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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: April ::
Re: Ideology
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0470.  Thursday, 17 April 1997.

[1]     From:   Phyllis Rackin <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Apr 1997 09:15:11 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0458  Re: Ideology: The Aesthetics of WT

[2]     From:   Lysbeth Benkert-Rasmussen <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 16 Apr 97 10:38:00 CDT
        Subj:   RE: SHK 8.0467  Re: Ideology: The Aesthetics of WT

[3]     From:   Robin D. H. Wells <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 15 Apr 1997 15:51:20 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0458 Re: Ideology: The Aesthetics of WT


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Phyllis Rackin <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Apr 1997 09:15:11 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 8.0458  Re: Ideology: The Aesthetics of WT
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0458  Re: Ideology: The Aesthetics of WT

This will probably sound like a rhetorical question, but it isn't.  Is
there anyone out there who has changed his/her mind as a result of the
"ideology" thread?

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lysbeth Benkert-Rasmussen <
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Date:           Wednesday, 16 Apr 97 10:38:00 CDT
Subject: 8.0467  Re: Ideology: The Aesthetics of WT
Comment:        RE: SHK 8.0467  Re: Ideology: The Aesthetics of WT

To return to Paul Hawkins question of a while back: what do ideological
readings (which to him appear to always be reductive) add to aesthetic
ones?

In order to have an aesthetic response, a reader/audience member/student
must be able to place a play within some sort of context.  To many of my
students, early modern England is utterly foreign-so much so that the
differences initially preclude their having an aesthetic response at
all.  By studying culture (which is nothing if not saturated with
ideology), I can supply my students with a context in which to place the
works, and an approach to analyze the different ways one might see
things even from within that single culture.  This also enables me to
help them place the plays within their own culture-giving them a second
way to contextualize the works, and the tools with which to explore
alternative interpretations from within that culture.  In this way,
cultural study (which is in many ways ideological study)  adds layers to
their understanding of the plays.  They come to see them as complex
texts that offer a variety of interpretations.

This, of course, runs up against the poster who complains that a
post-modern reaction to a play is somehow not as valid as a historically
based one, asking "whose plays are these, anyway, yours or
Shakespeare's. (Pardon me but I can't remember who said this).  This is
a point well taken, and I think that it is an important part of the
process to come to an understanding of the original contexts of the
plays, but I also think that to insist only on historical readings dooms
these texts to be relics of the literature department.  A play-going
audience cannot take a history course every time they go to the
theater.  As the director and actors make decisions about the production
of the play, they make links with the culture of the audience (even if
that link is as small as using a proscenium stage, or as large as
dressing Titania in a clown suit).  These decisions draw on the multiply
layered understanding of the play arrived at by the director based on
her understanding both of her own world and the world of Shakespeare.
The layering of ideologies only adds to the complexity of our
understanding of the plays.  Just as an analysis of those ideologies
adds further layers to the ways in which we understand our reactions to
the plays.  Even if we "do" cultural studies, our departments are still
filed under "humanities."

Lysbeth Em Benkert

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin D. H. Wells <
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Date:           Tuesday, 15 Apr 1997 15:51:20 +0100 (BST)
Subject: 8.0458 Re: Ideology: The Aesthetics of WT
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0458 Re: Ideology: The Aesthetics of WT

Dear Terry,

I enjoyed our chat on the bus in Washington (and share your views on the
dreadful Tories and the only slightly less egregious Blair). But I'm
genuinely puzzled that it should make you squirm when people say they
love Shakespeare. Richard Barnfield talks about the fact that his friend
"Maister RL" loves Dowland, while he himself prefers Spenser ("thou
lov'st the one, and I the other"). He goes on: "Dowland to thee is
deare; whose heavenly tuch / Upon the Lute, doeth ravish humaine sense:
/ Spenser to mee; whose deepe Conceit is such, / As passing all Conceit,
needs no defence".

I can't pretend actually to love Spenser, though I'm quite happy to
admit, with no affectation at all, that I share Barnfield's love of
Dowland, and was also ravished when I was lucky enough to attend a
private recital of his songs recently in a 15th-century monastery in
Seville (compliment to you Rafael if you're listening). I know that Kay
Stanton has similar feelings about listening to Shakespeare. Why does
that make you squirm?  You're not tone deaf are you?

PS: the invitation to write for Renaissance Forum is still open.

Best wishes,
Robin
 

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