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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: July ::
Shakespeare and Islam
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0669  Tuesday, 18 July 2006

[1] 	From: 	Thomas Le <
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	Date: 	Friday, 14 Jul 2006 08:33:34 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0664 Shakespeare and Islam

[2] 	From: 	Ros King <
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	Date: 	Friday, 14 Jul 2006 16:35:15 +0100
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0664 Shakespeare and Islam

[3] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Friday, 14 Jul 2006 12:04:27 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0664 Shakespeare and Islam


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Thomas Le <
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Date: 		Friday, 14 Jul 2006 08:33:34 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 17.0664 Shakespeare and Islam
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0664 Shakespeare and Islam

Cary DiPietro's post raises the question of the origin of the conflict 
with Islam.  It must be found in history dating back to the 11th century 
with the first Crusade of 1095 led by the French.  Other countries of 
Europe were not participants: England was still reorganizing after the 
Norman Conquest of 1066;  Spain was taken up with the invasion of 
Muslims from North Africa; and Germany was torn in internecine war. 
Only France, more or less stable under feudalism, had achieved enough 
economic progress, commerce, and confidence to muster resources for a 
foreign adventure.  There is not a single cause for the crusade, though 
economic and religious motives underpin the undertaking.  Population 
growth exerted pressure on an economic system ill-suited for expansion. 
Young men under feudalism, and particularly young noblemen, unless 
married advantageously or entered into religious life, had few outlets 
for their energy, and thus were predisposed for adventure.  On the 
religious front, French-born Pope Urban II called the Council of 
Clermont in 1095, in which he exhorted the French knights of the area to 
rescue the Holy Land from the encroachments of the Seljuq Turks, who had 
pushed Islamic influence south and east against the border of Eastern 
Christianity. Setting aside their deep difference, the Byzantine Emperor 
Alexius I Comnenus appealed to their Western brethren, just at the time 
when France was bursting with energy for foreign adventure.

Now the Crusade is continuing, with a different twist.  Isn't it ironic 
that God has given oil to Islamic lands and rabid oil consumption to the 
West? Once oil is exhausted, would anyone care about the Middle East and 
what's going on there?

Thomas Le

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Ros King <
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Date: 		Friday, 14 Jul 2006 16:35:15 +0100
Subject: 17.0664 Shakespeare and Islam
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0664 Shakespeare and Islam

These attempts to compare our feelings about current religio/ political 
problems with what individual Elizabethans may have understood and felt 
are both inevitable and necessary - though I can't see anything that 
marks out Aaron as a Moslem. But this discussion also needs to 
triangulate historical knowledge with theatrical experience. Aaron may 
be a villain but he's quite an attractive villain - in that he takes us 
into his confidence. This theatrical convention, I'm sure, means that he 
would always have been attractive to audiences. Also significant is the 
varying attitudes to  parenthood displayed by the different characters, 
both as it affects  their relations with their own children and as it 
affects their sympathy (or, mostly, lack of) with other parents in the 
play. I wouldn't want Aaron as an enemy, but if I had to choose, I'd 
sure prefer him as a dad to Titus.

Best,
Ros King
School of English and Drama

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[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Friday, 14 Jul 2006 12:04:27 -0400
Subject: 17.0664 Shakespeare and Islam
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0664 Shakespeare and Islam

Cary DiPietro writes:

 >I make no claims to understanding Islam or stepping outside of my
 >own Eurocentric perspective, but I am aware of my own culture's
 >willed misperceptions of Islam (many of which continue to serve
 >economic imperialist ends)

If you don't know, please don't make it up for the sake of rehearsing 
hackneyed left-wing polemic.  This isn't the place for it anyway.

 >what I want to know is how and why such representations were
 >manipulated to generate such fear, and what ends that fear served to
 >justify and possibly continues to justify.

How about because it makes a ripping good yarn.  What evil capitalistic 
imperialistic ends are served by movies such as "Friday the 13th," 
beyond making a neat profit?

 >As for Larry Weiss' comment that nothing could be said of Islam in
 >Titus given that the Roman setting predates Islam historically, yes,
 >you're absolutely right.  I seem to have forgotten that Shakespeare
 >always treats his historical fictions, and especially Titus, with a view
 >to historical accuracy and objective interpretation of his sources. 
Sorry,
 >it was my mistake for allowing the possibility of anachronism and
 >intersubjective fields of discourse.

Sarcasm aside, the fact is that Shakespeare has remarkably few religious 
anachronisms:  Pagan gods are real in pagan plays but myths in Christian 
plays; Catholic dogma prevails in plays set in Catholic countries or at 
Catholic times; etc.  The only notable exception of which I am aware is 
Polixenes's reference to Judas, but the point can be made that WT was 
deliberately set at no particular time and in no particular place.  If 
anyone claims that Aaron was intended to depict an anachronistic Muslim, 
please let us know the textual support.

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