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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Issues Arising from Discussion of Possible
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1254  Tuesday, 7 May 2002

[1]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Monday, 06 May 2002 17:10:09 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Joseph Cady

[2]     From:   Philip Tomposki <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 07 May 2002 08:54:48 -0400
        Subj:   Re: Southampton Portrait


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Monday, 06 May 2002 17:10:09 +0000 (GMT)
Subject:        Joseph Cady

As I recall, Joseph Cady's evidence for challenging "new inventionism"
are two or three citations of "masculine love" in the works of Thomas
Heywood and Francis Bacon. As I further recall, whatever Heywood meant
by "masculine love," the context(s) implied he wasn't in favor of it. I
have found Cady's evidence to be rather minimal for the sweeping claims
he bases on it. Has there been any further defence of Cady's challenge
to "new inventionism"?

Jack Heller

> > Don't seem to have heard the names Alan Bray or
> > Jonathan Goldberg invoked in these discussions yet.
> > Many of the categories don't make sense in the light
> > of their work (the former especially).
>
> Or indeed Foucault, to whom Bray is indebted. The Foucault/Bray view
> that homosexuality is a post-Renaissance 'new invention' is challenged
> in Joseph Cady's essay "'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.
>
> Anybody care to defend the 'new invention' position against Cady's
>evidence?

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Philip Tomposki <
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Date:           Tuesday, 07 May 2002 08:54:48 -0400
Subject:        Re: Southampton Portrait

Gabriel Egan writes: "Are you sure, Philip, that you meant to say "your
understanding of genetics and evolution does not match your knowledge of
Shakespeare"? It's a bit rude"

Perhaps I should have overcome my aversion to the 'cute' graphics
(smiley faces, etc.) which are supposed to accompany humorous remarks.
It was far from my intention to be rude.  My apologies.

"Philip Tomposki makes the point that genes aren't everything and writes
that "Human traits are usually the result of a complex interaction of
genetic and environmental factors". I took care to include that truth in
my original posting, pointing out that our sexual drives are obviously
to a great extent shaped by our genes, yet we have minds and choose not
to do our genes' bidding when, for example, using contraception."

In reading your original posting my focus was drawn to phrases like "a
gene for homosexuality", "'a gene for 'ashamed homosexuality'" and "a
gene for 'unashamed homosexuality'".  To my mind this implied an
argument for genetic determinism.  Had you used phrases like "pressure
exerted by genes", as you did in your response, your meaning would have
been clearer to me.  What I found troublesome was the phrase "a gene",
hence the quotes.  I failed to read your ending remark concerning
contraception as an important qualifier.

"'Finally, your theory would suggest that brazen homosexuality would be
extinct, both from lack of breeding and from persecution'. Only if we're
entirely at the mercy of our genes and can't overrule them. Above you
implied that I think this--despite clear indications that I don't--and
yet you end with an assertion which indicates that you do.

My point was that since 'brazen homosexuality' is still with us, a
genetic determinate does not exist.  Again, I was responding to my
misreading of your original posting.

"Your electrical engineering metaphor, Philip ("genetics hardwires
shame), is not at all appropriate for phenotypical effects and wrongly
imputes fixity to genes."

Surely you don't mean to suggest that such fundamental human traits as
shame are not intrinsic to the human psyche.  You would, I think, be
hard pressed to find a reputable mental health professional who would
suggest that the inability to feel shame was not a serious abnormality.
What shames us, and how we react and express that shame are the factors
affected by cultural and environmental conditions.

"'It is unlikely that current trends will in any way curb the level of
homosexuality.' Why on earth not? If it's largely a matter of culture
rather than genetics, wouldn't we expect the level to change over time
as different social arrangements and cultures engage with this aspect of
human behaviour?  To assert that current trends won't have any influence
would seem to take culture out of the equation, yet you're in the midst
of making an argument that we have to consider the interaction of genes
and culture. Could you explain?

I shall try.  Cultural phenomenon create complex, and often
contradictory social effects.  Your theory implies, to me, a direct
linear causal relationship between a social change and a biological
effect.  Tolerance of homosexuality leads to fewer 'cover' heterosexual
marriages, thereby fewer children of homosexuals, ending with fewer
homosexuals altogether.  You fail to consider other, conflicting
scenarios, for example, greater tolerance of homosexuality leading to
more gay families in which one or both partners bear or sire children.
I feel you dismiss too lightly the suggestion made by Jonathan Hope and
myself that the desire to procreate is likely to play an important part.

We are, of course, engaged in a moot debate.  Neither of us can marshal
reliable statistical data prove one point or the other.  For my part, I
see no reason to assume that the level of homosexuality has ebbed and
flowed as a result of social and cultural factors.  Given that these
factors play off genetic proclivity in complex and conflicting ways, it
seems logical to me that, to some extent, they cancel each other out to
create a condition of evolutionary stasis.

Philip Tomposki

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