2001

Re: Lady Macbeth

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2855  Monday, 17 December 2001

[1]     From:   John Ramsay <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 14 Dec 2001 13:30:54 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2832 Re: Lady Macbeth

[2]     From:   Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 15 Dec 2001 09:18:44 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2832 Re: Lady Macbeth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 14 Dec 2001 13:30:54 -0500
Subject: 12.2832 Re: Lady Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2832 Re: Lady Macbeth

> > Actually, she is never referred to by the appellation Lady Macbeth.
> > Nor, I am told by Pamela Mason, do the early texts refer to her as Lady
> > Macbeth. There are three different variations of her designation as a
> > speech header. She is even called Macbeth's Lady but interestingly
> > enough never Lady Macbeth. It appears to be an early editor's
> > invention.
>
> Really? I have always liked the idea that Shakespeare had a specific
> reason for calling her Lady Macbeth, namely to show how Macbeth and Lady
> Macbeth are two sides of the same coin (reason and emotion, perhaps),
> and not distinct enough to have different names. Of course, I may have
> been assuming too much. Still, can we have some more detail on this?
> Which are the three speech headers?
>
> - Tue S


Re: Grade Inflation

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2854  Monday, 17 December 2001

[1]     From:   Jack Hettinger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 14 Dec 2001 13:01:52 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.2842 Grade inflation

[2]     From:   Edward Pixley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 15 Dec 2001 09:45:03 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2838 Re: Grade Inflation


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Hettinger <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 14 Dec 2001 13:01:52 -0500
Subject: 12.2842 Grade inflation
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.2842 Grade inflation

Re the theme of grade inflation, I think this handout I devised for a
workshop last August might be useful to some list members. Alas, I lost
all my bullets and endnote numbers in transferring the handout from Word
to email, and right now I am, like everyone, up to my eyebrows in finals
and can't fix it.

If anyone would like me to send the original document as an attachment,
he or she is welcome to contact me offline.

Jack

*********************
GRADING STANDARDS & GRADE INFLATION

Part I: What do we want our grades to say?
  That the student has mastered the course objectives to a certain
degree (A-F)?
  That the student has approached the course objectives to a certain
degree?
  That the student has grown from the first week to the last to a
certain degree?
  That the student has displayed a certain degree of effort?
  That the student performed to a certain degree relative to the other
students in the course?
  That the student performed to a certain degree relative to fixed
criteria?
  That the student is able to a certain degree to perform these skills
in the world?
  That motivating a student with grades will inspire achievement?

**************************
Part II: Some explanations for grade inflation (from various journals,
the Chronicle, colleagues):
  Indulgent profs watering down course content and evaluations (e.g.,
giving extra work, dropping worst grade) and spoon-feeding and
entertaining students.
  Serious grading takes a great deal of time.
  The pressure to publish makes us eager to keep students happy-what
student ever complained about a high grade?
  Aggressive grade challenges.
  Profs who don't stand up to students ("wilting professorial
backbone").
  Deans who don't back up profs in grade challenges.
  Deans who avoid implications of high GPAs. ("If a B+ is more an
average grade than it used to be and people understand that, I don't see
that as a problem"-Dr. Susan Pederson, Undergraduate Dean, Harvard,
2001. )
  Conflicts re institutional mission in open-enrollment institutions (do
we weed out or pass along the underprepared students our college is
dedicated to?).
  Universal grade inflation in high school which feeds unrealistic
expectations in college.
  Profs stimulating self-esteem by grading on effort (bending to "the
cult of self-esteem" ).
  Grades as "motivational" and as stimuli of self-esteem.
  "Invalid and unreliable methods" of evaluating student work (e.g.,
Bell Curve).
  Students with less commitment to their learning expecting high grades
for modest efforts.
  Bowing to the student-as-["disgruntled"]-consumer model, sometimes
linked with the prof-as-pal model; put another way, "You don't fail your
customers" (UPenn Wharton prof to Wall Street Journal writer, 1995).
  A correlation or causation between grades and student ratings (the
more lenient the grading, the higher the ratings), sometimes referred to
as blackmail.
  Relaxation of standards by instructors who do not care to risk any
questions about competence at tenure time.
  Teaching assistants and adjuncts who are vulnerable to student
ratings.
  Pressure that profs feel to give students the benefit of the doubt in
close calls when they need a certain average to remain in a program.
  "Pragmatic" students taking easier sections and courses; students
taking more electives in the humanities (where the embrace of relativism
has yielded greater inflation) than in the sciences (where GI is less).
  Colleges (e.g., University of Virginia Law School, Gettysburg College,
Dartmouth) officially adjusting grades up ("equalizing" or "what Yale
officially refers to as 'upward grade homogenization'" [Wilson]) so
their graduates can compete with students from other grade-inflated
institutions.
  "Lenient policies on repeating courses."
  The view that it is "theoretically senseless" to suppose that "one
individual [could somehow apply a] 'responsible' standard to another
individual's writing, especially in the form of a reductive five-point
grading scale," that "the act of grading writing is merely a repressive
act, an exquisite expression of a patriarchal violence that suppresses
significant difference, discourages different orders (e.g.,
non-hierarchical, non-dominant/subordinate), silences marginal voices,
inhibits creative risk taking ..."
  The notion that we should consider students' feelings when grading-"a
'Montessori' mentality that current students and even now faculty have
been raised with where you can be and do whatever you want.  The 'sky is
the limit' and 'everybody counts.'"

***********************
Part III: What is to be done?
  Nothing-things couldn't be better in this best of all possible worlds.
  "Ensure appropriate content, mode of presentation, and grading,"
rather than seek one or another specific remedy like "transcript
modification." (Basinger)
  Faculty must be committed to students' academic achievement. (Wilson)
  Departments should review their standards. (Cole, Wilson)
  Institutions should review their standards. (Cole, Wilson)
  Departments should upgrade or eliminate easy courses. (Wilson)
  Revise student rating system to control or eliminate blackmail effect.
(Wilson)
  A transcript should indicate average grade in each class next to
student's grade in that class-so-called transcript modification.
(Eastern Kentucky University, Cole)
  Replace letter grades with narratives.
  Adopt an honors-high-pass-pass-fail scheme (Levine, Chronicle, 19 Jan
1994).
  Adopt a student-portfolio system: graduating student displays "nature
and quality of school experiences" (adapted from recommendation to high
schools in Edwards, Education, 120:3).
  Orient and support adjuncts and TAs to maintain general standards.
  Faculty and students should meet to discuss their real values about
learning and grading (to avoid fundamental attribution error and its
influences on behavior-Pollio & Beck, Journal of Higher Education,
71:1).

***********************
Endnotes:
  Basinger, College Teaching 45:3.
  Wolfe, Letter to Chronicle, 2 March 2001.
  Economist, 14 April 2001.
  Taylor, Letter to Chronicle, 12 June 1998.
  Krautman & Sander, Economics of Education Review, 1999.
  Sonner, Journal of Education for Business 76:1; Cole, Chronicle, 6
January 1993. Re my use of rating rather than evaluation: students rate
courses, they do not evaluate courses; presidents, deans, chairs,
committees evaluate the student ratings.
  Wilson, National Forum 79:4, 38. Bradford Wilson is the executive
director of the National Association of Scholars.
  McSpirit et al., Journal of Instructional Psychology 27:2.
  This is from a letter to the editor responding in January, 1993, to
William Cole's essay in the Chronicle on grade inflation in the Harvard
English Department. Here is an excerpt:
...Uncommon, or theoretical sense, on the other hand, tells us that the
formal relationships in cultures between language, thought, emotion, and
writing are significantly overdetermined by systemic, socio-economic
forces.
Since such forces are largely (if not entirely) beyond the individual's
control, Cole's notion of one individual somehow applying a
"responsible" standard to another individual's writing, especially in
the form of a reductive five-point grading scale, is theoretically
senseless; the act of grading writing is merely a repressive act, an
exquisite expression of a patriarchal violence that suppresses
significant difference, discourages different orders (e.g.,
non-hierarchical, non-dominant/subordinate), silences marginal voices,
inhibits creative risk taking, and is, from my non-common-sensical,
"relativist" viewpoint, responsible for the fact the 60 to 80 per cent
of the college writing students I poll each semester "strongly dislike"
or "hate" English classes. What would this society do if too many people
liked to write?...
I, for one, hope the situation deteriorates beyond recognition, and I
will thus continue gleefully "inflating" grades every chance I get. (But
please don't tell anyone I said so: It is, I know, a serious crime.)
Thomas C. Kerr, Instructor of English, University of Wisconsin at
Milwaukee

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Pixley <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 15 Dec 2001 09:45:03 -0500
Subject: 12.2838 Re: Grade Inflation
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2838 Re: Grade Inflation

>Rather, the operative
>considerations are those that Cliff would be expected to sympathize
>with:  Political correctness ("no one should be called a failure, it
>hurts their feelings"); reluctance by the administration to admit poor
>judgment ("we let them in, now we have to let them get out") and
>litigiousness by students who feel free to raise a ruckus if they don't
>get honor grades.

Though I believe Larry is correct about the above considerations, I have
another theory about grade inflation.  It seems to me that serious grade
inflation began in the late '60s and early '70s when many professors
were reluctant to contribute to their students' eligibility for the
draft.  Many refused to flunk any student, and, in the most extreme
cases, gave out all A's. The habit continued and was institutionalized
when, within the next decade, those students who had received the
inflated grades became the professors.  By that time, B had become the
average grade, and D was the equivalent of flunking.

Just a thought,
Ed Pixley

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
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editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Re: Hermia

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2852  Monday, 17 December 2001

From:           Judy Lewis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 13 Dec 2001 20:24:07 +1300
Subject: 12.2812 Re: Hermia
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2812 Re: Hermia

Graham Bradshaw wrote,

> But it does seem (to me) likely that
> Shakespeare understood that Duncan was behaving in an unconstitutional,
> or even tyrannical, fashion when he made his own son Prince of
> Cumberland. Macbeth, who is not an idiot, is staggered by this,
> precisely because the Scottish system was not based on primogeniture but
> (think of Chairmen in English departments, if you will) on rotation
> among the qualified. Rosse promises Macbeth that his new title is merely
> "an earnest of a greater Honour"--which doesn't materialise. Editors
> have always been strangely silent on this point.

I totally agree with Graham Bradshaw in his interpretation of Duncan's
naming Malcolm as his heir.  It was unconstitutional in Scotland at that
time; historically, in fact, Malcolm, who was brought up at the English
Court and married a daughter of the English king (his second wife)
introduced primogeniture into Scotland as the principle of inheritance.
(It is also interesting to note that he alone of the ancient kings of
Scotland was not buried on Iona, unlike Duncan, Macbeth and Lulach,
which suggests that the Scots didn't like him much.  Maybe they saw him
as the puppet of the English king that he undoubtedly was.)  But there
are many clues in the text that suggest that this was not appropriate
behaviour for Duncan at this time.

But the real spur to write this message is a plea that we stop trying to
read Shakespeare's play as history.  It is not history, any more than
Julius Caesar or Richard III are - it is a tragedy.  It doesn't matter
whether he knew how the inheritance worked because that is not the
issue.

Judy Lewis

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Re: Othello and Iago

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2853  Monday, 17 December 2001

From:           John Ramsay <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 14 Dec 2001 13:27:57 -0500
Subject: 12.2831 Re: Othello and Iago
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2831 Re: Othello and Iago

> John Velz, who was privileged to see Robeson and Ferrer do _Othello_ on
> Broadway right after WW2, writes:
>
> "[Ferrer as Iago] made the most of his soliloquies which are sure to
> ensnare an audience if spoken well."
>
> This classic production has, as John knows, become legendary, and one of
> the legends (which, perhaps, John can confirm or no) is that in Iago's
> scene-ending soliloquy in 2.3, Ferrer catapulted himself into a sitting
> position on the edge of the stage while chuckling, "And what's he then
> that says I play the villain?" (330), and looked the audience right in
> the eye for the whole speech, clearly intending that they so fall in
> love with the cleverness of his villainy that they go over to HIS side
> and just sit back and enjoy what is about to happen!
>
> What we know, we know: evil can be a lot of fun!
>
> Yours in the ranks of death,
> --Ed Taft

True. Olivier looking right into the camera and chuckling in R3. A
gleeful Bruno Gerussi as Edmund, sitting on the edge of the stage and
addressing the audience directly, saying 'Gods, stand up for bastards!'
in KL at Stratford Ontario in the 60's.

The villains are often much more interesting than clean-cut,
self-righteous heroes.

John Ramsay

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://ws.bowiestate.edu>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Re: Subtext

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2851  Monday, 17 December 2001

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Friday, 14 Dec 2001 11:38:10 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2847 Re: Subtext

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
        Date:   Saturday, 15 Dec 2001 11:06:34 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2847 Re: Subtext


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 14 Dec 2001 11:38:10 -0600
Subject: 12.2847 Re: Subtext
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2847 Re: Subtext

Bill Godshalk writes,

> P.S. My spell-check suggests "sceptic ally."

And deserves a sharp rap on the knuckles for doing so.

-- unless of course, it really meant Sceptic Alley, a place in the Harry
Potter books where a number of half-muggle professors hang out.

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 15 Dec 2001 11:06:34 -0800
Subject: 12.2847 Re: Subtext
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2847 Re: Subtext

Bill Godshalk writes,

>Martin Steward wants to know if Sean Lawrence and I have an intimate
>relationship. No, we don't.  But Sean used the word "Other" without
>definition, and I misinterpreted deliberately his use of "Other" to mean
>"Rebecca," with whom I am intimate.

Actually, it doesn't really matter.  Even if we were intimate, which we
aren't, we wouldn't actually fuse.  Love takes place across a distance
which is at once very short and existentially great.

As for misinterpretations relying on interstices, it strikes me that you
can't even _wilfully_ misinterpret a text unless it's first open to
interpretation.  A text that has no gaps in meaning would leave no doubt
at all.  None of this is to undermine our responsibility in interpreting
texts, but it is to suggest that the gaps are as important as the words.

Cheers,
Se


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