, can’t wait for the next post. Until then, however, one may read the comment thread attached to the post that runs into 107 comments by now.

This is a very though-provoking paper at Impact of Social Sciences (London School of Economics and Political Sciences) entitled “Can’t tweet or won’t tweet? What are the reasons behind low adoption of web 2.0 tools by researchers?” The paper investigates why social networking services are not used by the majority of researchers. Actually, I thought that the state of affairs in this case is better in the UK than in other European countries. Seemingly it is not.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Blogoshpere 02 January – 08 January 2012

Last week I came across many an interesting post. The Early Modernists pondered about Leonardo, Shakespeare, polar bears and Twelfth’s Night, or rather what we will. While Digital Humanists meditated about information, still harped on Fish’s note on DH, wrote about alternative career paths, crowd-sourcing editing, about statistical analysis, and naturally presented much of the MLA Convention 2012 for those who could not attend it. Happy reading!

Early Modern Studies:

The Renaissance Mathematicus revealed with much erudition that ‘In the room, the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo,’ or more precisely about Leonardo were wrong. In his “Monday blast from the past #10: Leonardo rides again!” he argues that Leonardo did not revolutionize anatomy on many accounts.

Though this is not a blog, yet I cannot help but include it here. This is a conversation, or more precisely conversations, interviews at Charlie Rose with Liev Schreiber, James Shapiro and Kenneth Branagh about Shakespearean plays. This is just phenomenal, it is worth watching.

Who would expect to have met white polar bears in England in the 16th century? This sounds as improbable as meeting a bear in the Winter’s Tale coming out of and disappearing into nothing. Improbability is, however, not impossibility, as Dainty Ballerina argues in her “For keeping two white bears.”

Catherine Simpson in her post, “What You Will” reports about 16th-century customs related to Twelfth Night, such as suspension of social order for a day, Yule log, theatrical entertainments.

Digital Humanities:

Thomas Rogers’ interview, “Are we on information overload?” with David Weinberger, author of Too Big to Know, is about information overload, filtering, evolution of the nature of knowledge. The key terms include “networked facts,” “new golden age,” “filtering forward.”

The Digital Humanities Now collected the reactions of the blogosphere to Stanley Fish’s opinion about the programme of the 2012 MLA Convention. Here is the link to the Editor’s Choice collection. And here is Steve Kolowich’s take on Fish: “The Promotion That Matters.”

Alex Reid in his post—a transcript of his MLA 2012 talk—takes one of his clues from Stanley Fish, and locates digital humanities closer to rhetoric than literary studies, as he emphasizes invention over interpretation. His fascinating conclusion is: “It doesn’t mean that we stop making arguments, but that we approach their composition differently. This is both an abstract philosophical project and an applied challenge. It means asking how we create technologies that allow us to see and compose arguments differently[…].”

Still the MLA Convention, Brian Croxall’s “Five Questions and Three Answers about Alt-Ac” is actually his presentation at the alt-ac panel that is shared on his blog. This presentation is dedicated to rethinking “graduate education and not ignore different paths for employment after the PhD.” His conclusions are elegant and thought-provoking “More than either an object or method of study, the digital is something that is happening to the humanities in the 21st century.” And this is complemented with “alt-ac is something that is happening to universities.”

This is a thoughtful and balanced paper by Laura Stevens, the editor of the Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature (Fall 2010, Volume 29, Number 2) about crowd-sourcing the process of reviewing scholarly articles. The article can be found here.

Ted Underwood, in his “A brief outburst about numbers.” laments in his post about the divide between rather old fashioned literature professors and digital humanists, insofar as the former look down on statistical analysis. Lamentation then occasions some meditation about numbers, interpretation of numbers and validity. In another post, “MLA talk: just the thesis” he summarizes his two claims in his MLA presentation. The two theses converge in a way that data mining may create a link between “distant” and “close” reading. Interesting posts, indeed.

The Digital Humanities Now created a collection of talks etc of MLA 2012 entitled “EC: Round-up of AHA and MLA conferences.” There are very interesting posts, presentations and handouts listed here, so it is worth browsing them through.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Blogoshpere 26 December – 01 January 2012

Last week—I reckon not surprisingly—was less productive for bloggers than other weeks. This, however, does not mean that I did not bump into informative and beneficial posts. The Early Modern set presents histories in many ways: a history play and its source, book history and reception history.  The harvest in Digital Humanities includes a beginner’s guide to Digital Humanities, and the other posts I have selected consider the identity of Digital Humanities, a discussion that was initiated by an outsider to DH, but himself a big fish in literary studies. Happy reading and a New Year!

Early Modern Studies:

Liz Dollimore’s post, “Shakespeare’s sources – Henry VI part 1” ponders about the description of Joan D’Arc in Holinshed’s Chronicles and in Shakespeare’s play. The conclusion to the comparison is so beautiful that I’ll quote it verbatim: “The story told in the first person without the narrative distance of a historian lives and breathes with the young woman’s passion and self belief. In his borrowing Shakespeare also brings to life.”

Holger Syme in his “Well-Read Plays III” takes this time two books and demonstrates that their respective readers read them with the eyes of an antiquarian. First, he looks at a copy of Samuel Daniel’s Philotas (1605) owned by Sir Anthony Benn (1570-1618). “Benn treated Daniel’s text as a work of learning, writing, appropriately, in Latin, and referring to Horace, Juvenal, Plutarch, Seneca, and Tacitus in his marginal notes.” Syme argues then that Benn read the work as a text for philological investigation rather than as a tragedy. Then he moves on to a 1605 quarto of the anonymous Famous History of the Life and Death of Captain Thomas Stukeley owned by William Stukeley. This volume seems to be created for studying the play with a pen, as every left page is blank to be filled with notes. The illustration Syme brings is a philological and historical exploration of a word filling an entire blank verso page.

Digital Humanities:

Melody Dworak’s “10 New Year’s Resolutions for Budding Digital Humanists” is a very good list of advice for those who would like to get involved in Digital Humanities. Her ten items on the list are really worth considering.

Stanley Fish’s essay, “The Old Order Changeth” was published in the New York Times reflecting on the 2012 MLA Convention programme. He there gave a phenomenology of what people are interested in nowadays as far as literary studies are concerned. When meditating about what is about or have disappeared, and where the future lies, he commented on the forty panels devoted to Digital Humanities, as a possible future for literary studies. “The digital humanities is the name of the new dispensation and its prophets tell us that if we put our faith in it, we shall be saved. But what exactly is it? And how will its miracles be wrought?” His paper created a bit of unrest among digital humanists in the blogoshphere.

The first response I know of was written by Ted Underwood: “Why digital humanities isn’t actually “the next thing in literary studies.”” He argues that DH is not a movement that can / should save Literary Studies, because it is “extra-disciplinary,” it is more an “opportunity” than anything else. He goes on claiming that “DH is something more interesting than that — intellectually less coherent, but posing a more genuine challenge to our assumptions.”

Alex Reid in his “literary studies' digital humanities future” reflects on Fish’s essay, too. His central claim is that Fish’s comparison of postmodern theories and DH just does not hold. “Where postmodernity was a direct attack on the existing traditions of literary studies, the digital humanities isn’t even specifically about literature. It certainly isn’t an attack on existing methods. It is more like an alternative set of methods. It doesn't demand literary scholars change their objects of study. Instead, DH carries on studying the conventional literary traditions.”