William Shakespeare is the most influential writer in the English language. Oxford University Press is long established as the most authoritative publisher of critical editions of literary texts. In 1986-7, a team led by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor produced a groundbreaking new edition of the Complete Works. This was the first edition of Shakespeare ever to publish edited texts of the Complete Works in both modern and original spelling, and to provide a complete discursive textual apparatus. Now, over 25 years later, an inter-generational team of leading scholars, adopting the latest advances in editorial theory and practice, is producing a wholly new edition of the plays and poems of William Shakespeare. This edition will be the standard-bearer for future generations of scholars, teachers, readers and performers.
Hoosier Bard Productions links a theatre company with the New Oxford Shakespeare editors and the Indianapolis performing arts community. New Oxford Shakespeare is the first edition to include an Equity actor, IUPUI English Drama Professor and Hoosier Bard Productions director, Terri Bourus, among its general editors. At every Hoosier Bard production, spectators become collaborators with Hoosier Bard Productions and New Oxford Shakespeare by helping to test new ideas about what Shakespeare created, how it should be edited and performed.
Shakespeare did not publish an authorized collected edition of his own works. Consequently, scholars must decide exactly which works he wrote (or co-wrote), when he wrote them, and exactly what the text of each work should be. Given the size of Shakespeare’s canon, and the many different kinds of difficulty associated with it, editing his complete works is an exceptionally demanding scholarly task.
Editors bridge the gap between an old author like Shakespeare and his new readers. Scholars agree that not one early printed text of Shakespeare’s plays or poems is completely free of errors. As a consequence, editors must decide whether variants between early printed versions of a text represent authorial revision, or changes made for posthumous theatrical revivals, or censorship, or just error.
In Shakespeare’s own lifetime, and ever since, editions have routinely modernized and regularized the spelling, punctuation, and layout of his texts. Since the early eighteenth century, editions have provided commentaries, introductions, illustrations, appendices, and many other kinds of supplementary material. Our edition will do the same.
The international, intergenerational team of the New Oxford Shakespeare project comprises of a small group of expert editors and Shakespeare scholars. Their research publications and interests represent a wide range of scholarly activities and theoretical approaches. In this project, they all work together to scrutinize and discuss textual issues that arise in editing the early printings of Shakespeare's works. While doing so, they continue to produce original research on the textual transmission of these early texts, while also considering and responding to recent scholarship in this area. The New Oxford Shakespeare project is a thoroughly collaborative effort; it brings together a close-knit group of experienced and emerging scholars to shed new light on Shakespeare's texts.
The New Oxford Shakespeare aims to create an edition that is both innovative and helpful to the full range of people interested in Shakespeare. We will make the results of our research available in multiple volumes, multiple formats, multiple media—-all linked to each other, and all designed to the high scholarly and aesthetic standards that the world has long come to expect from Oxford University Press.
The new multimedia edition of Shakespeare’s work is scheduled for completion in 2016.