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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: April ::
Re: Ideology and Subjectivity
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0307.  Monday, 17 April 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Saturday, 15 Apr 1995 19:04:54 +0100
        Subj:   Re: Literature and Ideology (Was Early Modern Subjectivity)
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Saturday, 15 Apr 1995 22:09:19 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0304  Re: Early Modern Subjectivity
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Saturday, 15 Apr 1995 19:04:54 +0100
Subject:        Re: Literature and Ideology (Was Early Modern Subjectivity)
 
I am very pleased to see that the name of this thread has changed. Terry Hawkes
mentioned, and no-one followed up, the fact that we are being jerked around by
the term 'early modern'. The term suggests that something happened in the late
medieval period that changed everything, including subjectivity. The big change
I see is the emergence of proto-capitalism in the accumulation of wealth in the
wool trade in Britain in the fourteenth-century. As a Marxist I call this
change in subjectivity that we perceive a superstructural corrolary of the
change in the economic structure. Note my 'that we perceive'. I am much less
certain that there WAS a change in subjectivity than I am certain that we
perceive it because we live towards the end (I hope!) of the same capitalist
era.
 
I spot a contradiction in Bill Godshalk's last posting:
 
> That very conservative book [The Bell Curve] claims, as Gabriel Egan
claims,  that the "races" (read "cultures" if you will) are different.
 
Okay, I'll read 'cultures', what then?...
 
> The English have always known that other cultures were (and are)
> different. The English knew that Indian cultures were different when they
> established the Raj.
 
So you, me, and the authors of the Bell Curve agree on cultural difference,
Bill? I am glad, but from what you tell me of the authors of that book
("very conservative") I think we three shall ne'er meet again.
 
I don't generally take 'race' and 'culture' as synomymous. I am not so
scared of the uses other people have made of difference that I have to
pretend it doesn't exist. I really want Bill Godshalk to acknowledge that
when he said: "I take the position that there is absolutely NO significant
genetic difference among the peoples of this world" in an earlier posting,
he was taking 'people' as synonymous with 'men' and forgot that the XX/XY
difference is the primary genetic distinction by which oppression has operated.
 
To Lonnie Durham: I like "love, peace, and justice" too. If only there was
'understanding' also, we would not have to argue about how to bring about
more of the first three.
 
Gabriel Egan
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Saturday, 15 Apr 1995 22:09:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0304  Re: Early Modern Subjectivity
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0304  Re: Early Modern Subjectivity
 
Norman Myers invites us to look at THE COMEDY OF ERRORS to explore the problem
of subjectivity. I'm not sure the separation of "my" and "thy" from "self" is
important, but a brief cruise through Hinman's PRINTING AND PROOFREADING should
suggest an answer.
 
In any case, the play certainly poses problems of identity. First, Antipholus
of Syracuse (the traveling Antipholus) feels that he's losing himself since
he's lost his family. For him, personal identity seems linked to family
identity.
 
Adriana feels that her identity is closely linked to Antipholus of Ephesus. But
she, ironically, makes this claim to a man she has never seen before -- her
husband's twin. The situation must have some influence on the way an auditor
takes her assertion.
 
Antipholus of Syracuse begins to unconsciously displace his brother and assume
his social identity, while, at the same time, feeling that his inner identity
is in tact. He doesn't seem to question the integrity of his identity -- merely
the integrity of the Ephesians.
 
Antipholus of Ephesus begins to experience certain changes: he's locked out
from his house when he returns for dinner. He's next given the identity of a
debtor and then a madman. When he and Dromio finally free themselves, both are
pretty violent. Like his Syracusan brother, Ephesus does not seem to feel that
his inner identity is in question. He doesn't accept Pinch's diagnosis of
madness.
 
Of course, Luciana at the beginning of Act II gives the stereotypical
description of males as masters of the universe (and their wives). I gather
that this description is what the "implied culture" of the play holds up as the
ideal.
 
And the action of the play undercuts that description. The males of the play
are masters of nothing, and the identity questions are solved by the Abbess at
play's end.
 
What any of this has to do with "subjectivity" -- if anything -- I leave to
others.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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