At Once Cowardly and Absurd
In 1886 Caroline Dall noted that “the literature connected with the subject [Shakespearean authorship] has now reached such proportions that wholly to ignore it is at once cowardly and absurd." This paper includes a survey of historical writings by little-known female Shakespearean literary critics that offers an intriguing insight into a parallel universe that exists quite apart from the one occupied by male members of the canonical literary criticism club and examines how the members of that club not only ratified the plays, poems and sonnets, but they also sanctioned the way in which literary criticism of the Shakespeare canon was to be conducted. Orthodox scholars do not usually explore the possibilities of a canon from the perspective of an author who is not William Shakespeare, nor do they often entertain the notion of a female author. There is something dangerously anarchic in the idea of playing with an idea or historical fact for some academics, who don’t mind talking about or analyzing play within a text, as long as they don’t have to do it. The notion of playfulness in academic discussion is explored as a tactic of negotiating boundaries that traditionally isolate and marginalize members of a diverse community of scholars.
Keywords: Fictocriticism, Feminist Literary Theory, Shakespearean Authorship
Dr. Marilynn Loveless
Artistic Director, Theater Studies, English/Communication, La Sierra University