Talk:Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship:

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:
    • Conform all references to the Harvard citation style used in the article.
    • Add information about the Oxfordian arguments being rebutted to "Oxford's knowledge of court life"
    • Add mainstream context about Shakespeare's use of legal terms and concepts to "Oxford's education"
    • Add mainstream context to "Science"
    • Rewrite "Chronology of the plays and Oxford's 1604 death" in a more organised way
    • Add citations to "Family connections" and "Theatre connections" for Oxfordians claiming this information as evidence
    • Write section on Oxfordian publications, including Brief Chronicles
    • Use sources such as Fowler 1986 and Sobran 1997 to write a paragraph on allegations of verbal parallels in Oxford's letters and poetry
    • Cite all facts about Oxford's life to reliable sources rather than fringe ones
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    Need a stronger word than "proposes" in the lead[edit]

    The Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship ???????? that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford wrote the plays and poems traditionally attributed to William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.Contends? Asserts? Argues? Declares? "Asserts" is the closest IMO, but "proposes" connotes a cautious hesitancy that's not there. Tom Reedy (talk) 01:42, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

    Someone who has digested a dictionary may have the right word, but meanwhile would "is" or "states" do the job? Johnuniq (talk) 02:09, 15 July 2013 (UTC)
    The Baconian and Marlovian articles' "holds" seems to be favoured by the OED in its own definitions of various theories. It also has the advantage (as "is" does too) of implying nothing about how the theory is rated or presented by its proponents. Peter Farey (talk) 06:34, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

    Spelling of "Shakespearean"[edit]

    Should Shakespearean be changed to Shakespearian throughout the article? The latter seems to be the prevailing form among British scholars. - Cal Engime (talk) 23:22, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

    And would it be advisable to adopt anti-Shakespearian in place of anti-Stratfordian, following the usage of Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? I'd say it's now the most Reliable source on the topic. - Cal Engime (talk) 04:45, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
    'Shakespearian' is undoubtedly the spelling favoured by the OED on etymological grounds, and is certainly the one which I use whenever permitted to. However, I guess that this is something which has been discussed and decided long ago, and not only as regards this article. There is currently no indication that British English is the accepted style here, let alone with Oxford spelling.
    As for 'Anti-Shakespearian', yes, of course, and let's change the title of the article to "Shakespeare authorship conspiracy theory" while we are about it, and let NPOV go hang? I don't think so. The latest propaganda doesn't necessarily reflect the usage of the less fanatical RS Stratfordians. Peter Farey (talk) 16:48, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
    I have no idea what Peter is trying to say about spelling, or what he means by the statement that there "is currently no indication that British English is the accepted style here". Generally British spelling should be used in articles with British subject matter, which would include this one. Obviously editors will tend to unconsciously use their own spelling-quirks, so inconsistencies will creep in. That's just an inevitable consequence of Wikipedia's "anyone can edit" approach. By all means change all uses of Shakespearean to Shakespearian. On "anti-Stratfordian" versus "anti-Shakespearian", I happen to dislike both those terms. The first is silly (they are opposed to the town of Stratford?), but well-established, and the second is ambiguous. On the whole, I'm not so opposed to "Anti-Stratfordian" as to "Stratfordian", a term which implies that mainstream scholars are somehow motivated by ideological partisanship, and creates a false equality between "Stratfordians" and "Oxfordians". Peter's extraordinary characterisation of distinguished and internationally recognised scholars as "fanatical RS Stratfordians" epitomises this false equation. Paul B (talk) 17:15, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
    Paul, by my statement that there "is currently no indication that British English is the accepted style here", I was simply saying that, unlike some of the other SAQ pages (the main SAQ article in particular) this one has no instruction at the start of it to "Use British English".
    My reluctance to agree immediately that we should use the British spelling was because I genuinely had no idea whether this was something which had been discussed and agreed at some earlier date between those who, unlike me, have spent a large amount of time editing the article.
    I'm sorry that you didn't like my characterization of those who have decided to call me an "anti-Shakespearian", but they quite clearly intended it to give offence and it worked. Peter Farey (talk) 20:44, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
    It's not been discussed. It's often been noted that most Oxfordians are American, but, of course it was founded by a Brit and it is about British history, so the normal convention would be to use British English. That what the relevant guidelines at WP:MOS suggest. I really don't know why you think "anti-Shakespearean" is intended to "give offence". As I recall the references to you in the book were polite and respectful. William Shakespeare was, after all, a real person not just an abstract pseudonym on a page like "Martin Marprelate", so it seems quite reasonable to me to say that an attempt to take away his work from him and give them to another person is "anti-Shakespearean". After all, if your view were to prevail, Shakespeare's name would disappear from publications and we would have a rather fatter complete works of Marlowe. Shakespeare would become a non-entity, his life relegated to unimportance. Indeed the whole anti-Strat position is based on arguments that Shakespeare was somehow too stupid, too ignorant, too financially-motivated, etc, to be the writer. It's an attack on the person Shakespeare. If that's not anti-Shakespeare, I don't know what is. Paul B (talk) 17:12, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
    Yes, Charles Nicholl's description of me was surprisingly friendly, and I think he was just toeing the party line in calling us "anti-Shakespearians".
    You said that you disliked this term because it is ambiguous; and so it is. Furthermore, I believe this ambiguity to be deliberate, implying as it does that we are in some way opposed to the works themselves, as a schoolkid might say that he can't stand Shakespeare. On that score I am, like most other anti-Stratfordians, extremely pro Shakespeare, and find it offensive that Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells should knowingly suggest otherwise. I suppose what would make it easier would be if both sides of the argument could agree that (at least for the SAQ) the spellings of the name should differ according to whether it is the man from Stratford (Shakspere) or the author of the works (Shakespeare) being referred to. At least 'anti-Shaksperian' would remove that ambiguity, but I don't see this happening any time soon.
    I wouldn't see things happening in the way you predict, even in the virtually impossible event of Marlowe's authorship being proven. Stratford would still be the historical "home" of the incredible Shakespeare myth. The plays would still be by William Shakespeare ("now known to be Christopher Marlowe"). With William of Stratford being the most important figure in the subterfuge, people would now be eager to work out exactly what his role had been in it. From being the most famous playwright in the world he would become the world's most famous impostor. I can hear his ghost saying "Ah well, fair is fair (as someone once said), but it was great while it lasted." As an aside, "Shakespearian" scholars would make a mint rewriting everything to take account of the new orthodoxy!
    You say that "the whole anti-Strat position is based on arguments that Shakespeare was somehow too stupid, too ignorant, too financially-motivated, etc, to be the writer." I hope you don't think that this is my position, which it certainly isn't. I simply find it very difficult to understand how, with the background and life experiences we know about, he can have sprung from Jove's brow fully developed as a poet/dramatist immediately to equal and later surpass Marlowe, with the opportunities he apparently had and (under the Marlovian hypothesis) may well have had later. Peter Farey (talk) 12:53, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

    A comment on sourcing[edit]

    I've just deleted some material in the "1604" section citing academics to qualify mainstream opinion about the dates of the plays, with no attribution of Oxfordians who have drawn on their work to support Oxfordism. There are many, many minority views about Shakespeare, and citing one as an "Oxfordian response" without an Oxfordian source takes it out of context. Distorting sources like this should be considered WP:OR at best, and dishonest POV-pushing at worst.

    For example, in my recent rewrite, I removed the false statement that Alfred Harbage had dated many of Shakespeare's later works before 1604, citing Harbage's edition of Shakespeare as the source. The actual source seems to have been Mark Anderson, who argues that since Harbage gives his dates with margins of error, we can take his earliest possible date for every single play, then turn to Karl Elze for favourable dates for the two remaining post-1604 plays. Another example would be the long-standing information about Ernesto Grillo's book, an ancient source adduced to support an opinion of no weight whatsoever with no cited connection to Oxfordism.

    I'll soon be deleting the similar stuff about non-Oxfordians who drew a connection between Burghley and Polonius if no Oxfordian source is added to justify it. In the future, Oxfordian arguments or rebuttals added to the page without citation of the fringe publication they were found in should be reverted immediately. - Cal Engime (talk) 01:06, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

    I have deleted this section:

    "Oxfordians interpret certain 16th- and 17th-century literary allusions as indicating that Oxford was one of the more prominent suppressed anonymous and/or pseudonymous writers of the day. Under this scenario, Shakespeare was either a "front man" or "play-broker" who published the plays under his own name or was merely an actor with a similar name, misidentified as the playwright since the first Shakespeare biographies of the early 1700s."

    The first sentence is correct but should be sourced. The second is a personal interpretation of the theory which does not reflect the Oxfordian position. Some Oxfordians, Charlton Ogburn for example, maintain that he was not an actor at all. None positively identify him as a frontman or playbroker or as having published plays "under his own name" as most Oxfordians say that "Shaksper" or "Shaxper" was his "own" name. Nor do any Oxfordians I am aware of or have read identify him as physically "publishing" any plays at all. Also, the expression "Under this scenario" and the closing phrase "misidentified..." violates NPOV guidelines.Burdenedwithtruth (talk) 17:18, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

    The playbroker theory is just one of several. I think the sentence makes it clear that there are a number of different points of view within Oxfordianism (and anti-Stratfordism in general). The "front man" view is utterly commonplace, so I don't really understand why you have a problem with that. The "misidentified" argument arises from the claim that 'Shakespeare' was already adopted by de Vere as a pseudonym when the 'man from Statford' appeared with a similar name (Oxfordians spend a lot of effort trying to prove that "Shakspere" is a similar but different name). I'm at a loss to understand what violates NPOV, since neither "Under this scenario" or "misidentified" are biased or derogatory expressions. As for "published the plays under his own name", no one is suggesting that he actually printed them himself if that's what you mean by "phyically publishing". It simply means he organised their publication. Obviously the view that he was using his own name contradicts the claim that "Shakspere" is a different name, but these are different theories.
    If you read WP:LEDE you will see that content in the lead section does not have to be sourced if it is sourced in the main article content, which it is. You may have a point about the fact the article as a whole does not contain any discussion of the various Oxfordian accounts of the claimed relationship between the poet (Oxford) and the Stratford man, which vary from close friendship to outright antagonism. Paul B (talk) 21:27, 27 January 2015 (UTC)

    A related page is being considered for deletion[edit]

    It may interest regular editors of this page to know that the article on Brief Chronicles has been nominated for deletion. - Cal Engime (talk) 23:57, 2 August 2013 (UTC)

    Overly critical intro?[edit]

    The first two paragraphs of this article basically attack the notion of alternative Shakespeare authorship theories, even going so far as to imply that it is a "conspiracy theory." Is that how the article should begin? Does that adhere to NPOV? I don't have a strong opinion on the matter of Shakepearean authorship one way or the other, but I feel like the article as currently written - at least the introduction - is intended to guide the reader to the conclusion that this theory is false. (talk) 23:17, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

    Thanks for your interest. We've tried to build this page according to established interpretations of Wikipedia's core content policies (neutral point of view, verifiability, and no original research) detailed at the page Wikipedia:Fringe theories. Wikipedia is supposed to be neutral on matters of opinion, but that doesn't mean treating all points of view as equally valid. For example, Wikipedia would be useless as a reference if pages like Holocaust or general relativity gave equal space to people who don't believe in their subjects; coverage of notable fringe theories is to be mostly confined to pages specifically about the fringe theories, and even there WP:FRINGE says that much more weight should be given to the mainstream view, with the fringe view "clearly described as such."
    Oxfordian editors of this page who would like to use Wikipedia to promote their views have often argued that Oxfordism should be considered a significant minority view, not a fringe view, and thus deserves more weight. However, this has been discussed extensively (especially when the Arbitration Committee dealt with the subject), and an overwhelming number of reliable sources have been found explicitly calling Oxfordism a far-fringe view, many of which could be quoted in much harsher terms than are in the article; I believe Tom Reedy once posted a list of quotes from 14 different reliable sources calling anti-Stratfordians a "lunatic fringe" in those exact words. So while we shouldn't go so far as to make the page an anti-Oxfordian polemic, we aim to keep the mainstream view (that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare) prominently present throughout the article. - Cal Engime (talk) 02:04, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
    I remember that list, here it is: [1] Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 17:31, 11 November 2013 (UTC)
    On second thought, that may not be the list you were thinking about, it´s old. It´s a "lunatic fringe" list, though. Gråbergs Gråa Sång (talk) 17:34, 11 November 2013 (UTC)

    Semi-protected edit request on 30 December 2013[edit]

    Please strike out the duplicate word "consistently" in the following sentence:

    Their arguments are "not taken seriously by Shakespeare scholars because they consistently consistently distort and misrepresent the historical record", (talk) 03:36, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

    Done. Thanks for pointing that out. Paul B (talk) 10:01, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

    RE: "Snobbishness". I would recommend changing this word to "snobbery", a more common or correct form. Would recommend dropping the extra words, "is based on simple", and just write, "is" snobbery. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:48, 16 February 2014 (UTC)