2000

Re: Isabella's Chastity

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1294  Tuesday, 27 June 2000.

From:           Abigail Quart <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 26 Jun 2000 13:23:12 -0400
Subject: 11.1283 Re: Isabella's Chastity
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1283 Re: Isabella's Chastity

I didn't know that Mamet was/is an idiot. Saying an actor's job is only
to "memorize the lines" is right up there with Andrei Serban's "an actor
can only play one emotion at a time" which I recently heard at the CUNY
Shakespeare Conference. HUMANS can't play one emotion at a time. There's
always more than one thing going on (God, I love you so much--am I
getting a cold sore--are you going grey--did I turn off the gas--is
there anything in the refrigerator that will look sexy while I'm eating
it?) even if it's just our autonomic systems feeding us input which
intrudes into consciousness (Hungry. Air, I need air! Noise. Intruder?
Old Spice. Harry! Oooh, my body likes Harry.)

Isabella's silence can be inexplicable or the director and actors can
build to it from the first moment Isabella sees the Duke. He is leaving,
she is entering. They pass. Immediately after that the Duke alters his
plans (He could not have planned to eavesdrop as he did not know she was
coming. He did not know Claudio had a sister.) From here on, he
improvises.

If Isabella is also affected at the moment she sees the Duke, then
stunned silence at the end of the play is not so inexplicable. (And
during her visit to Claudio, how much more emphatic would her insistence
on chastity be if she is suddenly battling her first real impulse to
temptation?) It takes a while to assimilate that God can hear the secret
wishes of your heart and grant them. Since she was inches away from nun
vows and he was dressed as a friar at the time (doubly forbidden, what?)
and now is the guy in charge of the whole neighborhood, speechless would
be my option too.

Speechlessness is often the result of complex and contradictory emotions
clamoring in the brain. Can you portray that just by memorizing the
lines?

Re: Pedagogy: Course Structure

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1293  Tuesday, 27 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Pat Dolan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 26 Jun 2000 11:18:52 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1289 Re: Pedagogy: Course Structure

[2]     From:   Abdulla Al-Dabbagh <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Monday, 26 Jun 2000 23:19:36 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1289 Re: Pedagogy: Course Structure


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Dolan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 26 Jun 2000 11:18:52 -0500
Subject: 11.1289 Re: Pedagogy: Course Structure
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1289 Re: Pedagogy: Course Structure

After wading through the ad hominem/feminam, I find that Pat Buckridge
still hasn't answered the question. What do you do when the students get
the words ("presently" and a host of others) and the history ("All women
in the Renaissance did was stay home and raise children.") wrong? I'm
sure that my students are bright enough to figure out the emotional and
ethical terms that I or any other teacher wants them to figure out and
reproduce them.  What I'm not sure of is how to teach Shakespeare the
best way possible.

In other words, what mix of historicism and formalism works best in the
classroom?

I wrote badly, allowing Pat Buckridge to misread my tone. I'm not the
least bit defensive about my take on Swilley's post. I think it's too
simple and doctrinaire to capture what happens when students and
teachers get together in the classroom, especially around literature
that comes from a culture which was, whether we like it or not,
significantly different than ours.

Regards,
Patrick

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abdulla Al-Dabbagh <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 26 Jun 2000 23:19:36 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 11.1289 Re: Pedagogy: Course Structure
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1289 Re: Pedagogy: Course Structure

The query on course structure took me decades back to my first adult
introduction to Shakespeare through the Shakespeare undergraduate course
that I took with Professor Norman Holland. For me, as for most of those
enrolled in the course, it was a grand entry both to Shakespeare's world
and to the realm of psychological literary criticism. We took a play a
week which, discounting the first and last weeks, amounted to something
like 12 or 13 plays in that one course. Plus a good dose of Erik
Erikson, who provided the psychoanalytic framework. It was an
exhilarating academic experience. Since then, I have, particularly in
the last ten years or so, taught Shakespeare in a variety of ways at
least a dozen times - but never, surprisingly, through Freudian or
post-Freudian lenses. Do fellow SHAKSPERians have similar experiences, I
wonder?

Re: A Shrew

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1291  Tuesday, 27 June 2000.

From:           Marcus Dahl <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 26 Jun 2000 11:42:47 EDT
Subject: 11.1286 Re: A Shrew
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1286 Re: A Shrew

RE: A SHREW as Adaption.

To Stephen Miller,

If the Du Bartas poem was available since 1578 this does not help issues
of chronology. What other evidence do you (or others) have in order to
argue that A Shrew (1594 or earlier) was written after The Shrew (first
published 1623). I already know Maguire's opinion.

Yours,
Marcus.

Re: Shakespeare and Basketball

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1292  Tuesday, 27 June 2000.

From:           Jeffrey Myers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 26 Jun 2000 11:43:01 -0400
Subject: 11.1280 Re: Shakespeare and Basketball
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.1280 Re: Shakespeare and Basketball

>What Mr. O'Neal, who the day before did a commercial for Disney should
>remember, is that Shakespeare was an actor first and would
>never cross a
>picket line.

I'm not so sure.  Wasn't Shakespeare part of a management team that
exploited actors (at least, non-shareholding actors)?

Jeff Myers

Is art eternal; Is art alive?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1290  Monday, 26 June 2000.

From:           Florence Amit <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 26 Jun 2000 14:54:12 +0000
Subject:        Is art eternal; Is art alive? Instead of Re: Isabella's
Chastity

Is art eternal; Is art alive?

Two questions that have cunningly been made into one, by a correspondent
of the "Isabella's Chastity" thread.  Both are so important in criticism
that they deserve their own caption.

Artistic harmony, implying beauty: is that the ingredient needed to
achieve the eternal in art; can ugliness be eternal; cliche? Are there
not entrepreneurs who succeed in pulling our leg, sociologically
speaking, regarding artistic output? One goes to a museum and walks
through literally miles of Egyptian, Hellenistic, pre-Colombian,
Medieval, Hindu, Chinese sculptures; but only occasionally have artists
reached beyond the conventional to reveal in their statues a vitality
that for me is deeply moving.  Egyptian art may be eternal but my
personal feeling is that it is a Nefertiti that makes the whole mammoth
impression worth while. I accept that I am a romantic in this and it is
a fact that most ancient Egyptians did not care much about the
individual, but rather that their desire for eternity be given a
concrete form.

In literature there are some great constructions that reflect cultural
mores.  A responsible artist will devote time and study to find
historical precedents, and refer to them for resonance. He will make his
sentences ring and his characters stay consistent. But again, if in his
own self there is not the humanity and conviction; if his work is just
for an establishment, his output is not vital, although it may belong to
the eternalized art forms of his culture. That is where Shakespeare is
so much more superior to Marlowe.

Art, being so carefully constructed, in essence may be more manifest
than living people. It is not a question of 'seem to be', since the
criteria is not by medical examination or the possession of a vague
potential. Nor is it in the 'eye of the beholder' who may be blind; but
it is by the actual existence of the created reality. That reality may
be of the imagination, but no more the construction, once it is made.
Therefore it can contain all that is necessary to make evaluations about
a character and situation. The incentive does not come from ourselves,
as was claimed: but from the artifice itself.  Just as one enters a room
and finds many aspects of comfort or discomfort there, due to the work
of the departed architect. All that is necessary in speech, movement;
all that is harmonious and consequential, will be superior in art to no
art, even though art cannot breath while no art can.  A constructed
character may be clearer about purpose or more significantly in quandary
than a living person. It is able to verbalize better and at the most
appropriate moment, and when it dies there is meaning in its death.
Human life on the other hand is full of vagary. Given a multiplicity of
defining clues, is it any wonder that the viewer can anticipate what is
left unsaid?  Therefore the critical examination of these constructions
can be very rewarding. The artist's vision given a concrete form is
provident and it is a privilege to partake of his understanding.

However there is more than just the construction. There are the actors
who are to bridge the two realities: the imagined with the mundane. But
they are not always honest intermediaries. Often they will prefer to
reduce the encounter - as if were just between the two operatives: the
players with those who sit before them, hardly referring to the greater
intelligence that is represented by the master plan. At the very most
critical moment, when the playwrights' ghost would seem to sigh " At
last!" - his edifice is put into the unsafe discretion of decorators,
who will have succumbed to the inappropriate influences of the public.

What may have the playwright arranged to deflect the distortions that
surely he must have predicted?

He may have had his plays printed, after his death, by his loyal
comrades, so that readers and textual scholars will judge his meanings
for themselves. He may address the audience before the action commences
as he does in "Henry V" or after it as in "The Taming of the Shrew" or
by the means of soliloquy as when Launcelet Gobo addresses the many
off-stage "fiends",  "saving your reverence" the individual who can
discriminate.  He may put all kinds of clues and directives within the
texture of the play like the sure indications of Hamlet's "sweet
religion". So that actors cannot sell us stories about his indolence.
And he may do something that we may think belongs only to the 20th
century's, "theater of the absurd": he may have the character contest
his part. " The Merchant of Venice" surely ought to remind the viewer of
the archetypal merchant in the Venetian "commedia dell'arte" satiric
drama.  Antonio ought to be as central as Volpone. But no, the
masqueraded Shylock, belonging to a more sinister tradition, has been
made central. Shakespeare realized that this might happen and that is
why Antonio is so particularly sad at the play's opening. When Antonio
can take over his satiric lead, the reason for the character's sadness
will then become, rightly, its premonition of being made a dupe, in
order to achieve the comic condition for wedlock, according to revered
tradition.

Florence Amit

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