Academic journal article Style

SHAKSPER Roundtable on Intentions: The Origins of the Collaboration with Style

Academic journal article Style

SHAKSPER Roundtable on Intentions: The Origins of the Collaboration with Style

Article excerpt

Now in its twenty-first year of serving the academy, SHAKSPER is an edited and moderated, international, e-mail distribution list for discussion among Shakespearean researchers, instructors, students, and anyone sharing their academic interests and concerns. The SHAKSPER digests are delivered, archived, and managed with L-Soil's LISTSERV[R] software. In addition to the regular mailings to subscribers, anyone can use the Internet to access the archives and the list's other materials from the SHAKSPER Web site . The list's more than one thousand members have enrolled from sixty-eight countries; they include prominent Shakespearean textual scholars and bibliographers, editors and critics, as well as university, college, and community-college professors, high-school teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, actors, theatre professionals, authors, poets, playwrights, librarians, computer scientists, lawyers, doctors, retirees, and other interested participants. SHAKSPER endeavors to emphasize the scholarly discourse by providing the opportunity for the formal exchange of ideas through queries and responses regarding literary, critical, textual, theoretical, and performative topics and issues. Announcements of conferences, calls for papers, seminars, lectures, symposia, job openings, the publication of books, the availability of online and print articles, Internet databases and resources, journal contents, and performances and festivals are regular features as are assessments of scholarly books, past and present theatrical productions, and Shakespeare and Shakespeare-inspired films as well as citations and discussions of "popular" culture references to Shakespeare and his works. SHAKSPER also provides occasion for spontaneous informal discussion, eavesdropping, peer review, and a sense of belonging to a worldwide scholarly community. Besides the archive of past discussions, the SHAKSPER Web site includes "A Selected Guide to Shakespeare on the Internet," an international directory of Shakespearean institutions, organizations, libraries, and journals, and a bibliography of poems, novels, plays, and films inspired by Shakespeare and his works, and much more.

The Origins of the SHAKSPER Roundtable

In the early 1970s, the U.S. military developed the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), a bombproof, distributed packet-switching network, which went worldwide with the Department of Defense's connecting ARPANET supercomputers to other supercomputers at University College in London and at the Royal Radar Establishment in Norway. As proficiency with computer applications began to spread from the military to scientists and librarians and eventually to academics in other disciplines, e-mail was generally the entry-level Internet application adopted by most. E-mail could be archived and organized on electronic bulletin boards with Usenet newsgroups being generally employed for messages of a mundane nature while listserv software became the preferred method for distributing messages among members with more scholarly or focused interests. In the early 1990s, hypertext, a protocol for information distribution that embedded links in a text to connect it to other texts, was developed by the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) and became the basis for such graphical interfaces as the then popular Mosaic program, transforming the Internet into the World Wide Web and thoroughly changing computing by opening it to the general public, profoundly changing the users on and the content of the Internet.

I initially became interested in the potential of academic listservs when I attended a panel at the December 1989 MLA convention in Washington, D.C., and heard Willard McCarty, then of the University of Toronto, deliver his paper "Humanist: Lessons from a Global Electronic Seminar." A few months later in April 1990 at the SAA Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, I met Kenneth Steele, a graduate student from the University of Toronto who had been working with McCarty. …

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