Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: March ::
Re: Early Modern Subjectivity
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0251.  Tuesday, 28 March 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Michael J. Prince <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Mar 1995 10:45:03 +0200 (MET DST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0248 Q: Early Modern Subjectivity
 
(2)     From:   Daniel F. Pigg <IVAD@UTMARTN.BITNET>
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Mar 95 10:06:54 CST
        Subj:   RE: Early Modern Subjectivity
 
(3)     From:   Wes Folkerth <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Mar 95 13:33:25 EST
        Subj:   Subjectivity
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael J. Prince <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Mar 1995 10:45:03 +0200 (MET DST)
Subject: 6.0248 Q: Early Modern Subjectivity
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0248 Q: Early Modern Subjectivity
 
Bill:
 
As long as we're talking about "small m" modern subjectity, I may be able to
cloud the issue even further.  In some of the more "esoteric" discussions of WS
and his world I've participated in, there has been an assumption that "the way
we feel about ourselves as individuals" somehow came into being around the
beginning of the modern period of history, around 1500.
 
Evidence for this, I am told, is to be found in  medieval paintings where the
"subject" does not have its feet firmly planted on the ground; later paintings
are more realistic and do have people standing on the ground. Another example
is the fact that art work is signed; someone is saying "*I* did this."
 
In literature, I could imagine the nascent stirrings of real characterization
evident in the works of the Wakefield Master, who it is said ". . . is
unquestionably the . . . most accesible for the modern reader because he offers
and individual's view" (English Mystery Plays. ed. Peter Happe, PENGUIN 1975,
page33), as a sign of modern subjectivity.
 
Personally, this notion of "individual identity" may well be considered as
"consructed" much the same way that Foucault explains the phenomena of romantic
love.
 
Other ideas out there??
 
Cheers,
Michael Prince
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Daniel F. Pigg <IVAD@UTMARTN.BITNET>
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Mar 95 10:06:54 CST
Subject:        RE: Early Modern Subjectivity
 
Bill, I think the notion of "early modern subjectivity" in some way grows out
of the notion that the early modern period saw a developing concept of the
individual, but puts additional twist on it.  I have done a good deal of work
as a medievalist with the notion of subjectivity in the late Middle Ages.  The
term "subject" should I think refer to the notion of a person as a site through
which various forces pass, and thus a person--if we could use this term--is
always under construction, always developing, and also always "subject to"
various forces both conscious and unconscious.  I have come to see the subject
as the recognition that people are not free normal autonomous agents, but are
themselves caught up in their own discursive webs that have created them.  I am
oversimplifying here some will say, but it certainly gives a new way of looking
at characters like Hamlet and Dr. Faustus
 
Daniel Pigg
The University of Tennessee at Martin
IVAD@UTMARTN.BITNET or 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Wes Folkerth <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 28 Mar 95 13:33:25 EST
Subject:        Subjectivity
 
I'll take a stab at Bill Godshalk's question concerning subjectivity.  Whenever
I come across the term (which is fairly often here at McGill, home to the
philosopher Charles Taylor, who has recently written a book on the topic titled
"Sources of the Self"), it seems to be used to refer to a definition of
individual personhood and identity that takes into account the fact that
conceptions of personhood are culturally specific and historically contingent.
The term is usually used in opposition to 'essentialist' versions of the self
that posit a transhistorical notion of humanity or human-ness.  As the word
'subject' in the term implies, studies of subjectivity tend to highlight the
importance of factors external to the construction of personal identity; that
is, we are all subject to our cultural environments.  In contrast to this is
the term 'individual,' which implies a degree of autonomy, of unproblematic or
undivided allegiance to a particular culture, social class, etc.
 
That said, defining subjectivity is probably far easier than defining early
modern subjectivity.  A good place to start is the tenth chapter of Jonathan
Dollimore's "Radical Tragedy." Thank you for asking this question.  It has
direct bearing on my own work at this time, and I'm very interested in
discovering what others have to say on the topic.
 
Yours, Wes
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.