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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: January ::
Re: Questions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.030  Monday, 6 January 2003

[1]     From:   Kezia Vanmeter Sproat <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Jan 2003 11:45:05 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.016 Re: Questions

[2]     From:   Kezia Vanmeter Sproat <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Jan 2003 12:12:32 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.016 Re: Questions

[3]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Friday, 03 Jan 2003 12:30:46 -0500
        Subj:   Questions

[4]     From:   Bob Grumman <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Jan 2003 13:23:40 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.016 Re: Questions

[5]     From:   John Zuill <
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        Date:   Friday, 03 Jan 2003 15:34:58 -0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.016 Re: Questions

[6]     From:   Sophie Masson <
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        Date:   Sunday, 5 Jan 2003 19:04:04 +1100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.016 Re: Questions

[7]     From:   R. A. Cantrell <
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        Date:   Sunday, 05 Jan 2003 12:35:58 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.016 Re: Questions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kezia Vanmeter Sproat <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Jan 2003 11:45:05 EST
Subject: 14.016 Re: Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.016 Re: Questions

>Given that feminism and the
>concept of a "patriarchal" society can be shown to have grown up
>in the late-19th early-20th centuries, and these particular ideas seem
>not to be reflected in Renaissance texts, there seems no good reason
>to believe that the necessary ideas were circulating in Shakespeare's
>time.

Do PLEASE re-read LLL!

Thanks,
Kezia Vanmeter Sproat

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Kezia Vanmeter Sproat <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Jan 2003 12:12:32 EST
Subject: 14.016 Re: Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.016 Re: Questions

>Anybody who thought that living under a female ruler in the 20th
>Century felt anything like living under Elizabeth I is likely to have
>made more not fewer mistakes in their scholarship.  Similarly,
>anybody who believes that living in a "patriarchal society"
>in the 20th and 21st Centuries gives any real insight into what
>Shakespeare thought of living in a "patriarchal" society in the
>16th and 17th Centuries (when the concept of "patriarchal
>society" did not exist) is likely to be led astray.

Don't paste insinuated fantasies on me. C'est a dire, I ain't one o'
them "anybodies" you refer to above, Mr. Larque.

My reference to Pelosi et al. was, as I said, parochial and an attempt
to make a point based on fantasy. I failed. The point I am trying to
make re. Shakespeare's world and the effort to imagine living in is best
made by Shakespeare himself, in the plays. Those texts taught me more
about feminism than I ever learned elsewhere, even though I've had the
honor of meeting the major feminist thinkers of the late 20th. Try
Othello, for example. See my article in Kenyon Review, mid-90s, or Ohio
State diss, 1975.

Kezia Vanmeter Sproat
GO BUCKS!

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Friday, 03 Jan 2003 12:30:46 -0500
Subject:        Questions

Thomas Larque wrote of the Renaissance in general that "[T]here was no
concept of a reified masculine culture for a woman to defeat without
doing down real male individuals."

Really? What about Chaucer's _The Wife of Bath_? She clearly has a
concept of "reified masculine culture," allied with the Church, which is
anti-feminist and not to her liking at all. The reader does not have to
"buy" her concept, but it's there for the taking, should the reader be
so inclined. Perhaps even more to the point, what about Martha
Moulsworth? She's a lot like the Wife of Bath, isn't she? She too posits
a culture that seems antagonistic to women and she both urges reform and
attempts to live a life that is freer and more to her liking.

And while we're at it, what about Fletcher's _The Maid's Tragedy_?
Heywood's _A Woman Killed With Kindness_? Webster's _The Duchess of
Malfi_?  All three can easily be seen to posit a "reified masculine
culture" in which women move at their peril and constant disadvantage.
It's worth noting that in _Duchess_ the animal imagery strongly suggests
that humans act basically like animals -- and not just any animals, like
a pack of wolves.The Duchess is an alpha female and the two alpha males,
Ferdinand and the Cardinal, want to prevent her from mating with anyone,
but especially with a beta male (Antonio). You would call this
interpretation anachronistic, I suppose, but wait a minute. Elizabethans
knew that wolves moved in packs and that there were leaders and
followers, a kind of male hierarchy, and that females were the prized
possessions within that male hierarchy. Sounds like a "reified masculine
culture," eh?  Webster thought so too. In short, it seems to me that
your concept of what was available to Elizabethans is based on a
logical-positivist frame of reference that is way out of date.

You also wrote:

"Elizabeth I, like Margaret Thatcher, seems to have had her major
influence by convincing people that she was not like other women and
should be considered an honorary man.  This "masculinisation" of the
female ruler can certainly be seen in Elizabethan texts, including some
very famous ones - "I may have the body of a weak and [feeble] woman,
but I have the heart and stomach of a King."

OK. Granted. But WHY did Elizabeth and Thatcher feel the need to be
considered as in some ways like a man? Isn't the reason that both could
see the necessity of the claim if they were to operate effectively in "a
reified masculine culture"? Surely this is so, even if both believe(d)
that they were true exceptions to the fact that most women are weak and
unfit for rule/power -- a belief, by the way, that I doubt either woman
really held/holds.

In the end, of course, Terence Hawkes is right: we can only see the past
through the lens of the present. But the seeds of the present are found
in the past, and the central ideas of modern feminism go back way beyond
the start of the 19th century. How old is the phrase, "It's a man's
world"? Women have been saying (or thinking) this for a long time, Tom.
That thought is all you really need. Was it 'available" in the
Renaissance? Of course it was.

--Ed Taft

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Grumman <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Jan 2003 13:23:40 -0500
Subject: 14.016 Re: Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.016 Re: Questions

>>Kezia Vanmeter Sproat makes the point that 'few readers in my native
>>land can imagine what Shakespeare's life was like.'
>>
>>We can be much more radical than that.  Nobody who's alive right now can
>>ever genuinely capture, or come to grips with, what life was like for
>>those who lived over 400 years ago.
>
>How about four minutes ago?

>Our whole sense of the past is
>determined by, and dependent upon, the unavoidable imperatives of the
>present. All history, says Croce, is contemporary history. This is
>certainly not a matter for regret.
>
>Terence Hawkes

No one can know exactly how it is or was like for anyone else at any
time, but--since we're human beings--it's possible for those of us with
any kind of imagination to know well enough what life was like for any
other human beings we know as well as we know the Elizabethans.

--Bob G.

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Zuill <
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Date:           Friday, 03 Jan 2003 15:34:58 -0300
Subject: 14.016 Re: Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.016 Re: Questions

The feminist conversation as it pertains to Juliet is not going in this
direction at the moment but I have found the quote I mentioned in an
earlier post. In the Cambridge "Shakespeare in Production" Series
devoted to tracking the production histories of several of the plays,
James N.  Loehlin, in his introduction describes the Juliet of one Fanny
Kemble.  Kemble started doing the part in the late 1820s to great
success. She was still doing readings at age 70. Kemble described a
previous good but less successful actress in the part as "expressly
designed for a representative victim". She said "Romeo represents the
sentiment, Juliet the passion, of love. The pathos is his, the power
hers". Make of that what you will.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sophie Masson <
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Date:           Sunday, 5 Jan 2003 19:04:04 +1100
Subject: 14.016 Re: Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.016 Re: Questions

Of course this is a little earlier than the Renaissance--though not by
much--but two very popular texts in the Middle Ages were Christine de
Pisan's Book of the City of Ladies and Treasury of the City of Ladies,
in which the doughty and formidable Christine directly tackled
misogynists such as Jean de Meung: it was certainly not only male
authors who were influential in this way.

Incidentally, I think it is quite wrong to think of Margaret Thatcher as
a 'man in a skirt': this sort of thing, to me, smells of the kind of
thinking that thinks women cannot be women if they act outside some
given way of behaviour. Women don't have to be better or more communally
minded or ready to help other women than men do for men; competitive
people in general, as those in politics generally are, aren't noted for
that kind of thing. Why should a woman politician, now or then,  be any
different?  Incidentally, the kind of modern idea that to be a
worthwhile woman hero in a film or book, one has to be a kind of Action
Woman type, seems to me to be the other sort of stupidity, that always
measures a woman's worth by some male fantasy notion, such as the
Amazon!

You see sometimes commentary by so-called 'feminists' bemoaning the fact
that a particular female character doesn't fight on equal terms with the
blokes(as in sword-fighting or war or what have you). That really gets
my goat! Isn't feminism--or rather, humanism--about opportunity and
possibility, not dragooning people into opposing stereotypes? That's one
of the reasons I love Shakespeare--his people are always people, no
matter what. He just couldn't help himself.

Sophie Masson

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R. A. Cantrell <
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Date:           Sunday, 05 Jan 2003 12:35:58 -0600
Subject: 14.016 Re: Questions
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.016 Re: Questions

>>The head,
>>undisputed, of the body politic/society in his formative and early
>>creative years was a woman. We must struggle mightily to begin to get
>>near his "sympathies."

Absolutely not. The Supreme Governor of the church and Queen regnant was
never allowed the style "head." cf. Ephesians 5.23 (all eds.) inter
alia.

All the best,
R.A. Cantrell
<
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