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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: August ::
Re: Grad. Programs; SSE Contest; Puns
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0652.  Tuesday, 29 August 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Bruce Young <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Aug 1995 12:54:07 -0700 (MST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0637  Re: Graduate Programs
 
(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Aug 1995 21:23:58 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0651  Re: Graduate Programs
 
(3)     From:   Jeff Myers <
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        Date:   Monday, 28 Aug 1995 08:05:47 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 6.0645  SSE Contest: Win a T-Shirt -Reply
 
(4)     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 29 Aug 1995 10:27:01 -0100
        Subj:   SHK 6.0647 Re: Puns and New Bibliography
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Aug 1995 12:54:07 -0700 (MST)
Subject: 6.0637  Re: Graduate Programs
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0637  Re: Graduate Programs
 
Not much attention has been paid to Erika Lin's question about background
reading for graduate study of Shakespeare.  One response listed a number of
good books (some better than others),  almost all of them taking a political
approach to Shakespeare.  That's not the only way of thinking or talking about
Shakespeare, though (in my opinion, unfortunately) it may be sufficient to get
by in some graduate programs.  You may want to look at past postings on
"Shakespeare as a Cultural Construct" for various opinions on whether politics
is everything or even the most important thing--in Shakespeare as well as in
general.
 
Trying to do background reading on Shakespeare can be an overwhelming project.
You could try to get a handle on the critical tradition (from Shakespeare's
contemporaries onward) by looking at any of several  available collections.
You could try to get a sense of 20th-century criticism by looking in other
collections or of current criticism by dipping into *Shakespeare Quarterly,*
*Shakespeare Survey," and other journals.  Obviously, there's no way to read
everything being written, and it's not certain that what's currently hot will
in every case continue to be so by the time you finish graduate school.
 
Some acquisitions of knowledge are lilkely to remain more useful in the long
run than others.  Something I wish I'd been introduced to more thoroughly in
graduate school (and wish I knew better now) is Shakespeare's sources--the
plays, chronicles, tales, etc., he transformed and how he transformed them.
Other useful approaches include looking at the stage history of Shakespeare's
plays, at Renaissance drama and its antecedents, and at stage conventions of
Shakespeare's time.  You could look at Renaissance poetic and rhetorical
theory, at Shakespeare's biography (Schoenbaum's *WS: A Compact Documentary
Life* is readable and authoritative), at his language and style, or at thought
and life in Renaissance England. Or you could look at Shakespeare and film, at
Shakespeare's connection with other arts, at performance theory, or at
feminist, psychological, textual, ethical, mythic, or any number of other
approaches.
 
And you should probably give some attention to the question of how
Shakespearean criticism and scholarship can and ought to be done--in other
words, to theorizing about theorizing; but not, I would urge (at least not
immediately), settling for the solution that it's all political.  There are
many other intelligent ways of looking at the "question of theory."
 
Given the mass and multiplicity of materials to look it, my main suggestion
would be to read a short overview of Shakespearean studies.  There are several,
but the one I'm most familiar with is *The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare
Studies* ed. Stanley Wells (1986).  The 17 chapters by different scholars give
solid introductions to most of the topics I've listed above.  The last chapter
is a helpful introduction to reference books on or related to
Shakespeare--something, again, very useful for anyone pursuing graduate study
on Shakespeare to have a handle on.
 
Looking at *The Cambridge Companion* might also be a good starting point for
identifying approaches and faculty you feel a particular affinity for.
Narrowing down at some point is essential, but I believe it's good to get a
broad (and brief and accessible) overview, such as *The Cambridge Comapnion*
provides, so you have some sense of the great variety of options and
opportunities before settling on a narrower area of interest.
 
Bruce Young
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Aug 1995 21:23:58 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0651  Re: Graduate Programs
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0651  Re: Graduate Programs
 
Concerning the choice of graduate programs, let me tell my story, to which
there is a moral.  I went to Harvard to study with Jack Bate and Douglas Bush.
I almost immediately ran afoul of Bate when I naively told him that I had read
"most" of Swift, and I never took a course from him.  Douglas Bush was a
wonderful scholar and a genuinely sympathetic person, but he had no classroom
manner.  He simply reread in class the books that we had already read at home.
Nevertheless, I took many of his courses, and he directed my Ph.D. thesis.  But
our association was an association of convenience.
 
When I went to Harvard, I had never heard of Herschel Baker, but when I got to
Harvard, the only reason I stayed was Herschel Baker.  I wrote my best papers
under his direction, and I wanted him to direct my thesis, but he was going to
be on sabbatical during the final stages of my writing.  I told him I'd wait.
He insisted that I ask Bush to be my director, and I did.
 
The moral of this story is: you really can't foreknow the future.  You can't
tell what teacher will be "your teacher," and when you find your teacher, he or
she may be on sabbatical when you need him or her most!
 
I'd go for the graduate school with the best library -- or group of libraries.
Teachers may be disappointing, but a great library is always a great library.
 
Yours,
Bill Godshalk
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jeff Myers <
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Date:           Monday, 28 Aug 1995 08:05:47 -0500
Subject: SSE Contest: Win a T-Shirt -Reply
Comment:        SHK 6.0645  SSE Contest: Win a T-Shirt -Reply
 
Perhaps the "Front to Back, Top to Bottom Tour"?
 
Jeff Myers
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Tuesday, 29 Aug 1995 10:27:01 -0100
Subject: Re: Puns and New Bibliography
Comment:        SHK 6.0647 Re: Puns and New Bibliography
 
In response to Godhalk, Green, and the neanderthal Young,
 
My point was a simple one, and I didn't specifically have Random Clod in mind.
Playing with words for a humorous effect (one of the definitions of the "pun")
depends upon a normative linguistic stability.  The question I am posing is
what effect might be produced at a time when that stability and standardization
of meaning has yet to come fully into being.  Where multiple meanings are
constantly in play, then the effects must also be multiple. I am asking a
question about cultural difference which the simple label "pun" masks.
 
In a future mailing I'll produce the pop-up version for Bruce Young.
 
Cheers
John Drakakis
 

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