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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: February ::
Re: Ideology
Shakespeare Electronic Conference: SHK 8.0230. Monday, 17 February 1997.

[1]      From:  W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Sunday, 16 Feb 1997 21:20:48 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0224  Re: Ideology

[2]     From:   Paul Hawkins <
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        Date:   Monday, 17 Feb 1997 08:46:22 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0224 Re: Ideology


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Sunday, 16 Feb 1997 21:20:48 -0500
Subject: 8.0224  Re: Ideology
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0224  Re: Ideology

> But asserting
>that Shakespeare's worldwide consumption is simply a consequence of his
>excellence is to ignore the political, economic, and cultural processes by
>which canonicity works,

writes Gabriel Egan.

Excellence, of course, is not an inherent quality, but a matter of what
we humans have determined to call "excellent." But surely "canonicity"
is not as easily analyzed as Gabriel seems to suggest. We scholars don't
seem to know or comprehend all the "processes" by which an author
becomes "canonical." We don't agree on how works become "canonical" nor
do we agree on what works are in the "canon."  Is Hemingway "in" or
"out"? What about Lydgate?

If by "cultural" we mean "of or pertaining to the environment
constructed by humans for humans," then I suppose we'd have to
acknowledge that some kind of cultural process determines artistic
"excellence." But is the selection of an author for the
not-so-easily-identified "canon" really an "economic" and/or "political"
decision?

Wouldn't Middleton or Heywood or Shirley do just as well economically
and/or politically as the Great English Renaissance Playwright?  Or why
not Jonson?

I am convinced that we humans set the standards of excellence for all
artistic endeavors, and that there is no metaphysical, transcendent
standard for judgment. But that we set these standards for political
and/or economic reasons remains to be proven-to my mind, at any rate.
And doesn't primate psychology have something to do with esthetic
selection?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <
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Date:           Monday, 17 Feb 1997 08:46:22 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0224 Re: Ideology
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0224 Re: Ideology

I am glad that Gabriel Egan and I appear to agree on Shakespeare's
having at least some transcultural appeal.

However, when he claims, "the transcendence of the works was asserted as
part of the colonialist project," is it not equally possible to
interpret the historical record as follows:  the transcendence of the
works was asserted on what we can call aesthetic grounds; in turn,
Shakespeare so elevated proved appropriable for the colonialist project?

Armies and empire builders may carry canons with them, but this doesn't
mean they create them.

Shakespeare's excellence alone may not be the reason he is read all over
the world, but I don't think, as Gabriel Egan sometimes seems to, that
his being read all over the world has created his excellence.

Paul Hawkins
 

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