1993

The Paradox of Historicizing Shakespeare

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 833.  Tuesday, 23 November 1993.
 
From:           William Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 19 Nov 1993 17:13:24 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        One more time: the paradox of historicizing Shakespeare
 
Recently, in our discussions of Shakespeare's ability to transcend his own
time, it seems to have been the historicist position that Shakespeare was
writing about early modern/Renaissance England no matter what names he gave his
locales or what history he was supposedly dealing with. He was trapped inside
his own history, his own material culture.
 
If he was, then so are we. It is impossible for us to transcend our own
grammar, our own archive, our own culture. That's why the new historicists do
not sound like the old historicists or the nineteenth century historical
critics. We are being written by our culture.
 
And it follows that the attempt to historicize only results in the
dehistoricizing of Shakespeare's text. Instead of reclaiming, or rewriting, the
early modern/Renaissance culture, we merely superimpose our own. If we are
caught in material culture, there is no way out, and certainly no way back.
 
Thw words of the ghosts ring in my ears: despair and die.
 
Despairingly yours, Bill Godshalk

Re: The Circumcised Dog

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 832.  Tuesday, 23 November 1993.
 
From:           Ronald Dwelle <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 22 Nov 93 12:55:26 EST
Subject: 4.0827  Re: The Circumcised Dog
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0827  Re: The Circumcised Dog
 
I think the Turk Othello is referring to is circumcised (traditional). Even
today (a colleague from Sarajevo informs me), Christians in Bosnia ask "Is he
one of us or is he..." and then they "snip-snip" with their finger/scissors in
front of the genitals, to indicate that the person is a Moslem.
 
Related (and more interesting to me) is the suggestion in the passage that
Othello may be circumcised as well (that is a Turk, rather than a Christian),
since he identifies so thoroughly with the chap from Aleppo (or perhaps he even
invents the chap). Presumably Brabantio would have raised the issue, or at
least Iago, but perhaps one of Othello's problems is religious--shouldn't mix
those marriages, even to a liberal Venetian.
 
What think you?
 
Ron (foe-of-mixed-marriage) Dwelle (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Another Outlet for Branagh's *Hamlet*

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 830.  Tuesday, 23 November 1993.
 
From:           Ellen Edgerton <EBEDGERT@SUADMIN>
Date:           Monday, 22 Nov 1993 10:18 ET
Subject:        Another outlet for Branagh *Hamlet*
 
In the recent discussion about the Branagh radio *Hamlet* I don't
think I saw anyone mention the fact that the CD/cassette sets can be
ordered through the National Theatre bookstore.  Their number is
071-928-2033, extension 600.  (At least, they had it a year ago when
I ordered it from them.)
 
I would assume that they would also have the *Romeo and Juliet* set
available now, since it was aired on the BBC this past spring and
presumably was released on CD/cassette in Britain at around the same time.
 
Ellen Edgerton
Syracuse University
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Re: Electronic Tools and Research

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 831.  Tuesday, 23 November 1993.
 
From:           Paul Austin <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 22 Nov 93 10:26:09 EST
Subject:        Electrotexts
 
Apologies in advance if we are getting off of the topic. I'll take this offline
anytime.
 
RE: resistance to research tools
 
1. I had to walk in the snow, too.  Storms in Oswego are like the one
immortalised in "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald".  It proves I
have spunk or determination to have fought 6 foot drifts to get to the
library or just to get to class, sure.  But whenever I had to write a
paper (whether I typed it, wrote it by hand, or smashed it out on a
PC), all the technology in the world didn't fool Dr. Brooke Pierce.
It just helped me type and produce the paper faster.
 
2. As a result of using whatever technology, I don't think I put anyone
on the unemployment line, except people who made pencils, perhaps.
The librarians still have to provide all that stuff for me to dive
through, too, whether it's electric or not.
 
RE: Who employs me...
 
...has no bearing in the argument about the neutrality of technology.
I will say that I still read my hardcopy Riverside edition of the
Shakespeare (can't afford it on CD rom and wouldn't read it anyway -
hurts my eyes).  But even without this technology, all sorts of
unscrupulous people use Bartlett's to spruce up their speeches without
'doing the research' or reading the real stuff.  So don't throw the
baby out with the bathwater. It's to what end you use the technology
that makes you (insert negative word here). As an example I cite
all the spellcheckers or grammar checking software which people
use with impunity here. It still doesn't make them better spellers
and it still takes a brain to notice that although "affect" is
spelled correctly, the spellchecker won't tell you that you
really need the word "effect". And no, I am not a computing
major; I got my BA in English. I've 'done the work'.
 
Paul Austin
(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
 
PS - and if anyone can get me OUT of this job PLEASE DO!

Re: Electronic Research and Texts

Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 829.  Monday, 22 November 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Timothy Bowden <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 20 Nov 93 13:57:20 PST
        Subj:   Luddites and the Laity
 
(2)     From:   Chris Kendall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 21 Nov 1993 10:38:18 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   Electrotexts
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Timothy Bowden <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 20 Nov 93 13:57:20 PST
Subject:        Luddites and the Laity
 
I hope this doesn't range too far afield, but I am very interested in how the
Luddite Legacy plays along the modern data highway.  As you may recall, I
recently exulted in how research is so slick and quick in the electronic age -
I see, for instance, a speculation about incest charged by Hamlet I against
Gertrude, and I click on the term in my finder program after installing the
wafer containing not only the search tool but the complete works, the
equivalent of that ten-pound volume over in the dusty corner...
 
...and I see in seconds how the, ah, practice appears in _Pericles_ (the
perfect courtship rite for the over-protective father - a riddle is posed and
the suitor is killed whether he answers the question correctly or no!  I wonder
how many of the predecessors of Pericles were true in their reading of the
poser and were thus dispatched to protect the shame of Antioch) and in concept,
as Isabella musing in Act III Scene I of _Measure For Measure_:
 
                 Is't not a kind of incest, to take life
                     From thine own sister's shame?
 
Now, I see resistance to instant access to research tools for the masses in two
forms:
 
(1) Time invested in doing it the hard way.  Why, when I was a girl, I trudged
    eight miles in the snow and the reference library was closed and it was six
    miles further to Professor Winthrop's rooms, uphill both ways!  That was
    research, lad!
 
(2)  Loss of (tenured) positions amidst those already-mentioned musty shelves.
 
 
The question I have seen here, how has electronic research enhanced
scholarship? - might be turned on its head:  what is the academic function
(reminiscent of Van Gogh's insistence in stalking off the path and through the
briars because `One must suffer for art!') of trudging uphill through the snow?
Your time might better be spent in either writing or contemplation, I suspect.
 
Timothy Bowden
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Kendall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 21 Nov 1993 10:38:18 -0700 (MST)
Subject:        Electrotexts
 
A popular view (particularly among people for whom hi-tech provides a
livelihood) is that technology is value-neutral.  I'm willing to accept
that, but I say that if owning a digital copy of Shakespeare relieves you
of the burden of reading his plays, sail that disc out the window.
 
--
Chris Kendall                 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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