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  • Introduction:Shaw Scholarship, “Here and Now” and at the 2004 International Shaw Society (ISS) Conference
  • MaryAnn K. Crawford (bio)

This volume of SHAW presents a wonderful sampling of current Shaw scholarship, scholarship about Shaw that is definitely "here and now." The fortuitous occasion that helped create this wealth of research and writing was the first International Shaw Society–sponsored conference, "GBS by the Bay," 17–21 March 2004, held at the University of South Florida's Sarasota campus, directed by ISS president Richard Dietrich and Lagretta Lenker (with the most able help of Dick's wife, Lori, and others). Some one hundred registrants, from the United States and Canada as well as from Ireland, England, India, New Zealand, and Japan, gathered for three full days of talking, listening, hearing, and thinking about the relevance of Shaw in the "here and now," the theme of the conference.

While SHAW 25 is a general volume and not a conference proceedings volume perse, it does include a substantial number of the forty-four papers, or revisions of them, that were presented at the conference. To be exact, sixteen of the eighteen articles presented here are related to the conference, thirteen of them directly and three on similar topics but substantially revised. The wealth of ideas and voices represented in this volume illustrates how an organization—in this case, the International Shaw Society—can be a catalyst for keeping scholarship current, timely, and relevant, and can keep Shaw and his ideas working to help us, living in the here and now, understand and cope with today's world and maintain hope for the future. (For those who were unable to attend, the conference schedule listing presenters, papers, and Shavian activities is provided at the end of this introduction.) [End Page 1]

In the mix of pieces in this volume, I have tried to capture a felt-sense of the conference, retaining some of the "oral" flavor of presentations and providing a sampling of the topics included within conference groupings, while still maintaining the high-quality scholarly research tradition of the SHAW. Thus, in Part I we have thirteen pieces that were read at the conference and are here given in the same order as presented. In those pieces (now more or less revised), we can hear both the spoken and written voices of Shavians in dialogue, sharing ideas, exchanging witticisms, exploring research findings, and participating in what a friend, referring to hearing music live rather than on a CD, called the spontaneity and joy of face-to-face experience, of being in each other's presence. I'm sure Shaw would have appreciated the sentiment. Similarly, the mix of authors represents both well-established and new scholars: a veritable list of Shavian Who's Who and newer voices taking up interest in Shaw.

We begin Part I with Stanley Weintraub's opening keynote, "Shaw for the Here and Now." It sets the stage for the book much as it did for the conference. Weintraub asks us, as readers, directors, and actors, to think about re-presenting Shaw's works in modern dress; if it's good enough for Shakespeare, should Shaw be far behind? Which works might be so reconceived? Weintraub gives some convincing suggestions, and thinking about the possibilities allows us to validate the creative force of Shaw's work for today and into the future. Following auspiciously on Weintraub's heels is Dan H. Laurence's delightful piece, "Shaw's Children," which shows Shaw not as genius playwright but as warm, caring, playful—a giver of self as gift. Gifting is also the topic of Howard Einsohn's paper, "Economies of the Gift: Shaw, Ricoeur, and the Poetics of the Ethical Life," which brings together Shaw and Ricoeur, with a dash of Derrida, and makes us think about the ethics and value of giving "superabundantly" although not foolishly. Considering the state of affairs in today's world, Einsohn's words carry particular weight. Jay Tunney brings us back to everyday life by reflecting on just how much his father, boxer Gene Tunney, fit the personal and professional shoes of Shaw's boxer Cashel Byron, an example of a life that imitated art...


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