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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: July ::
CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1445  Friday, 16 July 2004

[1]     From:   David Evett <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jul 2004 11:32:18 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1436 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 15 Jul 2004 19:25:35 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1436 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Jul 2004 11:32:18 -0400
Subject: 15.1436 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1436 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

 >I think the answer to these questions is a resounding YES. If we want to
 >be agents of change, then we should attempt to use language that most
 >people can understand. If our jargon merely puzzles our constituencies,
 >we can achieve little of value.
 >
 >Bill Godshalk

HOW TO SUCK EGGS

According to Bill Godshalk's logic, we all ought to be advocates for
those simplified texts of Shakespeare that spare students the pain of
trying to master unfamiliar words and unfamiliar grammar and unfamiliar
metaphors.  The key is in his word "constituencies."  A modern term for
that is "speech communities"; most of the folks on this list operate in
several, and it has been a generally accepted assumption within the
discipline of rhetoric for two-and-half millennia that each speech
community has its own appropriate speech modes, which include things
like levels of lexical and syntactic complexity.  Speech communities are
sometimes professional or vocational - auto mechanics, physicians,
critical theorists.  All such communities develop specialized
vocabularies; if you want to belong to the community you learn the
lingo.  The specialist whose call for submissions unleashed this thread
was addressing other members of a particular critical community on a
professional level.  The rest of us are free to decide whether or not we
want to join in.  If in participating we learn something we think might
be of value to others outside the community - to members of another
community, to which we might also belong - then we can work at the
problem of finding language for the new understanding appropriate to the
second community.  We often discover, however, that for the sake of
efficiency the process sometimes involves teaching the second community
some of the specialized language of the first.

Grandpaternally,
David Evett

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Thursday, 15 Jul 2004 19:25:35 +0100
Subject: 15.1436 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1436 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

R. A. Cantrell is quite right to direct readers to Alan Sokal and Jean
Bricmont's _Fashionable Nonsense_, which is as good as their other book
_Intellectual Impostures_. The proper uses of Kurt Godel's
Incompleteness Theorem are especially well treated by them, and its
abuses highlighted.

However, it is not reasonable to dismiss all that Kristeva has written
because bits of it are faulty. (If that's the rule, who'll 'scape whipping?)

David Bishop thinks that we don't need Kristeva's term
'intertextualite', for it duplicates terminology we already have:

 >Why not say that all actors, for example, are
 >signifying systems, in the use of which casting
 >directors are supposed to be particularly adept?

Indeed, but surely the phrase "signifying systems" itself would have
been rejected by many as obfuscating jargon a few decades ago. Also,
just to be clear, it's not the actors that are signifying systems, it's
their casting histories.

 >I can understand the point about Tom Cruise without
 >this, as it seems to me, pretentious overlay of abstraction.

I respectfully suggest that once we have a convenient term for a
phenomenon (and 'intertextuality' surely is, once you know what it
means, virtually self-glossing) we are better equipped to examine the
world with it.  I'm not sure, but I suspect that Kristeva's theorizing
preceded and made possible certain discoveries that only now, after
they've been made, can we put into other terms.

 >The question of castration anxiety provides a more
 >specific example, in my opinion, of how jargon can
 >mislead. I think one important thing about Shylock's
 >intention to cut away a pound of flesh "nearest the heart"
 >of Antonio is that, unlike castration, it would be
 >immediately fatal. Death seems to be the issue here,
 >not castration.

I'd be tempted to agree were this "nearest the heart" stipulation part
of Shylock's original description of the deal. It isn't:

SHYLOCK . . . let the forfeit
Be nominated for an equal pound
Of your fair flesh to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me.
(1.3.147-50)

That it's to be left to the Jew's pleasure must, I suggest, raise the
question 'what part would he choose?' As James Shapiro pointed out, ". .
 for Elizabethans, no less than for modern audiences familiar with
theories of castration anxiety, the phrase 'cut off' [rather than 'cut
out'] could easily suggest taking the knife to a male victim's genitals".*

 >That Gabriel sees no problem in this castration anxiety
 >he speaks of belonging to no one in particular--maybe
 >the audience, or Shakespeare, or one of the
 >characters--startles me.

Oh all right, I confess: it's just my anxiety! I'm foisting this
castration stuff onto a play that has nothing to do with it. Looked at
aright, Antonio is not "a tainted wether" (a castrated ram), Jessica has
not her father's "stones upon her", and the "young clerk's pen" is not
like to be "marred". I apologize for distracting SHAKSPERians from 'the
play itself'.

Gabriel Egan

* James Shapiro "Shakespeare and the Jews" in Martin Coyle _Shakespeare:
'The Merchant of Venice'_ New Casebooks (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998)
pp. 73-91 (p. 81)

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