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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: September ::
Re: Times Article
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.2116  Thursday, 6 September 2001

[1]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Sep 2001 11:29:22 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2106 Re: Times Article

[2]     From:   John Ramsay <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 05 Sep 2001 11:42:50 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2102 Re: Times Article

[3]     From:   Louis Swilley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Sep 2001 14:16:38 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2106 Re: Times Article once more

[4]     From:   Bruce Young <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 05 Sep 2001 14:24:18 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.2106 Re: Times Article


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Wednesday, 5 Sep 2001 11:29:22 EDT
Subject: 12.2106 Re: Times Article
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2106 Re: Times Article

For a good view on how to teach literature see Josef Skvorecky's "The
Engineer of Human Souls" (Check out the chapter names for a start).

It is up to the people in the academy to encourage a knowledge of
'literature'. As I have mentioned elsewhere you could probably do it
with just two critics: Empson, I. A. Richards.

Moreover (re: Richard Burt) if people in the academies stopped teaching
students about references to Shakespeare in porn videos maybe we could
start trying to actually read Shakespeare (and others) worthy of our
intellectual attention.

Best,
Marcus

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Ramsay <
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Date:           Wednesday, 05 Sep 2001 11:42:50 -0400
Subject: 12.2102 Re: Times Article
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2102 Re: Times Article

> Whereas no thinking person can disagree with the right and need to study
> anything whatever, including porn and Shakespeare porn, he might well
> wonder, granting the too-brief time allotted undergraduate and graduate
> studies, whether the formal study of such a subject should be offered as
> an option for students who would make better use of their time and
> certainly better profit from more traditional courses with greater
> intellectual moment in their content.  In any case, before delving into
> such exotics as Dr. Burt offers, shouldn't the wise student have a sound
> grounding in the sciences and arts that establish their value and
> significance?   I don't believe such can be gathered in the brief time
> the graduate or undergraduate student is allowed to attend a university.
>
> L. Swilley

There are extant courses in psychology and sexuality which include the
discussion of pornography.

One also trembles at the thought of elevating porn to the lofty status
of a separate 'discipline'.

Unless into domination, of course -:)

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Louis Swilley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 5 Sep 2001 14:16:38 -0500
Subject: 12.2106 Re: Times Article once more
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2106 Re: Times Article once more

Dr. Burt wrote,
" Louis misses my point, though perhaps that's because I had to make it
610 words."

Could you try again here?  I don't believe there is a limit imposed.

" There is no grounding of the classics prior to pop culture anymore."

You mean it is not currently the habit of universities to require that
their students have  an historical-cultural context for the
understanding and appreciation of modern works?  If that is what you
mean and if that is so, I find that profoundly deplorable.

" This is precisely what freaks out the conservatives."

I should think so.  It should freak out anyone with the conviction that
the university is the repository of that which has been brought down to
us as the best of the past, with the duty to give that to its students
and to urge them to judge and extend the present by an intellectual
calculus that honors historical excellence, while confirming its altered
reflection in today's thought and encouraging its creative extension
into tomorrow's. ]

"(Shakespeare) is just a small part of what they hate about English
Departments."

Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, for - unless by "(Shakespeare)" you
mean "Shakespeare Porn"  - conservatives, especially, would rejoice in
English Departments' inclusion of Shakespeare.

Thank you immensely for the articles here below - especially Delbanco's,
with Kerner's observations on his teaching the "Oresteia".  (The Boston
Globe article I could not retrieve - the screen reported that "the page
is not available." )

See Andrew Delbanco's jeremiad, "The Death of Literature" in NYRB at
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/318

(It begins with an attack on the feminist work of my friend Rebecca
Schneider and her book The Explicit Body in Performance involving porn
star turned performance artist Annie Sprinkle. (neither RS nor her book
is named).

And for a more liberal view, see Emily Eakin's article in the Sunday NY
Times, "Much Ado About (Yawn) Gra Books."
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/04/08/education/08ED-EAKI.html

 For an essay in which porn figures into this larger debate over popular
culture (in the Boston Globe), go to

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/234/oped/Porn_in_academe_A_plus_or_a_peril
 _+.shtml

 And I recommend Bill Readings' The University in Ruins for more on the
emptying out of "Culture" and the problems that poses not only for
literary studies but for cultural studies as well.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bruce Young <
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Date:           Wednesday, 05 Sep 2001 14:24:18 -0600
Subject: 12.2106 Re: Times Article
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.2106 Re: Times Article

So far I've had time to read only one of the articles recommended by
Richard Burt--the one by Andrew Delbanco, "The Death of Literature" in
NYRB at http://www.nybooks.com/articles/318

I encourage those interested to read the article and not rely on Burt's
somewhat inaccurate characterization.  The piece is not really a
jeremiad, though it verges occasionally on being one.  In fact, Delbanco
describes and sometimes criticizes a number of what may rightly be
called jeremiads about the study of literature ("Almost from the start
there have been periodic announcements from a distinguished roster of
Jeremiahs that liberal education, with literary studies at its core, is
decadent or dying").  Not until about half way into the article does
Delbanco really join in the plaintive tone, and then he balances that
move with an admission that "There is much to be said against indulging
in golden-ageism whereby the acerbities and absurdities of the past
disappear into the glow of nostalgia."

Though Delbanco is at times unfair in his critique of deconstruction and
other recent academic phenomena, in general his article provides a
measured and well-supported survey of the history of English studies and
an analysis of recent trends.  The role of popular culture in the
academy is only a side issue and one on which he doesn't take a
definitive stand.  What I valued most was the thoughtful way Delbanco
raises questions about why we teach books (and poems and plays) and what
sort of experience we want our students to have--questions that
certainly deserve pondering.

Bruce Young

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