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Home :: Archive :: 1994 :: September ::
Re: Habits; Tillyard; Urania
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No.0756.  Wednesday, 28 Sept. 1994.
 
(1)     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 Sep 94 18:09 BST
        Subj:   RE: SHK 5.0746 Re: Habits of Mind
 
(2)     From:   Imtiaz Habib <
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        Date:   Monday, 26 Sep 1994 19:38:07 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0750 Qs: Tillyard
 
(3)     From:   Max Thomas <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 27 Sep 1994 18:10:55 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 5.0736 Re: *Urania*
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Monday, 26 Sep 94 18:09 BST
Subject: 5.0746 Re: Habits of Mind
Comment:        RE: SHK 5.0746 Re: Habits of Mind
 
Ralph Cohen's statement that he should have written about Bassanio's 'habit of
speech' rather than 'habit of mind' is of course wholly admirable. But will it
wring the withers of those who rushed to defend 'habit of mind' on the grounds
that mental states are readily inferrable from words?
 
Still agog,
T. Hawkes
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Imtiaz Habib <
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Date:           Monday, 26 Sep 1994 19:38:07 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 5.0750 Qs: Tillyard
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0750 Qs: Tillyard
 
Response to Bill Macrae's query about Tillyard/Elizabethan World Picture:
 
See Robert Ornstein's A Kingdom for a Stage: The Achievement of Shakespeare's
History Plays (1972). Ornstein showed convincingly that Elizabethan historical
sources (Hall etc) do not contain evidence of grandiose anDd pretty cultural
constructions such as the kind of thing that Tillyard tried to make us believe
(and that some of his more naive readers today still would want us to believe)
was a profound, historically specific and coherent idea that the Elizabethans
uniformly held. The longevity of the "influence" of this bogus idea is
astonishing!
 
                                                Imtiaz Habib
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Max Thomas <
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Date:           Tuesday, 27 Sep 1994 18:10:55 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 5.0736 Re: *Urania*
Comment:        Re: SHK 5.0736 Re: *Urania*
 
Although a bit belated, I hope this reply is still usefull.  Those unable to
wait for Josephine Roberts' edition of _Urania_ do have an option (besides the
STC microfilm).  The Brown Women Writers Project computer textbase includes a
typescript of the 1621 (ie printed) text.  It's not cheap ($35) but it is
available and you can mark it up if you wish. Moreover, the royalty
arrangements for teaching are quite reasonable ($1 per copy).  You can reach
BWWP at:
        Box 1841, Brown University
        Providence RI  02912
        (401) 363-3619
        
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Bear in mind, however, that this is not an edition by any means.  Not only does
it come without an apparatus of any sort, it comes without editorial labor of
any sort; indeed it even seems to lack copyediting (even w/o immediate access
to the STC to check, I'm sure "re*s.pit" is a typo.)  It's also nearly 600
pages (8 1/2 x 11) and the text is right-justified, presenting many formidable
blocks of prose at a time.
 
I mention this not simply as a caveat, but in fact as a segue into the question
of editorial practice.  For it seems in many ways that the BWWP text is a boon
to any pedagogic situation which is attempting to maintain awareness of texts
as culturally produced.  In the class for which I'm using the BWWP _Urania_,
students are also reading the Duncan-Jones editions of Sidney (the Oxford
Authors volume) and of the Old arcadia, and Roberts' editon of Mary Wroth's
poems.  So they are exposed to a range of possible "modernizations" of the
text, and as such are forced to confront not only the arbitrariness of the
text, but the arbitrary and/or conventional nature of sign-systems in
general--or rather, the extent to which the material sign-system can itself
impinge upon the "immaterial" significations of the text.
 
This isn't just an exercize in defamiliarization (which, to function as an
anti-type, requires a type that is often not available to them), but rather an
exercize in the historicity of words & significations, and in the contingency
of meaning.  Whose Wroth? we are able to ask, by posing exactly the question of
the (hors) text, of how texts carry meaning, of how reading proceeds.
 
Finally, I'm not sure which my students find "harder" to read: the "raw" page
of the BWWP _Urania_ or the "cooked" sonnets in _Astrophil and Stella_.  After
all, the intial tendency to ascribe those difficulties to different orders of
reading has been thrown out of skew by the our discussion of the texts qua
texts.
 
This is a rather longer post than I intended, and so I will not go into the
issues of gender & canon that are also deeply imbricated in these texts, in
their editing, in their opacity, but will suggest that it is precisely around
figures such as Wroth (&, if Gary Taylor has his way, Middleton) that these
issues are going to be addressed in the years ahead.
 
Yours,
Max Thomas
 

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