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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: August ::
Re: Queen Elizabeth I
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1408  Tuesday 10 August 1999.

[1]     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Monday, 9 Aug 1999 13:56:41 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1399 Queen Elizabeth I

[2]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Aug 1999 08:42:45 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1399 Queen Elizabeth I

[3]     From:   Asami Nakayama <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Aug 1999 10:27:31 +0900
        Subj:   Re: Queen Elizabeth I

[4]     From:   Clifford Stetner <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 10 Aug 1999 04:49:35 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.1399 Queen Elizabeth I


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Monday, 9 Aug 1999 13:56:41 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 10.1399 Queen Elizabeth I
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1399 Queen Elizabeth I

Christine Tsai asks for particular suggestions re the many rumors about
Queen Elizabeth I's sexuality. My suggestion would be that she read
Carole Levin's The Heart and Stomach of a King (1994) for a good
analysis of why this particular sort of misogynistic rumor is so
tenacious.

Fran Teague http://www.arches.uga.edu/~fteague

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Tuesday, 10 Aug 1999 08:42:45 +1000
Subject: 10.1399 Queen Elizabeth I
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1399 Queen Elizabeth I

Christine Tsai writes:

>But if the claimed virginity is false, then all
>the literary eulogies of it would be false, too!  [snip]... If all these
>be verified, even such a giant like Spenser, the composer of #The Faery
>Queene#, will prove a hypocrite who uses literature as a tool to
>guarantee his position.  So will other poets who did similarly.

I think there is merit in studying the issues Christine raises.  First,
though, some further definition of terms would be desirable.  The matter
of "truth" and "falsity" in texts is one which I occasionally raise with
my students-thus, I may be jumping on it prematurely.  Nonetheless, I
believe that you set for yourself an incredibly difficult problem in
epistemological terms when you try to prove that an imaginative text is
"false," simply because the criteria for determining "truth" and
"falsity" empirically really don't apply to imaginative texts.  If you
set out to delineate criteria for "truth/falsity" in such texts, you
follow in distinguished footsteps, but the project then seems to become
more literary philosophy than historicism.

Then, too, there is the matter of "literature."  In the paragraph above,
I struggled to find an alternate term and settled, uneasily, on
"imaginative texts."  Christine seems to be saying that "literature"
should be above being "used," and that if either the producer or
consumer of "literature" does "use" it "as a tool" that said
producer/consumer has transgressed in some way.  Possibly this is so.
However, this concept of "literature" as being something which should be
above and beyond "use" is itself a historical-political concept.
Moreover, this concept can be seen as the ultimate political "tool"-one
that (of course) is designed to solidify positions (both personal and
political) and hegemonies (both political and cultural) but which
simultaneously is designed to be above reproach and above
question...because it is, after all, "literature."

I apologize for the abstract ranting.  In more concrete terms: of course
Spenser-and Shakespeare, and many others-produced texts which they used
as tools to guarantee their positions.  Does this prove them
"hypocrites"?  Maybe.  But if it does, all of us who have ever produced,
consumed, or gained our livelihoods by talking/writing about
"literature" are also "hypocrites."

In closing, I would reiterate that I hope Christine Tsai pursues her
study...there is still much to be uncovered or interrogated about the
matter of Elizabeth's claimed virginity and its textual
representations.  My particular suggestion is just that the theoretical
assumptions underlying her study need to be scrutinized, and the key
terms questioned and defined.

Climbing off my hobby horse, with greetings to all...

Karen Peterson-Kranz
Dept. of English & Applied Linguistics
University of Guam

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Asami Nakayama <
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Date:           Tuesday, 10 Aug 1999 10:27:31 +0900
Subject:        Re: Queen Elizabeth I

There is in fact no way for us to know whether or not Elizabeth was a
virgin, is there? So, why bother yourself about the 'truth' ? I think
the more important thing is that her virginity was circulated as a
fact-as a consensus, if you prefer. Why did people consent to circulate
it as a fact?  Because that 'fact' was extremely useful for Elizabeth
herself and many other people, as you all know too well. However,
Christine's question is 'Why could people make use of a story which many
know is practically and physically untrue?' Well, think of the Japanese
royal family (I can say a word or two about the British royal family,
too, but here I'll talk about the royal family of my own country, that's
the humour of it). Nobody dares to talk in public about immoral deeds of
any member of that family. Publicly they are all good, decent, merciful,
as well as modest! The Japanese people seem to hate to hear even a
rumour of royal adultery. Once, one of the princes was suspected of
liaison with a foreign woman, but people didn't like that suspicion and
the media abandoned the story. For us people, the royal family should
always be good husband and wife, good father and mother, good children,
always smiling that noble and peaceful smile. In Japan the discourse or
the myth of 'our good emperor and his good family' is working awfully
well. Does it mean the Japanese people are foolish enough to believe
that their royal people have no human weaknesses, no filthy or foul
aspects?  Of course, not. In fact we love to make guesses and
speculations of a most base kind, too! These guesses and speculations
are passed from mouth to mouth, though I suspect their origin is the
mass media, which is supposed to be ignored when sending such rumours.
In this way rumours which sometimes seem to have good reasons and the
'myth' coexist in our society. Although it has nothing to do with
Elizabeth I, I think I'm answering Christine's question.

Yours,
Asami Nakayama

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Tuesday, 10 Aug 1999 04:49:35 -0400
Subject: 10.1399 Queen Elizabeth I
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.1399 Queen Elizabeth I

Christine Tsai wrote:

>Of course I know the claimation

By the way, this last word with a different spelling refers to a form of
animation created with clay figures.  Otherwise, it has no meaning in
English.

>is her political strategy that helped
>consolidate her power.  But if the claimed virginity is false, then all
>the literary eulogies of it would be false, too!  They might have been
>insincere since there were rumors prevailing the court: some said she
>bore children of Leicester; in 1619, Ben Jonson told William Drummond
>that, Queen Elizabeth had "had a Membrana on her which made her
>incapable of man, though for her delight she tried many."

As much as I hate feeding the Republican propaganda machine by giving
undue attention to the Lewinski affair, I have to say that Jonson's
statement seems like a Clintonesque response to the question: "Is
Elizabeth a virgin?" "That depends on what the meaning of 'is' is..."

>If all these
>be verified, even such a giant like Spenser, the composer of #The Faery
>Queene#, will prove a hypocrite who uses literature as a tool to
>guarantee his position.  So will other poets who did similarly.  Or, we
>may interpret his work as a mockery of the Queen to be understood by
>those who knew of her adultery.  In one word, this is a new historistic
>study.  Any particular suggestions?

People who self-consciously set out to construct mythologies may be
perfectly sincere even when they disregard the literal truth.

Clifford Stetner
CUNY
C.W. Post College
www.columbia.edu/~fs10/cds.htm
 

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