Home / News / Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Stephanie Hughes Reviews “The Bisexuality of Shake-speare’s Sonnets and Implications for de Vere’s Authorship” by Dr. Richard M. Waugaman

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Stephanie Hughes Reviews “The Bisexuality of Shake-speare’s Sonnets and Implications for de Vere’s Authorship” by Dr. Richard M. Waugaman

With the controversy surrounding the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy swirling around in the headlines, I want to call your attention to Stephanie Hughes’ insightful review of a forthcoming article — to be published in the October issue of Psychoanalytic Review – by Richard M. Waugaman, MD.  Stephanie’s review bears the eye-catching and provocative title “Shakespeare and ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.'”  The title of Dr. Waugaman’s article may have less of a ripped-from-the-headlines feel, but it is nonetheless quite provocative in its own right:  “The Bisexuality of Shake-speare’s Sonnets and Implications for de Vere’s Authorship.”

I’m pasting below a few paragraphs from Stephanie’s excellent review.  To read the entire review, please visit Stephanie’s “Politic Worm” blog.  The link at the very bottom of this post takes you directly to her “don’t ask don’t tell” review.  But anybody interesting in the Shakespeare authorship issue would do well to browse the many other fine posts on Stephanie’s blog. 

On the subject of Shakespeare’s sexuality, I also want to call your attention to an article written by John Hamill, immediate past president of the Shakespeare Oxford Society, and published in the Society’s flagship scholarly journal The Oxfordian.  Hamill’s article (“Shakespeare’s Sexuality and How It Affects the Authorship Issue”) is available in PDF format on the Society’s website:  www.Shakespeare-Oxford.com.  Here’s the link to Hamill’s article:

http://www.shakespeare-oxford.com/wp-content/oxfordian/Hamill-Sex.pdf

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Review:  Shakespeare and “don’t ask don’t tell” by Stephanie Hughes

An important article, “The Bisexuality of Shake-speare’s Sonnets and Implications for de Vere’s Authorship” by Richard M. Waugaman, MD, is to be published in the upcoming October issue of Psychoanalytic Review, 97 (5).  Dr. Waugaman is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and Training & Supervising Analyst Emeritus at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute.  His 98 scholarly publications began with an article stemming from his senior thesis on Nietzsche and Freud.  He and his wife, Elisabeth Pearson, scholar of Medieval French Lit and an award-winning children’s book author, live in Maryland, near Washington DC.

Dr. Waugaman’s path to Oxford runs from Freud (doctoral dissertation) to William Niederkorn (NYTimes article, Feb. 2002), to Roger Stritmatter (Oxford’s Geneva Bible) to a readership at the Folger.  Now this prestigious academic journal has agreed to publish simultaneously not one, but two of his articles on authorship issues, one on Samuel Clemens’s use of the pseudonym Mark Twain, the other on the psychology of Shake-speare’s Sonnets and their connection to Oxford’s biography, the accusations of pederasty made against him made by his enemies, plus the fact that his daughter was being promoted as a wife to the Earl of Southampton, the Fair Youth of the Sonnets.

News of the publication of Dr. Waugaman’s articles in an academic journal is a sign that the wall surrounding Fortress Academia may be weakening. “Things seem to be changing among my analytic colleagues,” says Waugaman. “I now find them far more receptive.  They react as though there is at least “reasonable doubt’’about the authorship, which is a fine place to begin.  And I’m optimistic about the historians as well.”  That Waugaman speaks from and to the psychology community is a double plus, since that’s one of the two arenas that we can conceivably hope will help us salvage the truth about the authorship, the other being the historians.   Once post docs in the less fiction-based Humanities departments begin delving in the English archives we’ll have to rely less on conjecture.

It’s with gratitude that I read Dr. Waugaman’s essay since, as he emphasizes, the nature of the Bard’s sexuality has been so denied, distorted, ignored, or misinterpreted by so-called Shakespeare experts (including some Oxfordians) over the centuries that a straightforward approach to the obvious by someone of authority is clearly in order.  Waugaman asks why Shakespeare commentators have consistently avoided the obvious, that since the Sonnets reflect that the Poet was having (or at least desiring) concurrent sexual relations with a man and a woman––ipso facto, Shakespeare was a bisexual, or at least was behaving like one.  As he states: “One solution to this cognitive dissonance for the past four centuries has been denial or avoidance of Shakespeare’s bisexuality, and of his actual identity.”  By connecting this massive “blind spot,” as he calls it, to the Academy’s refusal to dig any deeper than the unlikely Stratford biography, Waugaman makes an important connection.  We’ve been subjected to James Shapiro’s efforts to psychoanalyze the authorship community, now lets see what a psychoanalyst has to say about Shapiro and his colleagues.  For any who wish to read his argument in full, Dr. Waugaman will email you a pdf; contact him at rwmd at comcast dot net.

Don’t ask don’t tell

When we add to the evidence in the Sonnets all the gender-bending in the plays, the passionate “male bonding” in Coriolanus, and the obvious homosexual love of the Antonios in Twelfth Night and Merchant of Venice, it would seem that at the very least, homosexual desire was something the author understood.  This may have been shocking to the Reformation clergy who acted as censors for what got published in the early 17th century, to the Victorian literary critics, and apparently also to persons who grew up in the 1950s in America, but that some readers today are still grasping for some other interpretation, desperate to avoid the fact that––Gasp! Choke!––Shakespeare had a sex life!––well, what can I say?  If it wasn’t so deplorable it would be funny.

(To read the entire review, click on the link below)

http://politicworm.com/2010/09/24/shakespeare-and-don%E2%80%99t-ask-don%E2%80%99t-tell/

About Matthew Cossolotto

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