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Heterodox Academy

Academic Freedom and the Shakespeare Authorship Question

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May 7, 2021

For nearly 200 years, the identity of the author of the “Shake-Speare” plays and poems has been debated in hundreds of books and thousands of articles. Despite this enduring public fascination, however, the Shakespeare Authorship Question remains one of the academy’s most intractable taboos – rarely taught and aggressively suppressed, with authorship skeptics (known as anti-Stratfordians) routinely vilified as conspiracy theorists and compared to flat-earthers and Holocaust deniers.

HxA Member and academic librarian Michael Dudley were joined for an exploration of this rhetoric and associated scholarly practices, which, when viewed through a lens of virtue epistemology and analyzed according to an external normative framework from library science, are revealed to constitute little-recognized threats to academic freedom. Dudley argues that scholarly humility, creative inquiry and viewpoint diversity in this debate can enrich Shakespeare studies – and the humanities in general. With master’s degrees in both library science and city planning, Michael Q. Dudley is the Community Outreach Librarian at the University of Winnipeg and the editor of the book Public Libraries and Resilient CitiesHis many articles related to library science, urban planning, and Shakespeare can be found here.
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