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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Seminars
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1010  Wednesday, 2 May 2001

From:           John D. Cox <
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Date:           Tuesday, 1 May 2001 14:37:04 -0400
Subject:        Seminars

Having recently returned from the World Shakespeare Congress in
Valencia, I would like to comment on a remarkable exchange I witnessed
in a seminar on "Theory and Methodology in Authorship/Attribution
Studies," led by Jonathan Hope and David Kathman.  Though I was an
auditor in this seminar and therefore not familiar with the papers that
had been submitted to it, I could easily follow the discussion, which
was fascinating and invigorating. In part, it reminded me of discussions
on SHAKSPER, because disagreement was sharp and clearly delineated, but
what made it truly remarkable was the civility everyone showed and the
evident attention people paid to each other's comments (qualities not
always evident in electronic discussion).   The point at issue was
whether authorship is an outmoded concept (a la Barthes and Foucault) or
whether distinctive writing can be identified, by means of "ideolects,"
as the work of particular people.  Literary critical types favored the
first position; linguists (among them Marcus Dahl, a SHAKSPEREAN), the
second.  Each side was deeply committed to its position and inclined at
first, I thought, perhaps to dismiss the other.  Yet the circumstances
of the seminar, with people actually sitting in a circle and talking to
each other, compelled people to listen to each other and even, perhaps,
to modify strongly held positions, if ever so little.  In my estimation,
this discussion alone was enough to justify the existence of seminars
and was a tribute to those who led it.

John Cox

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