The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1524 Thursday, 17 August 2000.
From: Tony Burton <
Date: Wednesday, 16 Aug 2000 09:49:06 -0700
Subject: 11.1511 Re: Marx and Shakespeare
Comment: Re: SHK 11.1511 Re: Marx and Shakespeare
In the dreary exchange of unresponsive views on art and ideology, and
the like, Hugh Grady has cast some useful light in pointing out that
the participants are employing very different meanings of the term
"ideology". Maybe it's worth noting that there are at least as many
different meanings of the word "art".
The participants is this debate, or running exchange, seem to be most
happy when they ignore the obviously different meanings employed by
their opposites and make no noticeable effort to grapple with them;
instead, they simply proclaim their separate approaches to the matter.
I have no doubt that the participants are intelligent in the highest
degree, and are surely aware that they are using the same words in very
Isn't this whole discussion a useful example of the great and much
discussed deficiency in the practice of scholarship in the humanities,
in respect of its dependence on selective, contingent, and possibly
arbitrary, definitions of key terms that reflect certain very limited
and, indeed, parochial viewpoints which their proponents seek to elevate
to universal principals? And that the exchange of opinions derived from
these separate points of departure leaves people talking at
cross-purposes, or else preaching to the choir of confirmed believers in
their views? And isn't it an embarrassment that as this exchange goes
on, it seems less and less necessary to mention Shakespeare?
When someone asks an honest question about whether it is possible to
separate ideology from art, as I think this thread began, it must surely
be sound pedagogy to follow Hugh Grant's pointer and ask "What do you
mean by 'ideology', what do you mean by 'art'?" And if certain answers
lead to the conclusion that "art is ideological", "art is ideology" or
some other highly reductionist or tautological conclusion, then the
questioner may, according to his disposition, want to reexamine and
revise the definitions of "art" and "ideology" which led there. But,
please, this lovely enterprise is both wider and narrower than the
discussion of Shakespeare and should be taken off-list, where
participants can explore these basic issues of scholarly inquiry which
are significant for every branch of the humanities.