“Black is the badge of hell / The hue of dungeons and the school of night.” Love’s Labour’s Lost, IV, iii
SOF webmaster and media consultant Jennifer Newton has produced a new project for her Shakespeare Underground website. She has asked Professor Michael Delahoyde of Washington State University to preside over her School of Night, a university of forbidden knowledge offered free to all who seek authorship enlightenment. Three nights in November have been set aside for this live, interactive event that combines an authorship conference with social media. Newton said:
I think that a live event offers a really exciting and dynamic element — you get a more vital version of the presentation. The chat feature allows participants to converse with each other and with the presenter throughout the talk. There will be a question and answer period at the end where people can come on camera and be onscreen with the group to ask questions.
Michael Delahoyde is a professor in the Department of English at Washington State University where he has been teaching Shakespeare and interdisciplinary humanities courses for 22 years. He graduated from Vassar College with degrees in English, music, and education and earned his graduate degrees at the University of Michigan, focusing on Chaucer in his dissertation. Delahoyde has published articles on Shakespeare and Chaucer, and is currently managing editor for Brief Chronicles and frequently serves as a consultant on children’s books concerning monsters. Delahoyde is a gifted raconteur who describes the School of Night presentations as an experience of virtual immediacy:
The Shakespeare Hoax, November 6, 2014, 9:00pm EST / 6:00 pm PST
“The Shakespeare Hoax” lays out the authorship problem, demonstrating, with emphasis on visual materials, why it is indeed a problem: why Shakspere is not Shakespeare. The class proceeds into the history of attempts to explain the countless oddities and irreconcilable facts with recourse to putting forth other more qualified candidates who might have used the pen-name “Shake-speare.” And no cheesy “maybe we’ll never know” or “what does it really matter” will let anyone off the hook finally.
“This well-painted piece”: Renaissance Art in The Rape of Lucrece, November 13, 2014, 9:00pm EST / 6:00 pm PST
“Renaissance Art in The Rape of Lucrece” brings students through the narrative poem and homes in on the artistically questionable, even inappropriate, decision to focus for a large portion of the poem on paintings of the Trojan War. Delahoyde insists that Shakespeare tells us how to read his works within his works; and with these paintings, identified long ago as those Giulio Romano painted for the Gonzaga family in Mantua, here Shakespeare instructs Queen Elizabeth in allegorically applying ancient mythology to dire current events.
The Winter’s Tale: a Tudor Redemption Story, November 20, 2014, 9:00pm EST / 6:00 pm PST
“The Winter’s Tale: A Tudor Redemption Story” also features Renaissance paintings to demonstrate that Shakespeare could provide therapeutic comfort for Queen Elizabeth regarding her own beyond-extreme dysfunctional family.
Newton opened her Shakespeare Underground website in 2011. After attending a 2008 Shakespeare authorship conference at Concordia University in Portland, Newton discovered that although there is a great deal of online material about the authorship, most multi-media authorship presentations focused on introductory concepts. She created The Shakespeare Underground to present more complex authorship ideas in multi-media format beginning with seven podcast interviews she recorded with authorship luminaries Richard Whalen, Bonner Miller Cutting, Earl Showerman, Tom Regnier, Sabrina Feldman and Katherine Chiljan.
The Shakespeare authorship is a controversial arena of research. And so the very nature of the inquiry puts people who are interested in the question off to the side. I wanted to have fun with that instead of railing against it or feeling oppressed by it – to say, ‘There is this other world where all the good stuff is happening.’
For The Shakespeare Underground logo, Newton showcased the J&W Beggarstaff image of Hamlet created in 1894.
I love the actual graphic style of it. It’s interesting and beautiful and I never tire of seeing it. Also Hamlet is a universally recognized symbol of Shakespeare. Hamlet with the skull represents unblinkered contemplation. The Shakespeare Underground aims to represent a thoughtful, open-minded take on Shakespeare by showcasing all the extraordinary research from the authorship community.
When she and Delahoyde began to talk about what an online authorship class would look like last January, the concept seemed perfect for The Shakespeare Underground.
[An interactive class] seemed like an extension of the idea that drove the podcasts, which is how to bring this fascinating work out to people. Delahoyde is very knowledgable and entertaining. He works with students who are not Shakespeare authorship researchers or early modern experts and he has been communicating to this audience for a long time.
The main thing is that it’s going to be really fun. The first class – the Shakespeare Hoax – is going to be a great one to bring in friends and family. All the classes will be accessible to everyone in terms of content — to anyone who is interested in arts, literature, history and hidden stories. The School of Night will offer another venue for sharing research and exploring ideas, and it should be exciting and delightful. I hope anyone who’s curious will come.