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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: August ::
Re: Generic Expectations
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0663.  Monday, 8 August 1994.
 
(1)     From:   E. L. Epstein <epstein@QCVAXA.BITNET>
        Date:   Friday, 05 Aug 1994 15:07:29 EDT
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0656  Re: Generic Expectations
 
(2)     From:   Marie Myers <
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        Date:   Monday, 8 Aug 1994 07:17:13 -0500
        Subj:   Generic Expectations
 
(3)     From:   Christine Mack Gordon <
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        Date:   Monday, 08 Aug 1994 10:42:11 -0500
        Subj:   a miscellany
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           E. L. Epstein <epstein@QCVAXA.BITNET>
Date:           Friday, 05 Aug 1994 15:07:29 EDT
Subject: 5.0656  Re: Generic Expectations
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0656  Re: Generic Expectations
 
Isn't there some danger that spectators at contemporary performances of S,
listening for generic or emblematic structures will be attempting to press S
into cliche?  ELEpstein
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marie Myers <
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Date:           Monday, 8 Aug 1994 07:17:13 -0500
Subject:        Generic Expectations
 
Rick Jones's comments on Noel Chevalier's posting prompt me to point out that
"generic" does not inevitably point to "Genre"-based expectations.  As
audience, we don't bring along fixed and inflexible definitions for the kinds
of entertainment we are prepared to see/hear.  But clearly, we do carry the
considerable baggage of generic expectations that we have acquired throughout
our lives, from the knowledge that ice is cold to the expectation that the
crotchety rich old guy is going to be the first victim. The thirteen year old
may not have as many generic expectations as the adult (though I doubt that);
the fairy tales we got with our first solid foods gave us what we need to
understand "I'll be revenged."
 
So while I agree that what we call genre is a convenient label not significant
to our experience of a work, Noel Chevalier's point remains valid:  Shakespeare
gets a lot of energy out of using and abusing our generic expectations.
 
Marie Myers

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Christine Mack Gordon <
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 >
Date:           Monday, 08 Aug 1994 10:42:11 -0500
Subject:        a miscellany
 
I have been teaching *The Merchant of Venice* and one of my students brought in
a tape of the film *The Man Without a Face,* in which the title character, a
former teacher played by Mel Gibson, uses the play as one of the texts in the
tutoring project that provides the focus of the film. He does a wonderful
reading of Shylock's "Hath not a Jew. . ." speech, but what I found most
intriguing was that the lead in to the speech was Antonio's line, "I hold the
world but as the world, Gratiano / A stage, where every man must play a part, /
And mine a sad one." While this does a certain injustice to the play, it also
provides an interesting perspective (especially since I see both Shylock and
Antonio as men who lose what they most cherish by the end of the play). The
film as a whole is quite good.
 
In relation to a recent discussion on the conference, it occurred to me that
*Merchant* doesn't fit our comedic category in terms of its title (since we
just finished *A Midsummer Night's Dream* and are going on to *Much Ado,* this
just leapt out at me). So why does this comedy have as its title a character
(or role), even if not a named one? We do have a few other examples, of course,
in *TGV,* *Taming of the Shrew, * and *MWW,* but this is rather interesting,
especially given Antonio's central, yet relatively passive role in the play.
 
Following up on the *Richard III* discussion: I always preferred reading
historical fiction to history as a young person and find myself drawn back to
it again (given our contemporary skepticism with regard to the accuracy of
history, perhaps my predilection was an odd sort of prescience). Sharon Kay
Penman's novel *The Sunne in Splendour* is a wonderful retelling of Richard's
story that I read last summer; Shakespeare's version will never be quite the
same.
 
And, finally, a set-up-your-videorecorders note: Bravo is broadcasting the
production of *Othello* done in South Africa with Janet Suzman directing this
week, on either Wednesday or Thursday evening, starting here (Minneapolis,
central daylight time) at 8 or 8:30 pm.
 
Best to all,
Chris Gordon
 

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