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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: April ::
SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.02035  Thursday, 3 April 2008

From:		Cary DiPietro <
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Date:		Friday, 14 Mar 2008 17:42:45 -0400
Subject:	SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

Dear SHAKSPEReans,

Let me introduce Cary DiPietro, who has agreed to be the guest moderator 
for the second SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions, and 
provide some background. This Roundtable originated from regular 
discussions on the list. John V. Knapp, Professor of English at Northern 
Illinois University and Editor of _Style_, suggested to me the 
possibility of a STYLE/SHAKSPER collaboration. We then made a call for 
guest moderators and chose Cary DiPietro.

To review the Roundtable procedures, the Guest Moderator is responsible 
for initiating, moderating, directing, and concluding Roundtable 
discussions. To begin, the Guest Moderator announces a Reading List at 
least two weeks before discussion begins. Anyone participating in the 
Roundtable discussions is expected to be thoroughly familiar with these 
readings; the reading list is a means of distinguishing Roundtable 
discussions from the ordinary traffic on the list. Roundtable 
discussions concentrate on significant topics in the discipline. The 
discourse is intended to be the elevated exchanges of academia and not 
the impressionistic responses of enthusiasts. The Guest Moderator starts 
the discussion with a question or a statement. Members who wish to 
participate send responses that are clearly identified as belonging to 
the Roundtable thread to me, and I forward them to the Guest Moderator, 
who organizes and comments on the entire week's submissions before 
suggesting directions that discussions might take the following week. 
After calling an end to the Roundtable, the Guest Moderator provides a 
summary statement, and then the entire course of the Roundtable 
discussions is given its own page on the SHAKSPER website for public 
review.

With this said, let us begin the second SHAKSPER Roundtable.

Best wishes,
Hardy M. Cook


SHAKSPER Roundtable: Initial Message, Reading List -- Shakespeare's 
Intentions

Cary DiPietro currently lectures at the University of Toronto at 
Mississauga. He received both his M.A. (1997) and Ph.D. (2002) in 
Shakespeare Studies from The Shakespeare Institute, University of 
Birmingham. He is the author of _Shakespeare and Modernism_ (Cambridge 
UP, 2006) and of related articles on Shakespeare in such venues as _New 
Theatre Quarterly_, _Shakespeare Survey_, and _Shakespeare_. He is also 
editor of Volume 9 in the forthcoming series Great Shakespeareans 
(Continuum) and contributor to the forthcoming Shakespeare Encyclopedia 
(Greenwood Press). He is currently working on a visual history of 
scenography and design in English production of Shakespeare from 1660 to 
1960. His research interests occur at the intersection of theatre 
history and performance theory with literary critical history and practice.

Convention dictates that I write my own bio-blurb in the third person, a 
narrative device meant to conceal by way of a seemingly objective voice 
the construction and insertion of my professional self into a 
disciplinary practice. While that "self" is governed by the norms and 
expectations of a professional discourse in the broader sense, it's also 
written into a specific category or genre of writing that is itself 
governed by the norms and expectations of a community of readers. That 
"self" is necessarily contained and delimited by the form and content of 
the narrative (it may not be relevant that I'm a Calvin Klein underwear 
model, but the fact that I bought my degrees on the internet is 
certainly an important omission). So, too, is the "community of readers" 
I can only imagine as I write this blurb on my laptop, and whose 
diversity and heterogeneity are inevitably flattened out and contained 
by the singular act of "sending" by way of my email client to an 
audience called "Hardy M. Cook." So, too, for that matter, is the 
narratorial identity I adopt in a moment of schizophrenic disconnect to 
tell the story of my career in the third-person professional. And while 
it might be nice to believe that the voice you're "hearing" now in the 
first person is somehow more confessional or true to my real self, the 
not-so-subtle irony and attempted wit give further evidence to that 
impossibly complex relationship between my authorial identity, the 
practices that govern both writing and reading in this particular way 
and at this particular moment in time, and whatever it is you think I'm 
trying to say.

My intention (if you're willing to believe such a thing now) is to offer 
an analogy between my own authorship and Shakespeare's authorship as a 
point of entry into our discussion of "Shakespeare's Intentions" in this 
second SHAKSPER Roundtable. The analogy is in many ways untenable, and 
for rather obvious reasons, not the least of which include the widely 
differing genres of writing, the historical distance that separates us 
from Shakespeare, and the historicity of such concepts as "authorship" 
and "self", as well as the various practices and economies of writing, 
textual production, different kinds of reading, and performance. These 
are the issues, framed in various ways, that have dominated critical and 
pedagogical approaches to Shakespeare for the last twenty or so years. 
While it might seem that the theoretical interventions instigated by 
continental theory have permanently decentred "Shakespeare" as a single 
and originating source of meaning for the "body" of writing the name 
metonymically represents, fantasies of his authorship persist, and they 
do so tenaciously. Despite the death of the author, Shakespeare lives on 
in the edited texts that bear his name, corrected by editors from the 
"corrupted" early printed texts that have descended to us.  He lives in 
the theatre, where his presence not only is felt in the living medium of 
performance, but remains a marketing marker of high culture. He persists 
even more discreetly in a critical paradigm dominated by the 
historicist's obsession with material traces of an initial or 
originating context. And he lives, no less, on SHAKSPER, as a unitary 
object of discussion.

Indeed, the earlier thread on "Authorial Intention" that occasioned this 
Roundtable demonstrates that, far from having been exhausted or answered 
by contemporary critical practice, questions about Shakespeare's 
dramatic authorship and his intended meanings, though unfashionable, 
remain important cruces in the various forms of interpretation in which 
we engage. My opening exegesis gestures incompletely towards some of the 
issues that continue to animate debate in the contemporary study of 
narrative, and which received some treatment in our earlier discussion 
(implied author, reading communities, etc.); my hope is for us to 
consider, over the next few weeks, how these terminological, 
epistemological, and, ultimately, ontological issues in the field of 
narrative about authors and how they mean for their audiences, might 
usefully inform our discussion of Shakespeare's drama, and vice versa.

To that end, I've compiled a preliminary reading list. Given that it's a 
rather long list, I'm going to provide some context here so that 
participants might pick and choose (skim and browse) those readings they 
feel are of particular interest or are particularly relevant to the 
discussion. The first two of these are intended as general 
terminological guides. Annabel Patterson's "Intention", after twenty 
years, remains an excellent and non-prescriptive overview of the 
questions and concerns surrounding intention, particularly where issues 
in literary interpretation intersect with legal interpretation. Donald 
E. Pease's "Author" offers a more conventional historical narrative of 
authorship, one that has perhaps been too readily taken up in 
Shakespeare criticism. The historicity of authorship may serve as an 
initial framework for our discussion, especially as it was played out in 
a running debate between Edward Pechter, Margreta de Grazia, Peter 
Stallybrass, Graham Holderness, Bryan Loughrey, and Andrew Murphy in the 
mid to late 1990s. The article that instigated this debate was de Grazia 
and Stallybrass's "The materiality of the Shakespearean text" published 
in Shakespeare Quarterly in 1993. I include here with it the series of 
responses and counter-responses that appeared in Textual Practice in 1997.

Where Patterson writing about intention in 1987 is poised on the cusp of 
an impending turn towards theory in literary and cultural studies, the 
Textual Practice debate marks the starting-point of a critical 
counterturn that is being more keenly felt now. I've included here two 
more recent and very wonderful examples that explore the relationship 
between authorship and intention in Shakespeare. Luke Wilson's Theatres 
of Intention uses Patterson's article as a point of departure in his 
study of English theatre and law as "institutions which, despite deep 
and abiding dissimilarities, show a common preoccupation with 
representations of human action, representations shaped by evolving 
articulations of intention" (4). In the introduction, Wilson notes in 
particular that the "unmooring" of intention by structuralist and 
poststructuralist-influenced critical history has evolved into a kind of 
agnosticism about intention as a critical object of study. Amy 
Greenstadt's more recent article on "Lucrece" is a wonderful 
exemplification of the issues we're raising here, albeit in the case of 
a narrative poem rather than a drama.

The study of narrative is a huge field, and putting together a short 
reading list that pays heed to the long critical heritage of this study 
is by no means an easy task. John Knapp provided me with a much longer 
list of possible readings from which I've drawn a few that might be 
particularly relevant to the drama. These include excerpts from longer 
works by James Phelan and Peter Rabinowitz, both well-known scholars in 
the field. The section from Rabinowitz's introduction, "Who is reading?" 
(20-29), and particularly his notion of the "authorial audience", 
provide a useful way not only of thinking outside of the intention 
impasse, but also in terms of how the discussion of narrative intention 
might be extended to the drama.  This is the nature of the argument in 
two important articles. In "Voice and Narration in Post-Modern Drama", 
Brian Richardson attempts to destabilize the long-held Aristotelian 
distinction between mimesis and diegesis to speak of narration in drama. 
In a similar vein, Manfred Jahn attempts to "prepare the ground for a 
narratology of drama" (660). Quite wonderfully, Jahn uses Gower's 
opening speech in Pericles (the reconstructed Oxford text) to make the 
case that plays contain various kinds of narrative voice. This example 
only amplifies the problematic relationship between authorship, 
intention and meaning in the drama that we're proposing to tackle here.

I'm really looking forward to our discussion; as Hardy suggests, we're 
pioneering exciting new terrain. Happy reading!

References

De Grazia, Margreta and Peter Stallybrass. "The materiality of the 
Shakespearean text." Shakespeare Quarterly, 44.3 (1993):  255-83.

De Grazia, Margreta and Peter Stallybrass. "Love among the ruins: 
response to Pechter." Textual Practice 11.1 (1997):  69-79.

Greenstadt, Amy. "'Read it in me':  the author's will in 'Lucrece'". 
Shakespeare Quarterly 57.1 (2006):  45-70.

Holderness, Graham, Bryan Loughrey and Andrew Murphy. "Busy doing 
nothing: a response to Edward Pechter." Textual Practice 11.1 (1997): 
81-7.

Jahn, Manfred. "Narrative Voice and Agency in Drama: Aspects of a 
Narratology in Drama." New Literary History 32 (2001):  659-679.

Patterson, Annabel. "Intention." In Critical Terms for Literary Study. 
Eds. Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin. Chicago:  U of Chicago Press,
1987. 135-146.

Pease, Donald E. "Author." In Critical Terms for Literary Study. Eds. 
Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin. Chicago:  U of Chicago Press,
1987. 105-120.

Pechter, Edward. "Making love to our employment; or, the immateriality 
of arguments about the materiality of the Shakespearean text." Textual
Practice 11.1 (1997):  51-67.

Phelan, James. Living to Tell About It: A Rhetoric and Ethics of 
Character Narration. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2005:  1-23 (excerpt from
Introduction).

Rabinowitz, Peter. Before Reading: Narrative Conventions and the 
Politics of Interpretation. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1987:  15-29.

Richardson, Brian. "Voice and Narration in Post-Modern Drama." New 
Literary History 32 (2001):  681-694.

Wilson, Luke. Theatres of Intention:  Drama and the Law in Early Modern 
England. California:  Stanford UP, 2000. See esp. Introduction.

[Editor's Note: Should you have difficulty locating any of these titles, 
contact either me or Prof. DiPietro and we will send you a pdf file of 
the title as an attachment. -Hardy]

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