Who Wrote the Works Attributed to William Shakespeare? Academics Officially Challenge Literature’s Greatest Myth
Oregon’s Concordia University and London’s Brunel University Partner with American, English and European Academics and Professionals to Proclaim Reasonable Doubt
PORTLAND, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and death, the myth of Shakespeare is slowly dying, too. That myth is increasingly threatened by the ongoing birth of accredited academic inquiry into the question of who really wrote the works attributed to William Shakespeare.
“But I have no desire to argue for a particular alternative author, or authors. I’m agnostic.”
A trans-Atlantic academic endeavor has been initiated by Oregon’s Concordia University and London’s Brunel University to engage the academic community in studying the greatest mystery in all literature: Who really wrote the works attributed to William Shakespeare? The elephant in literature’s living room is no longer content to be ignored, as indicated by these developments during the past week:
Mark Rylance, former Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, said, “It is a brave, imaginative, pioneering idea to encourage students to engage with this controversial question. It represents a brilliant training ground for the young minds we all depend on to grapple with many controversial questions of identity facing the human race now and in the near future. Three cheers for all who take part in this princely endeavor.”
First Graduate Degree Programs Launch to Study Authorship Questions
Concordia University and Brunel University recently announced the launch of the first two graduate degree programs in the world dedicated to Authorship Studies. Concordia has partnered with Brunel University to advance exploration of the authorship question and to provide students the opportunity to study in a rigorous academic program some of the greatest questions in world literature. Concordia’s program begins this summer with its first course, “The History of Shake-speare Sonnets: Authorship, Publication, Interpretation.”
Mark Wahlers, Ph.D., Provost of Concordia University, said, “Concordia has a 100-year tradition of rigorous academic study, and the authorship studies degree program is the perfect example of our mission to train and encourage critical thinkers. At Concordia, students will be able to investigate the centuries-old question of who wrote the works attributed to William Shakespeare, as well as other major authorship questions such as whether Harper Lee or her childhood friend, Truman Capote, wrote the classic To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“What I’m interested in is the apparent weakness of the case for Shakespeare as the author,” said Brunel’s Head of English, Dr. William Leahy. “But I have no desire to argue for a particular alternative author, or authors. I’m agnostic.” He added, “We ask applying students to enter the course, as in any course, with an open mind. The course does not have an agenda, other than to examine Shakespeare and authorship.”
Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre Provides Home for Debate
Along with the Concordia Authorship Studies degree program, Concordia announced plans for a new multi-million dollar library and Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre, with Professor Daniel Wright as Director. The Centre will house the university’s growing Shakespearean library and will provide state-of-the-art research tools for students and scholars who wish to pursue studies focused on the Shakespeare Authorship question.
“At Concordia, we actively encourage open academic study and debate around this important question,” said Dr. Wright. “We welcome all serious researchers to study at the Centre and participate openly in the authorship debate.”
Annual Shakespeare Conference Concludes
Concordia University is well positioned to house the Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre. Doubters from various academic disciplines and backgrounds gather annually at Concordia’s Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference, the only one of its kind in the world in an academic setting. Here, attendees present and debate the diverse aspects of the Shakespeare authorship question. The recently concluded 11th annual conference featured presentations from nine Ph.D.’s, four M.D.s, 12 authors and independent scholars, a professional librarian, several psychologists, a neurologist, and other investigators.
Doubters Sign Declaration of Reasonable Doubt
At the awards banquet for the Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference, members of Concordia’s staff and faculty signed the formal “Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare” – a document drafted by the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) of Claremont, Calif. This document outlines the reasons for legitimately doubting and debating Shakespeare’s true identity. Signatories included Dr. Charles Schlimpert, President of Concordia University; Drs. Johnnie Driessner and Gary Withers, Executive Vice Presidents; Dr. Mark Wahlers, Provost and chief academic officer of the University; Dr. Joe Mannion, Dean of the College of Education; Dr. Charles Kunert, Dean of the College of Theology, Arts and Sciences; Dr. Gerd Horten, Chair of the Humanities Department; and several other academic officers.
For more information about the Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference, please visit www.authorshipstudies.org. To view and sign a copy of the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt, please visit www.DoubtAboutWill.com.
About Concordia University
Established in 1905, Concordia University is a private, Lutheran liberal arts university located in northeast Portland. Concordia University offers undergraduate degree programs in education, theology, arts and sciences, nursing, and business, as well as graduate programs in business, education and authorship studies (summer 2007). Concordia University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. In all program areas, Concordia remains a Christian institution committed to its mission of preparing leaders for the transformation of society. For more information about Concordia, please visit www.cu-portland.edu.
About Brunel University
For more information about Brunel University, please visit http://www.brunel.ac.uk/.
Additional Quotes and Comments on Shakespeare Authorship
Mark Rylance, former Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London
“The Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre at Concordia University is an essential and historic engine for change and development of our love and understanding of the works of William Shakespeare. I believe its unique standing as the home of the first course in the history of university studies on the authorship question will earn it a remarkable place in the history of Shakespearean studies.”
Michael Delahoyde, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English, Washington State University
“Experts in many different fields – history, medicine, literature, psychology, music, astronomy – come together openly to present their ideas and listen to other perspectives at the Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference. This broad focus and open atmosphere are unique within organizations concerned with the authorship question.”
Paul Nicholson, Executive Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland, Oregon
“William Shakespeare, or the myth of William Shakespeare, has been revered more than any other writer the world has ever known. He carries the mystique of being all-knowing and of plumbing the depths of the human soul unlike anyone else. But when we acknowledge that the writer of the works was probably a different person, or a small group of writers, we are free to look at and experience the plays in new ways. The stories produced by the mythical genius Shakespeare then become reflections of the social, political and cultural life of the times. We see the plays and poetry in all of their richness and complexity.”