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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: November ::
Re: Historicizing and Determinism
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 860.  Monday, 29 November 1993.
 
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Monday, 29 Nov 93 13:38:00 GMT
Subject: Historicizing; History and Li
Comment:        SHK 4.0842 Historicizing; History and Li
 
The following to Bill Godshalk:
 
(i) No, we weren't students at St. Andrews together. What you got was a
reasonably typical Scottish greeting- though I'm not Scots, and I didn't know
that you were at St. Andrews, and wild horses wouldn't drag out of my any
opinion concerning what they do with literary texts there.
 
(ii) On the more serious question of "determinism", you seem to be locked
into an either/or situation: either everything we do is wholly determined or
it isn't. My concern is not so much with "determinism" in that rather crude
sense, but much more with "overdetermination" which allows for some measure
of play in the whole complex business.  Nor is it necessary, in my view, to
posit a position OUTSIDE that complexity in order to provide a critique of
it. Being, as you put it "a child of the twentieth century" you've obviously
learned to despair in style. That seems to me to be the position taken by a
particular tendency in New Historicism, among other intellectual positions.
 
Universalizing effectively collapses all history into the present, and this
has certain similarities of emphasis which we can recognize as
post-modernist. The question I ask is: in whose INTERESTS does this
collapsing of all history into the present take place?  Is this simply an
expression of some absolute freedom which is offered to the gendered human
subject within late capitalism, and have we really reached the end of
history? Or is there something else at issue here?  I suppose I am really
asking a series of questions about the nature of representation here, and
this is where these issues overlap with the ways in which we produce meanings
from literary texts.
 
But I can see that you're beginning to choke on your wine, Bill!
 
John Drakakis
 

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