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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: June ::
Re: Humor
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0488.  Friday, 16 June 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Jesus Cora <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jun 1995 19:37:24 UTC+0200
        Subj:   SHK 6.0481  Re: Humor
 
(2)     From:   David Jackson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jun 95 15:42:56 est
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0481  Re: Humor
 
(3)     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Friday, 16 Jun 1995 00:28:40 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0481  Re: Humor
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jesus Cora <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Jun 1995 19:37:24 UTC+0200
Subject: Re: Humor
Comment:        SHK 6.0481  Re: Humor
 
Come, come! (Beware, this is acid criticism) If football yobs can get their
drug on TV, if such never-ending trash as *Coronation Street* and *Eastenders*
is bombarded on the majority of the population and they enjoy it, why shouldn't
we get our own stimulant share on the box? Everyone is entitled to be paid some
attention by the BBC or, for that matter, any public television network. Ethnic
minorities get their space -last time I was in England, there were Indian and
Chinese series on-, so do sexual 'sexual minorities'. Academics -even cultural
prigs- are another minority and are perfectly entitled to be paid some
attention and respect with nice, sparkling, series and programs that are
ego-boosting and create feelings of solidarity and community among those who
can understand cultural, literary, mythological, religious, you-name-it
references. Why should everything on TV be populistically boring? Here's a
provoking thought.
 
Jesus Cora

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Jackson <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Jun 95 15:42:56 est
Subject: 6.0481  Re: Humor
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0481  Re: Humor
 
I am quite surprised at the suggestion that one needs a university education to
understand references to Byron, Austen, and the like. As another transplanted
Brit, I have often been surprised at the limited range of authors "taught" in
many schools in this country, as if students who are expected to understand
Robert Frost could not handle Keats. But I know many people here of various
ages who have read a variety of dead authors, without the benefit of a
university education. In Britain, it is still customary to "teach" Shakespeare,
Austen, Shelley, Byron, or other dead writers, in the equivalent of junior high
and high schools. Standards may have declined in recent years, but the books
required to be read for "O" level (10th grade) or "A" level (12th grade) Eng.
Lit. when I was in school included works by such authors as Graham Greene, J.D.
Salinger, William Faulkner, WS, Ben Jonson, T.S. Eliot, Henry James, Hemingway,
Austen, Bronte, and Marlowe, to name but a few. By the time I was in college I
wasn't required to read any fiction (because I didn't study Literature there).
I never studied Russian or French literature in school or college, but somehow
I still read Flaubert and Gogol, and although I've only read a little
Dostoevsky I could still understand an allusion to his style. I never studied
music in college, but I can distinguish Mozart from Tchaikovsky, as can my
12-year-old son. I knew what people meant when they talked about Hemingway's
style before I'd ever read him. So you don't have to read Byron or Shelley to
understand allusions to their lives (and deaths). I've never read Dr. Johnson
(this is turning into a litany of my ignorance), but I still get the Blackadder
jokes. My mother left school at age 16 but she's read more Bronte (any of them)
and Hawthorne than I have. I watched Blackadder once with her and she got the
jokes too.
 
My point is that a culture is not defined solely by its educational structure,
and that people can acquire knowledge in a variety of ways.  Just as in the
theatre it is a mistake to "talk down" to an audience, we should not
underestimate the capacity for comprehension of those less "educated" than
ourselves.
 
I suspect think that if Shakespeare or Austen applied for a vacant post in a
modern university English Literature department, they would be rejected because
they lacked the requisite degrees.
 
P.S. I think Frankie Howard's tongue was in his cheek.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Friday, 16 Jun 1995 00:28:40 +0100
Subject: 6.0481  Re: Humor
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0481  Re: Humor
 
Gareth Euridge writes
 
>Gabriel Egan's comments on Frankie Howard's suggestion that, to be a comic
>today in England, requires a "university education" made me ponder...
 
Alas I said no such thing, but I think Simon Morgan-Russell did. If it turns
out to be a highly popular and attractive thing to say then I will gladly claim
it for my own.
 
Gabriel Egan
 

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