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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: August ::
Intentions Reactions
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0462  Wednesday, 13 August 2008

From:       Felix de Villiers <
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Date:       Saturday, 26 Jul 2008 00:30:46 +0200
Subject:    Intentions Reactions

Larry Weiss wrote,

 >I rather like Felix de Villiers' suggestion for a roundtable on "style"; but
 >I think the subject may be too open ended unless it is focused more
 >precisely on either some aspect of style (e.g., rhetorical figures, imagery,
 >syntactical and grammatical irregularity) or -- preferably -- questions of
 >how we perceive and distinguish style. The latter would explore the extent
 >to which style may reliably be quantified (stylometry) and the question of
 >whether there is an intellectual facility for recognizing stylistic differences
 >without the aid of number crunchers (a "golden ear").

Thanks to Larry Weiss for his interest in my theme for a Roundtable, but I would 
like to remind him that I didn't suggest "Style" but "Style and Content." The 
two, as I wrote, are confused, and often, when people are talking about style 
they mean content. The two are inseparable and feed on one another or nourish 
one another. The "grammatical irregularities, rhetorical figures, imagery" etc. 
have an essential verbal content to them that may differ in every example and in 
different dramatic contexts. A stylometric test may be very interesting, but I 
still prefer the eye, the ear which follow the power of Shakespeare's 
imagination. Like Larry, I prefer his second suggestion, which would raise the 
question of how we "perceive and distinguish style," and to this I add Content. 
And then Shakespeare's style changes from period to period and sometimes from 
play to play. Richard II, for example is self-styled and hams out his role to 
the hilt. I feel a bit foolish about my naivety in may last letter on this 
subject as I then Googled "Shakespeare style" and found quite a lot of things to 
be getting on with (sources provided): Detailed appraisals of his style and 
content, then a writer who says the bard's style cannot be defined. Arnold 
Hauser classifies him convincingly as a Mannerist; others say he has no 
mannerisms. So there is quite a lot to sort out.

Yours, Felix

[Editor's Note: I will try to be as diplomatic as I can. Roundtable discussions 
are intended to concentrate on significant topics derived from issues of current 
interest in the discipline. I have enjoyed working with Hugh Grady and Cary 
DiPietro on the first two of these new SHAKSPER features. Offering the 
Roundtable discussions has been a learning experience for me. As with all 
pioneers, Hugh blazed the trail; and along the way, he and I were not always 
satisfied with our results. I got an opportunity during a break at the 
International Shakespeare Conference in Stratford last week to talk with Hugh 
about some of what I had learned during the second Roundtable and how I wish 
that I knew then what I know now about moderating Roundtables. My point is that 
as we go on with these Roundtable discussions, the results tend to get better 
and better as our procedures become more polished. For example, during 
Roundtable 2, Cary and I rejected a number of submissions, most for not 
significantly engaging or advancing the scholarly discussion that was underway. 
I perhaps have made a mistake in my inviting open discussion of possible topics 
for the next Roundtable. And I certainly did not intend to give the impression 
that guest moderators and discussion topics would be selected through any sort 
of electoral process. I invite volunteers from among established scholars like 
Hugh Grady or from up-and-coming scholars like Cary DiPietro to contact me 
privately if interested in suggesting or guest moderating another Roundtable. 
-Hardy]

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