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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: July ::
CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1403  Thursday, 8 July 2004

[1]     From:   Frank Whigham <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Jul 2004 07:46:10 -0500
        Subj:   Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

[2]     From:   Bob Grumman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Jul 2004 09:17:45 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1397 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

[3]     From:   Pat Dolan <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Jul 2004 09:02:32 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1397 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

[4]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Jul 2004 18:48:26 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1397 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

[5]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Thursday, 8 Jul 2004 05:14:41 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 15.1397 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frank Whigham <
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Date:           Wednesday, 07 Jul 2004 07:46:10 -0500
Subject:        Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

To think (if that's the word) that "clarity" is a straightforward
trans-historical verity ignores the strongly different ways that readers
and writers and speakers and listeners in different cultures operate
within different interpretive codes. No one now finds the Ciceronian
period with the verb at the end to be a remotely obvious way to
persuade. What's so surprising about the fact that a critic like Terry
Hawkes would ask such questions about such an unexamined verity? It
looks like a terrific question to me. I thought we were supposed to like
examining what gets taken for granted.

However, the high-moral tone of those who so so love to pounce
sneeringly on "jargon" just reaffirms the largely non-intellectual
energy of the activity. It's an example of the identity-formation
mechanism that Greenblatt identified for us long ago as the happy
destructive collision with the Other. Our profession is full of it.
(Trollope or Dickens must have already written about this somewhere.)
The composition folks often seem to think we lit types are all a bunch
of airy-fairy word-slingers who couldn't find a topic sentence to save
our lives. And they, of course, are in turn readily known to their
students as a bunch of unintelligible power-mad Mrs. Grundys. At the
other end of the spectrum we are fortunate to have those in Philosophy
departments (and, of course, the French). (And so far as elitism goes,
try convincing anyone else that those with PhD's in English aren't *all*
elitists.)

On another point, to congratulate Terry Hawkes on his clarity is a
familiar way to avoid taking his philosophical query seriously. And
jeez, he must be so wearied by the cleverness of quoting Housman at him.
On the other hand, it probably does serve him as a useful filter.

Anyway, I doubt if it's possible for those on the different sides of
this one to listen to one another very well, and who cares? We're all
pretty happy where we are. Nothing like a bracing draught of preening
contempt first thing in the morning.

Frank Whigham

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Grumman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Jul 2004 09:17:45 -0400
Subject: 15.1397 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1397 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

A correction.

 >Which leads us to a Shakespearean pedagogical question: When your
 >students whine that Shakespeare is unclear and "he uses way more words
 >than he needs to make his point," what do you say?
 >
 >Cheers,
 >Pat
 >
 >Shakespeare has way too many MORE points than he needs for the words he
 >uses.
 >
 >That is, he's a poet.

Apologies for reposting this triviality but I'm misposting a lot lately,
at various venues, and it peeves me.

--Bob G.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pat Dolan <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Jul 2004 09:02:32 -0500
Subject: 15.1397 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1397 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

On Jul 7, 2004, at 6:48 AM, Bill Arnold wrote:

 >Everyone knows, or should know, that
 >sophomoric means *between the walls*

Gee, I always thought it meant "wise fools," which, as it happens, isn't
supported by the OED. I swear I saw it in Thomas More somewhere. (I'd be
interested to know where the "between the walls" we're all supposed to
know about comes from. It's not in the OED either.) One of the OED's
citations is a gem, though:

"Better to face the prowling panther's path, than meet the storm of
sophomoric wrath!"

My sense of the word "sophomoric" has always been--in intellectual
contexts--something like "greeting with disdain and derision what ought
to be engaged." My sense of the initial quote was that while it may
overstate the case and the theorist instanced may be wrong (or, if you
prefer, "unhelpful"), the words were not unclear when placed in their
proper context. When students say to me that this or that text is
unclear, they usually mean that they don't see what good the effort
involved in coming to their own understanding of the text will do them.
(Sometimes this is simple laziness. Usually it's more complex than
that.) I think that's what people mean when they attack philosophical
writing as opaque. What I say to my resistant students is this: 1. Just
because you don't see the point of [insert difficult text's name here]
you are not entitled to say that it doesn't have a point. 2. If you
dismiss what you're trying to read at the outset, your predictions will
be confirmed. 3. Real scholars learn how to negotiate with their
prejudices so that they can understand texts that may be initially
daunting or off-putting. 4. Sometimes (not always) good writing--poetry,
drama or prose--addresses complex and difficult issues and consequently
is hard to figure out. Study is hard work. It's a good thing it's worth it.

Foolishly,
Pat

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Jul 2004 18:48:26 +0100
Subject: 15.1397 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1397 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

Bill Arnold thinks that the CFP posted by Jennifer Drouin on 29 June was
poorly written:

 >Of course we professors of English can *translate* that
 >murky and tortured passage.  But why?  Who cares?  If
 >the writer did not care to write English, but chose to write
 >socio-pyscho-babble, why should we translate. They wrote
 >for socio-psycho-babble readers and that is who should read
 >it.  The rest of us Shakespearean lovers should ignore such
 >sophomoric pap.

I thought it an intriguing CFP on a topic outside my specialism. It was
clearly put together with care and addresses a serious intellectual
topic. I for one wish the editors of the proposed book every success
with the venture.  I hope they aren't put off by the shamefully
aggressive philistinism with which some SHAKSPERians responded to their
CFP. As Fran Teague acutely implied, they would be right to interpret
such responses as symptomatic of the responders' fear of their own
ignorance.

But to the point. I can't pin down Arnold's pronouns "we" and "us". In
the first sentence quoted he seems to include himself in the collective
of English professors, but it's scarcely credible that anyone in the
profession would so misrepresent the CFP. Nor, indeed, is it credible
that someone in the profession would emulate a computer operating system
from the 1970s by punctuating almost every response with the
typographical tic of "OK:".  Furthermore, it's hard to imagine what
collective of "Shakespearean lovers" Arnold means to invoke by "we" in
the last sentence. (Gary Taylor, I believe, made the useful distinction
between his professional interest in Shakespeare and mere idolatry by
describing himself as a cultural historian, not a cheerleader.)

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that Arnold's bluffing and
didn't really understand the CFP at all.  It'd be easy to prove me
wrong, Bill. I invite you to define Kristeva's term 'intertextuality'
(or, indeed, 'intertextualite', as she called it). Any professor of
English (or, I should hope, classics) ought to be able to do that.

Once that's received by the list, we could (although I hesitate to put
the unfairly abused under further pressure) invite the prospective book
editors to give us their definition of 'intertextuality'. That should
make for an illuminating comparison, and show us who's babbling.

Gabriel Egan

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Thursday, 8 Jul 2004 05:14:41 -0400
Subject: CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada
Comment:        SHK 15.1397 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

Bill Arnold's emergence as the arbiter of clarity on this list can only
be reassuring. The lucidity of those he speaks for as "we professors of
English" is of course legendary. Is that why he refers to them as
"Shakespearean lovers"?

T. Hawkes

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