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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: March ::
Re: Early Modern Subjectivity
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0254.  Thursday, 30 March 1995.
 
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Mar 1995 11:38:56 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0251 Re: Early Modern Subjectivity
 
(2)     From:   Michael Friedman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 29 Mar 1995 19:18:04 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0251  Re: Early Modern Subjectivity
 
(3)     From:   Hardy M. Cook <
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        Date:   Thursday, March 30, 1995
        Subj:   Early Modern Subjectivity
 
 
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From:           <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Mar 1995 11:38:56 +0100 (BST)
Subject: 6.0251 Re: Early Modern Subjectivity
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0251 Re: Early Modern Subjectivity
 
Wes Folkerth recommends Jonathan Dollimore's _Radical Tragedy_ on early modern
subjectivity. Dollimore's anti-essentialist reading of the period now seems to
be widely accepted as axiomatic. Wes may be interested in a forthcoming article
by Tom McAlindon challenging Dollimore's evidence and assumptions ('Cultural
Materialism and the Ethics of Reading: or, the Radicalizing of Jacobean
Tragedy', _MLR_, 90 (1995), Part IV (October). Dollimore's evidence is also
discussed in my own _Elizabethan Mythologies_, Cambridge University Press, 1994
(Introduction, chap 5 and conclusion).
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Friedman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 29 Mar 1995 19:18:04 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0251  Re: Early Modern Subjectivity
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0251  Re: Early Modern Subjectivity
 
Bill,
 
Having been honored to be asked by you at the SAA about the concept of
subjectivity and not having done a very good job of answering, I'll follow up
by pointing you towards Alan Sinfield's chapter entitled "When Is a Character
Not a Character? Desdemona, Olivia, Lady Macbeth, and Subjectivity" in his
*Faultlines: Cultural Materialism and the Politics of Dissident Reading*.  I
just finished reading it again and found that it cleared up the issue very
effectively for me.
 
                                                Michael Friedman
                                                University of Scranton
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Thursday, March 30, 1995
Subject:        Early Modern Subjectivity
 
Making no claims whatsoever to expertise on this topic, nevertheless, whenever
I think of the issue of Early Modern Subjectivity, I recall one of the most
interesting cultural exchanges of my life.
 
About twenty years ago, between one of my various incarnations as a graduate
student, I had the privilege of tutoring a visiting Japanese scientist in
English.  She was born in the late thirties, being eight or nine during the
American occupation after the war.  She was a professor at the University of
Tokyo and a leading expert in a particular form of liver cancer endemic to
Japan, yet she was thoroughly traditional: I learned that she husband did not
address her by her first name and that a "bad" wife leaves tea leaves in the
sink drain.
 
However, what struck me the most from our conversations was our completely
different notions of personal autonomy -- subjectivity if you will.  She was
intrigued that I would see a psychiatrist.  No, not intrigued -- she apparently
had no concept of my need to devote such attention to myself.  In turn, I
learned about her deep, abiding sense of duty to her family, her society, her
group identity.
 
These conversations have made a lifelong impression on me.  I learned first
hand that my -- and by extention my culture's -- sense of self was only one of
many ways of perceiving one's self and one's relations to others.  There were
alternatives to my childhood images of John Wayne sitting on a split rail
fence and smoking a Camel cigarette, my emblem for "western" individualism.
 
The developing of this "western" sense of self constitutes part of my
understanding of what is meant by the development Early Modern Subjectivity,
the changing, substituting, transforming one concept of self with another.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.