2009

Spring Folger Seminar on Textual Debates and

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0449  Tuesday, 18 August 2009

From:       Owen Williams <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Friday, 14 Aug 2009 13:27:51 -0400
Subject:    Spring Folger Seminar on Textual Debates and Editorial Practice

Please forward the following call for applications to faculty and 
advanced graduate students who may be interested.

Textual Debates and Editorial Practice

A Spring Semester Seminar directed by Margaret Jane Kidnie

Editorial studies achieved an unexpected celebrity in the late 1980s and 
1990s, while occasioning sometimes heated polemical debate. While the 
scholarly quarrels have recently become more nuanced, there remains 
uncertainty about the principles of editorial practice. How are editors 
adapting their methodologies in face of the so-called theory wars, and 
how might they continue to evolve? How, if at all, are editions designed 
for use in the classroom, study, and theatre changing? This seminar is 
designed to engage practitioners new to the field as well as experienced 
editors who would like to explore current issues at more length. 
Participants will draw on their own works-in-progress among other 
examples to investigate the process of preparing an edition for 
publication, from interpreting manuscripts to establishing substantive 
editions to making decisions about emendation, lineation, and 
commentary. Using this practical aspect as a foundation for discussion, 
participants will explore new possibilities for editorial practice and 
the larger conceptual issues they raise. Topics will include authors and 
authority; print evidence of lost manuscript sources; changing canonical 
boundaries; editing conventions and modern publishing constraints; and 
editing and theatre as related forms of modern (and always adaptive?) 
production.

Director: Margaret Jane Kidnie, Professor of English at the University 
of Western Ontario, is the author of Shakespeare and the Problem of 
Adaptation (2009). She has edited Philip Stubbes: The Anatomie of Abuses 
(2002) and Ben Jonson: The Devil is an Ass and Other Plays (2000); her 
edition of The Humorous Magistrate, an early seventeenth-century 
manuscript drama, is forthcoming with the Malone Society. She is the 
co-editor of Textual Performances: The Modern Reproduction of 
Shakespeare's Drama (2004), and has written widely on editorial 
practice, particularly in relation to issues of performance. She is 
currently working on an edition of A Woman Killed with Kindness.

Schedule: Thursdays, 1  --  4:30 p.m., 28 January through 15 April 2010, 
except 25 February and 1 April.

Apply: 4 September 2009 for admission (and grants-in-aid for Folger 
Institute affiliates); 4 January 2010 for admission only.

Application information may be found on the Folger Institute's website: 
www.folger.edu/institute. Please forward any questions to 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

_______________________________________________________________
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.

What is Hamlet's flaw?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0448  Friday, 14 August 2009

[1] From:   Sally Drumm <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 2009 13:33:06 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0447 What is Hamlet's flaw?

[2] From:   Sally Drumm <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Wednesday, 12 Aug 2009 13:37:24 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0447 What is Hamlet's flaw?

[3] From:   Jim Ryan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Friday, 14 Aug 2009 10:26:13 -0400
     Subj:   What is Hamlet's flaw?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Sally Drumm <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 12 Aug 2009 13:33:06 -0400
Subject: 20.0447 What is Hamlet's flaw?
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0447 What is Hamlet's flaw?

 >Has young Hamlet achieved perfect vicarious contrition by
 >helping to restore the fruits of King Hamlet's sins to young Fortinbras?

Please define "vicarious contrition" and "fruits of King Hamlet's sins."

Sincerely,
Sally Drumm

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Sally Drumm <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 12 Aug 2009 13:37:24 -0400
Subject: 20.0447 What is Hamlet's flaw?
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0447 What is Hamlet's flaw?

 >Alas, old ideas (like
 >Saussure's rather silly "language never errs") tend to decline as their
 >(tenured and aging) proponents either retire or die, rather than because
 >its proponents have not found consensual confirmation in the critical
 >universe.

I have often been accused of being lodged in the 19th century and 
consider it a compliment. Thank you. I much prefer French philosophers 
to American, and so far as criticism is concerned, I will spend hours 
reading Mimesis and zilch time reading most of what today is called 
criticism. Truly, language never errs.

Sincerely,
Sally Drumm

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Jim Ryan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Friday, 14 Aug 2009 10:26:13 -0400
Subject:    What is Hamlet's flaw?

John Knapp writes,

 >In general, while scientists tend to work toward a consensus because
 >"nature" talks back to scientists and it's "not nice to fool mother
 >nature," literary critics can only talk back to one another. Ours is a
 >very conservative discipline that tends to rely on reputation as much
 >as strength of rhetorical skills.

Shouldn't it be possible to keep a quiet corner in Shakespeare studies 
where we can hear Shakespeare whisper back? To put aside the 
conservatism of the discipline and make consensual incremental changes, 
particularly in the description of the plays? For example, we know 
(don't we?) from the action and time intervals in, say, _Hamlet_ and 
_Othello_ that those plays are composed in five main parts and that the 
traditional Act divisions often do not accord with those parts. Yet we 
go on publishing the incorrect demarcations with only a footnote, if 
that, to indicate the flaws. Why not reverse the procedure, footnoting 
the old and incorrect divisions? Give students some more immediate sense 
of the dramatic structure instead of implying that the breaks are not of 
much importance? ("Convenience of reference" hardly justifies distorting 
the plays' articulations.)

The recent discussion on Othello's handkerchief illustrates critics 
talking back to one another with little regard for the text, without 
listening for Shakespeare's voice. There was only one mention, and that 
slighting, to the fact that the handkerchief is embroidered with 
strawberries. Surely it would be worth looking at the food references in 
the play for clues to the handkerchief's significance. And in this 
search wouldn't it be helpful to have a compendium of food references 
listed scene by scene? Wouldn't it be possible to reach consensus on 
such modest details?

Accurate description ("mere description," in Stanley Cavell's dismissive 
phrase) necessarily precedes interpretation. Amidst the grand theorizing 
about the plays, I often imagine hearing Louis Agassiz exhorting his 
students: "Look at your fish."


_______________________________________________________________
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.

Iago as Dramatist/Performer

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0446  Wednesday, 12 August 2009

From:       Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 11 Aug 2009 13:02:10 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 20.0442 Iago as Dramatist/Performer
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0442 Iago as Dramatist/Performer

When Louis Swilley asks:

"When the character addresses the audience directly -- as Richard in 
Richard III and Iago in Othello -- doesn't that make the audience a 
character in the play? If so, what are the consequences of *that*?"

he evinces a proper understanding of the nature of theater. Characters, 
as portrayed, may address the audience directly in soliloquies, asides, 
prologues, epilogues, choruses, etc. Here the audience may assume the 
role of silent conspirator as well as auditor, viewer, appreciator, and 
evaluator.

What then is character? It is an identity constructed by the writer or 
playwright, realized perhaps imperfectly by the actors and interpreted 
by the recipient, again, perhaps imperfectly, in correspondence with or 
deviation from authorial intent. Literary critics also interpret 
character by arguing about such things as underlying motives, back 
stories, and intentions. While most such things may remain unknowable 
with absolute certainty, they are not inherently so, depending on the 
available evidence and their proper scholarly assessment.

To suggest that a "character directly addresses the audience" in certain 
instances is by no means nonsensical. Such direct address can most often 
strengthen the identification between the two parties and thereby 
enhance the experience.

Thanks to David Crosby for a contrary view.

Regards,
"Ineducable" Joe Egert


_______________________________________________________________
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.

What is Hamlet's flaw?

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0447  Wednesday, 12 August 2009

[Editor's Note: This thread has meandered for some time now. Could we 
possibly begin to bring it to a close? -HMC]

[1] From:   Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Monday, 10 Aug 2009 14:33:27 -0700 (PDT)
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0427 What is Hamlet's flaw?

[2] From:   David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Monday, 10 Aug 2009 17:36:11 -0400
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0443 What is Hamlet's flaw?

[3] From:   John Knapp <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Monday, 10 Aug 2009 21:13:42 -0500
     Subj:   Re: SHK 20.0443 What is Hamlet's flaw?

[4] From:   Felix de Villiers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
     Date:   Tuesday, 11 Aug 2009 10:44:01 +0200
     Subj:   What is Hamlet's flaw


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Monday, 10 Aug 2009 14:33:27 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 20.0427 What is Hamlet's flaw?
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0427 What is Hamlet's flaw?

Larry Weiss writes:

"Claudius has not made and cannot possibly make a "perfect act of 
contrition" so long as he retains the fruits of his sins."

Question:  Has young Hamlet achieved perfect vicarious contrition by 
helping to restore the fruits of King Hamlet's sins to young Fortinbras?

Curious,
Joe Egert

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       David Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Monday, 10 Aug 2009 17:36:11 -0400
Subject: 20.0443 What is Hamlet's flaw?
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0443 What is Hamlet's flaw?

John Drakakis may be right, that we'll have to agree to disagree. He 
seems to believe that terms like "authorizing meaning" have meaning 
without being given a more particular application, and this was the 
assumption I was trying to argue against. I suggested some possible 
examples of meanings it might have, to show what I meant by giving the 
term meaning. I did this as well with "the gulf between words and 
actions". He replies, as I interpret him, that his terms have plenty of 
meaning, indeed particular meaning, as they stand. He says he is making 
a particular point about a particular text, as if these words 
self-evidently do what he says they do. He speaks as if he thinks my use 
of "abstract" is an aberration that expresses only my own speculations, 
or perhaps my politics. The separation of words and actions, or, in this 
case, "the difference between 'words' 'thoughts' and 'actions'", he 
seems to say, is "a question" which is raised by the text of Hamlet 
"itself". But it's not clear to me what exactly that question is, or 
where it appears in the play. He doesn't refer to any particular action 
of any particular character, or any particular line of the play, as an 
example of what he's talking about. "To construct a set of plausible 
arguments that we might discuss" seems to me an admirable goal. 
Meanwhile, in my view, the veil of unapplied terms remains firmly in 
place. John Drakakis may have something in particular, and even 
plausible, in mind, but going by the words he offers here, I can't tell 
what it is.

Best wishes,
David Bishop

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       John Knapp <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Monday, 10 Aug 2009 21:13:42 -0500
Subject: 20.0443 What is Hamlet's flaw?
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0443 What is Hamlet's flaw?

Sally and John  --

I agree with John  that knowing the basic tenets of "theory" is 
important, even though it's day has come . . . and gone . . . and going 
much further to recent thinking is even more important. To Sally Drumm, 
the interesting question(s) you ask relate(s) much more related to 
theories of knowledge rather than to lit crit., per se. To start, I 
might suggest an oldie but goody: cf. Michele Lamont's essay, "How to be 
a Dominant French Philosopher: The Case of Jacques Derrida"  *American 
Journal of Sociology* 93 (1987): 584-622.

In general, while scientists tend to work toward a consensus because 
"nature" talks back to scientists and it's "not nice to fool mother 
nature," literary critics can only talk back to one another. Ours is a 
very conservative discipline that tends to rely on reputation as much as 
strength of rhetorical skills. But we are, nonetheless, still subject to 
many of the "laws" of disciplinary initiation, growth, development, 
innovative exhaustion, and finally, decline. Alas, old ideas (like 
Saussure's rather silly "language never errs") tend to decline as their 
(tenured and aging) proponents either retire or die, rather than because 
its proponents have not found consensual confirmation in the critical 
universe.

Cheers,
John


[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Felix de Villiers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 11 Aug 2009 10:44:01 +0200
Subject:    What is Hamlet's flaw

What is Hamlet's flaw?

I have read and reread many of the letters on this thread, which are 
often illuminating, but there are so many statements that I disagree 
with that it would be difficult to respond to them one by one. So I 
offer a tentative, partial interpretation in which some replies are 
implicit.

 From the start I have felt uncomfortable with the title of the thread 
and have asked myself why. Somehow it has a philistine ring in my ears. 
It is like asking, "What is Heathcliff's flaw in "_Wuthering Heights_? 
or Becky Sharp's flaw in _Vanity Fair_?" They may have more than one 
flaw, but these are swept up on the tide of inspiration, rich in 
infinite details of the works in which they are conceived. It is the 
conception as a whole that interests us more than single flaws.

Traditionally Hamlet's flaw is his indecision, but is this not his 
strength? To withdraw from actions that throw the world from precipice 
to precipice and contemplate them? This could have been a traditional 
revenge play, but Hamlet takes a decisive step back from it. Even when 
he has ample reason to execute his revenge, after discovering that 
Claudius tried to have him killed in England, he does not act. The last 
scenes take place as in a dream: the graveyard episode, Hamlet's 
acceptance of the duel with Laertes, whose father he had killed. If he 
had been acute in his suspicion of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, he 
should by now have been doubly suspicious of the King's invitation to 
the duel. But he seems, at this point almost to have lost his will and 
his words to Laertes are suicidal, " . . . what is't to leave betimes?" 
Claudius kills himself.

My conjecture, of which I am quite convinced, is that Hamlet was a 
melancholic and sceptic before the events of the play begin. This is 
evident before he knows that his father was murdered. The hasty marriage 
of his mother suffices to open the floodgates of his melancholy. The 
speech to his mother about false appearances and 'seeming' spring 
readily to his mind. People talk about his subjectivity, but he is 
surely the most objective person in the play. He sees what others don't 
see about the falsity of appearances with an acute eye.

This does, indeed, lead to faults in his character. His cynicism makes 
him behave atrociously to Polonius and, especially Ophelia, he suffers 
from an almost Othello-like sexual jealousy, and his scepticism spills 
over into lucid paranoia, for example, when he sees Ophelia, who has 
done nothing to merit this, as an already defiled creature in advance 
who can only save herself in a nunnery.

His paranoia is matched by brilliant reflections and insights. A King is 
food for worms and may pass through the stomach of a beggar. He sees the 
senselessness of wars over a worthless patch of land that leads 
thousands to their death. He sees the glorious promise of life on earth 
threatened by meaninglessness. Who of us have not had moments when 
nature, cities like Venice, the beauty of the men and women we see 
around us, do not seem unreal faced with the self-destructive tendencies 
of our kind? In his visionary delirium Hamlet/Shakespeare sometimes 
gives a glowing, smoldering voice to language that almost rise 
enigmatically above their immediate context, as in his words after 
killing Polonius:

                                      O, such a deed
As from the body of contraction plucks
The very soul, and sweet religion makes
A rhapsody of words: heaven's face doth glow:
Yea, this solidity and compound mass,
With tristful visage, as against the doom,
Is thought-sick at the act.

Who still has time to think of Hamlet's flaw?

_______________________________________________________________
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.

Readings about A Winter's Tale

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 20.0445  Wednesday, 12 August 2009

From:       Tom Bishop <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 11 Aug 2009 10:17:59 +1200
Subject: 20.0441 Readings about A Winter's Tale
Comment:    Re: SHK 20.0441 Readings about A Winter's Tale

Dear Jack,

 >I sometimes like to support a drama program by purchasing some books
 >with useful materials about the play its participants are working on.
 >This year, they will be working on _A Winter's Tale_. I would like
 >titles of at least five book or similar resources on _A Winter's  Tale_.
 >The participants have a variety of educational backgrounds   -- 
some may
 >benefit from something like a play paraphrase, and others would enjoy
 >reading academic discussions. The books need not be solely on  _Winter's
 >Tale_; two years ago I gave them Shapiro's 1599 while they were  working
 >on _Julius Caesar_.

In addition to the books mentioned by Jacqueline Mullender, you might 
also consider for your readers:

Wilbur Sanders, _The Winter's Tale_
Stanley Cavell, _Disowning Knowledge_ in six [or seven, depending on the 
edition!] plays of Shakespeare (chapter on WT)
Northrop Frye, _A Natural Perspective_
Simon Palfrey: _Late Shakespeare_
Ken Gross, _The Dream of the Moving Statue_

and perhaps my Shakespeare and the _Theatre of Wonder_.

Tom

_______________________________________________________________
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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