Digital Renaissance Editions

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Official Launch, 2015

The Launch

Digital Renaissance Editions officially launched at 12:30pm on Saturday, 4 April, during the Shakespeare Association of America annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada. A transcript of the opening remarks offered by the Coordinating Editor is below, along with photographs from the event taken by Mary Erica Zimmer and copies of the slides.

Opening Remarks

4 April 2015
Waddington Room, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

Good afternoon and welcome to the official launch of Digital Renaissance Editions. My name is Brett Hirsch and I’m the coordinating editor for the series, which publishes critical editions of non-Shakespearean early English plays and related materials, with modern-spelling texts and full scholarly apparatus, facsimiles of early textual witnesses and transcriptions of the same, all subjected to rigorous peer review and made freely available online.

Our mission is to act on the knowledge that Shakespeare was not alone, to recognize that as only one out of some 200, Shakespeare represents less than 1 percent of the known, named dramatists – professional and amateur – writing during this period. Our mission is to stand up for the 99 percent.

But the revolution needn’t be bloody. We come not to bury Shakespeare – nor to cast him as “our other Middleton” – but to make him work to keep his seat, by making the plays of his immediate predecessors, contemporaries, and successors readily available in authoritative, modern-spelling editions.

Not only will this expand the canon of plays available in this format, but the cumulative effect will also facilitate an informed literary history in which Shakespeare’s works are properly situated within the complex networks of dramatic influences, rivalries, and collaborations, repertory companies and patronage, innovations, trends, and anomalies.

Such a massive project won’t be complete within my lifetime, and is also only made possible through the substantial contributions of the scholars, editors, developers, and designers serving on our editorial and advisory boards, as well as the generous support of a growing number of partner institutions.

Michael Best and the Internet Shakespeare Editions deserve special mention in this regard. Michael has been an enthusiastic and outspoken supporter of the project from the beginning, and I could not have asked for a more ideal mentor. Likewise, the Internet Shakespeare Editions provides more than just a shared publication platform – it is an inspiration, and our project is honoured to be a part of the growing ISE ‘family’. Please join me in thanking them.

Finally, a project such of this also relies upon you to grow and thrive. We invite you to join our mission to expand the canon of early modern drama, one play at a time. We welcome your contributions, whether by proposing to edit a play for the series, submitting materials to the performance database and Critical Companion, using the completed editions and works-in-progress in your teaching and research, or by simply reporting bugs, errors, and areas of possible improvement to us. We have much to accomplish, and this is only the beginning.


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