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Book and Blog Announcement

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.015  Wednesday, 14 January 2015

 

From:        Michael Saenger < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         January 12, 2015 at 6:10:47 PM EST

Subject:    Book and Blog Announcement

 

To all:

 

This is a brief announcement of a new book from MQUP entitled Interlinguicity, Internationality, and Shakespeare.

 

In a collection of essays, it addresses how languages and communities overlap, share space and helped to define Shakespeare's time and ours.

 

http://www.mqup.ca/blog/qa-michael-saenger-editor-interlinguicity-internationality-shakespeare/

 

Michael Saenger 

 
 
Interpretation versus Reading

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.014  Monday, 12 January 2015

 

[1] From:        Robert Appelbaum < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         January 11, 2015 at 10:11:50 AM EST

     Subject:    Interpretation/Reading

 

[2] From:        David Bishop < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         January 11, 2015 at 7:23:08 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Interpretation/Reading 

 

[3] From:        Lawrence Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         January 11, 2015 at 8:26:03 PM EST

     Subject:    Re: Interpretation vs. Reading 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Robert Appelbaum < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         January 11, 2015 at 10:11:50 AM EST

Subject:    Interpretation/Reading

 

I wonder if I could intervene a little and comment on the interpretation/reading topic. I really appreciate what Hardy and John have said on the topic and accept with both of them that ‘reading’ is what we are really doing when we are ‘interpreting’, and the ‘knowledge’ produced by a literary reading is always to some extent provisional and relative to the conditions of the reading itself.

 

Nevertheless, I worry that when we say these things we harm our standing with the public and the administrators, and I worry that we cripple ourselves when we apply for research funds.  If you apply for funding, or if you argue to a dean that a teacher needs extra time in order to conduct research, you are less likely to succeed if you propose to do a ‘reading’. That might work if you were applying to put on a performance, but what funding judges usually want is a ‘positive’ ‘contribution’ to ‘knowledge’, not an acting-out based on personal predispositions.

 

Meanwhile, I think it needs to be acknowledged that in a field like Shakespeare studies there is a great deal that we can ‘know’, or even know. And one of the things that we can know is what we don’t know and are unlikely ever to find out: autobiographical confirmation of our intuitions about the sonnets, for example. A knowledgeable ‘reading’ of the sonnets ‘knows’ this. Meanwhile, a merely speculative reading of a text can contribute to knowledge if and to the extent to which the reader knows that the reading is speculative. 

 

Finally, I worry that because of institutional pressures to be empirical, to produce ‘positive’ knowledge based on clear-cut ‘data’ we can be tempted to do empirical work for its own sake.  So, in sum, though I agree with Hardy and John, I am not yet satisfied. I think we need more clarification on these issues, that we need to understand how knowing what one doesn’t know is a function of knowledge, that there is a difference between performing a reading and contributing to knowledge, and how, in spite of all kinds institutional pressures, we might think about how good work in our profession both needs and doesn’t need to be based on hard data, whether it is being speculative or positive.

 

Cheers.

Robert

 

Robert Appelbaum

Professor of English Literature

Engelska Institutionen

Uppsala Universitet

http://www.engelska.uu.se/Personal/Appelbaum

www.robertappelbaum.com

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        David Bishop < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         January 11, 2015 at 7:23:08 PM EST

Subject:    Re: SHAKSPER: Interpretation/Reading

 

John Drakakis answers chiefly with autobiography the question of why we find a particular pattern plausible. I would say it also has to do with reasons, though reasons with roots in our lives, including our general sense of how human beings act and how they should act. Claims of knowledge grow most tenaciously from a contrast with the obviously wrong, Oxfordians for example. From my point of view people sometimes are quite clearly, even objectively, wrong, and this tempts me toward faith in the possibility of objective rightness because in this case I’m right. But my own positive rightness in interpreting a character, scene, line, word, or play remains more tentative. The absolute uncertainty reveled in by Derrida, et. al., is not too hard to allow, while relative uncertainty generates some interesting arguments. We don’t simply stand by our sacred opinions. However prejudiced we may be, we at least ostensibly give reasons and evidence to construct the most plausible claim. We argue, and over time select the best interpretations to agree on, tentatively, as the furthest we can see so far. This requires a different form of attention than concentrating on that which there is no such thing as, and helps ground in evidence the reasonable pursuit of truth.

 

Best wishes,

David Bishop

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Lawrence Weiss < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         January 11, 2015 at 8:26:03 PM EST

Subject:    Re: Interpretation vs. Reading

 

John Drakakis and I are actually on the same page.  We seem to agree with each other that “ink marks on a page have no meaning at all until we gather them together in what we consider to be a plausible pattern that will explain their existence” and that, in many cases at least, their significance may be obscure unless we know the historical context in which whey were penned, as the example I gave from Macbeth illustrates. As I also said, however, history is not the sole guide to ascertaining what the author expected the audience to understand from his words; the words themselves, as understood at the time, are the first and principal guide.

 

I also wholeheartedly agree with John that it is “a blight that comes with the routine professionalisation of the discipline that any critical utterance must be constrained by the ‘ism’ to which it is confined by readers.”  I have been screaming the same argument in the wilderness for longer than I care to remember, so I wonder what it is in my last post that suggests that I believe a critic should strive by all means to be an orthodox adherent to his particular pet Theory.

 

I also do not follow John’s opening salvo, that “Unfortunately, [I] resort... to caricature to explain the difference between ‘reading’ and ‘interpretation’.”  The four or five ridiculous examples I cite at the end of my post are not “caricatures”; they are accurate descriptions of interpretations offered by genuine or self-styled Shakespeare scholars, including one highly respected professor and published Shakespeare academic.  What is “unfortunate” is that these absurdities (as nonsensical as saying that King Lear is about Leeds United) are taken seriously in some quarters. 

 
 
Broadview Merchant of Venice

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.013  Monday, 12 January 2015

 

From:        Nora Ruddock < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         January 9, 2015 at 11:44:12 AM EST

Subject:    Merchant of Venice: New Publication from Broadview Press

 

This is Nora Ruddock writing from Broadview, to let you know that we have recently published a new edition of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, edited by Julie Sutherland. The volume contains the full text of the play with explanatory footnotes and marginal glosses for contemporary readers. An extensive introduction and well-rounded selection of background materials not only illuminate anti-Semitism in early modern England but also provide context for other facets of the play, including its comic plot of love and marriage, its examination of commerce and international trade, and its themes of revenge and the law.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2mije4jbhw1t3r2/MerchantOfVenice.pdf

 

If I can provide additional information on this or on any other Broadview titles, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. 

 

With thanks and best wishes,

Nora

 

 

Nora Ruddock

Developmental Editor & Marketing Coordinator

Broadview Press: An Independent Publisher Since 1985

10 Douglas Street, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 2S9

519-821-2171 

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 
 
ISE: Shakespeare's Life and Times

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.012  Monday, 12 January 2015

 

From:        Hardy Cook < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         January 8, 2015 at 4:48:29 PM EST

Subject:    UVU prof to co-edit Shakespeare web site

 

http://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/education/college/uvu/uvu-prof-to-co-edit-shakespeare-web-site/article_50b4997a-1733-534b-bcb5-09ba894889f6.html

 

UVU prof to co-edit Shakespeare web site

January 07, 2015 1:30 pm

Barbara Christiansen DAILY HERALD

January 07, 2015 

 

“You lie, in faith; for you are call'd plain Kate, 

And bonny Kate and sometimes Kate the curst; 

But Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom 

Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate, 

For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate, 

Take this of me, Kate of my consolation; 

Hearing thy mildness praised in every town, 

Thy virtues spoke of, and thy beauty sounded, 

Yet not so deeply as to thee belongs, 

Myself am moved to woo thee for my wife.” 

― William Shakespeare, "The Taming of the Shrew"

 

OREM -- William Shakespeare used the name Kate for his central character in “The Taming of the Shrew.”

 

Two other Kates have come into his realm, nearly 400 years after his death.

 

Kate McPherson, a professor at Utah Valley University, and Kate Moncrief, a professor at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., have been asked to co-edit a new edition of Shakespeare’s Life and Times, a section of a website dedicated to The Bard.

 

“I feel really privileged to have been selected for this opportunity,” said McPherson, a professor of English and the Honors Program director at UVU. “They asked me to do it.

 

“I think Shakespeare’s Life and Times gets a quarter-million visits a month. That is kind of cool.”

 

Her co-workers are not surprised she was selected.

 

"This is a great honor for her, but then Kate has a long history of success in Shakespeare studies,” said Stephen Gibson, chair of the UVU English and Literature Department. “Recently, she edited the collection Shakespeare Expressedand will also be writing the introduction and annotations for the New Oxford edition of his play 'Pericles.' As significantly, Kate, her students, and the residents of the Slate Canyon Youth Center have produced some of Shakespeare’s works together.

 

"She’s an outstanding example of the excellent scholars and teachers at Utah Valley University."

 

"It’s a great opportunity for Kate, who is more than qualified for this challenge,” incoming department chair Grant Moss said. “It’s also a nice addition to the department’s research profile.”

 

The two Kates, although nearly across the country from each other, have been collaborating on this project and others. They get together several weekends during the year.

 

“We are excited about working on it,” McPherson said. “There are more than 300 articles on the site. Each of them has a short entry and further reading on the topic.”

 

They plan on presenting a preliminary version at the World Shakespeare Congress in 2016, for the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

 

“If we can get it done by the summer of 2016 that is a good target,” McPherson said. “It is probably a two-to-three-year project before we roll out a fully ramped version.”

 

It is the first major revision of the site.

 

The two Kates will not be the only ones involved. McPherson plans on having some of her students do research for the project.

 

“I think I will employ about six or eight students this spring semester to be my research assistants,” she said.

 

“I am kind of psyched about being able to involve students in some of the research. That gives a sense of what scholars do.”

 

UVU has given her a $10,000 Grant for Engaged Learning to pay the students to do the research for the Internet Shakespeare Editions project.

 

“The ISE is a well-established digital humanities project operated out of the University of Victoria, British Columbia,” McPherson said. “The SLT (Shakespeare’s Life and Times)" is an online encyclopedia of Shakespeare’s life, stage, society, history, ideas and literature, and it is the most visited part of the ISE.

 

“Kate Moncrief and I now have creative and intellectual leadership on the project, in order to restructure it, appoint and liaise with contributors, and employ student research interns to help update the site. This is a long-term commitment that offers many opportunities for undergraduate research, both inside and outside of the classroom.”

 

The site was originally established in 1999, and the two Kates will make revisions and commission new articles to bring it into the 21st century. They will be including some of the newest research and developments in Shakespeare studies from numerous sources.

At UVU, McPherson teaches Shakespeare courses and focuses on having her students know his plays the way they were most likely presented in his times. She has also worked on a similar project, with a digital map of early modern London, with links to people, places and organizations.

 

She said the Bard and his works have endured for good reason.

 

“Mostly I think it is because he is one of the first authors in English to construct characters with great psychological depth,” she said. “He combined that with tremendous poetry.

 

"It takes a hold of people. They want to hear it. It crosses cultures in ways that maybe not all literature does.”

 

The current version of the site may be viewed at http://internetshakespeare.uvic.ca/Library/SLT/intro/index.html.

 

UVU’s web site tells of McPherson’s accomplishments.

 

She won the university’s highest honor, the Trustees Award, in 2012, it says. She most recently co-edited Stages of Engagement: Drama and Religion in Post-Reformation England  (2014) with James Mardock. She is co-editor, with Kathryn M. Moncrief and Sarah Enloe, of Shakespeare Expressed: Page, Stage, and Classroom in Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (2013); and with Moncrief of Performing Pedagogy in Early Modern England: Gender, Instruction, and Performance (2011) and Performing Maternity in Early Modern England (2007). She participated in the National Endowment for the Humanities Institute, Shakespeare’s Blackfriars: The Study, the Stage, the Classroom, at the American Shakespeare Center in 2008, and serves as resident scholar for the Grassroots Shakespeare Company, an original practices performance troupe begun by two UVU students. 

 
 
Gay Bard

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 26.011  Thursday, 8 January 2015

 

[1] From:        Ian Steere < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         January 8, 2015 at 7:13:49 AM EST

     Subject:    Gay Bard

 

[2] From:        Ian Steere < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         January 8, 2015 at 7:09:44 AM EST

     Subject:    Gay Bard

 

[3] From:        John Briggs < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         January 8, 2015 at 10:44:43 AM EST

     Subject:    Re: Gay Bard 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Ian Steere < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         January 8, 2015 at 7:13:49 AM EST

Subject:    Gay Bard

 

I have pointed out a number of serious flaws in the David Basch approach to the Sonnets (SHAKSPER, December 28). I did not imagine his approach, its rabbinic bent and the fondness for postulating hidden codes. Each is well represented in his several published expositions on Shakespeare’s works (accessible through any online search which combines his name with that of the poet). 

 

These techniques of David offer to the suitably faithful a semblance of independent corroboration. However, his response to my challenges (SHAKSPER, January 7) ignores their substance. He, therefore, fails to uphold that semblance.

 

Instead, he falls back on his allegorically spiritual interpretations of Sonnet 144 and others. David imagines the fair youth and dark lady of the poems to be alter-egos of the speaker of his interpretation (just as some Oxfordians imagine the rival poet of the poems to be an alter-ego of the speaker of their interpretation). He wants us to accept his images as reflections of authorial intention. He thinks them truer than all those other mundane, witty, bawdy, metaphoric and/or allegoric interpretations of the poems (albeit that some of these have at least as good an internal consistency). But still he offers not even a hint of objective justification for the elevation!

 

Here then is my take of David’s latest position (in this forum, if not elsewhere): that if readers have a form of faith they may interpret Shakespeare’s Sonnets (and plays) from a perspective of that faith. I have long accepted the truth of this condition. Of course, it presents no obstacle to the preferment of any number of other interpretations, including those based on objective evidence.  

 

As for the solutions to the problems of the Sonnets offered by my argument, David says he will leave it to others to judge. Nevertheless, he proceeds to judge: by dismissing what he terms my “attempts at overlaying speculative and largely invented historical settings in the life of the poet to explain them”. 

 

Come on, David! You cannot expect to command respect for your opinions if you are not prepared to justify them. Please identify the speculative and largely invented historical settings to which you refer and explain how your assessment disqualifies my reasoning.   

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Ian Steere < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         January 8, 2015 at 7:09:44 AM EST

Subject:    Gay Bard

 

Susan Rojas (SHAKSPER, January7) asks me to clarify the consistency of two of my earlier remarks: (1) that the sonnets are (in substance) autobiography by the non-aristocratic, non-rabbinic poet named Will, whose patron was Henry Wriothesley; and (2) that the prime purpose of the sonnets was to promote patronage via the associated relationship.

 

I used the term “autobiography” here to represent writings by an author which represent his/her own voice, feelings and motivations (whether or not some of these are hidden or less than wholly truthful, and whether or not the author intended the writings to be published). In this case, I argue that the author’s motivations were to progress a privately-conducted relationship and the patronage expected from it. For this reason, there would indeed be much flattery as well as the display of hurt feelings and so on. I agree that - like all autobiography - it may not be entirely representative of the writer’s true thoughts. For this reason (as for any autobiography) we need to assess its reliability through its consistency with other data: for example, the circumstances of publication and author, the content of others of his/her writings, independent corroboration of situations encompassed.

 

I hope that this does clarify for Susan. If anyone wishes for an reminder of the techniques which I have used to identify the Sonnets as autobiography, they are summarised here.

 

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        John Briggs < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         January 8, 2015 at 10:44:43 AM EST

Subject:    Re: Gay Bard

 

Marina Tarlinskaya wrote:

 

>However, from what we know about his epoch, Shakespeare

>probably was bisexual: it was common during his time and in 

>the theatrical circle in particular, as it had been common in later 

>Roman empire: every fashionable young Roman was supposed 

>to try gay sex at least once.

 

That is a remarkable sentence, every single element of which could (and should) be challenged. (Like Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman, I have doubts about “and” and “the”.) Marina Tarlinskaya clearly knows different things about “his epoch” (and the later Roman empire - perhaps even gay sex) than the rest of us.

 

John Briggs

 
 
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