Oxfordian researcher Richard Waugaman, MD, and Brief Chronicles general editor Roger Stritmatter, PhD, met recently with The Global Hamlet co-founder Nefeli Misuraca, PhD, at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC to discuss the first crowd-sourced edition of a Shakespeare play.
Lisa McAlister of With Good Cause is handling public relations for the Global Hamlet in the US. After seeing Waugaman’s work on the Internet, McAlister contacted him on February 17 to ask him to participate in the project.
McAlister said to Waugaman:
I am reaching out to invite you to be part of our [Global Hamlet] community as I think you have some valuable insight and opinions to share. A new global edition of Hamlet will be published in 2016 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. This will be the very first crowdsourced edition of a book anywhere. The Global Hamlet invites people from all over the world to contribute by sharing a quote, making a comment or telling a story of how Hamlet is still so relatable in modern society. Where other collective works become a globalarchive, the Global Hamlet will create a globalauthor. Everyone who contributes will receive recognition by being listed in the book as a contributor.
Waugaman agreed and suggested McAlister contact fellow Oxfordians: Stritmatter and Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship president Tom Regnier, JD. In turn, McAlister suggested DC locals Waugaman and Stritmatter meet with co-founder Misuraca who was in town early in March. Waugaman reported that during their three-hour lunch on March 3, Misuraca told them about the Global Hamlet project and was enthusiastic in her praise for both Waugaman and Stritmatter’s work.
Dr. Misuraca seems like an ideal person to help lead up this exciting new global Shakespeare initiative. She is clearly committed to the ideal of bringing the play to an international audience, not keeping it locked up an academic suitcase as an object of scholarly reverence. She has read at least some of the Oxfordian commentary on it, and seems to me fully aware that Oxfordian scholarship has much to contribute to the comprehension of the work itself and understanding of its place in history. It seems like the Global Hamlet initiative will become a major venue for students and scholars to learn about the play in a less restrictive atmosphere than that promoted by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Folger library, and the other institutional forces that seem to be committed to the orthodox view of the bard.
Waugaman and Stritmatter are enthusiastic about the Global Hamlet project, and both plan to participate.
. . . this is a wonderful instance of the healthy role of the internet in returning Shake-Speare to those who love his works. For far too long, Shakespeare scholars have held a monopoly on a respectable understanding of who wrote these works. They have tried to act as priests, controlling access to who was allowed to write authoritatively on Shake-Speare. It’s reminiscent of past eras when the laity was forbidden to read the Bible, and translating it so common people could read it was a capital crime.
I was in college during the 1960s, so the ideals of Global Hamlet remind me of the ideals of “Power to the People.” The Stratfordian priests have become corrupted with power, and deserve to be exposed. We need to remember that before the twentieth century there weren’t professional Shakespeare scholars in academia, since only the Greek and Latin classics were taught as literature.
It’s still too soon to know just how I might be involved in Global Hamlet. For starters, I sent Nefeli my review of Bronson Feldman’s book Hamlet Himself. I’m proud of Sigmund Freud’s prominent role as an early Oxfordian, and Feldman was the first psychoanalyst I’m aware of who took up Freud’s suggestion that we re-examine the works of Shake-Speare from a psychoanalytic perspective, based on a more correct understanding of who wrote them.
When contacted to inquire about her meeting with Waugaman and Stritmatter, Misuraca said:
I was very happy to meet professors Waugaman and Stritmatter during my very successful trip to the US. I found an openness of mind and an attention towards what we are trying to accomplish here at The Global Hamlet that reinforced my idea that inclusion is always the best medicine for a stagnant culture.
While we are experiencing an excess of philology in certain areas of studies – an idea that, in the end, every subject matter should be approached via a scientific standpoint – we are also witnessing a true renaissance in independent studies who try to open new avenues of critical thought.
Professors Waugaman and Stritmatter shared with me their experiences and their ideas with a generosity characteristic of those who believe that research means taking many points of view into consideration. I believe that students and people in general all over the world should be introduced to a variety of theory and approaches, so that they can navigate through complex ideas and authors more proficiently.
Shakespeare in particular, with all his complexities and challenges is the perfect medium to start an international and trans-critical dialogue. The Global Hamlet wants to be precisely this: the first in a series of collective classics created by the people, for the people, a platform where everyone can participate under the guidance of expert editors and contribute to the creation of the ultimate Hamlet edition: a snapshot of how this infinite work of art is perceived by the people and influences our times.
Hamlet has created what we now call “the modern man”, it is only fitting that an encyclopedia that wants to produce people’s editions of the major works of the western world would start by annotating, illustrating and also translating this piéce.
. . . Professor Waugaman told me that it would be interesting if we were to participate to each other’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Our community base is rapidly growing (we opened the Facebook page only a couple of months ago) and we are organizing a number of e-events in which your Facebook people could be interested, as well.
Although the Global Hamlet website is currently in beta and won’t be accessible to the public until later this year, anyone who wishes to participate in the project may begin by interacting with editor Damien Peters on one of the project’s social media pages at:
Global Hamlet website: (projected to open Sept 2015 at http://www.globalhamlet.org)
The collective annotation will start in the next few days on our Facebook page through the guidance of an expert editor. Any and all annotations will transfer on the regular website once it will be up and running. In the meantime, we have already started a collective illustration of Hamlet on our Pinterest account, with users proposing images taken from the vast existing iconography of the play (drawings, photos, stage designs, paintings and sculptures), and contributing them also through Facebook and Twitter. These images will be organized scene by scene and captioned. The idea of launching first on the social media the collective illustration and the collective annotation is aimed to build up a community before the launch of the [web]site.
The Global Hamlet project Q & A with Lisa McAlister
Must all commentators enroll as members and pay a fee? If so, how much is the fee?
No, there is no fee to participate.
Must all readers and/or commentators be members to gain access or is the site open to the public?
The site is open to the public, but if participants would like their name to be included in the credits of the final published book, then they should register as a member on the site. Since that functionality is not yet available we are keeping track of contributors manually at the moment.
Is the Global Hamlet website open to the public?
The site that is currently password protected is a beta site only and the only purpose for going there is to view our concept, not to actually participate. All current annotation activities are taking place on Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest and the fully interactive site will be launched sometime late summer, probably September .
How can commentators gain access until the website opens?
All activities are on social media and we encourage people to participate on social media.
Will the Global Hamlet provide training to those who wish to participate?
Although training is not required to participate, the project will offer workshops and conferences to the public. The workshops are suited for any kind of university, school, course, class, as well as libraries and national cultural centers. The conferences are suited for universities, festivals, cultural events and public venues in general. For more information, contact: <firstname.lastname@example.org> .
Who are the editors who approve commentary? How are they chosen? Are the editors the sole arbiters of content?
Currently we have one editor, Damien Peters. More editors will be selected as the project grows. For example, we are currently working with universities to select graduate students who have a deep knowledge of Shakespeare and an interest in contributing to the project to work as editors. The editors are selected by the project co-founders Dr. Nefeli Misuraca and Simone Barillari. The editors put the content into correct context, but do not determine the “correctness”, so to speak, of annotations as part of the point of the project is to create the ultimate resource on Hamlet with many viewpoints.
Who is the main benefactor or funding source for the project? Who will publish the 2016 edition of The Global Hamlet?
There is not one particular University associated with the project, but we are forming relationships with many universities in order to have a large student population participating. Italian and international private contributors have funded the nonprofit organization — The Global Hamlet, based in Rome –which is behind the project; we have also received an advance from each of the publishing houses we have signed contracts with: Feltrinelli Editore in Italy; Anagrama in Spain and South America; Athenaeum Uitgeverij in Hollande; La Table Ronde, an imprint of Gallimard, in France.
Who is on the Global Hamlet board of directors?
Global Hamlet co-founders Simone Barillari, PhD and Nefeli Misuraca, PhD and Marco Poletto, treasurer of the association, a financial consultant and tax advisor registered in the Italian Board of Advisors
Will the Global Hamlet website continue to be accessible after publication? Will annotation continue?
Yes, definitely (under the supervision of a new team of editors).