Shakespeare Association of America

For Seminar Leaders

  • Advice from the SAA Office

    Advice from the SAA Office

    Several pages of the SAA website are dedicated to how SAA seminars and workshops work. These are intended for new members to the SAA, but you may find it useful to consult them as well. They will give you an idea of what your group members will expect.

    As you organize your program, you will need to keep in mind some major deadlines.

    • You are entitled to invite up to four persons to take part in your seminar or workshop. Those names must be submitted to us by 1 September if we are to hold places for them. You are not required to invite participants; any spaces not reserved will be filled by our open enrollment process.

    • By 1 October, you will receive a list of those who have enrolled for your seminar or workshop. The list will include those you have invited as well as those who have enrolled with us. For each seminar there is a maximum enrollment of sixteen participants. This number cannot be exceeded.

    • By 31 October, your seminar or workshop members should hear from you with guidelines and deadlines for the work they will do in advance of the Annual Meeting. Previous program leaders have shared some of their correspondence with us; you will find it posted on the SAA website.

    • Some weeks before the conference, you must notify us of those members in your group who have completed your assignments. SAA policy is that no one can be listed in the conference program who has not met your requirements. This deadline changes each year, depending on the date of the Annual Meeting and the print schedule for the program. You will wish to set a deadline with your group that allows you to meet the deadline with the SAA office.

    An important decision for every program leader is how to structure the seminar or workshop. Past program leaders have suggestions that you will find posted on the SAA website. One of the most controversial is the use of respondents. In many instances you will find that those you wish to invite to take part will do so only if not expected to write a paper. How then to incorporate them into the seminar? A good respondent can be an expert facilitator of group discussion. But we have also received complaints when one or more respondents have monopolized too much of a program’s discussion time.

    Please remember two things. First, SAA programs are intended to be egalitarian experiences. They work best when junior scholars and senior scholars are able to exchange ideas on an equal footing. Hierarchy is not conducive to discourse in the SAA spirit. Second, your objective should be for every member of your group to have an opportunity to take part in the conversation. A few dominant voices can inhibit exchange, whereas the structure you create should encourage it.

    Thus, you should consider that not everyone in a seminar needs do the same type of task. Research seminars require written work from everyone, but that does not necessarily mean a critical paper from everyone. Literature reviews, concept papers on key terms, prospect papers on the future development of a particular field, responses to others’ work—these are all acceptable forms of participation and may play to the varied strengths of your seminar participants and to the objective of including a respondent in productive work.

    SAA seminars are strictly capped at sixteen members maximum. This policy is intended to make the workload of the seminar manageable. Every one of your participants should have read the work of others in the group and be prepared to discuss it. At this size, you will not necessarily need artificial structuring devices and sub-groupings. While the goal is an intellectual experience that has shape and intensity, too much structure and control can be as deadly as too little.

    With a deadline in mind for completion of advance assignments, you may want to assign some interim deadlines for the circulation of topics, abstracts, reading lists, or other exchanges. These incremental assignments can help build a sense of group identification in the months leading up to the Annual Meeting. Some seminar leaders organize chat rooms and listservs and other forums for discussing issues in advance of the seminar; others ask seminar participants to comment on one another’s papers.

    Do bear in mind, though, how busy most SAA members are. Some will bring a great deal of energy and commitment to the seminar or workshop, but many will have time for only one or two tasks in connection with it. You should think carefully about what sort of assignments will be most productive. The focus of your seminar or workshop should always remain the shared experience at the conference.

    The SAA Office stands ready to help with any questions or problems that arise in the course of the months leading up to the conference. Seminars and workshops are the heart of the SAA program.

    Lena Cowen Orlin
    Executive Director

    This page of Advice from the SAA Office can be downloaded as a PDF file.

  • Advice from Past Seminar Leaders

    Advice from Past Seminar Leaders

    Douglas Lanier (University of New Hampshire)

    I’ll start my reflection on leading a Shakespeare Association seminar by saying that I found it a very rewarding experience. It was interesting to discuss the range of current work in the field that our seminar received, and particularly fruitful to find ways of forging connections between projects that can seem at first glance unrelated to one another. If there’s one key skill that a seminar leader will need to draw on, it’s his or her ability to find common questions, issues, and areas of inquiry among the seminarians. That, and timing in the seminar itself. In the case of my seminar, “Mediatizing Shakespeare,” the topic was intentionally rather open-ended, in order to encourage discussion among folks working in Shakespeare and film, Shakespeare and visual culture, Shakespeare and adaptation, Shakespeare and contemporary political economy, and the like. In my opening letter (appended), I sought to accomplish several goals. First, since it’s easy for those who are SAA veterans to forget that the seminar format is somewhat unusual for an academic conference, I thought it necessary briefly to explain the format and schedule. Second, I wanted to define the key term in the title—”mediatizing”—so that participants would have the problematic it names in mind as they thought about shaping their seminar projects. Third, it seemed useful to assign two relatively short articles that would give overviews of some of the issues I hoped seminar papers might engage; I also hoped that these articles might give us a shared vocabulary and raise a few provocative questions for us to discuss at our meeting. (A couple of younger participants told me afterward that they were grateful to have the assigned readings. Myself, I think it’s important to keep that constituency in mind as you’re planning the seminar.)

    Once I collected contact information for the group, I staged the tasks by asking for something roughly each month. In early November, I asked for paragraph-long descriptions of each participant’s area of interest as related to the seminar topic. By early December, I asked for a short précis of what each participant would be writing on, and I also asked for at least two articles or books that the participant found generally useful in thinking about the relationship between his or her proposed paper and the seminar’s topic. (I assembled these suggestions into a general bibliography for the group within a week of receiving them all.) In late January, the papers were due to each member of the group. After receiving all the papers, I paired up participants with each other, and I asked each participant to write a two-page constructive response to his or her partner, with a copy to me.

    It’s important to be firm about all the deadlines, and I found that sending out reminders a week before each of the deadlines was a good way of stressing the importance of being prompt. I’ll add too that it’s helpful to include a line in your introductory letter about how SAA guidelines prohibit listing in the program those who miss the seminar paper deadline. This works well with focusing participants’ attention at the proper time.

    The seminar meeting itself requires the leader to come up with multiple areas of connection between the essays and to keep strict time. I instructed participants that for the seminar they would be asked to summarize in two minutes the key argument of their essay, and I asked each respondent to supply a statement or extended question intended to provoke discussion of the essay at hand in the context of our general topic. To prompt the group to engage in dialogue, I grouped the essays into sub-sets of three or four where there seemed to be strong areas of shared interest, and as I called on each participant, I improvised a two-sentence preamble that suggested a potential link between the last topic under discussion and the new one. It’s crucially important to keep timing in mind. Each participant attends the seminar with the expectation that his or her essay will get its moment in the sun, so it’s important not to let the conversation dwell on one or two essays at the expense of others, dazzling those essays might be. To prevent there being timing problems, I worked out times and sequencing for each essay (3:40-3:50 was devoted to Smith, 3:50-4:00 was devoted to Jones, etc.), and I kept to this throughout the meeting, even at one point cutting short a lively conversation. (Keep in mind that a lively conversation is likely to be continued after the seminar proper is over with.) With a little flexibility, it was still possible to give each essay its full due and to keep the conversation lively and moving forward. The new smaller sizes for SAA seminars help immensely with the time-keeping issue—I felt that this year everyone got a much better chance of having a healthy discussion of their work. After attrition, we ended up with 12 participants, which seemed an ideal number.

    Letter 1
    Dear Colleague,

    It’s a great pleasure to welcome you to the 2008 Shakespeare Association of America seminar on “Mediatizing Shakespeare.” I’m very pleased that you’ve chosen to participate in the seminar.

    By way of background: “mediatization,” the central concern of our seminar, refers to several cultural processes at once. Mediatization includes processes of adaptation by which Shakespeare’s texts and performances of them are transposed or translated (choosing an appropriate verb is fraught!) into contemporary media forms, particularly visual, electronic and digital mass media. Part of our seminar, then, will concern processes of reformatting and remediation and their implications for both the meaning of specific plays and the larger cultural phenomenon of “Shakespeare.” However, mediatization concerns not only new forms for Shakespeare, but also new agents in the production of Shakespeare, new audiences and dynamics of reception, new ideological and political functions for Shakespeare, new models for commercial and cultural viability, and new forms of cross-cultural contact. Mediatization also involves the ways that new media complicate and confound earlier models of Shakespeare’s cultural authority. And it raises the issue of Shakespeare’s relationship to large-scale institutions which are themselves also increasingly mediatized, corporations, schools, and governments prime among them. My hope is that we will have papers on a wide range of issues concerning Shakespeare’s interactions with the “mediasphere,” ranging from case studies of revealing examples to broad discussions of Shakespeare and media theory.

    To give our seminar some focus, I suggest that we all read two passages that will give us a common vocabulary and a place to begin our collective discussion. Those two passages are: the first two chapters of Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin’s Remediation:Understanding New Media (Cambridge: MIT, 1999), pp. 21-84.
    William Uricchio’s “Historicizing Media in Transition,” in Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition, eds. David Thorburn and Henry Jenkins (Cambridge: MIT, 2003), pp. 23-38.

    If you have difficulties getting copies of these texts, please let me know. As you can see from the schedule below, I will also be assembling a more extensive bibliography culled from suggestions made by seminar participants.

    Our schedule is as follows:

    Within 10 days of receipt of this letter: please confirm that you have received this letter, that you are still intending to participate in the seminar, and that your contact information is correct. My intention is to distribute information and papers by e-mail, so please double-check your e- mail address to make sure it’s accurate. (If you wish to receive seminar correspondence and essays in paper form, I’m happy to accommodate your preference, but please let me know.) I will distribute a corrected list of participants to us all as soon as I’ve heard from everyone.

    3 December 2007: Please send me the title and a short abstract of your proposed paper (in Word format). The abstract should be no longer than 200-300 words. Include a tentative thesis (or hypothesis to be tested), make clear your methodological approach and the principal works you intend to examine, and offer some sense of where the paper’s argument might go. Once I’ve received the abstracts I will distribute them to the group so that we can collectively see the emerging shape of the seminar. Also, by that date please send me the names of a few articles or books (no more than three, please) that you found helpful in thinking about the topic of our seminar or your essay. I’ll assemble these into a bibliography and distribute it to all seminar members by mid-December.

    28 January 2008: Please send your seminar essay, in Word format, to me and the other seminar participants. Please keep your final essay to no longer than 3000 words. Seminar members need to be able to read and reread your work, so a shorter, tighter essay is much preferable to a longer piece that has many details, multiple examples, or elaborated contexts. If you anticipate missing this crucial deadline, please let me know. You should know that SAA mandates that I let the conference organizers know who has completed their papers by no later than 1 February 2008; that is to say, if I receive your paper after 28 January, your name will not appear on the conference program. Within a week of receiving essays, I will assign you an essay to which you should write a brief response.

    25 February 2008: Please send your response (no more than 600 words) to me and to the author of your assigned paper, in Word format. It would be most helpful if you concentrated your response on the broad issues raised in your assigned paper rather than concentrating on critiquing close specifics of the argument. The response should, in other words, offer the author some commentary on his or her paper while also attending to the larger conversation we’ll be having in the seminar about Shakespeare and mediatization. I’ll have more to say about this as this deadline comes closer. On this date, I will also ask you to send me an abstract of your completed paper (in Word format, no more than 300 words). If you wish just to use the abstract you submitted in December, that’s fine, but let me know. I will be duplicating the abstracts for distribution to auditors.

    13-15 March 2008: The convention itself. To anticipate a question you may have, I do not yet know on which afternoon our seminar will be scheduled. If you have suggestions about how I might make this seminar fully rewarding for you or the group, please let me know. I very much look forward to working with all of you.

    Tanya Pollard (CUNY) and Tania Demetriou (York University)

    We had a good experience with the seminar, which we tried to focus on shared questions relevant to the seminar’s topic, rather than on individual papers per se. In preparing for discussion, we asked each participants both to write a specific response to another essay (in pairs that we assigned), and to generate 3 general questions for discussion about a separate set of 3 papers (which we also assigned). We felt that this bifurcated assignment allowed participants to receive both individual and more general attention to their papers in advance, freeing up the actual conversation for discussion of particular subtopics and especially for a focus on a common intellectual agenda, with an eye to the broader scholarly issues at stake in the seminar at large. We made sure that everyone received direct questions in the cluster discussions, but that these discussions also remained general enough to be relevant to other participants and auditors, and we kept these focused discussions relatively short in order to ensure enough time for general discussion at the end. We think this approach worked well; everyone spoke, no-one monopolized, and people seemed happy with the feedback they received as well as with the discussion’s overall cohesiveness.

    Bill Germano (Cooper Union)

    So what to advise? Encourage seminar leaders to meet with their seminars beforehand. This is the smartest thing I did.

    Make room for smaller topics, which can attract people with focused interests and enthusiasms.

    Avoid two-tier citizenship among seminar registrants (everyone will know that the chaired professor is different from the graduate student, but that distinction should be exploited in lectures, not the seminar format).

    Make room for auditors — and make them an active part of the seminar experience. (Since seminar leaders don’t “edit out” seminar registrants we’re already committed to one kind of inclusiveness. We can do more.) Be sure there are enough handouts.

    Encourage every seminar leader to think pedagogically, Find a way to get the message out— especially to young SAA members—that the seminar is a safe place to get feedback on serious work in progress, but not on lapidary, already in proofs, work.

    John Baxter (Dalhousie University) and Jonathan Goossen (Ambrose University College)

    Our main correspondence with the group as a whole took shape mainly in two letters: an introductory letter (October 26) welcoming people to the seminar, reminding them of the broad outlines of the topic, and setting out a work schedule; and a second letter (February 25) inviting

    further items for discussion in the seminar and organizing written responses to each paper. We had a lively session, with the participants more than ready to tackle the questions we had proposed and to bring forward questions we hadn`t thought of. And as is frequently the case with an SAA seminar, it ended with a strong sense of even more questions not yet addressed or not addressed fully enough. It`s hard to say whether this feeling attests to success or failure or a bit of both.

    Our special guest outsider was Richard Janko, the Gerald F. Else Distinguished Professor of Classical Studies at Michigan, and he was an enthusiastic and welcome addition to our group. It seemed important in our case [for a seminar on “Aristotle, Jonson, and Shakespeare”] to have available the perspective of a classicist—one of the leaders, moreover, in recent attempts to reconstruct Aristotle`s theory of comedy. We drew on his expertise once or twice, but on the whole he participated as a regular member of the seminar, writing a paper, responding to another, and taking his turn in the conversation queue. Everything depends, of course, on the exact nature of the seminar topic, but from our point of view this sort of opportunity for inter-disciplinary comparisons was particularly successful, even exhilarating.

    Our method of assigning one respondent to each paper is a strategy that has quite often been used at SAA seminars, and it works—to a point—though it tends to foster one-on-one conversation. Since our group produced papers that could quite easily have been organized into three or four sub-groups, we did wonder if we might have provoked even better results by forming sub-groups of three or four members and requiring each participant to produce three responses rather than one. Your seminarians make not be grateful to have this sort of extra labor laid on, but the reward could well be a richer and more wide-ranging set of discussions. If we do it again, we`re likely to give this method a try.

    Elizabeth Hanson (Queen’s University)

    I elected to keep things simple. I only had one invited participant (Jim Siemon) in part because the topic of the seminar is quite new—not something that has seen much critical engagement and I really wanted to find out what kind of approaches scholars could bring to it. I was rewarded in having a seminar in which every paper but one spoke directly to the topic. (The one began on topic but then the writer took it in a somewhat different direction.) In the fall, in addition to abstracts I requested suggestions for a bibliography. Members of the seminar contributed very diverse titles, and again I was impressed by the integrity of the final list, despite the diversity of materials.

    With respect to deadlines, I made the required work for the seminar only the writing of the papers. I assigned written response obligations, with each member of the seminar responding to two papers in subgroups of my devising. But I was anxious that these should be written closer to the time of the actual seminar so that the engagement would be fresh in seminarians’ minds. So I stressed that the obligation was a moral rather than an institutional one. Everyone wrote thoughtful responses (including the member who couldn’t attend for medical reasons): 100% compliance.

    The papers themselves spoke to each other in fascinating and complicated ways. I had proposed the topic in a very experimental frame of mind, naming an issue that as far as I knew hadn’t really been addressed in Shakespeare studies. I came away with a very strong sense that the issue was real and profitable to think about. I have to say though, that in view of the many connections that I saw among the papers, I felt that I got less help at the seminar table than I would have liked, in making those connections. This could have had to do with our timing, in the morning session on the Thursday. People may not have hit their stride.

    The papers were very fresh and exploratory. As a result, the takeaway will not be an edited collection. The shoots were very young and green—except in the case of the senior scholars who had contributed work from well-advanced book projects. Personally, I got a great deal out of leading the seminar, coming away with a new lens through which to consider a wide range of plays.

    Robin Farabaugh (University of Maryland Baltimore County) and Katherine Rowe (Bryn Mawr College)

    The following discussion summarizes some of the insights gleaned from testing several online workspaces for SAA exchanges. We used these websites for pre-conference posting of essays, collaborative writing, and discussion, in two workshops: “ShakespeareWiki: A New Internet Tool for Teaching,” San Diego 2007 and “Shakespeare 2.0” Chicago 2010.


    Advantages to using an editable website (such as Googledocs, Moodle, or a wiki)

    • Simplifies communication, scheduling, access to readings, etc.
    • Provides a far more collaborative experience, for those writing papers as well as for those participating in workshops, than email and hardcopy;
    • Frontloads the work, shifting main labor forward about a month, to Jan/Feb;
    • Discussions build on each other and advance further;
    • Better use of face-to-face time at the SAA meeting.


    • Minor setup/admin labor required by organizer;
    • Ramp-up period as users of varying technical ability get comfortable with the tools;
    • Frontloads the work, shifting main labor forward about a month, to Jan/Feb;
    • Helpful to establish guidelines for collaboration (how fully collaborative should the final product be?), for citation, for identifying authors.

    What is an editable website?

    • Most editable websites permit uploading of files, including video and audio files as well as word documents and pdfs. These files can be accessed, and in the case of word files, downloaded and commented upon easily. Files with comments can then be uploaded back to the website as well as sent by email to specific users. Papers can also be pasted into the site, eliminating the need to download. Workshop and seminar leaders can establish pages for comments on audio and video files, and for comments from readers both in and out of the seminar/workshop registrants. Some websites (Googlegroups, Moodle) include listservs or mailing lists for easy communication with participants.

    Reasons to use an editable website

    • More sustained discussion. These features mean that exchanges in the seminar/workshop can begin far earlier and continue, if the participants wish, past the end of the annual meeting. Access to a single online site means that the work of the group is readily accessible to all.
    • Higher quality of feedback. In our experience, having contributions to the seminar fully available to all participants well before the meeting made for better feedback, increased dialogue, and deeper consideration of the ideas presented. Likely outcomes of shared and earlier posting include: further evolution of thought, greater examination of data and reasoning, richer contributions of evidence and connections to other research.
    • Better sharing of practical solutions and resources. As the seminar/workshop dialog evolves, participants raise questions and model a process of inquiry. As this happens, pedagogical applications are likely to appear more readily. Links to useful resources and primary material flourished in this medium: video clips, audio clips, websites including wonderful examples, such as the Quarto site. For some workshops and seminars, the process of developing ideas and materials in this way could be considered a regular part of a final product.
    • A clear record of labor. Posted material offers a record of the seminar/workshop for later citation and reference.

    Changes in the process of paper exchange

    Using these tools, we found we needed to re-think the process of paper exchange. Our schedule front-loaded the usual paper exchanges and turned out to be light (with a focus on core questions) in the month before the SAA meeting. Participants loved this.

    October: we posted shared readings.
    December: participants named topics of interest.
    January: a rough draft phase (research queries, preliminary research exchanges) due early in the month, followed by a period of collective commentary and feedback through the end of the month. This replaced the usual exchange of “finished” work in January or February (to be commented on individually and at the meeting).
    February: writers refined their final essays.
    March: we used this month to gather a collective list of governing questions. This focus required little time commitment but the intellectual payoff was high. It is an efficient way to identify pressing issues for future work.

    Transforming the face-to-face meeting:

    It makes a significant difference to come into an SAA meeting with a) a shared agenda of really pressing questions and b) the work of commenting/feedback on individual essays already completed. In our experience, a conversation prepared for in this way tend to be free flowing, genuinely deliberative, and substantive.

    Recommendations: sequence the shared questions to make an agenda for the two-hour conversation that everyone can follow. Circulate this agenda to auditors as well as participants, along with the seminar/workshop abstracts. This ensures free-flowing but focused conversations. This makes it easy for auditors to follow/participate and increases the intellectual payoff for all very substantially.

    The challenges in detail:

    • Front-loading the schedule could burden participants just as the fall semester is at its most intense;

    • Some writers/participants are unused to having their work in progress before so many eyes at once; indeed many of these sites are, in theory, open to the public and should be password-protected if the group desires. Organizers should open a dialog to address these concerns on the website, or via email. Within the workshop/seminar clear rules of etiquette can help, though in our experience a short collective conversation was all that was needed;

    • Using a website entails some organizer labor to set-up and maintain. The quality of the instructions users receive impacts their success significantly, as does the ability of the organizer (or others in the seminar) to troubleshoot. Problems and confusion do arise. Some few older users may have difficulties with new platforms and software; all users may groan at having to learn a new procedure. An organizer using such sites for the first time will need to keep her eyes on shared goals and accept a certain amount of technical overhead.

    As organizers who have tried this, we found the benefits of sharing everyone’s work in progress many and exciting. For us they were worth the effort of set-up and maintenance.

    Comparing three common platforms: Googledocs and Googlegroups, Wikis, Blackboard and Moodle

    1. Googledocs and GoogleGroups are free, Web-based environments for collaboration, editing, and storing files.

    Advantages: Both platforms are widely used and have decent help documentation. Googledocs supports a variety of text documents and a simple editing interface. Sites can be restricted and it is relatively easy to create documents and share them with others. It allows real-time collaborative editing, which can be an uncanny experience (text changing before your eyes). Googlegroups has more limited collaboration functions (post documents, modest shared editing, a listserv), but it allows you to post video as well as text files. Googledocs only supports word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations.

    Disadvantages: Besides the use constraints described in the above paragraph, all Google workspaces seem subject to periodic glitches that can take time to unravel. Indeed, our SAA 2010 Workshop had so many access issues with Googlegroups that we switched to the Wiki discussed below half way through our process.

    2. A wiki is a website that lets you create and edit interlinked web pages using a simple template on your web browser.

    Example: the Shakespeare Wiki used for the SAA Workshop “Shakespeare 2.0” in 2010:
    Advantages: To our mind, Wikis offer the most flexible and easiest uses among the platforms available for SAA seminars and workshops. They have a simple architecture: each wiki can be configured as the users choose (using categories and structures suited to the topic at hand). Wikis support a wide variety of files (audio, video, still image, Text/Word). Normally they require the use of a simple code for editing and formatting, but most can be customized (as ours is) using an icon editor familiar to most users. Wikis also keep track of versions of your work – allowing you to see how revisions evolve. The chief benefit and pleasure of using our customized wiki, and any wiki, is watching the structure and organization grow according to the users’ conception of how the materials and procedures of the seminar or workshop relate to each other. Because wikis are easy to use, they encourage users to share materials readily.

    Disadvantages: Wikis, like all websites, require some instruction, support, and troubleshooting, as indicated above. For example, we found the icon editor and the MediaWiki platform we used needed some upgrading to be consistent with new browsers. There are wikis available through a number of commercial sites for varying fees; these sites offer technical support, resolving upgrade issues.

    Note: wikis come in a variety of flavors. Wikis available in Blackboard and Moodle (see below) are less flexible than, say, MediaWiki.

    3. Blackboard and Moodle are the two dominant websites supporting academic courses. Most IS departments will happily mount a “course” for a SAA seminar and “enroll” seminar participants by assigning user IDs and passwords.

    Advantages: Both Blackboard and Moodle offer simple wikis, listservs, discussion groups, and document posting spaces that can support audio and visual files as well as hyperlinks, text files, and pdfs. They do not need regular upgrades and you can go to your usual tech support folks for troubleshooting. Most faculty are at least somewhat familiar with one or the other platform, reducing the time and energy involved with ramping up.

    Disadvantages: Neither environment offers a robust collaborative workspace for larger documents. Files must be downloaded, edited, and uploaded. Neither is public, if that is an interest of the seminar. Neither keeps archives of revisions. Blackboard also depends upon a predetermined and highly articulated architecture. We find that Blackboard thus offers a less flexible platform, one that requires considerable navigation to locate and use designated area within the site. Exchange and dialog are inhibited by difficulty of use; Blackboard simply does not, in our experience, facilitate collaboration. Moodle is more flexible, however, and can offer a

    freer architecture for users. It is not, in our view, as open and flexible as a wiki, though it offers a free and superior platform to Blackboard.


    Consider carefully what each of these sites has to offer, what you wish to accomplish and how. The architecture of any site will shape the results of the dialog you pursue there. Being aware of this and choosing carefully will make the difference in the sites’ utility.

    Roze Hentschell (Colorado State University)

    I had three invited participants attend the seminar and none of them wanted to write a paper. So what I had them do was lead a cohort of three participants each. They began with general observations of the papers as a group and then directed questions to each them, ensuring that everyone had a chance to speak (something that was very important to me). While this could have been clunky and contrived, it actually worked really well. I had a couple of very quiet folks, so this got their voices heard. Another thing I did this year: Met for drinks the night before the seminar. This worked wonders in breaking the ice and was quite a good time.

    Vimala C. Pasupathi (Hofstra University) and Rory Loughnane (Syracuse University)

    One thing I think that worked well for us was devising questions and issues to discuss at the seminar meeting that any member of the seminar could respond to. Although we divided our group into sets for ease of commenting, we opted not to keep everybody in these sets beyond the response phase so as to enable more organic discussions when we met face to face; this method ensured that people didn’t feel their work only mattered in short segments and encouraged everybody to read all the papers well, not just the few they were asked to write responses to prior to meeting. We also had a respondent who aimed to ensure inclusive discussions and helped us keep the conversation moving in productive directions throughout the 2 hour period.

    Niamh O’Leary (Xavier University)

    As for advice for seminar leaders, here are a few comments:

    -Previously, I have led a seminar along with a colleague. I found leading it solo to be much more challenging, and will probably hesitate to do so again.

    -That said, having a respondent was wonderfully helpful. Peter Holland agreed to be the respondent for the seminar (how I used one of my invites), and his contributions on the day of ended up functioning almost as a second seminar leader, alleviating some of the pressure on me, and adding valuable different perspective.

    -I let Peter pick how he wanted to work as a respondent. In the end, he produced a list of “key words”–ideas that surfaced repeatedly in the essays. He circulated this list, and it did provide great fuel for our conversation.

    -I am a big fan of the small group model of seminars: divide the papers up into small groups (3- 4), and assign members of those groups to write targeted responses to one another’s work. That way, each member’s paper gets close attention from at least three others. Then, during the actual meeting at the conference, you can organize the conversation according to small groups, giving each set of papers air time. The questions and conversation generated from the small group correspondence will fuel this.

    -I also took the time to write a brief response to each paper myself. I commented on what I thought were the most thought-provoking points, raised a few questions myself, etc. I sent these typed responses a week or two before the conference. It helped me engage more productively with the papers and, I hope, helped the participants feel as though I took their efforts seriously.

    -The hardest part of leading a seminar, I found, is being a strict time keeper. In order to guarantee that all papers get at least some attention, you may have to cut people off and shift the conversation between groups and essays. There will simply never be enough time to discuss everything at length. And while it’s an uncomfortable position to be in–cutting people off–the best seminars I’ve been a part of as a participant worked because the leaders did exactly that–cut conversations short, move us along, and ensure that all papers received air time during those two hours.

    -It’s always nice to extend your time together by planning a social event for the seminar members. This allows the conversation to continue in a more relaxed atmosphere. If at all possible, arrange this for after the actual seminar meeting. That way, any stress of the initial meeting has passed and people are companionable and familiar. Common interests will have revealed themselves in the seminar, and these can be pursued over coffee or cocktails or a meal.


    Initial E-mail
    Sent: October 13, 2013
    Subject: Coriolanus at SAA 2014: St. Louis

    Dear Colleagues,

    I am delighted to welcome you to the 2014 Shakespeare Association of America seminar, “Coriolanus.” I was pleased to see how much interest there was in this broadly conceived single- play seminar, and am eager to begin our conversation. I have therefore attached to this e-mail two documents: the first is a copy of the seminar proposal as I originally submitted it to the program committee, which includes an extended (though by no means comprehensive) description of the seminar; the second is a list of the sixteen participants who have enrolled in the seminar, along with their contact information. At sixteen, this seminar is fully enrolled.

    We are fortunate enough to have Peter Holland joining us as a respondent in our seminar. As you are aware, Dr. Holland is the editor of the Arden 3 Coriolanus, released earlier this year. As such, he’s a wonderful authority and rich resource for our discussion. Thank you, Peter, for agreeing to participate.

    I have outlined below a schedule, and I will send you reminders as the various deadlines approach.

    ASAP Please respond to acknowledge your receipt of this e-mail and confirm your participation in the seminar. Please also check the attached contact information and let me know of any corrections. It is especially important that I have the correct e-mail address for our correspondence over the next several months.

    Monday, December 9: Please e-mail me the title and abstract (200-300 words) of your proposed paper. Additionally, please send the bibliographic information for 2-3 articles or books that have shaped your interest in or work on Coriolanus. I will then compile and distribute the abstracts and collective bibliography to the entire seminar.

    Monday, February 17: Please e-mail your final paper to the whole group as a Microsoft Word or .pdf attachment. Your paper should be no more than 3000 words, excluding references. This deadline is important, as I will need to inform the SAA that I have received your paper in order to confirm your participation in the conference. After I receive the papers, I will divide the seminar into small groups based on content and assign responses.

    Monday, March 24: Please e-mail two final items to the whole group: (1) two assigned responses (no more than 600 words each), and (2) 1-2 discussion questions about Coriolanus inspired by the papers in your small group. Responses should focus on broad issues raised in the paper, rather than critique close specifics of the argument, to best serve our seminar conversation. Should you wish to send a revised abstract, please send it at this time.

    April 10-12: We meet in St. Louis. I should learn the specific time slot of our seminar in late November, and will communicate it to you as soon as I know. As we get closer to the time of the conference, I hope we can schedule a meal or drinks either before or after our seminar.

    If you have any questions, please let me know. I look forward to hearing your many approaches to the fabulously complex Coriolanus, and to meeting you all in April.

    Best wishes, Niamh J. O’Leary

    This page of Advice from Past Seminar Leaders can be downloaded as a PDF file.

  • Sample Seminar and Workshop Correspondence

    Sample Seminar and Workshop Correspondence

    Seminar with Core Readings

    Jennifer Waldron (University of Pittsburgh) and Ryan McDermott (University of Pittsburgh)

    Dear Participants,

    We would like to welcome you to next spring’s SAA seminar! With a full roster of 14 participants, we look forward to a lively conversation in Toronto. These seminars often run best when the conversation is open and fluid, yet it’s also important to make sure that as many papers as possible are discussed. To that end, once we receive your papers, we plan to make up four or five smaller groups based on topics and themes. As a formal prompt for our discussion, we will then ask each participant to read the other papers in that group with particular care and to write brief responses to two of them.

    The SAA requires us to have final versions of all papers and responses by February 22, 2013. To meet this deadline, we propose that all participants submit papers of 12-15 pages by January 21, 2013. We will then form small groups and ask for one-page responses to two other papers in the group by February 15.

    When writing the papers, it will be helpful for all participants to have a sense of the work that other seminar members are doing. With this in mind, please send us a brief, informal biography (which might especially mention how your interest in this topic may have formed) and an abstract (200–250 words) by December 1, 2011. Please also list 3–5 books or articles particularly relevant to your work. We will compile this information and send it out to the group before the winter break.

    We also include four relatively short recommended readings in PDF format, in the hopes that they will help to give us a set of common terms for discussing this multifaceted topic. For phenomenology, there is material from Robert Sokolowski’s Introduction to Phenomenology (more chapters available in PDF if you’re interested); for periodization, Margreta de Grazia’s “The Modern Divide: From Either Side”; and for Shakespeare, Jim Kearney and Kevin Curran’s introduction (and Bruce Smith’s afterword) for the recent special issue of Criticism (54.3) on “Shakespeare and Phenomenology.”

    While we are of course interested in papers that address all three terms of our seminar’s triad, we do not expect all of the papers to do so. Our goal is to have a productive and interesting discussion about issues of periodization and phenomenology in Shakespeare’s plays and in Shakespeare studies today. We also hope to organize a social gathering after the seminar where we can continue the conversation informally.

    Seminar with Member Responses

    Bernadette Andrea (University of Texas, San Antonio) and Linda McJannet (Bentley University)

    Dear SAA Colleagues,

    We are delighted to welcome you to SAA Seminar 18, “Nomadic Subjects and Objects in Early Modern England.” We anticipate a rich and timely sharing of ideas when we meet in Toronto next March. As veterans of this conference know, the seminar format was pioneered by the SAA some decades ago. Unlike a formal panel with respondents, the seminars enable a group of scholars interested in a particular topic to share ideas and sources, to read each other’s work in advance, and to engage in an in-depth discussion of the issues raised by the papers at the seminar itself. These stimulating discussions often lead to further collaborations, including publications. However, seminars are not meant to be workshops in which the substance, structure, or style of individual papers are critiqued. In this spirit of collegiality, many seminarians also gather following the seminar to continue the discussion over drinks and/or dinner, a tradition we propose to continue.

    Description of the seminar:
Taking as its point of departure the notion of “the nomadic subject” discussed by postmodern and postcolonial theorists, this seminar invites papers that explore subjects and objects (including commodities, texts, language, scientific and philosophical ideas, and social practices) that traveled between early modern England and other parts of the globe. We welcome papers on English interaction and exchange with all parts of the globe, including Asia, Africa, the Americas, and continental Europe (including Ottoman territories). What people and objects “traveled” in this period? Could the foreign wife of a merchant, diplomat, or missionary find a place in an English community, at home or abroad? Did foreign goods, fashions, and foodstuffs remain “foreign” or were they domesticated, regarded as English? How did imported goods such as tobacco, coffee, tea, and spice and the practices associated with their consumption change consumers’ tastes and behavior and the social networks within their communities? What texts and ideas circulated most readily? What foreign words entered English? What bodies of knowledge did English travelers seek to acquire, and what foreign customs did they adopt as travelers? How did these affect their sense of national identity, both their own and that of others?

    The seminar encourages a variety of critical approaches, from historical accounts of individual travelers, to studies of mercantile theory and practice, to book historical analysis and translation studies of specific texts (such as the Qur’an or foreign language ethnographies or memoirs). The intended audience of the seminar includes senior and junior scholars, as well as advanced graduate students, interested in all forms of cultural exchange in the period.

    Timeline of activities for the seminar:
 We have devised the following timeline for tasks leading up to, including, and following our seminar based on the wisdom of past successful seminars. Because the SAA has strict deadlines for seminar organizers to submit information and material from participants, we must ask you to adhere to all the deadlines below. The SAA will not allow individuals who do not meet certain deadlines to appear in the printed program. Again, if you have suggestions or questions about this schedule or the tasks detailed below, please let us know. We appreciate your participation in this seminar, and we look forward to a stimulating discussion in Toronto.

 To confirm your participation in this seminar, please respond to both of us with your current contact information (preferred name, institutional affiliation, and email address). While we prefer to conduct our pre-seminar communication via email, we are happy to send hard copies to anyone for whom email poses a problem (including the transmission of pdf files). In this case, please also send your preferred mailing address. SAA guidelines stress that “no paper should be circulated outside the seminar membership without the author’s permission. Acknowledgement of another participant’s paper is incumbent upon its user, whether or not the work has subsequently been published. An author’s permission much be secured for any quoted materials.” The same applies to seminar participants’ contact information. If you have any concerns or questions about this matter, please let us know.

    MONDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2012
. Email us 1) a working title for your proposed paper, 2) an approximately 100-200 word abstract of your paper, and 2) a preliminary bibliography of 3-5 references from your paper related to the seminar’s focus on “nomadic objects and subjects.” We will collate these descriptions and the bibliographical references and send this file to all seminar participants.

    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2012. 
Email us your completed paper (3000 words maximum, not including bibliographical references). We will collate the papers into a single pdf file and send this file to all participants. You are expected to read all the papers prior to the seminar, some of which you will engage more specifically as a respondent. Shortly after receiving all the papers, we will cluster them in thematic groups and assign a “respondent” for each paper (see below).

    Also, please ensure that your SAA membership, conference registration, and related matters are up-to-date.

    MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2012
. By this date, you should email your response (300-500 words) to the members of your thematic group, copying both of us. These responses are meant to stimulate conversation across papers, with attention to the focus of the seminar on “nomadic objects and subjects.” Responses should engage the issues a paper raises rather than critique its substance, style, or structure.

    If you wish to send in a revised abstract for your paper (see above), please forward a copy by this date. We will collate the abstracts, send an electronic copy to the seminar participants, and provide hard copies to the auditors of the seminar.

    MONDAY, MARCH 11, 2012. 
By this date, we will forward to all the participants a list of guiding questions for the seminar based on our readings of the papers and responses, an agenda for the seminar itself, and information about a spot to which you are invited to join us afterwards for drinks and/or dinner.

    Seminar with Small-Group Subdivisions

    Katherine Craik (Oxford Brookes University)

    Dear Colleagues

    I’m delighted to welcome you to the seminar “Class and Emotion in Shakespeare” to be held at the 2013 meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America in Toronto. The seminar is fully enrolled at the SAA’s new maximum of 16 members, as you’ll see from the attached list. I look forward to working with you in the coming months, and to a lively and provocative exchange of ideas. As a reminder of the seminar’s topic, I’m copying the original seminar description below, at the end of this message. I have established the following schedule for the seminar, and will send you reminders as deadlines approach.

    ASAP Please respond to acknowledge the receipt of this email and to confirm your participation. Please also confirm that your email address is the preferred one for our correspondence over the next few months.

    December 7th Please send your title and a brief abstract (c. 250 words) of your paper to the whole group, preferably as a Microsoft Word attachment. At the same time, please send or three items that you think should be included in a bibliography on this topic. I will then circulate these to the group.

    February 15th Please send your final papers, preferably as a Microsoft Word attachment, to the whole group. Your paper should be no longer than 8 to 10 double-spaced pages. This deadline is important, as I will need to inform the SAA that I have received your paper in order to confirm your involvement in the conference.

    March 8th In order to facilitate discussion and to ensure that everyone receives varied responses to their work, I plan to assign each of you to a smaller group of three or four people, based on the content of the papers. I will ask you to devise some questions in response to each of the papers in your group, and to circulate these.

    March 28-30th SAA 2013, Toronto. Seminar timing TBA. Closer to the time I will organise plans for further group conversation over drinks or dinner.

    If you have any questions, please let me know. I look forward to learning about all of your approaches to this topic, and to meeting you in March.

    ** *
Dear Colleagues: 
A last message before we meet in Toronto!

    As you know, our seminar meets on Saturday 30 March from 4-6 pm. After close of play, we’ll retire to the hotel bar for a drink and I hope very much that you’ll join us.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your papers so much, and would like to thank you all for responding to the topic so thoughtfully and generously. I thought it might be useful to sketch out beforehand some directions our discussion might take. This is not at all intended to delimit our conversation – only to provide a rough roadmap so that we may better navigate a path through our material which is so strikingly diverse in scope in approach.

    I propose to divide our time between the four sub-groups, reserving plenty of time for whole- group discussion. I’ll begin by asking each of you briefly to summarise your paper, and then I’d like to suggest that each group start with some broad questions which I’ve drawn from your papers and responses (please see attached). There’s no need for you to do anything more to prepare these in advance. I’ve simply tried to collate the questions you’ve already raised, and added a few of my own.

    GROUP ONE (Women and Service)

    Sandra Clark, ‘Women, Class and the Language of Madness,’ 
Mary Ellen Lamb, ‘Thinking about Class and Emotion in Shakespeare,’ Karen Robertson, ‘Angry Maidservants.’

    Class and Emotion
: What are emotions? Are they ‘single’ or ‘compound’? Are they felt by individuals, or by groups? How useful is the classification of emotions? How stable are these categories? When and why do they break down?
 If the psychopathology of the emotions was the same for all classes, how can this be reconciled with an otherwise rigid system of social differentiation?
 How does gender affect the emotions of different social classes? And are emotions determined by age – in childhood and/or adulthood?
 As we scrutinise our own social identifications, what investments do we have in understanding the emotions of the past through the lens of social class?

: To what extent was Shakespeare writing for the middling sort? Does he tend to address interactions between classes from a position ‘above’ rather than ‘below’?
 How full are the subjectivities of Shakespeare’s lower-class men and women?
 Why are we so keen to find a democratic Shakespeare, and are we ever successful? Were Shakespeare’s contemporaries (Whitney, Middleton, Dekker) more democratic in their understanding of emotion?

 How did subordinates express emotion, especially anger? Why do Shakespeare’s female servants (or his servants more generally) only infrequently express ‘just’ anger?
 What roles do domestics (apprentices, servants) play in the emotional lives of the middle classes? Which conversations do they enable, especially among women, and why?
 Servants’ emotions often remain unspoken, but what dramatic opportunities does their silence afford to Shakespeare and others?

    Moderation and excess
: How can we theorise the links between emotion, class and dramatic genre? How are emotions represented differently in comedy and/or tragedy? 
If the challenges to authority attempted by Shakespeare’s lower-class characters are often comic, does this make them merely diversionary?
 Whose emotions become ‘stagey’ or spectacular? 
Do the emotions of lower social classes tend towards excess and obscenity? Are such emotions gender-specific?
 What are the links between popular language and madness; or licentiousness/freedom?
 What would a plebeian or mad eloquence look like? In what ways might such eloquence challenge the moderation of humanist culture?

    GROUP TWO (Emotion and Social Hierarchies)

    Barbara Bono, ‘The Foil of Class in Shakespeare’s I Henry IV,’ 
Judith Owens, ‘The Fellowship of Scholars,’
 Kate Welch, ‘Mourning and Class in Sir Thomas More and Edward II,’ Rebecca Wiseman, ‘Cultivation and Class in Euphues and The Winter’s Tale.’

: What is authentic emotion, in literature or on stage? Are the emotions of different social classes authentic in different ways? 
Are conventional/ritualised performances of affect (such as kneeling) less valuable than other kinds; and if so, why?
 Does the authenticity of emotion change when it is expressed, performed and/or witnessed? Can we ever really access subjectivity through representation on stage?
 In what ways might the performance of an emotion (through gesture) affect that emotion? Do gestures cause as well as express emotions? Do gestures indicate the transition of an emotion from the outside in, and/or vice versa?
 What place do props and costumes have in the performance of emotion?

    Social mobility
: What sorts of emotional protocols existed between social classes? Were certain emotions such as grief associated with particular social classes; and how were these shared or transferred between classes? When and why does such shifting become unseemly?
 How does the performance of humour (Hotspur’s choler; Falstaff’s sanguinity) confirm social class; and how reliable were such markers of social differentiation?

    Class and language: 
Is language a reliable indicator of class? Does it matter whether such language is written or spoken? Improvised or rehearsed?
 In what ways are emotional communities rhetorically constructed?
 In what ways do styles of speaking (such as euphuism) indicate particular class allegiance, or social ambition?

    How does the onstage ‘body language’ of emotion (such as kneeling in supplication) relate to other sorts of language? Are such languages authentic in different ways in drama and/or lyric?

    Learning emotions
: Are emotions learned; and if so, where (schoolroom technologies; reading; family inheritance; forms of devotion)? 
In what ways are emotions shared/transferred between friends, or through scholarly fellowship? What kinds of cultivation (emotional or otherwise) enables men and women to rise through the ranks of social class? Is nobility learned or bestowed by birth?
 Does learning promise new forms of nobility, irrespective of social difference? 
How can emotions cultivated ‘below stairs’ come to represent kingly ones (Hal’s ‘bottom up’ education)?

    GROUP THREE (Pity, Sympathy, Compassion)

    Laura Aydelotte, ‘Empathy, Class and the Nebulous Fool in King Lear,’ Jennifer Feather, ‘Class, Threat, and Pity in Marlowe’s Tamburlaine Parts One and Two,’ Rikita Tyson, ‘Malleability and Emotion in The Tempest.’

In what ways does social position fix the identity of individuals? 
If identity is constructed through emotion, how does this complement or contradictour existing categories for understanding identity (racial, humoral, etc)?
 Is early modern emotional identity founded on self-control and restraint? How does this compare to (or anticipate) emotional identity today – which tends to privilege desire, and our ability to act upon it?

    Permeability: What alternative forms of selfhood do emotions suggest, through the ability of individuals to negotiate affective systems? What are ‘ambient’ emotions?
 Is emotional malleability especially associated with women? With working people?
 How is the impermeability of the outer/inner self related to moral character; to masculinity; or to the (in)ability to be moved?

    Do the identities of those of indeterminate social status (such as the Fool as nebulo) emerge only in relation to others?

Can we tease out the differences between pity, compassion and mercy?
Do processes of empathy/sympathy allow emotions be shared between people of different social classes? What kinds of reciprocities are at work here; and how might these be related to the workings of charity?
 What sorts of openness does compassion involve – for Miranda, and others? What is gained and lost by the person empathising, or by the person empathised with? 
How does empathy affect language? Do different social classes speak like one another when they empathise with one another?

    GROUP FOUR (Audience and Affect)
 Piers Brown, ‘Motion and Emotion in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, ’
Jeff Doty, ‘Class, Compassion and Political Thought in Shakespeare’s Theatre,’ Kristine Johanson, ‘Class and Nostalgia in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.’

: How useful or limiting are our current conceptions of early modern audiences (as docile? mobbish? self-forgetful?). 
What evidence can we find to reconstruct the emotions felt among audiences? And how does the onstage representation of emotion relate to the experience of emotion in the playhouse?
 Can social difference be suspended by the emotions experienced in theatres?
 Were the emotions of audiences ever synchronised, even when their members were drawn from diverse social backgrounds? How stable or provisional was this synchronicity? 
Does Shakespeare teach us how to feel?

: What are the mechanics of affect? If one is ‘stirred’, is this an emotional state – or a movement between states? Are emotions spontaneously generated, or ‘dormant’/waiting to be aroused? 
In what ways does Shakespeare’s treatment of emotion, and his understanding of affect, resemble or differ from that of his contemporaries? 
In what ways does the Renaissance vocabulary of being shaken, stirred, transported – into states of wonder, rapture, awe – anticipate the aesthetic vocabulary of the eighteenth century? 
How does the Renaissance vocabulary of rhetorical affect develop into later theories of causation in the physical sciences?

: Are some emotions (such as nostalgia, or compassion) more available than others to all social classes? 
What sorts of emotions are associated with experiencing the past? In what ways are these connected to the faculty of memory?
 How do different classes (eg. the plebeians and patricians in Julius Caesar) conceive the past differently? 
In what ways does political action depend upon an idealised understanding of the past?

    Compassion and action: 
How does emotion (such as grief, nostalgia or compassion) lead to political action?
 What happens when lower-class characters feel compassion for upper-class ones (such as the doctor for Lady Macbeth)
? What sorts of public judgement and political action do emotional states enable?

    Seminar with Added (Optional) Event

    Laura Estill (University of Victoria) and Jean-Christoph Mayer (University of Montpellier)

    Dear Colleagues,

    This is a call for papers for a seminar entitled “Shakespeare in/and Manuscript,” which we will be organising at the next Shakespeare Association of America (SAA) meeting in Toronto, Canada, 28-30 March 2013.

    While the only extant Shakespearean holograph manuscript is notoriously limited to a short scene in a collaborative play (Sir Thomas More), there is a wealth of other Shakespearean manuscripts. Traditionally, the value of these manuscripts was seen to reside in the fact that their texts could provide potentially useful variants for editors in pursuit of a so-called authentic Shakespearean text. Today, although these views have evolved, our understanding of the social and historical dissemination of Shakespeare’s text tends to be informed mainly by the rise of Shakespeare in print.

    Participants in this seminar will be invited to consider such phenomena as the cultural mobility of Shakespeare in manuscript, textual bricolage, or indeed the elaboration of a parallel cultural economy—separate but also intimately tied the world of print. Contributors will delve into the archive to explore these other manuscripts, including promptbooks, miscellanies, commonplace books, and manuscript marginalia in printed books. Beyond literary manuscripts that contain Shakespearean text, this seminar encourages participants to consider alternative sources such as account books, songbooks, and diaries, which may also offer insight into particular productions. This investigation of primary materials will highlight the varied and contingent responses to Shakespeare’s plays and poems from the early modern period to the present.

    The goal of this seminar is to encourage participants to consider the wide range of Shakespearean manuscripts, to showcase a variety of critical approaches to these primary texts, and to explore some of the new (and often digital) ways to access these sources. Participants will share their expertise(s) in bibliography and textual studies while also providing historical and cultural contexts in which to understand these materials. If possible, the members of this seminar will visit the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library or the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (University of Toronto).

    Seminar with Dropbox and Peer Review

    Sujata Iyengar (University of Georgia)

    Welcome to “Health, Well-Being, and Happiness in the Shakespearean Body,” seminar 11 of the Shakespeare Association of America’s 2013 meeting in Toronto. I am eager to begin working with you. We have a full seminar – indeed I believe most seminars are full this year –so the SAA has asked leaders to generate a list of interim due dates and to enforce them strictly. To that end, I include towards the close of this letter a list of due dates for: a short biography, a planned topic and purpose statement, a three-item reading-list, an abstract, and, finally, a paper.

    I am sending this initial letter to you via electronic mail, but within a week or so we will start using an electronic “dropbox” to reduce email traffic and to exchange documents efficiently (many of you will already use this free and secure cloud-computing service, but you can read more about it, or watch a video, and download the program here: Download and install Dropbox from the link, and look in your electronic mail later this week for the invitation to “View Shared Folder” (our folder is called “SAA Shared Dropbox Health Seminar 2013”). If neither of these messages arrives within a week, check your junk mail in case it ended up there. If you still don’t find them, let me know, and I’ll re-send the invitation.

    When you access our shared Dropbox folder, you’ll see a copy of this letter, a reverse calendar, a list of participants, and a list of participants’ email addresses. You will also see a sub-folder called “SAA Bulletin Material” (containing the 80-word Bulletin Description and my 300-word proposal for the Program Committee) and an empty sub-folder called “Seminar Participant Biographies.” Go ahead and place into the latter folder a 25-150 word biography (you can include a photograph or image if you like), saved as .doc, .docx, .pdf or .rtf. Please name your document “Lastname, Biography.” I have uploaded mine as an example. Since we are a large group, it will be helpful to learn something about each other before the meeting. I’d appreciate having your short biography in place by December 1, 2012.

    SAA requires all participants to have completed all work for the seminar by February 22, 2013; those who have not completed all work for the seminar by this date will not be listed on the program (and, it’s implied, will not be able to participate in the seminar). I will therefore be asking you to adhere to the following due dates (you’ll see these again on the reverse calendar):

    December 1, 2012 Short professional biography due

    December 15, 2012 Statement of topic and purpose. (I’ll explain this in a separate document.)

    December 31, 2012
 Three items for a shared reading-list due. (I’ll explain the purpose of this assignment in a separate document.)

    February 1, 2013 Abstract of paper due

    February 10, 2013 Final paper of 3000-7500 words due. (I’ll explain the rationale for this range in a separate document.)

    February 22, 2013 Sujata Iyengar sends final list of participants who have completed all assignments to SAA so that participants’ names can be included on the program.

    Please do not send documents to me via electronic mail; our server here at UGA won’t permit us to receive messages of over 2MB, and my server space is also quite strictly controlled, so I can’t receive large numbers of messages without some correspondents receiving “bounceback” messages. For that reason, please place your assignments in our shared Dropbox folder. Each assignment will have its own Dropbox sub-folder where you can read my suggested guidelines, place your draft for others to peruse, add updated versions, and so on.

    Thank you all once more for your willingness to share your work and to comment upon others’. Veterans of SAA know how helpful this process of drafting, responding to and revising scholarly work can be, especially when one can feel isolated in the vacuum chamber of deep archival research, high theory, or whirling words. At such times, collegial critique comes as needed oxygen.

    Finally, I realize this message may sound a little impersonal, with its due dates, dropboxes and pre-determined document titles. I’m looking forward very much to meeting all of you in person in our seminar and hope that we can also schedule a more informal conversation over drinks or dinner at some point during the conference.

    General Preparation for our Seminar

    As you read our colleagues’ papers, please keep in mind the following questions that we will discuss during our seminar in Toronto:

    • What is the current state of scholarship in Health and/or Happiness Studies (I’m including Disability Studies, Literature and Medicine, Medical Humanities all under the general rubric of “Health and Happiness Studies”?
    • How do our papers develop or fit into or critique (as appropriate) this emerging discipline or set of disciplines?
 a) In what ways do our papers advance the study of Shakespeare, his world, and his works? b) What challenges do we face in integrating health studies with the historical, textual or performance schools of criticism that have tended to dominate Shakespeare studies in recent years?
    • What rhetorical, structural, and theoretical approaches can and do we use in our papers to tackle these challenges?
 a) How accessible is our work to scholars from other health- and wellness-related disciplines such as medicine, psychology, health communication and so on?
 b) What opportunities exist or can we seek out to make our work more widely accessible?

    General Comments

    Please note that these are merely suggestions for how you should proceed; some of you will already have your own well-established guidelines for peer-review. I provide these suggestions at the request of a seminar member who wished for some guidance.

    Suggestions for Reading all Papers: Summarize, Contextualize, Evaluate

    Come to our seminar having jotted down between 1-3 sentences about each paper. If you can write only one sentence, use it to summarize in your own words what the paper argues, explicates, or expresses. If you can write two sentences, write a sentence of summary and a second sentence of contextualization: does, or how does, this paper contribute to the study of Shakespeare, health, literary criticism, English Studies? If you can write three sentences, write a sentence of summary, one of contextualization, and one of evaluation: does this paper achieve what it sets out to argue, explicate, express, or contribute?

    Upload your general comments to our Dropbox sub-folder at least the day before SAA, please.

    Guidelines for Detailed Review

    I have given each of you one paper for detailed review, but you should feel free to offer detailed comments on any of our colleagues’ papers where you think you can offer help, advice, critique, and encouragement.
Your detailed review should summarize, contextualize, and evaluate your author’s paper, but should also respond, where possible, to your author’s request for help. Read over your author’s abstract to remind yourself what she or he intends to do with the completed paper, and evaluate the paper in that context. Suggest further reading if you have recommendations, and don’t be afraid to recommend major structural revisions to a paper if you think it will make your author’s argument stronger.

    Pick one paragraph (pick more if you like, but I know we are all pressed for time) on which to make detailed notes on style and usage. Particularly note any particular “pet peeves” of yours – you will certainly not be alone among readers, and an SAA seminar is a more friendly environment in which to alert a writer of lapses in style than, say, an anonymous reader’s report. Consider our general seminar questions, above, with regard to the paper you’ve reviewed. Upload your detailed review to our Dropbox sub-folder at least one week before SAA, please, so that your author will have a chance to read over your comments.

    Pairs for Detailed Review

    I’ve put you in a “review circle”:
 Ciraulo reviews Dhar who reviews Smith who reviews Johns who reviews Nunn who reviews Doubler who reviews Moulton who reviews Ciraulo.

    Seminar with Blog

    David B. Goldstein (York University) and Julia Reinhard Lupton (University of California, Irvine)


    Welcome to the seminar “Shakespeare and Hospitality” for the Shakespeare Association of America conference, which will be held from March 28-30, 2013, in Toronto. We are delighted that you have chosen our seminar, and we look forward to receiving and reading your work in the coming months. Below we have listed the extended description of the seminar to help you focus your papers, the schedule, and the list of participants. Please let us know if you’d like to make any changes to your information on the participants’ list.

    Shakespeare and Hospitality

    Scenes of greeting, feeding, entertaining, and providing shelter saturate Shakespearean drama and poetry, from the masked ball in Romeo and Juliet to the deadly sleepover in Macbeth; from the failed meals of The Merchant of Venice to the tragic extended stay of The Winter’s Tale. This seminar will explore the manifold roles of hospitality in Shakespeare’s works. Seminar contributions might address questions such as: how do instances and ruptures of hospitality inform Shakespeare’s work? What are the historical, philosophical, and sociological contexts of Shakespearean hospitality? How do eating, consumption, food, and drink operate in relation to hospitable behavior? How does hospitality contribute to notions of political theology? What are the ethical resonances of hospitable action or the denial thereof? Where are the boundary-lines of hospitality drawn, especially in terms of community, nationality, and race? How do we graph the connections among hospitality, charity, service, duty, friendship, and love? Who does the work of hospitality, and how is that labor gendered? How does hospitality help define and ameliorate otherness? What are the environmental resonances of hospitality? How does the physical playhouse engage in or reject the duties of hosting? How do productions of the plays take up and scenographically engage hospitality? How do Shakespeare’s works make themselves hospitable—or inhospitable—to interpretation, performance, and other kinds of meaning- making?


    Now: Please confirm that you have received this letter to David Goldstein and Julia Reinhard Lupton. Please send all correspondence about the seminar to both organizers.

    Before December 15: Please respond to the link we will send to register yourself as a member on our seminar tumblr blog, We will use the blog (which, unless participants object, will be open to the public for reading, but not for commenting) to post the abstracts, responses to papers, and other comments, in order to facilitate seminar discussion. The papers themselves, however, will be emailed to the seminar participants, as documents of that length tend to become unwieldy reading in blog format. If you do not receive the link by November 23, please let us know.

    December 15: Abstracts due. Please post your paper titles and abstracts (250-500 words) and a brief bio on the blog.

    Late December: We will use your abstracts to create 4 groups of 4 papers each, for purposes of paper commenting and for organizing the seminar discussion.

    February 8: Papers Due. Please email your completed paper (8-12 pp) and a revised abstract (if necessary) to the organizers and the participant email list. THIS DEADLINE IS MANDATED BY THE SAA. IN ORDER TO HAVE YOUR NAME LISTED IN THE PROGRAM, PLEASE BE SURE TO HAVE YOUR PAPER TO US BY THIS DATE.

    March 1: Responses Due. Please post three 1-page responses, one for each of the other papers in your group, on the blog. Feel free also to post comments on responses to your or others’ papers, and to respond additionally to any of the papers not in your group.

    March 21: We will compose discussion questions—likely one per group—and circulate them to the participants in order to get us thinking about what directions the seminar discussion might take.

    March 28-30: See you in Toronto! We will let you know exactly when our seminar is scheduled, as soon as we know.

    All further information relating to the Conference can be found at

    This page of Sample Seminar and Workshop Correspondence can be downloaded as a PDF file.