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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: March ::
Recent Discussion
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0606  Tuesday, 28 March 2000.

[1]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Mar 2000 09:43:44 GMT
        Subj:   Re: Censorship

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Mar 2000 18:56:35 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0591 Issues Involved in Recent Discussion

[3]     From:   Dana Shilling <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Mar 2000 14:41:47 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0591 Issues Involved in Recent Discussion

[4]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Mar 2000 12:00:05 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0591 Issues Involved in Recent Discussion

[5]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Monday, 27 Mar 2000 12:19:28 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0591 Issues Involved in Recent Discussion

[6]     From:   Geralyn Horton <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Mar 2000 01:02:54 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0591 Issues Involved in Recent Discussion

[7]     From:   Allan Blackman <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 28 Mar 2000 06:35:49 -0500
        Subj:   Pornography

[8]     From:   Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:   Tuesday, March 28, 2000
Subj:   This Issue


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Tuesday, 28 Mar 2000 09:43:44 GMT
Subject:        Re: Censorship

Perhaps Auden's little epigram might be relevant to this discussion:

'I'm for Freedom because I mistrust the Censor in office; but, if I held
the job, my!, how severe I should be.'  (One of the 'Shorts' from his
penultimate collection)

Or else (amongst many other possible quotations), these, from
Areopagitica:

They are not skilful considerers of human things, who imagine to remove
sin by removing the matter of sin .... Banish all objects of lust, shut
up all youth into the severest discipline that can be exercised in any
hermitage, ye cannot make them chaste, that came not thither so'.

Or 'Wholesome meats to a vitiated stomach differ little or nothing from
unwholseome; and best books to a naughty mind are not unappliable to
occasions of evil.  Bad meats will scarce breed good nourishment in the
healthiest concoction; but herein the difference is of bad books, that
they to a discreet and judicious reader serve in many respect to
discover, to confute, to forewarn, and to illustrate.'

I must confess, personally, to finding much of the discussion that has
been offered in this thread simply baffling.  Whatever one thinks of
pornography in itself is surely irrelevant to the issue of banning
Richard Burt's postings from the list. This, to me, is simply an issue
of censorship - and censorship not of content, but of information.

I don't think I'd want to be part of a discussion group that censored
the provision of information, information that I can choose whether or
not I wish to follow up.  Again, Milton puts it far better than I can:

'Since therefore the knowledge and survey of vice is in this world so
necessary to the constituting of human virtues, and the scanning of
error to the confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and with
less danger, scout into the regions of sin and falsity than by reading
all manner of tractates and hearing all manner of reason?  And this is
the benefit which may be had of books promiscuously read'.

David Lindley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Mar 2000 18:56:35 +0100
Subject: 11.0591 Issues Involved in Recent Discussion
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0591 Issues Involved in Recent Discussion

Abigail Quart asks

> Mr. Egan: When some innocent asks you to gloss "country
> matters," what do you say?

I give the opinion that it's quite likely a pun on the word "cunt".
Wouldn't you?

> How do you deal with Lucio's blow-job instructions to
> Isabella the virgin nunlet?

I can't recall noticing them. Would you mind locating them for me?

I do hope these questions don't indicate that my anti-porn comments are
being read as anti-sex comments. A number of my students in eastern
North Carolina objected that my "Shakespeare and queer theory" classes
were about bawdy which isn't really there*. Ah, well. (Of course, they
might have been right, but-as with Abigail's question about Lucio's
instructions-there's value in teasing out the possibilities even if you
go too far.)

Gabriel Egan

* "My ventures are not in one bottom trusted" (MV 1.1.42) and CoriolANUS
seem like giveaways to me.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dana Shilling <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Mar 2000 14:41:47 -0500
Subject: 11.0591 Issues Involved in Recent Discussion
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0591 Issues Involved in Recent Discussion

Given Shakespeare's own extensive use of sexually oriented plotlines,
double entendres, and dirty jokes, I find it hard to enroll him in the
anti-porn camp.

Pornography responds to rather than leads its consumers. Pornography is
not necessarily exploitive of women. In the current climate, many
pornography consumers are aroused by images that are exploitive of
women, and therefore there's a market for it. There is not a large
constituency for explicit photographs of hedgehogs wearing lingerie, so
not a lot of such material is on sale. What is needed is not less
pornography, but fewer people who have an erotic response to the
exploitation of women.

Dana

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 27 Mar 2000 12:00:05 -0800
Subject: 11.0591 Issues Involved in Recent Discussion
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0591 Issues Involved in Recent Discussion

Abigail Quart writes:

>How do you deal with Lucio's blow-job instructions to Isabella the
>virgin nunlet?

I've actually never picked up on this.  Of course, I've been blind in
the past and probably will be again in the future, but it strikes me
that it isn't entirely clear advice.  In any case, I sometimes wonder if
possible sexual meanings are over-emphasized by current scholarship.
For one thing, what is inferred may be more important than what is
implied.  As the makers of Beavis and Butthead have shown, and everyone
who has ever been a schoolboy would know, even the most innocent phrase
can be twisted into having a sexual connotation.  Secondly, if the
Elizabethans were in some ways a more sexually aware time, they're
likely to have been able to recognize sexual connotations without
letting them overwhelm all other connotations.  I recall the first time
I taught Shakespeare, to a very intelligent group of third-year
students, and pointed out the jokes on bestiality, sex and horsemanship
in the discussion of the French knights before Agincourt in Henry V.
The problem was that nobody remembered anything else about the play.  It
was hard for anyone to mention the word 'horse' with a straight face for
the rest of the year.  I'm pretty sure that this wasn't the response of
the Elizabethan audience, who were banally aware that horses are sexual
animals and so are humans.

The question, in other words, isn't whether to discuss sex in
class-no-one would advocate such strident self-censorship-but whether to
discuss it as adults, or failing that, to fall into the perverted
chortles of Beavis and Butthead or the adolescent fantasies of
pornography.

Clifford Stetner writes:

>Finally, I am not all that impressed with arguments that some feminists
>like porn too.  Those are not the only people involved.  Whatever the
>top of the Hollywood heap may enjoy, as a global industry, it is
>responsible for some of the most heinous exploitation in the world.

I can only agree, Cliff.  We shouldn't, under the guise of sexual
openness, advocate exploitation, or even pretend it doesn't exist.  A
recent case before the Supreme Court of Canada, by the way, is on
point.  The court decided (I believe) that mere possession of child
pornography should be illegal, since its purchase and dissemination
relies upon the commission of crimes in its production.  I am not, of
course, arguing that adult pornography should be illegal, but that it's
consumption relies upon its manufacture, and that its manufacture is
largely exploitative.

Finally, Hardy notes:

> [Editor's Note: I once did something like suggested here, only to be
> informed by a member that she reads the postings at work and does not
> want anyone to see the word "porn" in the subject line. -Hardy]

Could we use another subject line?

Cheers,
Se

 

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