2007

Authorial Intention

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0651  Friday, 28 September 2007

[1]	From: 		Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 		Thursday, 27 Sep 2007 14:03:50 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0647 Authorial Intention

[2]	From: 		Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
	Date: 		Thursday, 27 Sep 2007 13:01:43 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0647 Authorial Intention


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Thursday, 27 Sep 2007 14:03:50 -0400
Subject: 18.0647 Authorial Intention
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0647 Authorial Intention

Prof. Alan Dessen, whose special interest is the intersection of text 
and performance, asks a very good question:

 >should or should not the material conditions of London
 >theatre in the 1590s and early 1600s be part of this discussion?

I think the answer depends on how we delimit the discussion.  If we are 
exploring only whether it is "futile" to attempt to derive authorial 
intent, then it follows that contemporary stage conditions and 
conventions are immaterial -- there is no case to be answered.  But if 
we allow that it is legitimate to inquire what an Elizabethan/Jacobean 
playwright expected to be understood by his words, then a knowledge of 
how he believed his text would be rendered on stage is highly pertinent.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Brian Willis <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Thursday, 27 Sep 2007 13:01:43 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 18.0647 Authorial Intention
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0647 Authorial Intention

Alan Dessen makes invaluable points about authorial intention, and 
necessarily so when speaking of drama of any period. In the process of 
rehearsing and mounting a production of a play, the director and actors 
are in constant negotiation about the "meanings" and "intentions" of any 
given playwright, and especially so with Shakespeare. A play finds its 
life within the context of the theatre space (although with Shakespeare 
there are a long history of arguments about the private and silent 
reading of those particular texts). But a play on the stage is the 
culmination of many tiny and (usually) non-public negotiations about 
meaning and, with the case of the truly dedicated actor, many private 
interrogations of the text.

When a play is produced, (outside the draconian statutes of textual 
fidelity as dictated by, say, the Beckett estate or Edward Albee's close 
guarding of the rights to his plays), that text is no longer within the 
"intentions" of the author even if we can assume that intentions 
existed. Authorship of a play then becomes a collaboration between the 
playwright, the actor choosing interpretations and line readings, and 
the stewardship of the director. The performance we may see on any given 
night is out of the hands of the author(s) and re-authorized as a public 
collaboration. The text is embodied by the actor, and read within the 
material of the mise-en-scene, and the signifiers presented through 
his/her gestures, appearance, movement, and (especially important with 
Shakespeare) voice, i.e. how the body intends the text to operate. 
Within such a theatrical context, intention becomes very clouded indeed.

Brian Willis

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S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Greenblatt on Cardenio

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0650  Friday, 28 September 2007

From: 		Jennifer Lee Carrell <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Thursday, 27 Sep 2007 14:22:21 -0700
Subject: 18.0644 Greenblatt on Cardenio
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0644 Greenblatt on Cardenio

What's left of "Cardenio" is an 18th-century bowdlerization called 
"Double Falshood", re-arranged by Lewis Theobald and published in 1728, 
after being remounted on the London stage.

It's available on various sites on the net.

 From a Shakespearean viewpoint, the problem is that "Double Falshood," 
as is, is full of holes and patches-no one knows which bits, if any, are 
Shakespeare and which are Fletcher (though the bits that are Theobald 
are fairly obvious.)

Regarding the lines that sound genuinely 17th-century, no one has teased 
out which belong to whom... though some scholars have claimed by various 
kinds of analysis to assign acts in the original play to either Fletcher 
or Shakespeare. (I'm fairly suspicious of such assignations.)

I have to say, I like the Cardenio story, which both "Double Falshood" 
and Shakespeare & Fletcher's play before it recount. Cervantes does some 
very interesting stuff with framed narratives that gradually dissolve 
into the overall narrative.

Jennifer Lee Carrell

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

New Book: Laughing and Weeping in Early Modern

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0648  Friday, 28 September 2007

From: 		Matthew Steggle <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Friday, 28 Sep 2007 12:32:40 +0100
Subject: 	New Book: Laughing and Weeping in Early Modern Theatres

List members may be interested in a new book, Laughing and Weeping in 
Early Modern Theatres, written by me and newly published by Ashgate.  It 
asks questions like - how did actors on Shakespeare's stage perform 
laughing and weeping?  What did those actions mean?  And can we say 
anything about how, and when,  their audiences were expected to laugh 
and to weep?

Details, description, and an extract, are all on the Ashgate website, 
http://www.ashgate.com.

Matthew Steggle
Sheffield Hallam University

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Observation about ducdame

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0649  Friday, 28 September 2007

From: 		Mark Alcamos <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 09:39:33 -0700
Subject: 	Observation about ducdame

I am currently studying 'As You Like It' and it is my understanding 
there has been some speculation without conclusion on Jaques use of the 
chant, 'Ducdame, ducdame, ducdame' in Act 1, Scene 5.  Most opinions 
would appear to agree with the entry in 'Shakespeare's Words' Glossary 
(David & Ben Crystal) who define it as '[unclear meaning] probably a 
nonsense word ...'

While studying this Scene I think I've stumbled across a very plausible 
and likely interpretation.  This invocation is not some of Shakespeare's 
small Greek, but simply some of Shakespeare's infamously abundant wordplay,

     Ducdame = Duke Dame

(Per 'The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories,' dame is Middle English 
for female ruler.  And the 'Shakespeare Words' Glossary also cites four 
dame variations having to do with women.  Obviously, we'd guess it 
derives from 'damsel.')

  . . . meaning Duke Senior acted like a girl because he allowed his 
brother to take away his Dukedom rather than fight for it.  I believe 
Jaques is not only melancholic, but his recognized attitude problem 
reaches toward Duke Senior too.  If you consider this interpretation you 
can see the 'stanza' he wrote (remember he'd pretended not to know the 
term, although he'd obviously already written his own PLUS his 
insistence for more singing . . . ) is actually mocking their Merry Band 
for having left behind their courtly wealth and ease.  He has this 
residual resentment toward the Duke (which he expresses passive 
aggressively) for not having the 'will' to fight his brother.

I understand this changes the Jaques character somewhat and I am still 
studying the play so I haven't worked this slight modification all the 
way through 'for consistency sake' but it sounds so Shakespearean it'll 
be tough for me to reverse my interpretation without pretty convincing 
findings to the contrary.  I believe this also helps to explain the 
second hand account we heard in Act 2 Sc 1 of his sad musings for the 
innocent deer - he's projecting the 'Ground Rules' of an immoral world, 
only the strong survive and the innocent are taken advantage of ... woe 
is me ...  (Through the 'Sweet are the uses of adversity ...' speech we 
learn Duke Senior has in fact, reached a kinder, gentler attitude about 
the immoral world he's been cast into ...)

I thought the community might be interested in this observation and 
might want to comment.


Thanks,
Mark Alcamo
Bremerton, WA.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Authorial Intention

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0647  Thursday, 27 September 2007

From: 		Alan Dessen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 10:05:59 -0400
Subject: 18.0640 Authorial Intention
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0640 Authorial Intention

Am I the only reader of the postings on this topic to wonder how the 
many distinctions, arguments, and counter-arguments about "authorial 
intention" pertain to a staged play, particularly a play staged by the 
Lord Chamberlain's or King's Men?  Although Tiffany Stern has argued 
that group rehearsals were the exception, not the norm, clearly the 
mounting of a play was a collaborative process, with an attached or 
in-house playwright (e.g., Shakespeare, Heywood, Fletcher, Massinger) at 
hand to participate and, at least to some degree, affect the onstage 
choices.  Moreover, evidence survives (though not from Shakespeare's 
company) for the practice of having a playwright read a new play to the 
actors soon to stage it. How would such a practice have influenced the 
performance to come?

In short, should or should not the material conditions of London theatre 
in the 1590s and early 1600s be part of this discussion?

Alan Dessen

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

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