Tag Archives: Climate Crisis

Presentations Day Two. 5 Nov.

EnglishCoronationRegalia2

Presentation 1 Recap


Student Topic 
Patrick In his presentation, Patrick directed our attention to the contest over truth that the play stages. First he defined truth through a nice explication of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: humans in general, like the few people chained in the cave, take mistake the shadows (phenomena) for the thing-in-itself (noumena). To show how the play engages with questions of truth & perception, he drew our attention to the exchange between Gaunt and Bolingbroke in 1.3. Gaunt advises Bolingbroke to “Suppose the singing birds musicians” (1.3.288). Bolingbroke replies, “O, who can hold a fire in his hand/By thinking on the frosty Caucauses?” (1.3.293-4). We’ve seen this contest in every play we’ve read so far this semester. It’s safe to say that Shakespeare was preoccupied with the question: where does truth come from or how is truth determined? Is the world outside of people what people say it is (or what authority says it is), or do I use my senses to observe and deduce the stuff outside? Response to this question determines eco/environmental work.
Hannah M. Hannah directed our attention to the fact that the play is written entirely in verse, which has a weird effect on characterization. For instance, how does the verse form inflect the exchange between the Gardener and the Servant in lines such as “Go thou and like an executioner/Cut off the heads of too-fast-growing sprays/that look to lofty in the commonwealth” (3.4.33-35). If truth is what I say it is does how I say it matter? Hannah argues that the elevated language allows the characters to say more, but also obfuscate their private intentions. When Richard is finally alone in 5.5.41-65, Hannah argues he “uses verse to keep time; hears his failure in the discord; left with only speech and no action; and he figures himself as a clock (which is a weird instance of blazon, like we saw in Taming of the Shrew, b/c he anatomizes/allegorizes himself.
Beau Beau talked about foreshadowing/omens: Gaunt’s speech that begins, “Methinks I am prophet new inspired” (2.1.31-69); sacral kingship, “The sacred king, the human embodiment of the dying and reviving vegetation god, was supposed to have originally been an individual chosen to rule for a time, but whose fate was to suffer as a sacrifice, to be offered back to the earth so that a new king could rule for a time in his stead” (“Sacred King” Wiki); and images of decay: Garden 3.4, ex: “wasteful King” (3.4.55). What sort of proof would confirm for the audience (that Shakespeare has set up as a jury) that Richard is magic and that, by extension, divine right of kings is a real thing?
Jeffrey Jeffrey drew out attention to ways the Richard II performs loyalty. He argued one of the fault lines in the play separates try loyalists from traitors. He drew our attention to the oaths of loyalty the characters express God through the king in 1.2 & that to disobey the king is to disobey God. He wondered, give the structures of obedience, why Richard is all but abandoned by the end of act 2. I wonder, how does the same power that authorizes Richard, or divine kingship in general, also undermine it? For instance, when Richard takes Bolingbroke’s inheritance, how does he negate the same processes that ensure his right to rule. Or as York explains, “Take Hereford’s rights away and take from time/His charters and his customary rights,/Let not tomorrow then ensue today,/Be not thyself–for how art though a king/But by fair sequence and succession?” (2.1.195-99)  

Presentation 2: Sun, Caroline, & Danny

Audience, prepare yourselves for the Q&A

 

Richard II, Act 4: The Deposition of the King

As we watch the deposition of Richard, please keep the following prompt in mind and be prepared to discuss your responses afterward:
If in Richard II Shakespeare puts absolute sovereignty on trial to be adjudicated by the audience that he has transformed into a jury, what sorts of appeals does the play make for and against sovereignty? Which position is more compelling and why? What is your final assessment?

 

 

Appeals. 29 Oct.

Castell_de_Windsor_-_Capella_de_Sant_Jordi

Recap

What did we cover on Tuesday? Do you have any questions about either the King Lear assignment or the presentation assignment?

Please note: there is no class on Nov 12 and “The Rape of Lucrece” has been removed from the schedule.

 

Part I. Presentation Groups

Get into your presentation groups and brain storm presentation topics. Also, I had to make some scheduling changes, so check to make sure you can present on the dates listed below. If you have a conflict on those dates, we can reschedule.
Presentation Groups:

Note: presentations should convey a explicit goal, argument, or concept that helps your audience to better understand an aspect of the play, or that sheds light on an element of the play that has been overlooked. To accomplish your task you may want to organize the entire presentation according to one of the following suggestions: provide contextual information; explain issues related to staging and/or performance history; give an overview of ways in which the textual history of the play effects its meaning; or develop a reading of a scene or entire play by teasing out a formal, rhetorical, or linguistic pattern.

Titus Andronicus Synopsis

  • Nov 3, Richard II Acts 2-3. Patrick, Hannah M., Beau, & Jeffrey
  • Nov 5, Richard II Act 4. Sun, Caroline, Danny, & Alexandra
  • Nov 10, Richard II Act 5. Robert, Madison, Ainee, & Nick
  • Nov 17, Titus Andronicus Acts 1-2. Kelsey, Isabelle, Kira, & Thomas
  • Nov 19, Titus Andronicus Act 3. Chan Bailey, June, & Tony
  • Dec 3, Titus Andronicus Act 4-5. Angeline, Shamala, Hannah P., & Sarah

 

Part II. Generating Discussion Questions

Since you may want to include a discussion question in your presentation, I thought we could work on discussion question generating strategies. For this exercise, stay in your presentation groups and complete the following tasks:
  • First, what are some of the major themes or goals of Richard II so far? Might want to brainstorm a list and then come to a consensus over your responses.
  • Next, choose a scene, a character, a passage, or a repeated word, image, or phrase that you think provides insight into the larger goals of the play. Summarize and close read the evidence you chose.
  • Finally, develop one discussion question out of your findings. What sorts of questions can you ask to help your classmates to better negotiate the first act of Richard II

Post. Oct 19.

wax-seal

Recap

Last Thursday we watched the “Storm” sequence in Peter Brook’s & Paul Scofield’s King Lear (1971).

Storm: Afterwards we talked about ways directors and readers can imagine the storm. Brook’s storm is both literal and figurative (if not entirely realistic owing to technological constraints). We compared the storm outside to all the weeping in the play (Lear 7.434-37; Edgar 13.54-55; Eye Gouging in Scene 14; Cordelia’s tears in the First Gentleman’s report 17.14-16; and Lear, “Why, this would make a man of salt/To use his eyes for garden water-pots,/Ay, and laying autumn’s dust” (20.184-86); and, of course the tears the audience sheds). I asked, what does the storm convey that words cannot? And, is the storm magical, unnatural, or manmade?

Edgar (Natural Man): What sorts of stories does he tell about himself and why (Scenes 11 & 15); and Lear’s famous phrase,”Unaccomodated man” (11.96) and the question of nakedness as pertains to ways to distinguish man from nonhuman things.

Q1 v. F1: near the end of class I mention several scenes/passage we read for Thursday and today occur only in Q1 (1608) and not in the “revised” Folio (1623). The following are some Q1 only passages/scenes:

  • The arraignment sequence in the hovel: 12.15-49
  • Edgar’s final speech that begins, “When we our betters bearing our woes” (12.91-105
  • Gloucester’s two servants planning to help him after he looses his eyes (14.95-110)
  • Albany’s part in Scene 16 is reduced by 50 or so lines
  • Scene 17 where Kent meets with the [First Gentleman] and he gives his report of Cordelia’s response to Lear’s transformation; and the Folio version cuts another exchange between Kent and the [First] Gentleman, 21.77-95.
  • In Q1, Albany gets the last lines of the play and in F1 Edgar speaks them, “The weight of this sad time we must obey,/Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say./The oldest hath borne most. We that are young/Shall never see so much, nor live so long” (24.298-301).

Digital Edition: I made a model of both a first draft and a second draft.

 

Part I. Group Activity

Get into the groups listed below; introduce yourselves; and then respond to prompt. Be prepared to cite specific examples from the text during discussion.

Groups

  • 1. Kelsey, Madison, Patrick, Hannah P, & June
  • 2. Beau, Ainee, Hannah M., Caroline, & Sun
  • 3. Robert, Kira, Sarah, Nicholas, & Jeffrey
  • 4. Isabelle, Shamala, Thomas, Danny, & Tony
  • 5. Angeline, Chan, Alexandra, & Bailey

Prompt

There sure are a lot of letters in King Lear. Complete the following to explain why:

Trace some of the letters sent throughout the play, compare their content, and use your findings to draft a claim about the function of the almost hyperbolic exchange of letters in King Lear.

 

 

 

Part II. Discussion: King Lear and Contemporary Environmental Crisis

What sorts of connections did you make between the play and current natural events/crisis? What sorts of language is used to describe contemporary events? How does that succeed and/or fail? What themes, images, and/or relationships does the play provide to help us figure nature in the modern world and redress natural problems?

Digital Edition Example (draft)

28beirut-web2-articleLarge

Below you’ll find the first draft of a Digital Edition that I wrote. Feel free to use it as a model for the blog post you have due on Thursday. I also revised the DE into a second draft called King Lear‘s Eco-Futurity.

Introduction

From the division of the Kingdoms to the final “Never, never, never!” (24.303), King Lear seems totally sterile. Consider the infertility rings out in Lear’s refrain: “Nothing can come of nothing” (1.81 and 4.126); the way that the rosemary and pins Edgar “strikes” in his “bare arms” suggests nothing can grow in the earth (7.181-82); and the image of the failed graft with which Albany figures Gonoril’s “disposition” (16.32-36 Q1) as just three instances of King Lear‘s barren nature.

And yet, for all the “Never’s,” “Nothing’s,” and “O’s” (24.304), the play teems with animal and vegetable life. There is a veritable assemblage of foxes, horses, cats, adders, vultures, bears, crows, choughs, and all manner of dogs. Add to the menagerie of animals rosemary, samphire, and of course, “rank fumitory and furrow-weeds,/With burdocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers,/Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow/In our sustaining corn” (18.3-5), and the play seems less a barren waste and more a seething aggregate of viability. Not only does the play stage vegetable excesses amid the total collapse of civilization, characters constantly attribute ruin to cataclysmic natural events. For instance, Gloucester attributes several crises to “These late eclipses in the sun and moon” (2.101-102), just as Kent credits “the stars/The stars above us” for their dire conditions. Despite the ruin, waste, and nihility with which the play engages its audience, I argue King Lear offers a model for sustainable futures. The prototype for human, nonhuman, and inhuman ecology the play provides is an especially useful resource for 21st century readers. Since we live after radical environmental change, i.e. humans effect the world now more than ever, we need to reconsider the future we have imagined for ourselves. If we look to our past, as Shakespeare looks to his, we can find ways to face our mistakes to develop a more capacious regard for forms of life.

Critical Responses

King Lear has been a regarded as an exemplary instance of the pastoral in English since its inception. In recent years the play has become a key text for Posthumanism. Two key examples of Posthumanist King Lear scholarship are Laurie Shannon’s “Poor, Bare, Forked: Animal Happiness and the Zoographic Critique of Humanity,” from her book, The Accommodated Animal: Cosmopolity in Shakespearean Locales and Andreas Hofele’s “‘I’ll see their trial first’: Law and Disorder in Lear’s Animal Kingdom,” from his book Stage, Stake, and Scaffold: Humans and Animals in Shakespeare’s Theater.

Though Shannon and Hofele both agree that King Lear engages the animal kingdom as much as human sovereignty, they make two different arguments. Shannon argues XXXXX.  Summarize and compare both authors. Then explain how a synthesis of their argument informs my edition.

Recent Performance History

Animals, vegetables, and minerals are important in two recent production of King Lear.

When John Lithgow played Lear in Central Park two summers ago, one commenter explained how a raccoon crossed the stage while Mr. Lithgow was off of it. The blog provided a record of all sorts of unexpected nonhuman interventions over the course of the production, as well as Mr. Lithgow’s delightful reflections on the production. XXXXX. Develop with citations XXXXX.

Consider also a recent production of the play in London in which the director cast one human and nine sheep. In Lear with Sheep, Develop with citations from page.  Summarize and compare both performances. Then explain how a synthesis of their argument informs my edition.

King Lear, Scene 17 (the text below is cut and paste and illegible. Will need to format using easy bootstrap short code plugin tools such as columns or a table. Also, no links or gloss yet)

Enter Kent and a Gentleman.
Kent. Why the King of Fraunce is so suddenly gone backe,
know you no reason.
Gent. Something he left imperfect in the state, which since his
2347.5comming forth is thought of, which imports to the Kingdome,
So much feare and danger that his personall returne was most re
quired and necessarie.
Kent. Who hath he left behind him, General.
Gent. The Marshall of France Monsier la Far.

2347.10Kent. Did your letters pierce the queene to any demonstratiõ

Gent. I say she tooke them, read them in my presence,
And now and then an ample teare trild downe
Her delicate cheeke, it seemed she was a queene ouer her passion,
Who most rebell-like, sought to be King ore her.
2347.15Kent. O then it moued her.
Gent. Not to a rage,patience and sorow streme,
Who should expresse her goodliest you haue seene,
Sun shine and raine at once, her smiles and teares,
Were like a better way those happie smilets,
2347.20That playd on her ripe lip seeme not to know,
What guests were in her eyes which parted thence,
As pearles from diamonds dropt in briefe,
Sorow would be a raritie most beloued,
If all could so become it.
2347.25Kent. Made she no verball question.
Gent. Faith once or twice she heau’d the name of father,
Pantinglyforth as if it prest her heart,
Cried sisters,sisters, shame of Ladies sisters:
Kent, father, sisters, what ith storme ith night,
2347.30Let pitie not be beleeft there she shooke,
The holy water from her heauenly eyes,
And clamour moystened her, then away she started,
To deale with griefe alone.
Kent. It is the stars,the stars aboue vs gouerne our conditions,
2347.35Else one selfe mate and make could not beget,
Such different issues, you spoke not with her since.
Gent. No.Kent. Was this before the King returnd.
Gent. No, since.
Kent. Well sir, the poore distressed Lear‘s ith towne,
2347.40Who some time in his better tune remembers,

What we are come about,and by no meanes will yeeld to see his

Gent. Why good sir?
Kent. A soueraigne shame so elbows him his own vnkindnes
That stript her from his benediction turnd her,
2347.45To forraine casualties gaue her deare rights,
To his dog-harted daughters, these things sting his mind,
So venomously that burning shame detaines him from Cordelia.
Gent. Alack poore Gentleman.
Kent. Of Albanies and Cornewals powers you heard not.
2347.50Gent. Tis so they are a foote.
Kent. Well sir, ile bring you to our maister Lear,
And leaue you to attend him some deere cause,
Will in concealement wrap me vp awhile,
When I am knowne aright you shall not greeue,
2347.55Lending me this acquaintance, I pray you go along with me.

 

 

RQ: King Lear, Scenes 16-24

White_Cliffs_of_Dover_4_(Piotr_Kuczynski)

Directions

Keep the following questions in mind as you read King Lear Scenes 9-15. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.

How does Oswald’s reply to Gonoril mark a turn in the plot and/or in Lear’s fortunes (16.4-11)?

Why does Edmund have to “Decline” his head to Gonoril (16.21)?

What accounts for Albany’s change in perspective? Was he already more on Lear’s side than his wife’s?

How does Albany express his disdain for Gonoril’s life choices? What sorts of metaphors does he use?

According to Albany, what sorts of things make humanity monstrous?

How does Gonoril respond to Albany’s critique of her sovereignty? Which character makes the more persuasive argument and why?

What happens to Cornwall?

How does Cordelia respond to Kent’s letters?

Why does the King of France return home?

Who/what controls human fate according to Kent? How does his POV accord with his own life trajectory?

Why won’t Lear agree to see Cordelia?

How does Cordelia describe her father?

What sorts of treatments does the Doctor prescribe for Lear?

What request does Regan make of Oswald, why? And how does Oswald respond?

How does Edgar trick Gloucester? Why does he “trifle” with his father’s “despair” (20.31)? Is he successful?

What does Edgar’s description of the vista at the Dover cliffs (20.11-23) reveal about his perspective? What does the speech reveal about perspective in general?

How is Scene 20 a miniature version of the whole play?

How does Edgar describe his father’s fall? What imagery does he use to figure the fall?

Why does Edgar change character again?

When Lear reenters at 20.80, we haven’t seen him since the end of Scene 13. How has changed? What sorts of linguistic markers suggest his transformation?

In what does Lear suggest that Gloucester might, “behold the great image of authority” (20.152)?

Where does Lear think the [First] Gentleman is taking him and how does he react?

Why does Edgar lie to his dad for a second time about who he is and where he comes from? In other words, why doesn’t Edgar reveal his real identity to Gloucester?

How does Oswald react to Gloucester when he meets he and Edgar on the road? How does Edgar react?

What requests does Oswald make of Edgar just before he dies?

What does Gonoril request Edmund do in the letter that Edgar intercepts?

How does Edgar respond? How does does Gloucester?

Why doesn’t Ken change out of his disguise in Scene 21 even though Cordelia knows who he is?

How do you respond to Cordelia’s questions 21.38-34?

How do the doctor and Cordelia attempt to cure Lear? Are they successful, why/why not?

How does Lear respond to his reunion with Cordelia? Does it break your heart?

How does Edmund deal with his two girlfriends problem?

Compare the processions with which Scene 23 opens to the procession in Scene 1, and compare the two sets of Father/Child in the opening to Scene 23.

What’s Lear’s plan for life in prison with Cordelia (24.7-19)?

 

 

 

Judgement. 15 Oct.

Lear_2

Recap

Nature in the abstract:
The open ended discussion of what nature means was especially productive last week. You all provided some very interesting & useful definitions that include, but are not limited to, the following paraphrases: people convert (manufacture) nature into culture; nature both precedes and exceeds culture; nature is a word that denotes rocks, plants, animals, humans, and the universe; human nature is a synonym for a force that drives people from the inside despite their best efforts; humans classify nature into hierarchies; nature represents the limits of human thought (i.e. dumb as a box of rocks); nature is insensible to human classification; and nature functions as a benchmark for determining value and/or has inherent value.

Nature in King Lear
  • Edmund’s soliloquy (2.1-21): He gives us nature as an abstract noun (anthropomorphism); state of nature that precedes (&exceeds?) culture, and as such can be made to function as an arbiter of value (i.e. bastards are better than legitimate babies); “natural ties of human feeling” (ft. nt. 1 p.116); natural, denoting “related to blood.”
  • “Book of Nature” and/or Omens: “An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of the stars!” (1.2.119-20).
  • Edgar’s transformation (7.166-85): Does Edgar decide to turn from culture to nature? Is his transformation inevitable, or does he choose to put on a disguise or costume? Also, & according to the play, can humans ever be naked? Is nature something a man can perform?
  • Nature as vitality: Lear telling Gloucester and Kent, “We are not ourselves/When nature, being oppressed, commands the mind/To suffer with the body” (7.268-70).
  • Unnatural: Lear’s criticisms of his daughters: “O, Regan she hath tied/Sharp-toothed unkindness like a vulture here” (7.294-5) & “Looked black upon me, struck me with her tongue/Most serpent-like upon the very heart” (7.317-18), to name just a two of many, many instances.

Part I. Judgement and Peter Brook’s & Paul Scofield King Lear (1971)

Keep the following in mind while we watch the heath scene from Brook’s Lear:
  • What interpretive choices does Brook make? Are they successful? Why or why not? 
  • What difference does it make to any of the action that follows that the decision at the center of the play is ambiguous? Also, after Lear who gets to choose?

Part II. Rhetorical Analysis of the Introduction

Take ten minutes to respond to the following and be prepared to cite specifics from Stanley Well’s introduction. Pay specific attention to pages 1-3 & pages
1
What sorts of arguments does Stanley Wells make in his Introduction? Could you read the play differently? 
2
What sorts of subheadings and information does the Introduction contain?
3
What’s unusual about the Wells edition of King Lear? How does he solve textual problems and why?
4
How do the Introduction and the footnotes in the text work together to produce a theory of the play?

Assignment Overview

Digital Edition

Crisis. Oct 8.

VanKessleFishes

Recap

On Tuesday we discussed the infographics; wrapped up Shrew; talked briefly about literary genre; and made an initial assault on Lear. I want to know why Lear divides his kingdoms, and/or if the kingdoms are divided prior to the line: “Meantime we will express our darker purposes” (1.36).

Was the decision made in advance?
YES: Gloucester seems to know the king plans to divide the kingdoms (1.3-5); Gonoril and Regan seem to have prepared their speeches in advance (1.49-55 & 1.63-69); and Burgundy seems to have some prior knowledge “of what your highness has offered” (1.184).

Was the decision made in the moment?
YES: The outcome of the ‘love pledge contest’ Lear declares is serious, especially when we consider the ambiguity of lines like: “Tell me, my daughters,/Which of you shall we say doth love us most,/that we our largest bounty may extend/Where merit doth most challenge it” (1.44-47); Cordilia is not prepared for the contest (1.70-73); Lear ultimately splits the kingdom in half because Cordlia’s speech does not flatter him; and both Cordilia and Kent attempt to persuade Lear to recant what they think is a bad, or perhaps rash, decision (1.140-43)

Types of Choices


Choices Descriptions
Incentive Moment “Aristotle explains that a peripeteia occurs when a character produces an effect opposite to that which he intended to produce, while an anagnorisis ‘is a change from ignorance to knowledge, producing love or hate between the persons destined for good or bad fortune.’ He argues that the best plots combine these two as part of their cause-and-effect chain (i.e., the peripeteia leads directly to the anagnorisis); this in turns creates the catastrophe, leading to the final ‘scene of suffering'” (Outline of Aristotle’s Theory of Tragedy)
Rash Boon A blind promise that often spurns the action in Romances or fairy tales (EX: Knight in Wife of Bath’s Tale); when a character vows to grant a wish and then is bound to follow through on the vow, despite not knowing the terms of the contract or what is expected of him in advance
Suspension “’To suspend: ‘To debar temporarily’…’To hold in an undecided state, to keep from falling off sinking’… “Suspension may denote a pause in action, but this pause could be considered akin to the precautionary principle, in which we recognize that the world’s intra-active material agencies often make it prudent to await ‘further information’” (Alaimo 476 & 477)
Decision (worthy of the name) “Because every decision (by its essence a decision is exceptional and sovereign) must escape the order of the possible, of what is already possible and programable for the supposed subject of the decision, because every decision worthy of the name must be this exceptional scandal of a passive decision” (Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, 2nd Session 33)

For Your Consideration:
So what? What difference does it make to any of the action that follows that the decision at the center of the play is ambiguous? Also, after Lear who gets to choose?

 

 

Part I. Freewrite

I. Write a response to the following question for three straight minutes:
What is Nature?
II. Write a response to the following question for five straight minutes:
What is Nature according to King Lear?

 

 

Part II. Group Activity

Get into the groups listed below; introduce yourselves; and then respond to questions. Be prepared to cite specific examples from the text during discussion.

Groups

  • 1. Kelsey, Madison, Patrick, Hannah P, & June
  • 2. Beau, Ainee, Hannah M., Caroline, & Sun
  • 3. Robert, Kira, Sarah, Nicholas, & Jeffrey
  • 4. Isabelle, Shamala, Thomas, Danny, & Tony
  • 5. Angeline, Chan, Alexandra, & Bailey

Questions

According to Stacy Alaimo, what allows humans to decide “to ignore the current crisis of ocean conservation” (480)? What strategies does she propose humans deploy to pay attention to the ocean crisis? What are some instances in King Lear, similar to some of the instances that Alaimo analyzes in her paper, that help bridge the (figurative and/or literal) gap between human and alien habitats?

Blog Post 3

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Induction. Sept 17

Andaman_white-toothed_shrew

Recap

Prospero’s Project: On Tuesday we attempted to defines Prospero’s “project” as the revenge he may, or may, not exact on Antonio and/or Alonso. Early modern revenge drama (or plotlines in the case of The Tempest) generally feature a wronged man, who enacts retributive “justice.” That is, the revenger is only satisfied when the person who wronged him has suffered in the exact same way he was made to suffer.  Is revenge was moral? Argued Miranda was the most sympathetic character in the play, and wondered if Prospero’s moral authority was undermined by his inability to read or recognize an affinity between his own suffering and the suffering he inflicts upon Caliban?

What are some other ways to define Prospero’s “project”?

Theater History: Also wanted to emphasize that the London in which plays like The Tempest were played, was filled with theaters and performances of all types. And while Shakespeare has had a pronounced effect on the subsequent generations, in large part due to his editors, he was part of a thriving scene and produced his work in collaboration with other writers, actors, and theater impresarios.

Textual Scholarship


Term Definition
Crux Crux (Latin for “cross”, “gallow”, or “t-shape”) is a term applied by palaeographers, textual critics, bibliographers, and literary scholars to a point of significant corruption in a literary text. More serious than a simple slip of the pen or typographical error, a crux (probably deriving from Latin crux interpretum = “crossroad of interpreters”) is difficult or impossible to interpret and resolve. Cruxes occur in a wide range of pre-modern (ancient, medieval, and Renaissance) texts, printed and manuscript.

Consider the following unresolvable crux:

Ferdinand responds to the Prospero’s truncated masque by saying,

Le me live here ever;

So rare a wondered father and wise

Makes this place a paradise. (4.1.123-25)

The crux is contained in the word wise, or is it wife? What are some options for resolving this problem? 

The Oxford editors choose ‘wise’ and MIT Open Source chooses ‘wife.’ The crux hinges on the representation of the terminal, or descending ‘s,’ which, in the first Folio, looks more like ‘f’ than usual.

So what makes the island a paradise for Ferdinand? Is it Prospero or Miranda? There is no answer that accommodates both–If editors or actors choose ‘wife’ they exclude the father & if editors or actors choose ‘wise’ they exclude the wife. The term excluded in the judgement, sort of haunts the decision b/c cannot have a daughter without a father and vice versa. 

Though the crux cannot be resolved–a judgement always has to be made–editors can interrupt the reading process by calling attention to the apparatus itself, i.e. glossing the line and reminding the reader what types of technology render the double reading.

Taming of the Shrew

How does the RSC poster below attempt to resolve the problem of the two texts of Taming of the Shrew?

67shrew

Shrew Induction I & II

What does the Lord mean when he says, “Sirs, I will practice on this man” (Induction 1.35) and why?

Compare the Lord’s treatment of Sly to his treatment of the dogs.

Who does the Lord get to the play Sly’s “humble wife” (Induction I.115) & what instructions does the Lord tell his servant to pass along to Bartholomew?

What sorts of evidence do the Lord and his servants offer to Sly to persuade him that he is actually “a mighty man of much descent” (II.13)?

Visual Rendering

  • Go to
    Open Anatomy of Social Scene and read through Read through the infographics “Death and Dying in Macbeth and Hamlet”; “Shakespeare’s Game of the Hollow Crown” & “Shakespeare’s Enchanted Forest”
  • As you read, consider some of the following questions:
    Who is the author? Who is the intended audience?
    Of what is the author trying to persuade the reader? Is the author successful?
    How does the author balance text and image? How does design effect meaning?
    How do infographics compare to argumentation? Is one more persuasive than the other? Why or why not?

Shakespeare’s Climate Crisis

Hollar_Long_View_detail

Directions

Read the passage; summarize its meaning in a sentence or two; and briefly explain how a passage like this one might help modern people think about the environment:

Prompt:

The speech that follows is an interjection. During the wedding masque he conducts to celebrate the marriage of Miranda and Ferdinand, Prospero remembers he is urgently needed elsewhere. He offers the following as an explanation:

“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”

The Globe Theater(s) (1500-1613 & 1614-1632) housed Shakespeare and his acting companies: the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and later the King’s Men. The word globe can, of course, be put to more use than just the proper one. That the term globe could also signify a heavenly body, an eyeball, an emblem of sovereignty, the new world, and women’s breasts, was certainly not lost to on early modern author, least of all Shakespeare. As enthusiasts from around the world prepare to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, we do so in dire circumstances: inescapable climate shifts, constant species extinction, relentless resource depletion, and the final adulteration of air, water, and land. In the years since Ben Jonson declared the “drooping stage” mourned Shakespeare’s loss “like Night,” his audience is haunted by more than just his ghost. Here at the end of the world, we take up Shakespeare, his ghosts, and his sphere of influence to mourn, produce, and eventually prosper. The globe on which we live and the one for which Shakespeare write his plays have a lot to say to one another. For instance now and then we engage with the plays at a time of fabulous technological possibilities. The apocalyptic landscapes through which Shakespeare and his friends forced their characters to range shows they knew they were writing after the end of the world. Over the course of the semester, we will read Shakespeare’s plays and poems in order to predict the shape of the world to come.