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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: February ::
Untouchable Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0070  Wednesday, 6 February 2008

[1] 	From:	Larry Weiss <
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	Date:	Monday, 04 Feb 2008 23:02:12 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0062 Untouchable Shakespeare

[2] 	From:	Phyllis Gorfain <
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	Date:	Tuesday, 05 Feb 2008 07:09:00 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0062 Untouchable Shakespeare

[3] 	From:	David Richman <
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	Date:	Tuesday, 5 Feb 2008 09:32:21 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0062 Untouchable Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Larry Weiss <
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Date:		Monday, 04 Feb 2008 23:02:12 -0500
Subject: 19.0062 Untouchable Shakespeare
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0062 Untouchable Shakespeare

I am not aware that there is a widespread idea that "to read, teach or 
perform the Merchant is an act of Anti-Semitism per se."

The closest I have seen is a chapter in Ron Rosenbaum's book "The 
Shakespeare Wars," which takes issue with the modern tendency to 
prettify or justify Shylock. Rosenbaum thesis is that the play is 
unredeemably anti-Semitic and no sympathetic portrayal of Shylock can 
alter that. But even Rosenbaum does not argue that the play should not 
be read or taught, or even performed. On the contrary, he sums up his 
position by saying that "I don't believe that Merchant should be banned 
or never shown. I'm just not sure of the rationale for showing it rather 
than reading it."

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Phyllis Gorfain <
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Date:		Tuesday, 05 Feb 2008 07:09:00 -0500
Subject: 19.0062 Untouchable Shakespeare
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0062 Untouchable Shakespeare

 >....I'm trying to substantiate whether the pointed reaction
 >I have  encountered from older Americans, that to read,
 >teach or perform  the Merchant is an act of Anti-Semitism
 >per se., is either  widespread or influencing curricula....

Carol, here are some references you might find helpful:

Ralph Cohen, "Unpalability in the Web of The Merchant of Venice." The 
Upstart Crow 19 (1992): 2-10.

Gayle Gaskill, "Making The Merchant of Venice Palatable for U.S. 
Audiences." The Merchant of Venice: New Critical Essays. Eds. John Mahon 
and Ellen Macleod Mahon. New York and London: Routledge, 2002. 375-86.

Marion D. Perret. "Shakespeare and Anti-Semitism: Two Television 
Versions of The Merchant of Venice." Mosaic: A Journal for the 
Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 16.1 (Winter-Spring 1983):  145-163.

Gerald Hammond. "The Merchant of Venice and the Jewish Question." 
Studies in Language and Literature 8 (Dec. 1998): 1-21.

Lisa Freinkel. "'The Merchant of Venice: 'Modern' anti-Semitism and the 
veil of allegory," Shakespeare and Modernity: early modern to millenium. 
Ed. Hugh Grady. London and NY: Routledge. 2000. 122-41.

Charles Edelman. The Merchant of Venice. Shakespeare In Production. New 
York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Best,
Phyllis Gorfain
Oberlin College

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[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		David Richman <
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Date:		Tuesday, 5 Feb 2008 09:32:21 -0500
Subject: 19.0062 Untouchable Shakespeare
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0062 Untouchable Shakespeare

I haven't encountered the "Don't teach or perform MV because it is 
anti-Semitic." Even those who believe the play to be anti-Semitic 
believe the play must be taught and performed so one can confront the 
anti-Semitism directly. It would be interesting to do a Lexis search on 
accounts of recent productions and how they have been received. The last 
time I did such searches, when I directed MV in 2001, I didn't find 
directives to avoid teaching or performing the play. I don't yet know if 
the situation has changed since 2001. David Richman

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