Professor Dale Priest Lectures on Authorship at TCEA Conference

Posted By on March 15, 2011


Professor Dale Priest.

“The times,” as Bob Dylan says,  “they are a changin’….”

Linda Theil, writing on the Oberon blog, reports an intriguing new development in authorship studies.

This year’s annual joint meeting of the Conference of College Teachers of English and the Texas College English Association , held on March 5, 2011 at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, Professor Dale Priest of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, addressed the Shakespearean question.

March 9, 2011 press release from Lamar U. reported:

Professor Dale Priest earned special honors in being selected to speak at the association’s breakfast and to select his topic: “What’s in a Name? The Shakespeare Authorship Debate Revisited.” Known as a Shakespeare scholar, Priest has been a member of the conference for more than 30 years.

When Theil asked Professor Priest why he chose the Shakespeare authorship as his topic, he said:

That controversy has been a favorite diversion for me ever since 1987, when I helped bring to our campus the satellite-TV coverage of the Supreme Court debate about that issue. That was interesting and fun. Chief Justice Stevens — now retired — is a long-time Oxfordian in that battle. . . . (My paper) was well-received and we had a lively discussion afterward.

Dr. Priest is the author of a number of papers on Shakespearean topics, among them:

  • “Katherina’s Conversion in The Taming of the Shrew: A Theological Heuristic,” in Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, Vol. XLVII, No. 1, Fall, 1994, 31-40.
  • “Oratio and Negotium: Manipulative Modes in As You Like It.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 28, no. 2 (spring 1988): 273-86.

According to Theil’s account, the presentation was synopsized by a conference attendee on Dr. Davis’ Teaching College English weblog in a post published March 9, 2011 titled “TCEA: Breakfast — Reassessing Shakespeare”.

Commenting on Priest’s reference to the work of Roger Stritmatter on the annotated Geneva Bible owned by Edward deVere, Davis said:

One-quarter of the (marked) Bible (verses) were direct references to Shakespeare’s plays. Among them one-hundred Bible verses had not been previously noted by Shakespeare scholars. This is HUGE, to me. If one-hundred Bible verses were not previously noted, does that mean all the rest might also fit? I find this very persuasive.

Regrettably, the short answer to Dr. Davis’ question is, “probably not.”  While there are doubtless a few remaining connections that might be traced between marked verses in the de Vere Bible and Shakespeare, I am confident that the vast majority of relevant verses have now been identified.

This of course includes both the 141-43 documented in the prior research of  Thomas Carter (1905) Richmond Noble (1935), Stephen Booth (1977), Peter Milward (1987), and Naseeb Shaheen (1989, 1991, 1993, 1999), and the 137 new verses identified in my 2001 University of Massachusetts PhD dissertation (quite a number validated in a series of articles published in Notes and Queries between 1991 and 2001).

Most significantly, among this number are no less than 30 of 81 verses or groups of verses that Shakespeare alludes to four or more times. This topic has not yet received the notice it deserves, and further details will be forthcoming on the site as time, statistical expertise, and finances permit.

It is quite true that Professor Richard Waugaman has recently added significant new examples confirming the powerful influence of the Psalms marked in the Sternhold and Hopkins edition of the metrical psalms bound with the de Vere Bible. The psalms, however, are special case; their length and complexity meant that it was impossible within the short compass of the few years allotted to the dissertation process to fully explore that dimension of the problem.  I would not be surprised, moreover, if future study did not turn up a few more compelling links between marked verses and Shakespeare. But the number will probably be small compared to those already discovered.

That said, the present writer is most gratified to Dr. Priest for his courageous willingness to step forward, in the current atmosphere of repression and misinformation, to bring rational discussion of the authorship question before a wider audience within academia. This augers well for a more enlightened future.


About the author

Roger Stritmatter is a native liberal humorist who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Contrary to rumor, he does not live on North Avenue. He does, however, work on North Avenue. A pacifist by inclination, one of his heroes is John Brown. But he thinks that Fredrick Douglass, another of his heroes, made the right decision. Stritmatter's primary areas of interest include the nature of paradigm shifts, the history of ideas, forensic literary studies, MS studies, renaissance literature, and the history of the Shakespearean question, the latter a field in which he has published extensively.


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