The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0143  Tuesday, 13 February 2007

From: 		Norman Myers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Monday, 12 Feb 2007 21:54:37 -0500
Subject: 18.0134 A Question
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0134 A Question

As I continue with this thread, which I guess I started with my simple 
(many would probably say "simple-minded") question, "What is 
'presentism?' ", I find my head spinning.  I am struck by a quote form 
Larry Weiss, by way of Hardy Cook on Feb. 9:

"The debate seems really among a handful of academics at the top of the 
ivory tower who debate with each other about semantic subtleties which 
have more to do with describing what they do than what Renaissance 
authors did. It is caviar to the general."

Perhaps I haven't acquired a sufficient taste for caviar.

When I advised dissertations I played a game with my advisees as I tried 
to get them to succinctly define/describe what they were proposing to 
do.  You are at the hands of terrorists, the Mafia, evil-doers.  They 
tell you that you must define your terms in twenty-five words maximum, 
including articles and prepositions, or suffer dire consequences.  Want 
to play?  In TWENTY FIVE WORDS OR LESS, what is presentism?  Perhaps I 
should add that no single word may contain more than three syllables.

I'm also amazed (and amused) to see that, so far, none of the 
contributors has mentioned the implications of all this for PRODUCTION 
AND PERFORMANCE.  After all, wasn't Shakespeare (excluding the sonnets 
and narrative poems) first and foremost a maker of plays?  It seems to 
me that production at any given time, including the very first 
performances, would be the ultimate in "presentism."

(Please forgive the use of all capitals for emphasis, but my system 
won't let me do italics or underlining."

Norman Myers
Professor Emeritus,
Bowling Green State University

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