2008

Hard Cases

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0322  Thursday, 29 May 2008

From:		Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Wednesday, 28 May 2008 12:49:47 -0400
Subject:	Hard Cases

Suggested by SHK 19.0318 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

[Editor's Note: As I announced, Cary and I are experimenting this week with the 
new Roundtable (RT) format -- messages will be sent out as they arrive and a 
digest will be sent out at the end of the week that includes everything from the 
week -- invited essays, guest moderator's commentary, and discussions. As we 
have been proceeding, we have discovered matters that we had not anticipated. We 
wanted to distinguish between Roundtable (RT) discussions and regular traffic on 
the list, and we wanted in the RTs to encourage critical engagement with the 
issues of the topic but discourage having less focused comments. Having a RT 
digest once per week was intended to address this issue; however, we were also 
concerned that the once-a-week digest format might be inhibiting discussion. So 
our dilemma is to try to find a "middle way" between the two, a way that, 
nevertheless, preserves the distinction between RT and regular conversations on 
SHAKSPER. Larry Weiss's submission below forced us to engage this dilemma. The 
comments are interesting and are indeed suggested by what had been written; 
however, comments are only marginally related to the topic of intentions. We 
wrote to Larry Weiss; and, as it turns out, he shared our concern. We have 
decided to change the subject so that the submission that, although suggested by 
the Roundtable, would appear as a "regular" SHAKSPER offering suitable for 
continuation as a thread on its own but apart from the more directly focused RT 
thread on intentions. -Hardy Cook]

 >we argue most of the time about what the lawyers call
 >the "hard cases" that make for poor law and we ignore
 >the very large body of agreement that makes interesting
 >disagreement possible in the first place.

Actually, the word "hard" in this cliche does not mean "difficult"; it means 
"causing hardship." The idea is that when judges are faced with the alternative 
of following established law or altering it to avoid inflicting a hardship, they 
may well commit an error. Apropos of the "intention" discussion, this notion is 
what Portia *seems to mean* when she tells the Duke not to "wrest the law to 
[his] authority | To do a great right do a little wrong" as "'Twill be recorded 
for a precedent | And many an error, by the same example, | Will rush into the 
state."

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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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.

SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0321  Thursday, 29 May 2008

[1]    From:	David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
         Date:	Wednesday, 28 May 2008 20:43:43 -0400
         Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0318 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

[2]    From:	Alan Horn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
         Date:	Thursday, 29 May 2008 08:38:41 -0400
         Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0310 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

[3]    From:	Alan Dessen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
         Date:	Thursday, 29 May 2008 15:21:33 -0500
         Subj:	Intentions again


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		David Evett <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Wednesday, 28 May 2008 20:43:43 -0400
Subject: 19.0318 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0318 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

Thanks to Martin Mueller for his splendidly clear and provocative statement of 
the Intentional Problem-though it leaves a little understated the imperative 
need we have in both ordinary and extraordinary moments of practical life to 
seek for intention in the utterances and actions of others.

Intentionally?

David Evett

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Alan Horn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Thursday, 29 May 2008 08:38:41 -0400
Subject: 19.0310 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0310 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

Duncan Salkeld makes what I consider an important point in his Roundtable 
contribution. He argues that just because we may never understand an author's 
intentions with perfect clarity or perfect certainty does not mean we can't or 
shouldn't allow consideration of these intentions to constrain our reading. One 
could make a similar point against the similar all-or-nothing logic of presentism.

However, I was surprised to see Salkeld endorse the view of Knapp and Michaels 
that meaning and intention are one and the same. I can certainly think of ways 
in which meanings with no intentions behind them can arise in literary works.

To take a crude example, some of the famous cruxes in Shakespeare may well be 
the consequence of arbitrary typographical substitutions. Let's say this is the 
case for "Indian"/"Iudean." If so, one of the two alternate meanings of this 
part of Othello's penultimate speech not only does not reflect Shakespeare's 
intentions, but reflects no human intentions at all. Knapp and Michaels, who 
argue in a hypothetical example that a poem inscribed on the shore by the chance 
mechanical action of the surf would necessarily be meaningless, would have to 
say the same thing about one of the two textual possibilities here. Yet the 
meaning of each has been grasped and described by any number of competent readers.

Maybe "meaning" is being specially defined here as "the author's intended 
meaning." In this case, the argument is indeed "irrefutable," as Salkeld 
proposes, but only because it's circular.

Alan Horn

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Alan Dessen <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Thursday, 29 May 2008 15:21:33 -0500
Subject:	Intentions again

Martin Mueller's assessment of "a largely probabilistic universe" with respect 
to authorial "intentions" makes excellent sense to me, as does his category of 
the "underspecified situation" (e.g., when considering Regan's response to 
Cornwall's "Give me your arm"). "Doing" theatre history means repeatedly dealing 
with the probable and the possible -- hence my invocation of Cary Mazer's 
"craftsmanship" and "strategy" as opposed to authorial meaning or meanings -- 
and the term "underspecified" fits neatly with a wealth of evidence I have 
collected about so-called "permissive" or "open" stage directions (see our 
dictionary entry for "permissive," as with an entrance that includes "as many as 
may be").

At the risk of muddying the waters, I would like to cite a comparable set of 
distinctions. Along with "intentions," another much debated term (particularly 
when dealing with the script to stage process) is "authenticity." These days few 
scholars have kind things to say about this term (and I studiously avoid using 
it in my own work), but in his essay "In Defense of Authenticity" Michael 
Friedman provides some distinctions that further develop what is specified and 
underspecified in Mueller's terms. Reacting to the "rhetoric of slavery and 
emancipation" that underlies many of the attacks on "authenticity," Friedman 
reexamines "the extent to which a Shakespearean text limits the performative 
options of an authentic production." He posits "the existence of five different 
categories of regulation: the text either _forbids_, _discourages_, _allows_, 
encourages_, or _demands_ any specific performance choice" (pp. 46-7 -- and he 
credits Megan Lloyd for this configuration). He then uses a sequence from _Much 
Ado_, 4.1 to illustrate his categories. Friedman notes that "By far the largest 
percentage of performance choices may be classified as those which the text 
_allows_." For example, "We may presume, for instance, that all of the 
characters on stage wear costumes, and that those costumes often convey 
significant information to an audience, but the text rarely specifies a 
particular character's attire, and when it does, it seldom offers more than one 
detail about it" (48). In his formulation, "a production approaches authenticity 
to the degree that it abides by what the text demands or encourages and avoids 
what the text discourages or forbids" (50).

My summary does not do justice to this section of the essay, so interested 
readers should check it out for themselves.

I also see the point in Mueller's warning not to build upon what lawyers term 
"hard cases," though in such oddities or stretches, I confess, I have found some 
of my most telling examples of the gap between then and now. Again and again my 
playgoing in Ashland, Oregon, in the 1970s (starting with a 1974 _Titus 
Andronicus_) led me to moments that were demanded or encouraged for Elizabethan 
or early Jacobean performance but were resisted by today's theatrical 
professionals. Two of my pet examples are the juxtaposition of Kent in the 
stocks with Edgar in flight; and the onstage presence of Duke Senior's "banquet" 
with Orlando and Adam complaining of starving. For me such anomalies have 
provided revealing windows into the past, though what works for my theatre 
history project certainly does not rule out Mueller's cautionary suggestion.

Alan Dessen

Michael D. Friedman. "In Defense of Authenticity." _Studies in Philology_ 94 
(2002): 33-56.

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

Shakespeare Grave

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0319  Thursday, 29 May 2008

From:		Al Magary <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Wednesday, 28 May 2008 13:09:18 -0700
Subject:	Despite Curse, Shakespeare Grave Needs Fixing Up

Despite curse, Shakespeare grave needs fixing up
By GREGORY KATZ, Associated Press Writer
May 28, 2008

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20080528/ap_tr_ge/travel_brief_britain_shakespeare_s_grave

Fix the gravesite. But don't touch the bones.

That's the work order, in a nutshell, for brave architects contemplating a fixup 
job for the deteriorating gravesite of William Shakespeare inside the Holy 
Trinity Church in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon.

The illustrious bard is believed by many to have personally penned the threat on 
a stone marker above his grave.

"Blest be the man that spares these stones," it reads. "And curst be he that 
moves my bones."

That's all well and good, but the stones above his grave are starting to flake 
and fall apart. Clergymen have trod on the stones for nearly four centuries, and 
the foot traffic is taking its inevitable toll.

People who love the church and its place in British literary history want to fix 
it -- provided they can do so without digging up Shakespeare's remains and 
facing the mysterious threat.

"We're avoiding the curse," said Josephine Walker, a spokeswoman for the Friends 
of Shakespeare's Church group. "We are not lifting the stones, we are not 
looking underneath, and the curse is for the bones underneath, so the curse is 
irrelevant for this work."

"It's our wish that we conserve this without anyone knowing we were there," said 
architect Ian Stainburn, who is working on the project. "We want to conserve it 
as it is and slow down the natural process of decay but we don't want to recut 
it. It's really a challenge."

The restoration work is delicate because the church, 100 miles northwest of 
London, is not only a functional house of worship where Shakespeare was baptized 
in 1564 but also a treasure popular with visitors from around the globe.

"We get 100,000 tourists a year, but they don't walk on the stones," Walker 
said. "But the clergy have to when they give communion, and the stones are 
flaking away, the surfaces are coming off. We want to clean the surfaces and 
then very gradually ease in some transparent grout and hold the surfaces 
together. Then we want to move the altar rail so that when the clergy give 
communion they don't have to walk over the stones."

The planned work on the gravesite, which has not yet been approved by the 
various agencies that oversee historic sites, is part of a much larger 
restoration of the church that began two years ago, Walker said.

The group is trying to raise an additional $8 million for the entire project, 
she said. One of the most urgent tasks is to repair the main nave windows, which 
are in very poor shape.

"The metal work is eroding and disintegrating," she said. "That's a really big, 
major job that has to be done, hopefully next year."

At least they don't face a centuries-old curse if they repair the windows. If 
they get the money and the approvals, they can do the work without worrying 
about angering the Bard's ghost.

___

On the Net: http://www.stratford-upon-avon.org

[Editor's Note: The curse lives! Delia Bacon, mother of all Anti-Stratfordians, 
spent the night in Holy Trinity with a shovel, her intention to open the grave 
and reveal the conspiracy she so fervently believed. The following morning, she 
was found by the sexton in a state of shock, insane the remainder of her life, 
an insanity that she bequeathed to the Anti-Stratfordians who would follow her. 
-HMC]

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

CBC Othello Release

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0320  Thursday, 29 May 2008

From:		John Rahme <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Thursday, 29 May 2008 16:46:27 -0400
Subject:	Othello - Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Broadcast and DVD Release

A new CBC television adaptation of Othello, starring Carlo Rota (24, Little 
Mosque on the Prairie), airs June 15 on CBC.

See www.cbc.ca/othello for details.

We are releasing this exciting adaptation of Othello on DVD, it will be 
available for pre-order purchase on-line at www.cbcshop.ca as of June 15 and 
will be available at video retailers across Canada on September 16.

If you would like more information on this adaptation, please feel free to 
contact me.

John Rahme
Manager of Production,
CBC Merchandising 2B200-K
205 Wellington Street, W, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3G7
416. 205-3388
www.cbcshop.ca ( http://www.cbcshop.ca/ )

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

SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0318  Wednesday, 28 May 2008

[1]     From:	Martin Mueller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
         Date:	Monday, 26 May 2008 20:24:29 -0500
         Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0315 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

[2]     From:	Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
         Date:	Tuesday, 27 May 2008 01:08:01 -0400
         Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0315 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Martin Mueller <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Monday, 26 May 2008 20:24:29 -0500
Subject: 19.0315 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0315 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

This is a puzzled and not very well thought-through response to the thread about 
Shakespeare's intentions. One of the problems in that phrase is "Shakespeare's." 
How different is he from "us," whoever we are? And if he was spectacularly good 
at what he did -- which I'm inclined to agree was the case in many cases -- does 
that make any difference to what "he means" or what "we mean by him." My answer 
to that question is that it doesn't, and that we shouldn't talk about 
"Shakespeare's" intentions unless we are prepared to think of it as a particular 
(and not necessarily special) case of what anybody means by anything.

But if we start thinking about what anybody means by anything and whether 
anybody ever understands anything that anybody else says we are in a largely 
probabilistic universe. Good enough uptake happens all the time. 
Misunderstandings happen all the time. Some misunderstandings get transformed 
into good enough uptake after clarification (both of us now think, rightly or 
wrongly that my uptake of what you said corresponds to what you meant to say). 
There are less common, and highly telling, instances of one person understanding 
another person "all too well," which the other person may or may not get.

Another variable is the degree of semantic specification. When Polonius says 
"Take this from this if this be otherwise" (Hamlet, 2.2.156) there is a high 
probability that he means something like "cut off my head" or perhaps "take away 
my staff of office." When Cornwall says: "Regan, I bleed apace, / Untimely comes 
this hurt. Give me your arm" (3.7.97-8), there is an equally high probability 
that Cornwall is asking for Regan's arm (and that the author meant for Cornwall 
to have this intention). It is much harder to judge whether Shakespeare "meant" 
for Regan to lend her arm to Cornwall and whether a modern director would be 
inside or outside the playwright's intention in making Regan conspicuously 
ignore this clearly intended call for help. It might be best to say that we are 
in an underspecified situation.

At some level, we are always in underspecified situation. Good-enough uptake is 
never or almost never the only possible response to an unambiguous signal. But 
perhaps the whole business of intention should not start from difficult cases, 
where people have good reason to argue this way or that way. They should argue 
from obvious cases and figure out why (by and large) we don't say things like

Cordelia is the mother of Lear

Ophelia is actually the daughter of Claudius

In the closet scene, Gertrude and Hamlet shared amicable reminiscences about a 
recent trip to the Hebrides

Instead we argue most of the time about what the lawyers call the "hard cases" 
that make for poor law and we ignore the very large body of agreement that makes 
interesting disagreement possible in the first place. At what point do 
disagreements about the blindingly obvious begin to break down? And when we 
begin to argue, do we argue about the last or first five percent?

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Tuesday, 27 May 2008 01:08:01 -0400
Subject: 19.0315 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0315 SHAKSPER Roundtable: Shakespeare's Intentions

Alan Dessen's observations about the slipperiness of "implied stage directions" 
calls to mind a s.d. interpolated by the Oxford editors (Taylor with Wells) in 
Act III scene i of T&C. In that scene, Pandarus encounters Paris and Helen and 
attempts to deliver a message to Paris from Troilus but is repeatedly 
interrupted by jokingly flirtatious behavior by Helen. At one point, after 
Helen's line "O sir" (addressed to Pandarus), Oxford adds the stage direction: 
"[She tickles him]." The Textual Companion explains the emendation as 
"necessary" to explain the word "fits" in the ensuing line and as being 
"supported" by an earlier (I.ii) account of Helen ticking Troilus, Pandarus's 
use of the word "ticles" in his song later in the scene and Helen's touching him 
later in the scene. The last is another additional s.d. by the Oxford editors 
("[She strokes his fore-head]"). These stage directions may be correct, but it 
strikes me that the choice is better left to directorial than editorial discretion.

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

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