Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: September ::
Authorial Intention
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0628  Thursday, 20 September 2007

[1] 	From: 		Clay H. Shevlin <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 		Wednesday, 19 Sep 2007 07:43:10 -0700
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0623 Authorial Intention

[2] 	From: 		John Briggs <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 		Wednesday, 19 Sep 2007 17:19:03 +0100
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0623 Authorial Intention

[3] 	From: 		Duncan Salkeld <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
	Date: 		Wednesday, 19 Sep 2007 16:29:49 +0000 (GMT)
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0623 Authorial Intention


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Clay H. Shevlin <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 19 Sep 2007 07:43:10 -0700
Subject: 18.0623 Authorial Intention
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0623 Authorial Intention

A wise man once said, "Regardless of the subject matter, even ignorance, 
when combined with logic and critical analysis, can be a most effective 
intellectual sword."

With a bit more conceit, and a helluva lot more knowledge, I'd call 
myself a bibliographer.  That said, I am a student of descriptive 
bibliography, and Fredson Bowers, who might correctly be called the 
"godfather" thereof, stated that descriptive bibliography is the bridge 
to textual criticism.

Alas, I've not had the opportunity to parse this discussion to my 
satisfaction, but it seems to me that much of it bears (or at least 
could well bear) on the topic of textual criticism.  Does this idea ring 
true for anyone?  If so, has anyone considered or written about the 
schools of thought discussed herein and what implications each may have 
on the role of the descriptive bibliographer?

As to whether or not a reader/scholar can discern authorial intention, 
for some or all "interpretive schools of thought," is it useful to 
distinguish at the outset between creative and expositional writing?  Do 
we need to know authorial intention for a "mainstream" calculus 
textbook?  Do we care?

My apologies if any of the foregoing seems off-topic or a revisitation 
of prior exchanges.

Clay Shevlin

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John Briggs <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 19 Sep 2007 17:19:03 +0100
Subject: 18.0623 Authorial Intention
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0623 Authorial Intention

Larry Weiss wrote:

 >I candidly acknowledged in my last post that I prefer to use the word
 >"expectation" rather than "intention," as the former carries less
 >negative freight.  The wisdom of taking that approach is illustrated
 >by John Briggs's submission:
 >
 >there is no problem discussing authors' "expectations", problems
 >only arise when they are elevated to "intentions".
 >
 >Therefore, I shall continue to speak of "expectations" although,
 >frankly, I do so for purely rhetorical reasons.  I personally do not
 >see a meaningful distinction between saying that an author expected
 >the audience to react in a particular way and saying that he wanted
 >them to do so.  As I said above, I also do not see a difference
 >between interpreting a text and determining what the author expected
 >us to understand from the text.

I obviously wrote too concisely. The point I would make is that when we 
are talking about "expectations",  we are (or should be) talking about 
our own assessments (as objectively as we can manage) of what the author 
could reasonably have expected a contemporary audience to have 
understood from his text (whether he did so or not, and whether they did 
so or not) - regardless of what his actual "intentions" were in writing 
it (because those are unknowable now, and were also then) or even (or 
perhaps especially) of what we read the "meaning" (or meanings) of the 
text to be to us.

[This can be difficult when historical irony seems to be employed, as 
when an author writes of an "Upstart Crow", and Shakespeare (in the 
person of Polonius) replies " 'Beautified' is a vile phrase."  This 
exchange seems to pre-suppose serried ranks of Shakespeare scholars, and 
might reasonably be expected to have baffled a contemporary audience. 
(And, yes, I too am being ironic in writing "in the person of Polonius", 
but I leave the joining of the dots as an exercise for the student.)]

John Briggs

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Duncan Salkeld <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date: 		Wednesday, 19 Sep 2007 16:29:49 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 18.0623 Authorial Intention
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0623 Authorial Intention

I fear trails of interminable speculation around the corner, but on 
intentionality:

1. Stephen Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels had a great little essay in 
Critical Inquiry, Summer 1982, entitled 'Against Theory'. It was 
published by Chicago UP, with responses by Stanley Fish, Richard Rorty 
and others, as a book under the same title in 1985. Knapp and Michaels 
argued that meaning and intention were synonymous. It's an argument I'm 
not sure anyone has managed to refute.

2. Pope wrote in The Rape of the Lock:

Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey
Dost sometimes counsel take-and sometimes tea.

Is not understanding the bathos, and the poem's mock-heroic genre, only 
possible by getting Pope's intention?

Duncan Salkeld

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail 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.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.