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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: June ::
Re: Bearman, Hoghton, Titchfield
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1576  Thursday, 27 June 2002

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 26 Jun 2002 10:11:40 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1571 Re: Bearman, Hoghton, Titchfield

[2]     From:   Sophie Masson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 27 Jun 2002 20:48:52 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1571 Re: Bearman, Hoghton, Titchfield


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 26 Jun 2002 10:11:40 -0700
Subject: 13.1571 Re: Bearman, Hoghton, Titchfield
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1571 Re: Bearman, Hoghton, Titchfield

Takashi Kozuka makes an interesting survey of recent work on Shakespeare
studies.

While I appreciate his criticism of the Lancastrian hypothesis, I think
his description of recent scholarship a bit thin:

>That's what I've been doing for my PhD thesis (dissertation), and how I
>lead my Shakespeare seminars as my department (research centre) is
>historicist based. But these approaches are nothing new; influenced by
>Foucault, Geertz, Williams, etc., we've been obsessed by
>interdisciplinary studies especially since the 1980s, though we are not
>truly interdisciplinary yet. On the both sides of the Pacific Ocean are
>many interdisciplinary research centres, not only of the Renaissance but
>of Postcolonial studies, war/peace studies, etc. Even undergraduate
>courses teach them to some degree.

Surely interdisciplinarity is older than that.  Long before there were
centres for war/peace studies, von Clauswitz insisted that his students
study liberal arts, as well as tactics, strategy and logistics.  Johan
Huizinga started out in anthropology.  Even Jakob Burckhardt held
simultaneous chairs in history and art history, and chatted with
Nietzsche about ancient tragedy in his spare time.  What we are seeing,
I think, is only a slightly different clustering of disciplines around
new philosophical commitments.

Nor was the fascination with context as a guide to meaning very new in
the 1980s.  Friedrich Schleiermacher founded Biblical hermeneutics in
the 19th century with an insistence on reading biblical texts within
their original contexts.  The best consideration of religion in _King
Lear_ is almost certainly still William R. Elton's rigorously
historicist _"King Lear" and the Gods_, from 1966.  Again, the
philosophical commitments have changed, but reading texts in terms of
contexts is an old idea.

By the way, your note on bardolatry is interesting, though I sometimes
wonder whether a fear of it is exaggerated.  Surely one of the
consequences of this fear is the neglect of the 'personal' history
decried by the D. H.  Lawrence biographer whom you cite.  And this is a
loss:  no view of the context is complete if it actually excludes
Shakespeare as a person, and no account of his person should exclude his
achievement as a writer.  Efforts at romanticizing the writer inevitably
distort him, but so do all efforts at representation, especially if one
represents him as anything less than a brilliant writer.

Cheers, and enjoy your conference,
Se

 

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