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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: May ::
Re: Seminars
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1109  Friday, 11 May 2001

From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Friday, 11 May 2001 13:47:40 +0100
Subject: 12.1093 Re: Seminars
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.1093 Re: Seminars

Let's be serious for a moment, Sean,

I'm not suggesting for a single moment that academics imitate fictional
mafia characters, although I think there is much more displaced violence
in the groves of academe than most academics are prepared to admit.

My concern is that we don't accept uncritically a notion of 'ethics'
that is ideologically loaded. Saying that a particular argument is
deficient is not quite the same (nor should it be) as saying that the
individual who advances it is 'deficient'. While I favour controlled
speculation I draw the line at the position, advanced by one contributor
to SHAKSPER recently, which says that I haven't read what you are
referring to, I haven't thought about this problem, but I intend to have
my say on it anyway.  I see no reason why we should tolerate this kind
of professional behaviour.  We are not talking here about being 'polite'
to our colleagues on a day-to-day basis but about informed intellectual
exchange.  Here ego should take a back seat.

For example, if, say Stephanie Hughes thinks that the Merchant of Venice
arose out of a specific concern with moneylenders in the late 16th
century, that seems to me a reasonable, though not irrefutable position
to take. It is unlikely, as I have thought for some time, and Stephen
Orgel has recently shown, with his customary clarity and incisiveness in
his ISA plenary lecture recently in Valencia, that the impetus was not
the case of Dr Lopez.  On an issue of this kind we can exchange views,
references, and in such a way that our knowledge is expanded, while at
the same time taking care to check our own protocols for assembling and
establishing that knowledge.

As a counter-example, we might take Terence Hawkes' recent and quite
proper intervention to correct Andrew White's spectacularly wrong
assertion.  I suspect, Sean, that the ethics that you are advancing
gives a high priority to the freedom of anyone to say what they like.  I
have a rather more socialist ethic that demands that there should be no
freedom without responsibility, and that before you (not 'you' in the
personal sense: we would say 'one' on this side of the pond) fire off
your impressions to the world then some attempt ought to be made to, at
least, acknowledge their accuracy or otherwise. These are academic
protocols, not ethics, and even these carry a political charge.

I speak as some members of the list seem now to have Peter Blayney in
their sights.  Would it be very un-American of me to suggest that before
Peter is accused of saying things that he has not, then they familiarise
themselves a little more closely with what he HAS said?

Have a good day,
Drak, the knife

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