May 18, 2018

Wildenthal on Shapiro "On the Media": Name-Calling and Bullying Students and Doubters @tjsl

Bryan H. Wildenthal, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, is publishing Shapiro 'On the Media': Name-Calling and Bullying Students and Doubters in the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship Newsletter (2018). Here is the abstract.
For far too long, when it comes to the Shakespeare Authorship Question (SAQ), orthodox academics, whatever their motivations, have largely avoided the simple duty that any serious scholar has: to engage forthrightly with the evidence. Instead, such scholars, when they deign to mention the SAQ at all, have focused almost entirely on trying to denigrate or psychoanalyze authorship doubters. In its most insulting and ridiculous forms, this has involved suggestions of snobbery or even mental illness. A milder version — almost more maddeningly smug and condescending — has been to retreat behind a fog of fashionable academic jargon, analyzing authorship doubt as a purely contingent product of modern times and cultural preoccupations. This was largely the approach taken by English Professor James Shapiro of Columbia University in his book about the SAQ, "Contested Will" (2010). Somehow, from the orthodox perspective, it is never about the simple factual and historical issue at the heart of the SAQ: Does the available evidence, fully considered in context, raise reasonable questions about who actually wrote these particular works of literature? Professor Shapiro spoke at length about the SAQ in a December 2016 interview with Brooke Gladstone on her public radio show "On the Media." This essay criticizes the way in which both Shapiro and Gladstone approached the SAQ, especially the troubling implications of Shapiro's comments for how Shakespeare authorship doubters, especially students, should be treated.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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