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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Authorial Intention
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0700  Saturday, 24 March 2001

[1]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Mar 2001 06:06:49 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0675 Re: Authorial Intention

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Wed, 21 Mar 2001 12:44:13 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 12.0675 Re: Authorial Intention

[3]     From:   Takashi Kozuka <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Mar 2001 20:57:04
        Subj:   Re: Authorial Intention (or Literary Theory)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Mar 2001 06:06:49 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 12.0675 Re: Authorial Intention
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0675 Re: Authorial Intention

Ian Johnston, an instructor at Malaspina University-College in Nanaimo,
British Columbia, has on his web site a nice little lecture transcript
that touches on the topics of scholarly tools, interpretation, and
(indirectly) "theory" (shouldn't this be "theories"?).  It's at:

http://www.mala.bc.ca/~johnstoi/eng366/interpretation.htm

While this lecture/essay is intended for an undergraduate "intro to
Shakespeare studies" course, it's worth a look if you're interested in
the topics addressed on this thread (even the long-lost title topic,
"authorial intention"!).

Johnston's organizational model divides literary studies into two modes:
scholarship (e.g.  textual/editorial research) and interpretation.  He
doesn't treat theory separately; rather, he includes theoretical
approaches (post-colonial theory, for example) under the rubric of
interpretation.  I wonder if this isn't part of the problem: should
"theory" PERHAPS, as a tool or knowledge-producing device or whatever,
be classified as part of "scholarship" rather than as part of the
interpretive/"critical" enterprise?  Or perhaps have its own category so
that if one chooses to *interpret* literary texts, one need not
necessarily declare an allegiance to a particular theoretical stance?

Clifford Stetner's comment, several days ago, that as a PhD student at
the dissertation level, yes, "theory" was necessary, saddened me.  One
reason for that was his remark that theory was the study of meaning (I
don't have the post in front of me so I may be misquoting; sorry!).
Didn't this used to be known as semiotics?  When did the study of
meaning become the property of theory?

Even more saddening, however, was the tone of the message, which
suggested some element of coercion as far as the need to locate one's
work within a "theoretical" context(again, CS, sorry!  I'm working from
memory here!.  I know that in some universities and in some departments
that this kind of coercion exosts (but NOT everywhere).  In some places
it exists so powerfully that financial support goes preferentially to
those candidates who embrace whatever flavor-of-the-month theoretical
approach is then favored by influential faculty members.  This is
unfortunate, to say the least, as it reduces scholarly and interpretive
diversity in the present and on into the future.

As several messages have expressed, there ARE useful *theories* (and
here I emphasize the plural sense, rather than the abstract, singular
*theory*.)  Why can't we freely select what works for us, while allowing
others to do the same?  Even if that means allowing others to totally
reject OR totally accept theories about which we may feel strongly?

Cheers,
Karen E. Peterson

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Wed, 21 Mar 2001 12:44:13 -0500
Subject: Re: Authorial Intention
Comment:        SHK 12.0675 Re: Authorial Intention

Is there any Shakespearean critic whose writings are theory-free?

T. Hawkes

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Takashi Kozuka <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Mar 2001 20:57:04
Subject:        Re: Authorial Intention (or Literary Theory)

I think it's equally important to be aware a couple of issues when we
apply theory to literary texts.

(1) We should be aware of problems which each theory involves. (2) We
often misunderstand theories and misapply them to literary texts. (3)
Literary critics are often ignorant of recent discussion of the theory
among psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, etc.

Two sides of one coin.

Takashi Kozuka
PhD Student
Centre for the Study of the Renaissance
University of Warwick (UK)

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