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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: September ::
Bohannon
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1656  Thursday, 29 September 2005

From: 		Scot Zarela <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 27 Sep 2005 12:42:18 -0700
Subject: 16.1630 Editing Shaksper
Comment: 	Re: SHK 16.1630 Editing Shaksper

Greetings to all!  My first metadiscussion!  I looked over several of 
these in the archives before joining Shaksper; if this one gets going as 
it may, it will be the first since I've been a member.

Laura Bohannon, in the assigned chapter, tells a lovely story about 
telling a story, and she tells it with very few mistakes.  However, if 
she, or Hardy in assigning it, holds that this narrative discredits 
"essentialism", they do but mistake.  Let me explain.  (I will assume no 
reader of this who hasn't first made acquaintance with 
http://www.cc.gatech.edu/people/home/idris/Essays/Shakes_in_Bush.htm)

The old men overcome Bohannon's initial reluctance to relate "Hamlet" by 
"threaten[ing] to tell me no more stories until I told them one of 
mine."  She bends to their wishes then, or so she thinks:  but can she 
really lay claim to "Hamlet" as "one of my own stories"?  On the 
evidence of her telling of her telling, no.  She trots along with the 
text, putting it into the Tiv language as she goes.  This isn't 
story-telling; rather, this is investigating a text --- and the Tiv 
elders become her collaborators in this effort.  All together, they do a 
creditable job, stumbling of course at gaps in their factual knowledge, 
but patching those gaps for the meantime with guesses, supposes, and 
analogies drawn from knowledge they're more certain of.  Thus 
investigating yields a provisional interpretation that can be refined, 
if need be and if so desired, in future sessions.

But where in all this is the story requested by the Tiv old men?  They 
had no way of knowing that the textually acculturated anthropologist 
held what she held to be certain knowledge at a kind of arm's length. 
Story-telling springs from a knowledge that rests inward.  About 
story-telling "essentialist" claims can, perhaps, be made (weakly, I 
think, if I may interject the personal note); but these claims can't be 
tested until we find ourselves in the presence of the phenomena of 
story-telling.  Minimally, that requires an inward-knowing story-teller 
and a (willing?) sympathetic audience.  Some scholars will recoil from 
these terms, and they may be excused.  Others will suspiciously 
interrogate the terms, and they must be allowed.  Nothing in my account 
of story-telling means to devalue investigations of texts.  They're 
simply two different critters, and I think the distinction matters.  My 
taste (a last personal note, s.v.p.) runs more to stories, but not to 
the exclusion of the other.

Cheers always, ever Cheers,

-- Scot

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