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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: October ::
Re: Authorial Intention
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.2003  Wednesday, 2 October 2002

[1]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Friday, 27 Sep 2002 10:03:09 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1995 Re: Authorial Intention

[2]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Friday, 27 Sep 2002 10:40:44 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1995 Re: Authorial Intentions

[3]     From:   Tony Burton <
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        Date:   Friday, 27 Sep 2002 12:03:46 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1995 Re: Authorial Intentions

[4]     From:   R.A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Friday, 27 Sep 2002 12:45:08 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1970 Re: Authorial Intentions

[5]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Friday, 27 Sep 2002 11:20:40 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1995 Re: Authorial Intentions

[6]     From:   Brian Willis <
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        Date:   Friday, 27 Sep 2002 11:20:40 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1995 Re: Authorial Intention

[7]     From:   John V. Knapp <
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        Date:   Saturday, 28 Sep 2002 00:18:58 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Response to Re: SHK 13.1995 Re: Authorial Intentions

[8]     From:   Sophie Masson <
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        Date:   Saturday, 28 Sep 2002 06:56 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1985 Re: Authorial Intentions

[9]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Sunday, 29 Sep 2002 12:12:54 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 13.1957 Authorial Intentions

[10]     From:  Matthew Baynham <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 1 Oct 2002 08:22:50 +0100
        Subj:   Authorial Intention

[11]     From:  Matthew Baynham <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 1 Oct 2002 12:58:13 +0100
        Subj:   Authorial Intention



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 27 Sep 2002 10:03:09 -0500
Subject: 13.1995 Re: Authorial Intentions
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1995 Re: Authorial Intentions

>Martin Steward <
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 > wrote:

>Why are we still having to refute this
>ridiculous fallacy 60 years after the New Critics - the New Critics,
>mind! - demonstrated its ridiculousness??

You seem to have grasped the authorial intent of Mr. Knapp and the New
Critics well enough. The ridiculous fallacy you suggest is indeed
ridiculous in that its only substance is a naive trot through the outer
layers of formal Skepticism. I'm also sure you receive my intentions
within .999 fine.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 27 Sep 2002 10:40:44 -0500
Subject: 13.1995 Re: Authorial Intentions
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1995 Re: Authorial Intentions

Claude Caspar <
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 > writes,

>This week's New Yorker has a fascinating essay on Bloom... Great story
>of a confrontation with Greenblatt.  Somehow this thread made me mention
>this...

Thanks for the heads up on the New Yorker article. Has anyone on the
list seen the volume of essays titled Harold Bloom's Shakespeare?
There's some real rock 'em sock 'em between Gary Taylor and William
Kerrigan in it. The volume also contains (yet another) brilliant article
by Richard Levin.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Burton <
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Date:           Friday, 27 Sep 2002 12:03:46 -0400
Subject: 13.1995 Re: Authorial Intentions
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1995 Re: Authorial Intentions

The matter of authorial intention seems to be misunderstood in every
aspect, and Hugh Grady usefully draws attention to Stanley Fish's
observation that, at lest at one level, "there is no meaningful
distinction between a reader's interpretation of a text and that
reader's reconstruction of the author's intentions."

To be sure, authorial intentions exist at some level, no matter how
obscure to the tyro.  When Shakespeare wrote "Hamlet," he was not
intending to compose a shopping list.  On the other hand, many list
members, my own contemporaries here and now, will misunderstand the
point of this post no matter what I say.

It seems to me that the issue is not one of labels and isms but of style
and intent, to use that same loaded word.  It is between ideology on one
hand and the commitment to objectivity, universality, on the other.  All
of us are, of course, limited and biased to a degree by the
circumstances of our own lives, which then affects the way we confront
and receive literature (and everything else in the world).  Some of us
are keenly aware of those limitations and biases and others not.  That
being said, the ideologue glories in that bias and seeks to elevate it
into a universal principal and intellectual filter through which all new
experience is forced to pass.  The scholarship I admire is that which
seeks as far as possible to exclude what is merely personal and private,
the better to experience and share that which is of more  significant
(universal, if you wish), regardless of ideology and group, national, or
private experience.

And the very fact that we try to communicate with each other proves to
me that, ideology aside, we do not truly believe that we are
inextricably limited and defined by our own experiences, but have
something that can be shared with those whose lives have followed an
entirely different path.

In this perspective, Fish's dictum is true for both ideologues and the
objective scholars I respect and, to that extent, not very helpful in
finding our way through the uncertainty of the issue.  It we still
always remain for the reader (of the critical writing) to employ that
native good sense (perhaps actively discouraged in parts of
academe)which can usually distinguish between objective scholarship that
may be of service to anyone, and the tendentious urgings of a dedicated
ideologue.



Tony Burton

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R.A. Cantrell <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 27 Sep 2002 12:45:08 -0500
Subject: 13.1970 Re: Authorial Intentions
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1970 Re: Authorial Intentions

 L. Swilley <
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 > wrote

>Even if we could know with certainty the author's intentions

 Dear Ms. Swilley.

Please send a list of things you do know with certainty. If that list
turns out to be problematic, and you find that not knowing an author's
intentions is not unique or even notable in the list of things you know
with equal uncertainty, then try to establish why you treat an author's
intentions differently than any of the other things about which you are
equally uncertain. If you find, after adequate consideration, that any
(and all) utterance is futile and meaningless because uncertain, you
will have achieved the stated end of Skepticism

 

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