Ros Barber, Ph.D.’s presentation at the 2015 SOF conference in Ashland, “The Value of Uncertainty,” is now accessible on the SOF YouTube Channel. Barber stated of her presentation:
Stratfordians are certain that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. Most non-Stratfordians are equally certain that he didn’t. This paper will explore the benefits of uncertainty. Uncertainty not only allows us to be collegial, reducing the likelihood of stressful and energy-sapping personal battles, but by opening our minds to evidence and counter-arguments which undermine our position it allows us to discard weak arguments and concentrate on those which extend and deepen the challenge to orthodox thinking. Perhaps counter-intuitively, uncertainty also offers non-Stratfordians the possibility of gaining academic legitimacy for the Shakespeare authorship question. Using concrete examples of arguments and counter-arguments derived from researching and writing Shakespeare: The Evidence, this paper will demonstrate why the apparently ‘weak’ position of uncertainty is actually the strongest, most beneficial position a non-Stratfordian can adopt.
Ros Barber, PhD is a Lecturer in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, and author of the award-winning verse novel, The Marlowe Papers (2012), Shakespeare: The Evidence (2013), and Devotion (2015). She is the editor and co-author of 30-Second Shakespeare (2015). Her most recent publications include two articles in Notes & Queries* and she has a forthcoming article in a special ‘Shakespeare’ edition of the Journal of Early Modern Studies. She is director of research of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust (London).