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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: September ::
Re: The State of the Profession
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0660.  Monday, 16 September 1996.

(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Sep 1996 13:07:28 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0654  Re: The State of the Profession

(2)     From:   Paul Hawkins <
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        Date:   Saturday, 14 Sep 1996 15:56:13 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   The State of the Profession

(3)     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Sunday, 15 Sep 1996 12:51:14 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 7.0657 State of the Profession

(4)     From:   Andrew Walker White <
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        Date:   Sunday, 15 Sep 1996 18:00:42 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   State of the Profession


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Sep 1996 13:07:28 -0400
Subject: 7.0654  Re: The State of the Profession
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0654  Re: The State of the Profession

When I threw out the word "fragmented," I was thinking of what has been called
"postmodern fragmentation," the emphasis on the parts rather than wholes.  I
really wasn't expecting Jean Peterson's "terrified."  But the sense of terror,
that we may lose or have lost jobs and programs, is certainly present in the
profession. The Department of English at the University of Cincinnati recently
lost direct state funding for our Ph.D. program.  We are now funded by the
University internally--i.e., indirect state funding.  Since all the
investigatory committees recommended continued funding for our program (with
some qualifications), the Board of Regents' decicion to discontinue was
surprising--to us. We are now attempting to revise our program to entice the
Board of Regents to reconsider our case.

However, I was thinking more in terms of what we are preparing our Ph.D.
students to do in the classroom and in their professional lives IF they find
jobs.  Is there some definable core of skills, knowledge, abilities, etc., that
we expect in our colleagues?  Obviously, for a department that is reconsidering
and revising its Ph.D. program, this question is of some practical importance!

Yours, Bill Godshalk

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <
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Date:           Saturday, 14 Sep 1996 15:56:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        The State of the Profession

"Fragmentation"--or if you prefer, "variety" and "diversity"--may characterize
the profession at present, as may the feeling of being threatened by budget
cuts and the attack on tenure.

In addition to these things and in support of the remarks of Harry Hill, would
we not also agree that the profession in the 1990s is characterized by its
"flight from the aesthetic" (to use the words of Harold Bloom in *The Western
Canon*) and the pervasive tendency in diverse criticisms to reduce the
aesthetic to ideology?

Whether or not we think the aesthetic can be or should be so reduced, and
whether or not we would go as far as Bloom in seeing diverse contemporary
criticisms together comprising a "School of Resentment," is not literary study
(and Shakespeare studies) distinct among study in "the arts" in affording
little room at present for those whose focus of study is the appreciation of
the art--or the craft--of the texts they read?

Paul Hawkins

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Sunday, 15 Sep 1996 12:51:14 -0400
Subject: State of the Profession
Comment:        SHK 7.0657 State of the Profession

Allen Walker is quick to attack the Puritans. But let's not forget their
vigorous and principled denunciation of activities such as bear-baiting; an
appalling practice enthusiastically supported by theatrical entrepreneurs like
Henslowe and Alleyn as well as by any number of early modern playgoers.
Shakespeare's audience had plenty of blood on its hands.

Terence Hawkes

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Andrew Walker White <
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Date:           Sunday, 15 Sep 1996 18:00:42 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        State of the Profession

If it is any consolation to our list member currently dealing with a baffling
lack of civility down in Texas among arts faculty, the problem of dogmatism of
the left and right (and, in many cases, dogmatism for its own sake) seems to be
a widespread problem in academia.

As much as I would like to sympathize with those on this list who protest the
change in hiring practices, there are all too many cases in this country where
faculties have become rigid in terms of ideology and methodology.  And where
professors, in spite of their job title, either spend their time in research or
hound students out of their classes or both.  In the case of Slavic studies, my
wife's specialty, the ideology happens to be of a conservative variety, to
contrast with the more left-leaning tendencies outlined previously.  There is
not just one party line out there, but there are far too many institutions that
feel the need to establish orthodoxy, learning and teaching be damned.

As a budding Theatre historian who hopes to teach some day, I too am
uncomfortable with the ditching of concepts like tenure; at the same time,  I
was forced to waste both my and my parents' money on classes with totally
ineffectual professors as an undergraduate, and wondered just what these
classes would have been like with someone who could teach.

Not that this justifies the dismantling of the current academic system, but
there are more fundamental flaws than just those of career opportunities and
worker's rights.  The students' rights have been trampled upon too often for
them to be ignored as well.

Andy White
Urbana, IL
 

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