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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: December ::
Re: Presentism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1243  Sunday, 6 December 1998.

[1]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Friday, 4 Dec 1998 10:36:24 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1235  Re: Presentism

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Friday, 4 Dec 1998 10:52:41 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Presentism

[3]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Friday, 4 Dec 1998 11:09:38 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1235  Re: Presentism

[4]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Friday, 04 Dec 1998 09:41:43 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 9.1235 Re:

[5]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Friday, 04 Dec 1998 11:17:19 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1225 Re: Presentism

[6]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Friday, 4 Dec 1998 15:57:48 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1215 Re: Presentism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Friday, 4 Dec 1998 10:36:24 EST
Subject: 9.1235  Re: Presentism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1235  Re: Presentism

For Jason Vernon Starnes, who offered that:

"More respect for and consideration of undergrads like myself would be
greatly appreciated in the future.  Some of us are listening . . . ."

Jason, as David Lindley has tried to explain several times, his comment
was neither as dismissive nor as pejorative in context as it has been
construed to be, out of context.  Those of us who term after term
encounter the sort of student who would plagiarize from the textbook
assigned to the class (I had one of those, an Ed major senior who was
planning to teach English at the high school level that following fall),
and who would buy term papers, as another thread on this list has
suggested, must face the harsh and disappointing reality that
scholarship as we know and love it is not a universal principle.
Increasingly in our collective experience, students are degree rather
than learning oriented: a respected colleague at a decent middle-class
school who has been teaching for thirty years was horrified recently to
be accosted by some young women who determined that the grades he had
given them were "unsatisfactory" (*not* that their work merited better),
and I was physically threatened by one young man who bellowed in broken
English, "That's *my* money going down the drain!!" after he failed to
attend half the classes that quarter, and (surprise, surprise) failed
the midterm and final.  The quest for high GPAs has in too many cases
supplanted the thirst for knowledge, especially as academia becomes
increasingly consumerist: universities competing for enrollment and run
by business people rather than academics are pandering to the notion
that learning power should equate to earning power, and those of us who
see a higher value in the work we do than merely to contribute to
someone's potential bottom line are much dismayed by the trends that are
developing.  It was to those students (increasingly the norm, though
mercifully for us on the other side of the desk, there are still some
left like you) that David's comments were directed.  Neither he nor
anyone else on this list has contempt for good students per se . . . you
are the future of our profession, and each and every one of us knows
that.

David is of course capable of making this defense on his own behalf, but
coming from a colleague who sees the world from the same perspective,
perhaps it won't ring as hollow as it might if it came across as simple
"damage control" on his part.  I hope he will excuse my presumption.

Carol Barton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Friday, 4 Dec 1998 10:52:41 -0500
Subject:        Re: Presentism

Stephanie Hughes writes

> It seems to me that one of the great values of history, perhaps to
> the true historian the greatest (and one of the main reasons why
> we go into the discipline in the first place), is the depth of
> perception that comes from seeing with both eyes, our own, and
> with those of our forbears in a way that isn't possible with
> current events, or even the events of the recent past.

I am moved by this image of a pair of eyes spaced across the wide bridge
of historical difference, one eye "our own" and the other "our
forbears". This is matched in gorgeous absurdity only by "She had one
eye declined for the loss of her husband, another elevated that the
oracle was fulfilled".

But I'm troubled by the spelling "forbears". Shouldn't that be
"forebears"? You don't suppose "Good friend for Jesus' sake forbear, /
To dig the dust enclosed here!" means the grave's occupant claims Jesus
as an ancestor? I don't mind these aristocrats stealing our national
poet, but surely our religion is safe from their depredations.

Gabriel Egan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Friday, 4 Dec 1998 11:09:38 EST
Subject: 9.1235  Re: Presentism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1235  Re: Presentism

> A distinction must be made between social morays

In the manner of "physician, heal thyself," I would like to take back
the embarrassing beam in my own eye (call it end-of-quarter fatigue): I
did not mean fraternizing sea serpents here, but _mores_ (as an esteemed
colleague gently chides).  (O tempus, o mores! Guess I'm getting old.)

Carol Barton

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Friday, 04 Dec 1998 09:41:43 -0800
Subject: Re:
Comment:        SHK 9.1235 Re:

I am ever impressed with David Lindley.  His, as usual, kind,
reasonable, and even practical response to that unwarranted attack upon
him should serve as a lesson to the surlier members of this list.
(Myself included on an occasion or two.)

I note that the portion of David's response about undergraduate
understanding of complex theoretical issues was parallel to the sad
discussion about whether or not children could read Shakespeare with
adequate understanding.  Anything that can by taken for elitism brings
out the knives of some members of this list, and surliness results.

Perhaps this is a good illustration of David's point.  Those who do not
understand such subtle distinctions seldom realize it.  They barge in,
condemning right and left, and think they make substantive
contributions.

I carried my undergraduate haziness into grad school.  I was blessed
with a professor who took me aside and told me that my comments revealed
I didn't really understand the complexity of the issues.  I heard
something, assumed it meant something I already understood, and reacted
from there.

It was a great lesson.  I don't know to what extent I have overcome
that.  That is really for others to judge, and those who know my view of
Presentism will feel I still have a ways to go.  I do try to understand
if I am hearing a new idea or an old one.  I do try to understand the
reasons for a new idea before judging it.  I do try to absorb whatever
part of it is practical for me, if I can.

(BTW, my lack of passion for Presentism is not because I find it
invalid.  I find it obvious.  I also find it a dead end.  Where do you
go from there?  I have not heard an answer I find satisfying.  If I am
bound by my old habits and am missing the point, please enlighten me.)

For anyone to react with such vehemence to David's post is to assume
that most undergraduates have the same grasp of the subject as a grad
students and even professors.  Do you really believe that?  If so, why
bother with advanced degrees?

Mike Jensen

P.S.  Any one know where I can get a copy of the Maurice Evans/Hallmark
Hamlet?

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Friday, 04 Dec 1998 11:17:19 -0800
Subject: 9.1225 Re: Presentism
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1225 Re: Presentism

Bill queries:

> Do
> we judge political criminals from fifty years ago by their standards or
> by ours?

There's another way to put this, of course, in the form of the query
posed by Vladimir Jankel

 

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