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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1214  Tuesday, 8 June 2004

[1]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Monday, 7 Jun 2004 13:05:37 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 15.1201 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 7 Jun 2004 11:45:15 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1201 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

[3]     From:   Rolland Banker <
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        Date:   Monday, 7 Jun 2004 18:30:25 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1171 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

[4]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Jun 2004 08:26:56 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1201 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Monday, 7 Jun 2004 13:05:37 -0400
Subject: Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates
Comment:        SHK 15.1201 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

The proposal 'All history is the history of the present' is of course
famously not my formulation. However, Sean Lawrence's rapier-like
refutation 'not all history is history of the present' does seem,
dismayingly, to be his. That it should come to this.

T. Hawkes

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 7 Jun 2004 11:45:15 -0700
Subject: 15.1201 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1201 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

I enjoyed John Drakakis's rather long, but very interesting post.

I just don't understand how it follows from a determination that all
history is history of the present, when he speaks so much about the
past.  Surely if all history were just history of the present, then
historiography itself would be solipsistic and we could go back to
talking about ourselves, forgetting all about the past.

Yours,
SKL.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rolland Banker <
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Date:           Monday, 7 Jun 2004 18:30:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 15.1171 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1171 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

Suggested Reading : Northrop Frye's:

A NATURAL PERSPECTIVE, The Development of Shakespearean Comedy and Romance

Here's just a sampling, from the first chapter, Mouldy Tales, page
21(highly recommended):

"If we think of literature primarily in terms of printed books, the
drama will seem to us at best a provisional method of conveying words
from the poet to his audience. If we really want to know the play we
must read it, and it is natural for the dramatist, in his turn, to feel
that, if his play fails in any respect, the theatrical audience is not
as high a court of appeal as the individualized audience that can read
the text.  This was Jonson's view: his response to failure is that of
the author in Sheridan's CRITIC:  "I'll print it, every word"; and even
for appreciative hearers his feeling is that the printed text is their
reward...."

                   AND (others)

"Shakespeare, like Bach, was a scholar of the ear."

                   AND

"The operatic features of Shakespearian comedy are an integral part of
Shakespeare's concentration on the theatrical process. Thematic images
and words echo and call and respond in a way which is a constant
fascination to anyone working with the text...."

                   AND

"...there is still a good deal of confusion about Shakespeare's relation
to his audiences, whether contemporary with him or us. Such a confusion
may be clearly expressed by a confused phrase, the most common of such
phrases being 'giving the public what it wants.'" Any dramatist who knew
his audience as well as Shakespeare would know that the important
difference in it is not the difference between intelligent and stupid
people, but the difference between intelligent and stupid responses to
the play, both of which may exist in the same mind...."

Rolland Banker

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Jun 2004 08:26:56 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.1201 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1201 Shifting of Cultural Tectonic Plates

 >I think Jack Heller's question is revealing: should we set a 'base line'
 >for Shakespeare's audiences.  I think we need to reconsider radically
 >what a Shakespearean 'audience' was.  Webster complained that the
 >audiences (possibly of The Red Bull) couldn't understand The White Devil
 >- though he also complained about the weather!

I appreciate the comments and the reading suggestions. Because of family
matters I will have to drop out of this discussion for a while. However,
I do want to say a word for my alternative suggestion--that Shakespeare
overworked. One does not have to believe that Shakespeare wrote for a
secondary reading audience in order to believe that WE need to read him
to work through complexity of his writing. When I took a group of
students to see LLL performed, some of them were not in my class and had
not read the play. They followed it well enough in performance. But I
think there's much in the text we won't pick up without reading the
play, not limited to those passages for which the commitments made in a
performance suppress some of the multiple meanings of a passage.

Jack Heller
Huntington College

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