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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: July ::
CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1469  Thursday, 22 July 2004

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Jul 2004 11:39:59 -0400
        Subj:   Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

[2]     From:   W.L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Jul 2004 16:57:04 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1462 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Jul 2004 11:39:59 -0400
Subject:        Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

Quoting Conte, Hugh Grady explains that "intertexuality" can be defined as a

 >" Phenomenoon by which, in literature, each new text enters into a
network of relations with other, already written texts (recalling them,
imitating them, parodying them, in short, presupposing them)." This
sounds like the way most of the commentators on this thread have defined
the term.<

Then Hugh adds:

 >Edmunds goes on to argue that this if quite different from Kristeva's
usage (I am reporting this without being able to confirm or deny it;
I've never studied Kristeva more than casually). First Edmunds very
relevantly points out that Kristeva was engaged in the 1960s project of
trying to create a brand-new set of terminology for the emerging field
of semiotics, out of terms that would be more scientific, less
value-laden than traditional ones. The term "text" itself was one such,
meant to replace "work" or "poem" and not pre-supposing completeness,
unity, or autonomy, as those traditional terms did. "Intertextuality"
follows up on this distinction, according to Edmunds, and is thus meant
to wipe the slate clean, rather than, as has been suggested here, just
be show-offy and obscurantist.<

This is an admirable history of the evolution of a term - one of the
many things Hugh is good at, and I appreciate his contribution. But that
having been said, how many of those who currently use "intertexuality"
know its history? And how many use it in Kristeva's way or as Conte
would, or with some other special emphasis? How does Conte's definition
differ from T.S. Eliot's notions of influence in "Tradition and the
Individual Talent"? Or from Bloom's theory of the anxiety of influence?
And do readers of Kristeva really understand that she wants to "wipe the
slate clean," in Hugh's words?

Doesn't this one term alone posit a world of confusion, Hugh? Even you
didn't know the whole story until you read an article about this term.
And how many of us have the time, the energy, and the patience to
research every term and learn its history so that we can read a critical
work properly? See my point?

Two final comments. The "problem" with a lot of criticism today is not
that it is wrong but that it is not understood, even by specialists. The
public senses the latter and then assumes the former. If we wrote more
simply and clearly, we might have a chance to win some of the public
over to our side. This would be a GOOD thing. Lastly, none of what I
have said here applies to Hugh's work, which I have read with profit. He
is one of the few critics whose use of a specialized vocabulary is
accompanied by clear, precise prose, with clarifying definitions when
needed. If you choose to use a special vocabulary, do it Hugh's way.

Best personal regards,
Ed

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W.L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Jul 2004 16:57:04 -0400
Subject: 15.1462 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1462 CFP - Shakespearean Intertexts in Canada

I have puzzled several people with my comments on dumbing down
Shakespeare. Let me explain.

David Evett wrote: "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."

Truth to tell I was annoyed by this interpretation of my logic, and, in
response, I pointed out that, given David's description, almost all
modern texts in one way or another are "simplified texts." In their
footnotes and scholarly apparatus, they all "spare students the pain of
trying to master unfamiliar words and unfamiliar grammar and unfamiliar
metaphors." As scholars this is what we try to do: make things clear to
students and others. Isn't it?

It then occurred to me that all texts of Shakespeare (with the possible
exception of the More ms.) have been simplified or clarified in some way
or ways by scribes, editors, compositors, overseers of the press, etc.

I was trying to be ironic when I referred to this process as dumbing down.

Bill Godshalk

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