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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: July ::
Degree in Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0457  Friday, 6 July 2007

From: 		Dan Venning <
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Date: 		Thursday, 5 Jul 2007 17:56:43 -0400
Subject: 18.0452 Degree in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0452 Degree in Shakespeare

Dear Sam:

Perhaps Donald Bloom did give the answer you liked best, but you didn't 
originally ask about the value to society of individuals studying 
Shakespeare. Instead, you originally asked "...does studying Shakespeare 
and other great writers make you a better person?  A more peaceful 
person?  More mature?  Or merely a Shakespeare anorak?"

As I read your questions, you were asking about the benefits of studying 
literature on a personal level, not a social one. To suggest that 
reading and studying literature "makes you more aware of fellow human 
beings," "increasing higher order thinking skills," or "increases your 
ability to argue critically" don't seem vague in the least to me, at 
least on a personal level. If you wanted only social benefits, you 
should have asked for that.

I don't think it's particularly collegial to raise a question (or a 
series of questions), and then to dismiss the multiplicity of answers 
you receive as "vague and unconvincing" without explaining why you find 
our answers so unfulfilling, moreover suggesting that we are all nothing 
but "nerdy literary buffs with absolutely no idea of the true social 
implications of propagating Shakespeare's writing."

You apparently wanted a different response: one concerned with social 
politics, ideology, and what you call "opposing visions of global 
morality" (a phrase I'd say is more vague than anything posted by the 
earlier scholars on this topic). Perhaps if the only thing that matters 
to you is political activism (or political activism of a particular 
ideology), Shakespeare scholarship doesn't have as much to offer. But 
some people don't subvert all of their interests and passions to 
politics, and can see the equal importance of art, theatre, language, 
critical reading, and plain old entertainment on personal and cultural 
levels.

Dan Venning

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