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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: October ::
Re: "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2301  Monday, 8 October 2001

[1]     From:   Mari Bonomi <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Oct 2001 10:51:55 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2296 Re: "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"

[2]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Friday, 05 Oct 2001 11:40:53 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2287 Re: "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"

[3]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Saturday, 6 Oct 2001 11:58:31 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2296 Re: "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"

[4]     From:   Kezia Vanmeter Sproat <
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        Date:   Saturday, 6 Oct 2001 22:04:47 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2248 "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mari Bonomi <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Oct 2001 10:51:55 -0400
Subject: 12.2296 Re: "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2296 Re: "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"

From what I've learned as well, Skip, there were no "homosexuals"
because the term did not even exist during Shakespeare's time.  That's
not to say the activities did not, of course.  The attitudes simply were
healthier.

Given that I have written grad school papers on homoeroticism in
literature (from Shakespeare to Conan Doyle), I may be biased, but I
have no idea of what Graham Bradshaw means by longest and least
profitable and for US consumption only except to come away from his
remark with a feeling of being assaulted for having a scholarly (given
my own heterosexual hardwiring) interest in the subtexts of
homosocialism and homoeroticism in Shakespeare's plays.

I'd be happy to make more specific arguments concerning Desdemona/Emilia
and Two Noble Kinsmen (MoV having been done to death on this list
several times) should anyone want them.  I also can dig out a
bibliography of sorts on homoeroticism in Shakespeare if I can access
the hard drive of that computer.

Mari Bonomi

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Friday, 05 Oct 2001 11:40:53 -0400
Subject: 12.2287 Re: "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2287 Re: "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"

Karen Peterson quotes Theodora A. Jankowski:

>Jankowski writes, "We all know that there were no early modern
>heterosexuals, homosexuals, lesbians, gays, or bisexuals.  There were
>also no early modern queers" (6).  She goes on to outline her own use
>of the term queer as a signifier for activities outside the early modern
>heterosexual gender paradigm.

If indeed there was no heterosexual paradigm for Shakespeare and his
contemporaries, how can there be activities outside this non-existent
gender paradigm?  But we always interpret the past from the present, and
perhaps when we queer the Renaissance, we are imposing our distinctions
on our ancestors. Can it be otherwise?

Yours, Bill Godshalk

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Saturday, 6 Oct 2001 11:58:31 +0100
Subject: 12.2296 Re: "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2296 Re: "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"

Skip Nicholson writes:

> I may need to be disabused here. I was schooled in the belief
> that in Elizabethan and Jacobean Britain (as in most places
> through much of recorded history) while there were certainly
> people carrying on same-sex intimate activities and affairs,
> there were no homosexuals. By that I mean that the sexual
> attraction or activity was not made part of people's identity.
> Homosexuality involved what people did but not who or
> what they were.

That's Foucault and Bray's view. For a refutation see Joseph Cady
"'Masculine love', Renaissance writing, and the 'new invention' of
homosexuality" in Claude J Summers (ed) _Homosexuality in Renaissance
and Enlightenment England: Literary representations in historical
context_ (New York: Haworth Press, 1992) pp. 9-40.

Gabriel Egan

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kezia Vanmeter Sproat <
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Date:           Saturday, 6 Oct 2001 22:04:47 EDT
Subject: 12.2248 "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2248 "Shakespeare's Hidden Lesbians"

Looking at the same forest, we may see elms or oaks, spruces and
hemlocks, or just green, or no color at all if we are very depressed, or
the written language of our Creator if we are Wordsworth, or merely a
hideout for "forbidden" behavior.

One can describe or see every observable iota in the world, and every
human activity, in terms of sex and as an allegory for intimate human
sexual activity if one sets out to do so or if one is taught that's how
to look, the best or the only way to look. Effective English classes
introduce alternative ways to look, different from those we got at home
or on the streets or the TV tube. We each have lenses for the world, and
some people (probably most on this list) constantly search for new
corrections of theirs.

Those of us who teach English, insofar as we help students do critical
analysis of human speech and writing, are more needed now than at any
time in our history. If we have a habit of seeing lesbians under every
bush, and in every sisterly relationship, it is very good to say that
clearly so others may understand us. We can change our lenses, or
enlarge our way of looking, by sharing, openly, what we experience.

Sorry if that is pablum.

Kezia Vanmeter Sproat

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