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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Authorial Intention
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0675  Wednesday, 21 March 2001

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Monday, 19 Mar 2001 13:06:45 -0800
        Subj:   SHK 12.0643 Re: Authorial Intention

[2]     From:   Pat Dolan <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 13:00:15 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0653 Re: Authorial Intention

[3]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 15:28:00 -0600
        Subj:   SHK 12.0653 Re: Authorial Intention


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Monday, 19 Mar 2001 13:06:45 -0800
Subject: Re: Authorial Intention
Comment:        SHK 12.0643 Re: Authorial Intention

Mr. Stetner replies to R. A. Carntrell's question

> Is the time spent discussing theory well spent?

like a true believer.  Here is another side.

Theory is fine.  It has provided many useful tools for addressing a
text, and some that may not be so useful.  Don't lose perspective.  Just
as we study the critical trends of Shakespeareans in the past, and
pronounce them anything from quaint to misguided to useful but
exhausted, so will the future judge us and our use of theory.  Some say
theory is a way of getting to the truth.  Some say it is a way of
expressing our own obsessions, sometimes reading them into a text.  I
say use the tools that suit you, but don't lose perspective on what it
really means.  Theory is for an age, not for all time.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Dolan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 13:00:15 -0600
Subject: 12.0653 Re: Authorial Intention
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0653 Re: Authorial Intention

John Robinson wrote:

> I have a simple litmus test for "theory" oriented papers
> about Shakespeare, or any work of Lit. Namely, after reading the paper I
> ask myself "Do I understand or appreciate something about this work that
> I didn't understand or appreciate before?" Sadly the answer is usually
> "no."

John,

Another paradox.

When I or some other Ph.D./professor says this, it's assessment. When
our students say this, as mine did of "Everyman" last week, it's their
failure to read properly. Ethos is all, apparently.

Pat

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Tuesday, 20 Mar 2001 15:28:00 -0600
Subject: Re: Authorial Intention
Comment:        SHK 12.0653 Re: Authorial Intention

>Clifford Stetner writes that
>
>>I hardly need to point out the paradox that the assertion that time
>>spent in theory is not well spent is itself theory.

This is not a paradox; you are deploying a trope.  This one is usually
given the name "viewer and the view".  If memory serves it is the first
in the scheme of ten.  I don't remember where it falls in the other
schemes (14, 7).

>>I guess all this depends on what you think English departments are
>>supposed to do. I have a simple litmus test for "theory" oriented papers
>>about Shakespeare, or any work of Lit. Namely, after reading the paper I
>>ask myself "Do I understand or appreciate something about this work that
>>I didn't understand or appreciate before?" Sadly the answer is usually
>>"no."  This is why nowadays, for me at least, reading PMLA is of no
>>value.

Well said Dr. Robinson.  I find most papers, articles, and books
treating with theory self indulgent.  You may learn a great deal about
the writer of the paper, article, or book, but not very much about the
nominal subjects of those papers, articles, and books.  Perhaps I lack
patience.

I hit the wrong button and sent this one to my Mac user group list, bet
they're impressed.
 

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