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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: February ::
Re: Is Shakespeare sexist?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0168  Friday, 27 February 1998.

[1]     From:   Chris J. Fassler <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Feb 1998 12:43:44 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   RE: Is Shakespeare sexist?

[2]     From:   Jeannette Webber <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Feb 1998 16:03:42 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 9.0162  Is Shakespeare sexist? -Reply

[3]     From:   Susan St. John <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Feb 98 19:02:24 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.0162 Is Shakespeare sexist?

[4]     From:   Marilyn A. Bonomi <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Feb 1998 22:55:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0162  Is Shakespeare sexist?

[5]     From:   Azita Ghodsi Rasi <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Feb 1998 09:09:13 +0330 (IST)
        Subj:   Is Shakespear a sexist?

[6]     From:   Chris J. Fassler <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Feb 1998 12:43:44 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   RE: Is Shakespeare sexist?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris J. Fassler <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Feb 1998 12:43:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        RE: Is Shakespeare sexist?

I'm posting this in response to the article submitted to the list Helen
Ostovich.

I teach in the English Department (not the Theater Department) at ASU.
And I should say that I have never met any of the parties involved in
this case nor do I have any inside information.  I have, however, read
all the stories in the local media and can say that this is one of the
least balanced.  There may have been an injustice in Sakren's case, for
all I know.  But anybody interested in this case ought to know that
things presented as fact in the article submitted to the list are
basically Sakren's contentions which the Department has (of course)
disputed.  There has not been a full clearing of the air, presumably
because of pending legalities, so things look a lot murkier from where I
sit.

Curtis Perry

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jeannette Webber <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Feb 1998 16:03:42 -0800
Subject: Is Shakespeare sexist? -Reply
Comment:        SHK 9.0162  Is Shakespeare sexist? -Reply

Amazing!!

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susan St. John <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Feb 98 19:02:24 -0700
Subject: 9.0162 Is Shakespeare sexist?
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.0162 Is Shakespeare sexist?

Helen Ostovich posted an article titled "Is Shakespeare sexist?" by
Rachel Alexander from the Arizona Daily Wildcat dated February 2, 1998
which expounded on the unfair treatment of theatre prof. Jared Sakren.

I am a little distraught by this article, being a graduate of the UofA
in Tucson (a wildcat) but living in ASU country, Tempe, Arizona.  I'm
not sure how accurate or believable one should take an article printed
in a student newspaper (even from my own alma mater) about happenings at
its cross-town rival school.

I do not at this time know any details of this seemingly unfair
treatment of an ASU acting prof, but I will find out what truths I can.

In the meantime, know that ASU produced a fairly accurate production of
"Shrew" a couple years ago (without the Sly business), but no one seemed
inclined to change the end or the sexist nature (if any) of the original
Shakespeare text.

I also know that ASU has produced several other Shakes plays; a
marvelous post-apocalyptic Macbeth last year, and a phenomenal Lear just
last month.

I also have worked with Lyn Wright (former Dept. Chair) and have never
found her to be unfair or overly concerned with women's issues.  Her
whole raison d'etre is Children's Theatre!

So, I hope you will all take this article with a grain of salt and not
think too poorly of ASU's theatre dept. or UofA's journalism, until I
have a chance to check out some facts.

Thanks for your indulgence.

Susan St. John

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marilyn A. Bonomi <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Feb 1998 22:55:56 -0500
Subject: 9.0162  Is Shakespeare sexist?
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0162  Is Shakespeare sexist?

Helen Ostovich provides us w/ what she calls an "article" from the
school paper at one of the Arizona state universities (The Arizona Daily
Wildcat).

Since I'm not a sports fan, I don't know if it's from Arizona State or
not.

However, what she presents us with tells us a great deal more about the
state of the editorial board at this school's paper than it does about
the issue of some drama professor's tenure and evaluation.

First of all, what it IS NOT is objective reporting.  It MAY be an
column of opinion, but if it is, it should be so labeled.

It is not objective, does not contain good reporting, offers editorial
comments and biased terminology.  There is no direct citation from any
documents or individuals having to do w/ the issue at hand: the
evaluations being based on his teaching Shakespeare.  It does contain an
indirect smear of the other department members from the professor:
<<Unlike most of the faculty in the Department of Theater, Sakren has
extensive professional theater experience, he said.>>

The material continues to quote Sakren both directly and indirectly in
his attacks on his fellow department members:

<<[department head] Lynn Wright has expressed her displeasure for
classics in the curriculum. She has gleefully exhorted that the
feminists in the department will "kill off the classics," Sakren said.
Sakren was told to quit teaching Shakespeare, because it was "sexist."
Or, if he insisted on teaching so-called "sexist" works like "The Taming
of the Shrew," he must change the ending, so it "wouldn't offend women,"
Sakren said.

There is a quote that supposedly led to the department recommendation
against tenure, but it's not clear who wrote this statement or in what
document the reporter (???!!!) found it: <<to "let his program fall
apart," as the DPC termed it.>>

Then follows another unattributed accusation presented as FACT: << His
office has been searched without explanation and vicious untrue rumors
have been spread about him.>.

There follows a summary of what the Committee on Academic Freedom and
Tenure supposedly said.  However, NO direct citations appear from this
document, and no quotes come from any person who served on this
committee.

Then comes a most astonishing statement if indeed this material is a
news article:

<< Since there are a few people in ASU's theater department who seem not
to care how many times their reviews of Sakren are thrown out, we can
expect more of the same.>>

WHO IS THE "WE" cited here?

Next comes an even more egregious violation of basic journalism:

<<Furthermore, several ASU law professors have stated that sending
Sakren's review back to the issuing committee violates his
constitutional right to due process.>>  Which professors?  Precisely
what did they say?

<<As a result, a court of law is being asked to decide whether Sakren's
constitutional rights were violated, whether there was a breach of
contract, and whether there was discrimination.>>

WHAT court?  Who brought the suit?  Against whom?

IN other words, fellow SHAKSPERians, what we have here is NOT evidence
of PC being used to destroy a wonderful teacher who honors the great
classics of drama.  What we DO have is evidence of extremely shoddy
journalism.

If someone can make contact w/ faculty at ASU and get some REAL
information, I for one would be thrilled to make a passionate plea for
the Bard, and all those other DWEM's who have so brilliantly shaped our
culture... so long as their presence doesn't exclude all those who
aren't D, W, E, or M from being equally acknowledged.

Yours in the pursuit of truth and good journalism!

Marilyn B.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Azita Ghodsi Rasi <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Feb 1998 09:09:13 +0330 (IST)
Subject:        Is Shakespear a sexist?

I do believe that what has happened to prof. Sakren in ASU is
outrageous.  I am an Asian woman and I have always enjoyed Shakespeare.
It takes a very narrow mind to demand from a sixteenth century author to
observe the standards that feminists require nowadays or to ban teaching
his works because of his failure to do so.  Shakespeare knew people very
well.  Reading his plays or acting them teaches us many things about
people, too.  Maybe that's what the committee in ASU is afraid of; that
students will become aware that a human being has many aspects and not
just the one that the feminist context dictates.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris J. Fassler <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Feb 1998 12:43:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        RE: Is Shakespeare sexist?

First, I know absolutely nothing about the ASU theater situation apart
from what  I have read in "article" posted on SHAKSPER.

That said, I'm embarrassed for the writer of the column/article, and I'm
confused about why Helen Ostovich posted it.  As a demonstration of the
ways that bardolotry can be used to stir up indignation for someone,
whether he deserves it or no?
 

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