UON researcher plays leading role in ground-breaking new Shakespeare edition

Friday, 28 October 2016

Professor Hugh Craig, Director of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities, is part of a team of leading Shakespeare scholars to contribute to the first edition of Shakespeare’s Complete Works to identify Christopher Marlowe as co-author.

The New Oxford Shakespeare

Professor Craig argued the case for Marlowe’s collaboration in Parts 1 and 2 of Henry VI in a chapter in Shakespeare, Computers, and the Mystery of Authorship, co-edited with Arthur F. Kinney (Cambridge, 2009). A new chapter, written with another UON researcher, Emeritus Professor John Burrows, presents evidence that Marlowe was also involved in 3 Henry VI. This chapter will appear in the Authorship Companion to be published alongside the text volumes of the New Oxford Shakespeare.

The New Oxford Shakespeare also contains a number of other revelations, all of them based on peer-reviewed new research. All conclusions about authorship have been unanimously endorsed by an "Attribution Board" of five of the world's leading specialists in that field: Hugh Craig (UON), Gabriel Egan (De Montfort University, UK), MacDonald P. Jackson (University of Auckland, New Zealand), John Jowett (Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham), and Gary Taylor (Florida State University, USA).

Gary Taylor, lead General Editor on The New Oxford Shakespeare, explained more about how new techniques make so much more possible in Shakespeare research:

“Shakespeare has now fully entered the era of Big Data. Earlier attempts to answer all these questions about Shakespeare's collaborative work have been limited to intuitions, or to hand counts of a small number of features. We can now situate Shakespeare within large digital databases of almost all extant early modern plays, and almost all early modern printed poetry and literary prose. This makes it possible to distinguish, more precisely and more confidently, Shakespeare's stylistic identity from that of his fellow playwrights."

Undoubtedly, there will be some controversy in the academic community surrounding the revelations. However, the editors are confident in the new research, as Professor Taylor continued: “Unlike most other editions of Shakespeare's works, The New Oxford Shakespeare is a research project. New research always generates some initial controversy. When the 1986 Oxford Shakespeare identified five plays as collaborative, some scholars were outraged. But those identifications have all stood the test of time, and are now almost universally accepted. We are equally confident about the attributions of Shakespeare's collaborative plays in the New Oxford Shakespeare."

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