- The World Shakespeare Bibliography On Cd-ROM, 1983–1995
Since 1950 Shakespeare Quarterly has been performing an invaluable service to Shakespeare scholars with its annual publication of the often annotated and generally well cross-referenced “World Shakespeare Bibliography.” Over the years the bibliography’s coverage has grown and so has the [End Page 480] Shakespeare industry with which it has been attempting to keep up. This exponential growth has made it a prime candidate for conversion to digital technology and under the leadership of its former editor Harrison T. Meserole of Texas A & M University, attempts were made as early as 1988 to begin the daunting process of converting the “World Shakespeare Bibliography” to CD-ROM format. The current editor, James T. Harner, has continued this process but it was not until the bibliography’s sponsors, the Folger Shakespeare Library, teamed up with Cambridge University Press in 1996 that the first CD-ROM (covering the years 1990–1993) came to the market. The 1997 edition expanded the coverage from 1987 to 1994. The current edition expands the coverage one year forward and four years back and contains “38,124 entries (as well as several thousand additional reviews of books, productions, films, and audio recordings)” while the already announced 1999 edition is intended to cover 1980–1996 and will include a purported fifty thousand entries. Ominously, Cambridge does not seem to be committed beyond the 1999 edition, but it will take at least twenty editions after that (at the current rate of production) to reach the project’s stated goal of providing “annotated entries for all important books, articles, book reviews, dissertations, theatrical productions, reviews of productions, audiovisual materials, electronic media, and other scholarly and popular materials related to Shakespeare and published or produced since 1900” (1). Theatre historians, meanwhile, can take some consolation in the fact that the 1999 edition will be picking up where David Stevens’ annotated bibliography, English Renaissance Theatre History, left off. That invaluable source already provides coverage back to 1664 but it does not deal with drama history or productions and its traditional paper format only serves to highlight the many advantages of The World Shakespeare Bibliography on CD-ROM.
The World Shakespeare Bibliography on CD-ROM has completed the annotations for entries that were not annotated in the earlier Shakespeare Quarterly publications and has gone back to pick up entries missed in the print volumes. It has also expanded the coverage to eighty-six languages and now covers publications throughout the Americas and Europe and in most of the countries of Africa, Asia and Australasia. It has, however, omitted, “works peripherally related to Shakespeare, most obituaries of performers, abstracts of unpublished convention papers, and operas not based on Shakespeare texts, condenses some . . . and conflates others” (http://www-english.tamu.edu/wsb/quart.html) . But these hardly seem significant given the scope of the coverage and such entries were only spottily covered in the print volumes.
The CD-ROM installs easily on both DOS and MAC machines and comes with a digital “user guide” that provides helpful information. Cambridge uses the DynaText Browser and this gives the bibliography a great deal of searching capabilities. A nice feature here is that the basic “Find” command box is always available at the bottom of the screen. But to do serious research you need to pull down the “Book” menu from the list across the top of the page and then select “search forms.” This allows you to do key word searches using boolean “and” “or” and “not” operators and you can also do proximity searches, author searches, title searches, context searches, entry searches by number, and even language searches. The standard “*” and “?”, wild card operators are also allowed so that “theatr*” will cover both theatre and theater, not to mention theatrical.
There are over fifteen thousand hypertext links within the text and the publisher claims that there are a further two hundred thousand hypertext links between the indexes and the text. I see no reason to doubt them. Many entries have a...