HON293C: Literary Scandals and Controversies

An archived version of a 2007 NCSU course blog

Monthly Archives: January 2007

McCrea (Ch 9-12) Now posted in the right section

I origionally posted my question under the title “The Case for Shakespeare (Chapters 9-12). Danny’s question is there as well. My question is… Between the people that are suspected to be the Author of Shakespeare’s plays, what is the order of popularity amoung suspects by scholarly literature? The suspects I am referring to inparticularly are Sir Francis Bacon, William Stanley, Christopher Marlowe, Ralegh, and Rutland.

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Espionage in Elizabethan England?

Christopher Marlowe (a candidate for “the Author”) was mentioned as being a secret agent, as were the people who were present at the time of his murder…
What was the role of an Elizabethan secret agent? (my questions seem to break away from the main topic, I hope that’s OK).

Queen Elizabeth

Besides the very brief argument offered in the book for Queen Elizabeth being the author (page 131-132), what other “evidence” do her supporters offer?

Prejudice toward theatres

McCrea states that “Theaters like the Rose and the Curtain were offensive to most Londoners, the sites of drunkenness, blasphemy, and crime.” (p.166) Why is this?

“The Case for Shakespeare” Question (Chapters 9-12)

McCrea mentions that copyright laws did not exist in the Elizabethan era, so when were copyright laws first established and was there a particular case or reason that led to the passing of the laws?
Quotes from McCrea:
“There is also the problem of plagiarism, which in the days before copyright laws was rampant.” (page 139)
“In Elizabethan England, there was no copyright as we know it today.” (page 187)

Blog Assignment (for the semester)

Goals of the assignment:

  • to help you understand unfamiliar terms and concepts raised by the work we are reading;
  • to help you evaluate the work we are reading by asking you to examine the primary and secondary sources it cites and making your own judgement about them;
  • to help you connect the work we are reading to other, similar issues by asking you to locate those issues.

The first part of the weekly assignment is to ask a question about the reading for this week — a real question; i.e., something you don’t know the answer to. Ask a question that your classmates can answer quickly. Questions are due before class (which starts at 4:30pm) on Tuesday. Post your question to the blog.

The second part of the weekly assignment is to answer someone’s question (not your own; claim dibs in the comments to the question). You must cite at least one authoritative source. Answers, unlike questions, can be as long as you like. Answers are due before class (which starts at 4:30pm) on Thursday. Post your answer in comments.

Note that you’ll be asking a question about Tuesday’s reading every week, and you will not be asking questions about Thursday’s reading.

Good research questions include these:

  • What is a “seal” and why would Shakespeare’s having one have indicated that he was upper class?
  • Is Wells’s characterization of Rubinstein fair?
  • Does the scene in Midsummer Night’s Dream in which Bottom becomes an ass support Wells’s reading?
  • Are there any other famous instances of “false authorship”?

Bacon and Wife

On page 133, McCrea states that Sir Francis Bacon married at the age of 45 to a young heiress, aged 14. the arrangement was merely for the money the young wife would bring Bacon, and not for love. What was this young girl the heiress of, and what would that mean for Bacon?

Author invitations

I’ve now sent author invitations to all of you except Danny and Chonayse, who haven’t yet registered as users. Accept these invitations and you can begin posting your questions here on the blog.

Please register as a user

Students: please go to < ahref=""

List of readings

These texts are required for our class:

  • Scott McRea, The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question (Praeger 2005)
  • Stephen Booth, Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Yale UP 2000)
  • Stanley Wells, Looking for Sex in Shakespeare (Cambridge UP 2000)
  • K. K. Ruthven, Faking Literature (Cambridge UP 2001)
  • Thomas Mallon, Stolen Words (1989; Penguin 2001)
  • Paul K. Saint-Amour, The Copywrights: Intellectual Property and the Literary Imagination (Cornell UP: 2003)
  • J. M. Coetzee, Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship (University of Chicago Press 1997)
  • Daniel Pipes, The Rushdie Affair: The Novel, The Ayatollah, and the Satanic West (1990; Transaction 2003)

We’ll also be watching the 2003 film “Shattered Glass” directed by Billy Ray, but I’ll put that on reserve at the library.

Looking forward to meeting you. Please submit a test comment to this post by Friday 1/12.