2001

Re: Othello at Aleppo

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0573  Monday, 12 March 2001

[1]     From:   Scott Oldenburg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 09 Mar 2001 19:40:14 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0557 Othello at Aleppo

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 11 Mar 2001 20:23:38 -0500
        Subj:   Othello in Aleppo


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Scott Oldenburg <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 09 Mar 2001 19:40:14 -0800
Subject: 12.0557 Othello at Aleppo
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0557 Othello at Aleppo

>                                        in Aleppo once,
>               Where a malignant and a turbaned Turk
>               Beat a Venetian and traduced the state,
>               I took by th' throat the circumcised dog
>               And smote him thus. (5.2.361-5)

Whether these lines refer to an actual event or not, by stabbing himself
at the end of these lines, Othello equates himself with the Turk he had
stabbed in Aleppo, the Other, which Othello has tried not to be through
service to Venice and marriage to Desdemona. A few lines earlier he
equates himself with another altern, "the base Indian" (V.ii.348).

What do you make of Lodovico's echo of "circumcised dog" 8 lines later
directed at Iago, the "Spartan dog"?

Best,
Scott

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 11 Mar 2001 20:23:38 -0500
Subject:        Othello in Aleppo

According to Syrian sources, Aleppo was taken by the Ottoman Turks in
1516, under whom it underwent a remarkable commercial revival, becoming
a principal market in the Levant.  So it appears that Othello's
fictional visit to Aleppo must have taken place after 1516.

The naval battle of Lepanto was fought on October 7, 1571, when the
Christian League (including a Venetian squadron) met and beat the
Turks.  However, the Turks had already landed an army on Cyprus in 1570,
and had basically taken the island by August, 1571.  In March 1573, the
Venetian recognized the Turkish conquest. Turkish rule lasted for the
next 200 years.

So, we may conclude that Othello killed the Turk in Aleppo some time
between 1516 and 1571.

But what was Othello doing in Aleppo -- if, indeed, he was in Aleppo?
(Some of us believe that Othello tells stories that have no factual
basis.) He seems to have already been a Venetian official of some sort
or possibly a Venetian citizen, since he objects to the turban'd Turk
beating a Venetian and traducing the state (Riverside Othello 5.2.353).
Was Othello on a military mission?  Was he on a mission as a cultural
broker?  Was he acting as a spy?  Was he merely traveling -- without
brief -- through the city to some other place?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

Branagh LLL on UK Pay Per View

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0572  Monday, 12 March 2001

From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 9 Mar 2001 11:52:46 -0800 (PST)
Subject:        Branagh LLL on UK Pay Per View

Just an FYI:

List members in the UK with access to SkyTV might be interested that
*Love's Labour's Lost* will be available as a pay per view film on Sky
Box Office, starting next Wednesday, 14 March.

Cheers,
Karen Peterson

Re: Shakespeare Bashing

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0570  Monday, 12 March 2001

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 09 Mar 2001 12:22:32 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Shakespeare Bashing

[2]     From:   John Velz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Sunday, 11 Mar 2001 23:11:37 -0600
        Subj:   Shakespeare bashing


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 09 Mar 2001 12:22:32 -0500
Subject:        Re: Shakespeare Bashing

Stephenie Hughes suggests that parents' concerns about suicide in Romeo
and Juliet provide a perfect opportunity for taking up the subject in
depth, and thus providing a service to the students that parents would
learn to appreciate.

Yes and no. Yes, it can be -- and has been -- done, but parental
reactions are mixed. Some parents see what the teacher is doing and
approve. But others say that the result is "a mixed message" that
confuses kids and makes them MORE likely to consider suicide.  Think
about how some parents react to sex education: for them, the only answer
is NOT to teach it; any examination of sex just leads to trouble, or so
they argue.

A lot of this comes from a collection of essays I edited in the early
90's about teaching Shakespeare in high school. Times may have changed;
I'm sure the high school teachers on this list can add a lot more about
this issue -- and others related to it.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Sunday, 11 Mar 2001 23:11:37 -0600
Subject:        Shakespeare bashing

Said of *Romeo and Juliet:*

> want it taught as an object lesson in what happens if teenagers
>>DON"T obey
>> their parents (!).

Interestingly enough that is just the interpretation of the story made
by Arthur Brooke in his *The Tragicall Historie of Romeus and Juliet*.
He puts this edifying interpretation in the preface and then proceeds to
ignore it and sides with the lovers as the story itself unfolds.

A propos of *Julius Caesar* being once a favored play. It began being
taught in the schools when Shakespeare went on the list of authors for
the entrance exams to Oxford and Cambridge in 1857.  The Victorians
thought that the sentiments in the play about philosophy and
statesmanship and principled government all were suitable for boys to
prepare them for the civil service in the far-flung Empire.  The
Americans promptly aped the British schools and *JC* was utterly
inescapable until fairly recently, the one Shakespeare play you could be
sure your college students had read in high school.  Odd that it should
be dropped in the late twentieth century when we recall that the 1960s
were a decade of political assassination on ideological grounds.  JFK,
RFK, MLK, George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party,
Malcolm X and George Wallace.  Canonicity and curriculum are beyond
rationalizing, one supposes.

Cheers,
John

Re: Tempest Reference

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0571  Monday, 12 March 2001

From:           Judy Craig <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 9 Mar 2001 12:48:24 EST
Subject: 12.0562 Re: Tempest Reference
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0562 Re: Tempest Reference

I wanted to say that I agree with Karen Peterson's ironic view of
Kermode's "radical" stance.  Kermode's "radicalism" as he explains it in
his lecture was that the left in his day, in their form of rebellion,
felt that "royalty feared the playwrights" and that "'Richard II incited
the Essex rebellion"--a view which he critiques later in his lecture. In
looking over my notes from the lecture, I can offer the following points
gleaned from his critique of "modern" radicals:

1) He feels that a "new horizon of interpretation" is needed for the
"fashion culture" of modern graduate school where students "acquire
method rather than work with language."

2) He mentions David Scott Kastan by name noting that the "thread
connecting the play to the New World is tenuous," since, "all the
characters shipwrecked there are not colonizing it."

3) He brings up another older critic, Francis Yates, whose work linking
dynastic politics to the play has "disappeared" and contrasts her work
with Kastan's approach which is "wrong" in his making much of Antonio's
son who drowns and is never mentioned again (my notes are sketchy here
and I may be missing the thread).  However, this point is a "sample of
the irresponsibility of new critics" whose linking of "arbitrary
European court politics with the meaning of 'The Tempest' " is "not
true" for the following reasons"
      a)Text and context are no longer indistinguishable.  The new dogma
is to "get history right" and "forget the words."
      b) In this way, "plays become exempt from the aesthetic world" and
"scholars become historians."  In Kermode's view, "aesthetic and
political" worlds "should not be split."

4)  Kermode then gives a detailed account of the events surrounding the
events of the playing of "Richard II" during the Essex rebellion and
notes that on the evening before the Earl was executed, Shakespeare's
company put on the play at court.  In this way, "players were not the
enemy of the
establishment."  The Puritans were a "greater threat to the players than
the royalty" (referring to the closing of the playhouses in 1642), and
Kermode notes that the "players would have been vagabonds without royal
protection."

For these reasons, Shakespeare's plays do not "offer a critique of the
proletariat" and Jonathan Dollimore's "Radical Tragedy" is wrong on the
"political approach."

5)  His final point is that the "political significance" of "The
Tempest" is "even more obscure."  The island is located between Tunis
and Naples, and the reference to the Bermudas is to a "cold climate"
(again my notes are sketchy) when the Caribbean is not.  Since I am not
familiar with the "climate" in modern graduate schools, his point is not
entirely clear in my notes, but Kermode seems to feel that Caliban is a
model of "soft primitivism" on the order of Montaigne's noble savages
whereas in fact indigenous populations in the New World reflect "hard
primitivism" where the people were savages "outside the law" (if I got
this wrong, I would appreciate a correction as I am not sure this is
indeed Kermode's point.  I think his point is a reference to an earlier
point made about Pochontas being taught as a "discourse of sexuality"
and the play being an "instrument of the expansion of royal hegemony."
In the history of England at the time, the Irish rebels were "like an
American Trinculo, a "conspiracy against the upper classes" so that
"Prospero's island and Ireland become analogous."  Since I am unfamiliar
with this reading the thread may not be a clear as it was in the
lecture).  At any rate, a "condemnation of colonialism is fashionable"
and has created and kind of "colonial oppression" in graduate schools
based not on facts but on "material remote from the play."

These sketchy notes may be wrong in places, and I would appreciate a
correction as much time has passed since the lecture in December.
However, I agree with Kermode's essential point that poets are not
historians and that too much emphasis on "getting the history right" can
leave the play bereft of its aesthetic dimensions.

Judy Craig

Re: Authorial Intent

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0569  Monday, 12 March 2001

From:           Andrew Walker White <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 9 Mar 2001 12:03:07 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 12.0564 Re: Authorial Intent
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0564 Re: Authorial Intent

On the much-ballyhoo-ed 'death of the author;' so far as I know, Roland
Barthes' estate still gets the proceeds from his writings, in spite of
the absence of an author in more than name...

Andy White

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