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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: April ::
Janet Adelman

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0166  Friday, 9 April 2010

[1]  From:      Arthur Lindley < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      April 8, 2010 12:14:38 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0160 Janet Adelman

[2]  From:      Lynn Brenner < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      April 8, 2010 2:18:50 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0160  Janet Adelman

[3]  From:      Eric Johnson-DeBaufre < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      April 8, 2010 9:54:28 PM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0160 Janet Adelman

[4]  From:      Herb Weil < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      April 9, 2010 12:12:55 AM EDT
     Subj:      Re: SHK 21.0160  Janet Adelman

[5]  From:      Murray Schwartz < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
     Date:      April 9, 2010 10:20:22 AM EDT
     Subj:      RE: SHK 21.0160  Janet Adelman

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Arthur Lindley < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         April 8, 2010 12:14:38 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0160 Janet Adelman
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0160 Janet Adelman

Nearly forty years on, Adelman's The Common Liar remains, for my money, the best monograph ever published on Antony and Cleopatra.

Arthur

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Lynn Brenner < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         April 8, 2010 2:18:50 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0160  Janet Adelman
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0160  Janet Adelman

I met Janet Adelman only once, but it's a very vivid memory.

Several years ago, I went to a mid-afternoon panel discussion of Hamlet hosted by the Brooklyn Academy of Music in one of its rehearsal rooms. There couldn't have been more than 20 of us in the audience. 

The five or six person panel included Liev Schreiber, Andrei Serban, who had directed Schreiber's Hamlet in a Public Theater production a few years earlier, and Janet Adelman, who I believe was the only woman. 

Her comments were dazzlingly original. It was thrilling -- there's really no other word -- to listen to her. She sat at one end of the panel, and Schreiber at the other end; and from the expression on his face as she spoke, her ideas were as new to him as they were to me. 

The panel lasted 90 minutes. When it ended, I almost fell over the folding chairs between us in my haste to stop her before she could get away -- she was much closer to the door than I was -- to ask if she had written a book on Hamlet. I was joined by Schreiber, asking her the same thing. 

She was clearly pleased (and I think a little surprised) at the intensity of our interest. She told us the title, 'Suffocating Mothers' -- which we both scribbled down -- and added that it was out of print.

I went home and immediately went online and found and ordered a secondhand copy. It's a wonderful book -- as exciting to read as she was to listen to. I've always seen her in my mind's eye when I open it. More than once I've wished I had an email address to write her and tell her how much pleasure it has given me, and enjoyed imagining that I would meet her again and tell her in person.  

Lynn Brenner

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Eric Johnson-DeBaufre < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         April 8, 2010 9:54:28 PM EDT
Subject: 21.0160 Janet Adelman
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0160 Janet Adelman

Janet Adelman was my Lou Reed.

That will sound odd to many ears, so let me explain.

Many years ago, while I was teaching at a small liberal arts institution, Luther College, I redesigned my Shakespeare course so that groups of students would read a critical article on a particular play, summarize the approach for the rest of the class, and then lead a discussion of how the article/approach might further open up the play and/or how it might be challenged by specific moments in the play.

Because time was limited, I had to be very selective in my choice of articles. Nevertheless, Janet Adelman had the distinction of being the only scholar with two articles on the reading list, both from Suffocating Mothers. That's how valuable her voice was to me.

That same year, I was teaching a research unit on the political significance of the 1970s (don't ask). At the end of the unit, as a reward for the hard work my students had done, I made them a compilation of 70s music -- complete with liner notes -- that I really loved. Lou Reed was the only artist with two tracks on the CD, both from Transformer.

So Janet will always be my Lou Reed.

All day I've been saddened by the knowledge that I won't hear her voice again. Presciently, Janet anticipated this day many years ago, going so far as to make it part of her approach to teaching. She once wrote

My goal is to give the student the basis for a knowledgeable and informed but independent relation to the text. In each course, at whatever level, I mark my success by the extent to which I can imagine myself as having vanished into thin air at the end, leaving each student fully able to carry on teaching him/herself.

Thank you for that gift, but we will still miss you, Janet.

Eric Johnson-DeBaufre

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Herb Weil < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         April 9, 2010 12:12:55 AM EDT
Subject: 21.0160  Janet Adelman
Comment:      Re: SHK 21.0160  Janet Adelman

Janet Adelman's The Common Liar was a revelation. For many years, there had not been such a fine book on a single play by Shakespeare.

Not least of its accomplishments were the exceptionally acute brief critical comments in almost every footnote. Because it seemed unlikely that those specializing in other fields would read the book, I chose to review it for Criticism, a journal addressed primarily to writing about the novel.

Several years later at our first SAA after we emigrated to Canada, I finally met Janet at Norman Rabkin's. As many who knew Janet better and longer than I did, will  agree Janet was that rare scholar whose frankness, integrity, and liveliness matched her outstanding written work  

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:         Murray Schwartz < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         April 9, 2010 10:20:22 AM EDT
Subject: 21.0160  Janet Adelman
Comment:      RE: SHK 21.0160  Janet Adelman

Dear Don, and SHAKSPEReans,

I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear just a few days ago about Janet Adelman's illness, and I am deeply saddened again to hear that she has died so soon. She was a wonderful person, a very gifted teacher and an exemplary scholar and critic. Our association goes back to the early '70s, when C.L. ("Joe") Barber invited us to conduct a session on Shakespeare with him at the MLA, and Janet and her family were always a pleasure to visit when I spent time in Berkeley in the '90s. Janet was magnanimous in everything she did (just read the amazingly generous footnotes in her books!), and she combined historical scholarship, psychoanalysis and close reading beautifully. She has died just as I am reading her magnificent book on "The Merchant of Venice." I will miss her, but we have her strong critical voice as a lasting part of Shakespearean studies. My condolences to her family.

Sadly,
Murray Schwartz

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