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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: March ::
Re: Michaelmas; New Folger Shakespeare; Ideology
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0386.  Tuesday, 25 March 1997.

[1]     From:   Naomi Liebler <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Mar 97 09:38:49 EDT
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0382 Re: St. Crispin's Day; Michaelmas

[2]     From:   Paul Werstine <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Mar 97 21:39:57 EST
        Subj:   New Folger Shakespeare

[3]     From:   Paul Hawkins <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Mar 1997 17:55:16 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0379 Re: Ideology


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Naomi Liebler <
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Date:           Tuesday, 25 Mar 97 09:38:49 EDT
Subject: 8.0382 Re: St. Crispin's Day; Michaelmas
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0382 Re: St. Crispin's Day; Michaelmas

In response to Andy Gurr and Steve Sohmer: Well, yes, of course, the
Platter reference assures us that the Swiss traveler saw the play on 21
September-no quarrel there. The point of my ascription is that, as I
assume, _JC_ had a run of more than one day-perhaps even a week or
two?--and that Michaelmas, though CENTERED on a single day, is a
seasonal festival whose attendant events and celebrations (it was the
specific time for signing contracts, trying lawsuits, harvesting crops,
and electing the Lord Mayor in London and the town Bailiffs in the
shires) would have resonated importantly for the audiences to _JC_, a
play that, in my view, expresses serious concerns with both governmental
and religious transitions. Thus Michaelmas was a particularly
appropriate seasonal time for _JC_'s inauguration. BY the way, though I
can't recall exactly when this change occurred, the date for celebrating
Michaelmas changed from 10 October to 29 September.  Platter was known
to be traveling in England between 18 September and 20 October. Unless
we assume a one-day-only performance for _JC_, I don't see how the 21
September date of Platter's letter obviates the "coincidence" of _JC_'s
RUN with the attenuated festivities of Michaelmas.

Cheers,
Naomi

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Werstine <
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Date:           Tuesday, 25 Mar 97 21:39:57 EST
Subject:        New Folger Shakespeare

Thanks to Steve [Urkowitz] for explaining the source of his hyperbolic
disparagement of the New Folger Shakespeare-although no thanks for the
actual disparagement, since even politeness has some limits.  If I read
his words accurately, he wants nothing to do with our editions because
we as editors refuse in our introductions to showcase his view that
textual variants are to be understood as manipulations of scripts for
theatrical effect.

It would, however, be quite irresponsible for us to privilege his view
since we know from extant documentary evidence that a great number of
agents may well have contributed to a play's reaching print and only
some of these were theatrical.  These agents do include playwrights,
actors, theatrical scribes, adapters, revisers (insofar as we can make
distinctions among these roles, which often blend together, to judge
from extant theatrical manuscripts).  But these agents also include
extra-theatrical scribes, censors, compositors, proofreaders.  As
editors we cannot afford to mislead readers by pretending that history
is less complex than we know it to be just to lionize the views of one
scholar.

It's an odd world in which Steve can brand our editorial work as
"debilitating" and "chimerical" just because we fail to dance to his
tune alone. I hope that editors continue to provide readers with
competing accounts of the origins of variation in Shakespeare plays
(rather than only Steve's account) and continue to equip readers with
some display of the tremendous number and range of variants to be found
in different texts of such plays as LEAR or OTHELLO.  That way readers
can resist opportunistic selection and narration of variants and can
stand up to over-simplifications of intriguing textual differences that
have long been challenging and fascinating to readers and editors alike.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <
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Date:           Tuesday, 25 Mar 1997 17:55:16 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0379 Re: Ideology
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0379 Re: Ideology

Gabriel Egan comments recently in response to Bill Godshalk that "A
model of human intercourse which gives individuals complete intellectual
autonomy is as reductive as one which posits none."  I don't think Bill
Godshalk was positing a complete intellectual autonomy nor has anyone
else that I can remember, though I did speak of individuals attaining
some measure of "freedom from their ideologies."  Surely one can speak
of "freedom" without suggesting that it need be absolute.  And when
Gabriel Egan says-"Surely the partial self-reflexivity of subjectivity
is what accounts for historical change:  individuals are constituted of
received ideas upon some of which they reflect, aren't they?"-is he not
positing just such a measure of individual intellectual freedom?  And if
so, is a freedom *in* an ideology all that different than a freedom
*from* one?  Is it a difference that makes a difference?

In this light, I am interested in a few of the comments made by
Althusser in his "Letter on Art," comments that, while not
indistinguishable from some of the things Sean Lawrence and I have been
saying, nonetheless seem to bend toward our assertion of a space between
the aesthetic and ideology and away from the more confident
identifications of the two by other contributors to this discussion.

Althusser writes that "*I do not rank real art among the ideologies*
[his italics], although art does have a quite particular and special
relationship with ideology."  Further, he speaks of "Art (I mean
authentic art, not works of an average or mediocre level)" saying that
it "makes us *see,* and therefore gives to us in the form of `*seeing,*'
`*perceiving*' and `*feeling*' . . . the ideology from which it is born,
in which it bathes, from which it detaches itself as art, and to which
it alludes. . . .  Balzac and Solzhenitsyn give us a `view' of the
ideology to which their work alludes and with which it is constantly
fed, a view which presupposes a *retreat,* *an internal distantiation*
from the very ideology from which their novels emerged."

1.      What besides an intuition of the aesthetic power or achievement which
defines great art enables Althusser's easy distinction between
"authentic" and "average" or "mediocre" art?

2. While Althusser is obviously taking pains in his formulation to make
art special but not free from ideology, since nothing can be so to him,
in what way is art's "detach"ment of itself from ideology, its retreat
from ideology, and its internal distantiation from ideology *unlike* a
freedom?

Paul Hawkins
 

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