Essays On Authorship

Read the 2012 winning essay:

Bringing Truth to Light – Why it Matters Who Wrote William’s Words

by Jacob Karlsson Lagerros

About the Shakespeare Authorship High School Essay Contest

The purpose of the Shakespeare Authorship High School Essay Contest is to involve secondary school students in the creative and analytic synthesis of knowledge about Shakespeare, the Shakespearean Canon, and the Shakespeare Authorship question, by offering prizes for the best essays.

Since we began our contest in 2002, many teachers have written to thank us for the pedagogical opportunity provided by the essay contest. “Thanks so much for providing the forum to inspire students towards excellence,” wrote Audrey Wells from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy.

In previous contests, we’ve received hundreds of entries. Essays came not only from the United States, but from many other countries including Canada, Bulgaria, Romania, Nigeria, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Korea, and the United Kingdom. We welcome entries from students of all nations and hope that this year many more teachers from all over the world will find the essay contest a useful resource for stimulating thinking, discussion, and the development of analytic and critical thinking skills.

Contest Guidelines

Download the 2012 Contest Guidelines here.

For questions and more information about the contest and eligibility, send inquiries to shake_a_speare@hotmail.com.

2012 Shakespeare Authorship High School Essay Contest Winners

Winner: Jacob Karlsson Lagerros

Jacob Karlsson Lagerros, a student at Viktor Rydberg Gymnasium in Stockholm Sweden, has been selected as winner of the 2012 Shakespeare Authorship High School Essay Contest. His essay, “Bringing Truth to Light – Why it Matters Who Wrote William’s Words,”was selected from more than 60 submissions.

2nd Place: Rachel Woods of Franklin, TN

3rd Place: Hayley Hohman of Mead, WA

Honorable Mention:

Catherine Wu of High Point, NC

Olivia Barnett of New York City

Rachel Grewcock from Longborough High School, UK

Judges of the 2012 contest: Dr. Robin Fox, Dr. Ren Draya, and Sarah Smith.

2013-09-10

SOF

Booksellers, you are the salt of the book world. You are on the front line where, while the author cowers in his opium den, you encounter — or "interface with," as we say now — the rare and mysterious Americans who are willing to plunk down $25 for a book. Bookstores are lonely forts, spilling light onto the sidewalk. They civilize their neighborhoods. At my mother's side I used to visit the two stores in downtown Reading, Pa., a city then of 100,000, and I still recall their names and locations — the Book Mart, at Sixth Street and Court, and the Berkshire News, on Fifth Street, in front of the trolley stop that would take us home to Shillington.

When I went away to college, I marveled at the wealth of bookstores around Harvard Square. In addition to the Coop and various outlets where impecunious students like myself could buy tattered volumes polluted by someone else's underlinings and marginalia, there were bookstores that catered to the Cambridge bourgeoisie, the professoriate, and those elite students with money and reading time to spare. The Grolier, specializing in modern poetry, occupied a choice niche on Plympton Street, and over on Boylston there was the Mandrake, a more spacious sanctum for books of rare, pellucid and modernist water. In the Mandrake — presided over by a soft-voiced short man, with brushed-back graying hair — there were English books, Faber & Faber and Victor Gollancz, books with purely typographical jackets and cloth-covered boards warping from the damp of their trans-Atlantic passage, and art books, too glossy and expensive even to glance into, and of course New Directions books, modest in format and delicious in their unread content.

After Harvard, I went to Oxford for a year, and browsed for dazed hours in the rambling treasury, on the street called the Broad, of Blackwell's — shelves of Everyman's and Oxford Classics, and the complete works, jacketed in baby-blue paper, of Thomas Aquinas, in Latin and English! Then I came to New York, when Fifth Avenue still seemed lined with bookstores — the baronial Scribner's, with the central staircase and the scrolled ironwork of its balconies, and the Doubleday's a few blocks on, with an ascending spiral staircase visible through plate glass.

Now I live in a village-like corner of a small New England city that holds, mirabile dictu, an independent bookstore, one of the few surviving in the long coastal stretch between Marblehead and Newburyport. But I live, it seems, in a fool's paradise. Last month, The New York Times Magazine published a lengthy article that gleefully envisioned the end of the bookseller, and indeed of the writer. Written by Kevin Kelly, identified as the "senior maverick" at Wired magazine, the article describes a glorious digitalizing of all written knowledge. Google's plan, announced in December 2004, to scan the contents of five major research libraries and make them searchable, according to Kelly, has resurrected the dream of the universal library. "The explosive rise of the Web, going from nothing to everything in one decade," he writes, "has encouraged us to believe in the impossible again. Might the long-heralded great library of all knowledge really be within our grasp?"

Unlike the libraries of old, Kelly continues, "this library would be truly democratic, offering every book to every person." The anarchic nature of the true democracy emerges bit by bit. "Once digitized, books can be unraveled into single pages or be reduced further, into snippets of a page," Kelly writes. "These snippets will be remixed into reordered books and virtual bookshelves. Just as the music audience now juggles and reorders songs into new albums (or 'playlists,' as they are called in iTunes), the universal library will encourage the creation of virtual 'bookshelves' — a collection of texts, some as short as a paragraph, others as long as entire books, that form a library shelf's worth of specialized information. And as with music playlists, once created, these 'bookshelves' will be published and swapped in the public commons. Indeed, some authors will begin to write books to be read as snippets or to be remixed as pages."

The economic repercussions of this paradise of freely flowing snippets are touched on with a beguiling offhandedness, as a matter of course, a matter of an inexorable Marxist unfolding. As the current economic model disappears, Kelly writes, the "basis of wealth" shifts to "relationships, links, connection and sharing." Instead of selling copies of their work, writers and artists can make a living selling "performances, access to the creator, personalization, add-on information, the scarcity of attention (via ads), sponsorship, periodic subscriptions — in short, all the many values that cannot be copied. The cheap copy becomes the 'discovery tool' that markets these other intangible valuables."

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