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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: August ::
WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0533  Thursday, 16 August 2007

[1] 	From: 		Ros King <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 15 Aug 2007 14:39:15 +0100
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0528 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare

[2] 	From:		TJ Sellari <
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	Date:		Thursday, 16 Aug 2007 21:06:57 +0800
	Subj:		Re: SHAKSPER Roundtable (following from SHK 18.0517 WashPost: 
Ourselves in Shakespeare)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Ros King <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 15 Aug 2007 14:39:15 +0100
Subject: 18.0528 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0528 WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare

 >Hawkes' claim - and it's one that disciples of the independent authority
 >of the 'text' need to ponder very carefully, and in the full knowledge
 >of the empirical evidence that the texts as we have them furnish for us
 >- is that the act of 'making sense' is something that we perform as
 >readers and spectators.

That's all very true. But equally important is that, as professional 
readers, we have a duty to identify and point out how one text (or one 
version of a text that exists in multiple versions) enables certain 
readings and disallows other readings, which are not enabled or 
disallowed by other texts (or other versions of a text that exists in 
multiple versions).

In other words, sure, we as readers create meanings, but so, 
potentially, do texts. You can demonstrate this when you examine the 
structures of texts that exist in multiple versions, because in those 
cases there are points of contact and of difference where meaningful, 
valid comparison can be made about what each encourages you or enables 
you to think.

Readers who cherrypick what they want to comment on in a text in order 
to fit an agenda are in effect creating a private working version of 
that text.  It's a serious problem that goes beyond Shakespeare studies 
since it is what underpins religious 'fundamentalism'- so-called.

We tend no longer to teach close reading, which means that students 
can't do it, which in turn makes them prey to those who want to tell 
them what to think. This is not, I think, what Terrence Hawkes or John 
Drakakis ever intended, if I may be so bold as to ascribe intention and 
meaning either to them or to their written work.

Best wishes,
Ros

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		TJ Sellari <
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Date:		Thursday, 16 Aug 2007 21:06:57 +0800
Subject: 18.0527 SHAKSPER Roundtable (following from SHK 18.0517 
Comment:	Re: SHK 18.0527 SHAKSPER Roundtable (following from SHK 18.0517 
WashPost: Ourselves in Shakespeare)

Will Sharpe writes:

 >The man's got a point, and more than that, he's published extensively
 >on it. If we really do have anything worthwhile to say, let's get the
 >Roundtable going again, and respond to Hawkes's books (and the books
 >of others), and not his emails

I will be quite happy to join in the chorus of deserved praise for Prof. 
Hawkes's books, especially _Meaning by Shakespeare_ and _That 
Shakespeherian Rag_. However, it seems to me an odd piece of reasoning 
to use the quality of Prof. Hawkes's books as an argument for _not_ 
responding to his messages to Shaksper. In any case, neither one of 
these fine books answers the question I put to the list:

How do we decide to whom to deny the possibility of meaning something, 
and to whom to grant it?

That is, what warrant have we to claim that we can mean something, but 
Shakespeare can't? It seems to me that to say that we can mean by 
Shakespeare presupposes the possibility of an author meaning something; 
why couldn't Shakespeare, then, mean by Holinshed or Plautus?

The idea that we can mean by Shakespeare neither entails nor requires 
the contention that Shakespeare doesn't mean anything--in fact, it seems 
to imply quite the opposite.

My question is intended not solely

 >to knock Terence Hawkes down from what most people
 >wrongly believe to be his high horse

but to elicit a clarification. If anyone can offer an answer, or cite a 
source that does, I would be genuinely grateful.

As for the possibility that it was my last message that is described as 
being

 >expressed in the form of abstract,
 >half-digested philosophical questions,

I can't be sure whose digestion has yet to be completed here, but my 
questions were, I think, no more abstract than the statements by Prof. 
Hawkes that preceded them.

Gratefully,
Tom Sellari

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