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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: January ::
Re: "Paon" Roet; Development of Individualism
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0055.  Tuesday, 23 January 1996.

(1)     From:   David Hale <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Jan 96 13:29:01 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0053 Qs: Payne Roet

(2)     From:   Jonathan Sawday <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Jan 1996 19:26:53 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0951  Re: Development of Individualism


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Hale <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Jan 96 13:29:01 EST
Subject: 7.0053 Qs: Payne Roet
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0053 Qs: Payne Roet

Reply to Peter Herman.

Sir Gilles "Paon" Roet was the father of Chaucer's wife, Phillipa, and
Katherine Swynford, mistess and third wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.
Katherine doesn't show up in Shakespeare's "Richard II," but she could have.
Her third son, John Beaufort, earl of Somerset, is the means which links Henry
Tudor to the House of Lancaster. So there is a connection between Chaucer and
the Tudors, but not a blood line.

Incidentally, one of Chaucer's direct heirs, John de la Pole, earl of Lincoln,
designated heir to Richard III, but Bosworth ended that possibility. The above
is from the Riverside editions of Chaucer and Shakespeare.

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jonathan Sawday <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Jan 1996 19:26:53 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 6.0951  Re: Development of Individualism
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0951  Re: Development of Individualism

`Stephanie Hughes' writes (in defence of Stephanie Hughes):

   ...since stone age communities are still in existence here and there in the
   world, it should be all right to speak of them in the present as well as the
   past...

I don't think so. `Stone age communities' have never existed in the world. The
problem is not with the `stone' or the `community' but with idea of `age' as
representative of epoch. To argue that those communities who deploy eolithic
technology (flints, stones, etc., which groups must also include ourselves to a
surpising extent, who vigorously search for and deploy stone resources, as any
road developer will inform us) are `stone age communities' is to place them in
a subordinate position to a western paradigm of technology, and ignores the
abilities of such groups (then or now) to develop appropriate technology based
on their own exploitation of available resources. This isn't (though it may, at
first, appear so) a PC-based observation. To argue for the existence (either in
the past or now) of `stone age communities' is to continue a 19th century model
of `developmentalism': all human communities (other than our own) are simply at
different stages of `progress', whose dizzy summit we (alone) inhabit. That
model of thinking was endlessly and unthinkingly deployed by anthropologists
both before and after Darwin. It lead (directly) in Europe to the
categorization of different human groups as having arrived at different stages
on the evolutionary trail. From that, it didn't take long for the heady
cocktail of perceived `racial' difference, mixed with the observation of
different technological attributes, to produce the idea of `primitivism', or
even the existence of the `proto-human' (aka as the `sub-human'). You can see
where this tends....

This not, by the way, to attempt to (absurdly) deny the existence of
technological change, or even the development of new technologies. But the
simultaneous presence of different human groups using different technologies
should not be the means by which those groups are then defined. As an example,
and on a personal note, I well remember arriving in my first acadaemic job, in
the South of Ireland, being greeted by a US postgrad with the words `Welcome to
the 19th century': he and I (or so he assumed) inhabited the 20th century,
while the Irish taxpayer (who was picking up the bill on our behalf) did not.
This categorization was possible because (as he explained to me, fresh off the
boat as I was) in Ireland there were almost no motorways, and some people lived
in communities where access to video-rentals, McDonalds, etc. was difficult. Of
course, the fact that the British have always (secretly) believed that their
closest western neighbours inhabited a different century has been instrumental
in forging our present, and unique, special relationship. For a nice
renaissance example of this line of thinking, see _The Faerie Queene_ Bk VI, or
Spenser's `View of the present State of Ireland' where the attribution of
`primitive' behaviour to another culture allows Spenser to conclude that
genocide is (proably) the means by which Ireland can be reduced to fealty to
the English monarch: a set of attitudes which I'm sure the historical
Shakespeare would have shared.

This last speculation is a fairly desperate attempt to get back to Shakespeare,
since what all this has to do with Shakespeare I can hardly conceive...as much
to do with the Stratfordian as the Cartesian fish who have also (memorably)
appeared in this thread, I suppose.

Jonathan Sawday
University of Southampton,
 

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