Thursday News: Looking for Shakespeare, Comcast acquires digital media, book challenge in Florida school district, and historic collection returned to Plains nations
Hide Your Fires: On Shakespeare and the ‘Noted Weed’ – The piece I posted yesterday on Elena Ferrante has something in common with this Atlantic article on Shakespeare – namely the way in which texts so often exist beyond the identity of the author, even if people become somewhat fixated on knowing and understanding the author, as in Shakespeare’s case. So much so, in fact, that the Internet seized upon a 2001 study on the question of whether Shakespeare was a stoner, discussing it as if it were a brand new question. The fact is that very little is known about Shakespeare the playwright, and while interest is high in each possible piece of knowledge, I’m not sure how much more insight into the work knowing would provide. As it stands, the texts must speak for themselves and be interpreted on their own merits.
Many of these discoveries and theories end up being either debunked or disregarded by Shakespeare scholars, mainly because they fail to fulfill the very specific criteria these scholars require to verify authenticity. “The standard is very high with a new ‘discovery’ about Shakespeare,” Witmore said, “and it is that we should feel that it is unreasonable to doubt the assertion.” That is, scholars must be able to discount all other alternative explanations for the discovery before they can agree that it’s attributable to the Bard. Witmore and his colleague, Heather Wolfe, actually provide a thorough overview of the painstaking verification steps Shakespeare scholars must take in their response to the discovery of the dictionary. Unfortunately, what don’t receive the same degree of public attention are the new discoveries that scholars have verified, among them being the fact that Shakespeare may have had a co-author on up to a third of his plays, according to Witmore. –The Atlantic
NBCUniversal Buys Big Chunks of Vox Media and BuzzFeed – So NBCUniversal (read: Comcast) is now gobbling up digital media by investing heavily in both Vox and Buzzfeed. You know things are bad when the author of the Re/code article expresses his discomfort in commenting on the deal, because Vox owns Re/code. And doesn’t that just say it all?
The headline for now: The media giant is investing $200 million in Vox Media, at a pre-money valuation of $850 million, according to several sources. Which is another way of saying Vox Media is now worth more than $1 billion, after raising around $300 million altogether. (NBCU owner Comcast had previously invested in Vox Media, via its investment arm Comcast Ventures.)
BuzzFeed, meanwhile, is expected to be worth $1.5 billion after its NBCU investment, which multiple sources say is also $200 million — not the $250 million we had previously reported. We believe that secondary sales are involved in each investment — that is, early investors or employees may be selling shares as part of these rounds. –Re/code
After book ban controversy, LCS reviews policies – If you’ve been following the not so curious case in Florida of an attempt to get Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time removed as assigned reading, citing it’s “profanity” and “atheism,” and the protests from national organizations like the ALA, the PEN, the AAP, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, among others, you may be interested to know that the controversy has at least prompted the school board to look at its own policies for assigning and removing content. One issue is that K-12 students have fewer First Amendment rights, and parents have more legal influence and engagement with the schools. I don’t know if we’re seeing more attempts to censor content in schools, but more of these attempts seem to be making the news.
A parent’s objection also reached School Board member Alva Striplin, who initially reported that she was going to recommend taking the book off the district approval list. Striplin — who later acknowledged that “Curious Incident” is “beautifully written with a powerful message” — clarified that she is not seeking a ban and wants it to stay on the shelves.
Striplin does, however, want to prevent “Curious Incident” from being assigned as a requirement again. This does not equate to censorship, she added.
“Parents’ concerns come first. That is what we do best — listen to parents’ concerns and adjust as needed,” she said. “It is solely the language of the book that is the problem.”–Tallahassee Democrat
A Candy Magnate Helped Bring A Holy Collection Home – Not a story about books, but it does have a happy ending, so I figure it still qualifies. A collection of more than 9o objects from nations including the Crow, Blackfeet, Cheyenne, Lakota, Kiowa, Nez Perce, had been in Chicago, with no resources to bring it back to Wyoming, where the Brinton Museum was getting ready to close down. When Forrest Mars, Jr., — next door neighbor to the ranch on which the museum sat — heard about the fate of the museum and the century-old collection in Chicago, he decided to invest $16M in a new building and transport and display of the pieces of Plains history. One of the biggest challenges, of course, was not just the transportation of the pieces, but their proper display, because so many of them are sacred objects, as well as being fragile. So now the items are home, so to speak, and the museum is up and running again.
“It is one of the great collections of Plains Indian art,” says Powell, an Anglican priest and an adopted member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe and its chiefs’ society. He also runs the Foundation for the Preservation of American Indian Art and Culture in Chicago, where the Gallatin Collection has been held for safekeeping since the 1970s.
“And it’s been that many years, more than 40 years — almost half a century — of working and praying for the return of the collection,” he says. –NPR