The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0718 Wednesday, 5 April 2000.
From: Clifford Stetner <
Date: Tuesday, 4 Apr 2000 16:46:59 -0400
Subject: 11.0689 Some Thoughts
Comment: Re: SHK 11.0689 Some Thoughts
Norman Myers hears bells:
>"The history of interpretation is the history of the presuppositions
>that interpreters bring to their work."
This is a truism. The first system of presuppositions that any
interpreter brings to any linguistic text: Shakespearean, Biblical or
otherwise, is that the signs of language on the page intentionally
correspond to the model of written language that he uses to read them.
In other words there is no other way to approach a text except through a
series of "presuppositions" about it.
>"What is at stake is not simply the authority of scripture. . .but the
>authority of the culture of interpretation by which these people read
>scripture in such a way as to lend legitimacy to their doctrinaire
What you seem to me to imply is that some people do not allow the
presuppositions they necessarily make in approaching a text to be
modified by information that they acquire in decoding it. The term
"read" is problematic here, because we commonly use it to describe our
own internal decoding process as well as the interpretation we make
subsequent to that decoding which we express in the form of criticism.
I may read a text in order to discover as many possible relevances and
resonances I can within it, but in my criticism, only make use of
particular elements in the service of a particular doctrinal agenda. So
how I "read" the text to myself is different from how I "read" the text
to others. This doesn't make either reading illigitimate (so long as I
am open and clear about my agenda and do not present my interpretation
as the one authoritative interpretation-as the church does with the
Bible for instance)
>Ring any bells? I find the last quote, especially the phrase "to lend
>legitimacy to their doctrinaire prejudices" particularly appropriate to
>much of what I'm seeing on our list.