Tag Archives: Posthumanism

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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RQ: Shrew Acts 3, 4, & 5

DTR114681 The Wedding Dance, c.1566 (oil on panel) by Bruegel, Pieter the Elder (c.1525-69); 119.3x157.4 cm; Detroit Institute of Arts, USA; City of Detroit Purchase; PERMISSION REQUIRED FOR NON EDITORIAL USAGE; Flemish,  out of copyright

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Directions

Keep the following questions in mind as you read Acts 3-5 of The Taming of the Shrew. 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.

Act 3

What purpose does education serve throughout the play?

Are the parts the characters play in Shrew, i.e. husband, daughter, servant, Lord, etc., inherited or learned?

What does Lucentio mean when he calls Hortensio a “Preposterous ass” (3.1.9)? Does this epithet describe other characters? Which ones & why?

What does Lucentio translate and how does Bianca repeat the translation?

What sort of student is Bianca? Is she different than you expected? How does she transform her suitors?

Why the contraction of sex and syntax in Shrew 3.1?

What tactics do Lucentio and Hortentio use to persuade Bianca of their suit? Which is more successful and why?

According to Biondello’s report, how does Petruccio dress for the wedding and what what sort of horse does he ride? How is his footman attired? How do Baptista, Tranio, and Biondello react? Compare their reactions to Kate’s.

How does Gremio describe Katherine and Patruccio’s wedding? Why doesn’t Shakespeare stage the wedding? Why do we just get a report?

What sound rings through the church at the end of the ceremony?

Why don’t Katherine and Petruccio stay for their wedding dinner?

Act 4

Is Shrew a criticism of excess? If so, who is the object of the criticism?

How are all the events at Petruccio’s house made possible by the initial absence of the hostess?

Compare Katherine’s education with Bianca’s.

How does education, in general, compare with the training of animals? What receives instruction, mind or body?

If the king is so absolute as to be the head, source, essence, origin, of power and hierarchy in the kingdom, then why is he so easy to imitate?

Why does Grumio rhyme so much? Why is there so much rhyming throughout Shrew?

What does Grumio tell Curtus about Petruccio and Katherine’s journey from Verona to the countryside?

What sort of lord is Petruccio? Is his managerial style successful?

What strategies does Petruccio use to “curb [Katherine’s] mad and headstrong humour” (4.1.189)?

What oath do Tranio and Hortensio swear to one another? Why does Shakespeare stage the oath the two suitors swear against (or beside) the two lovers, who also express their love for one another?

Is all school, “taming-school” (4.2.55)?

What do Tranio and Lucentio want from the Pedant? How does Tranio persuade him to comply with his request?

What sort of a host is Petruccio? What sort of hospitality does his house offer? How does Grumio imitate him? Why does he expect Katherine to do the same?

What time will Petruccio, Katherine, and the rest of the household leave for Baptista’s house?

Why is the Pedant so good at marriage contracts? Also, what are the conditions of Lucentio and Bianca’s contract?

What does Biondello mean when he says, “I cannot tarry, I knew a wench married in an afternoon as she went to the garden for parsley to stuff a rabbit, and so may you sir, and so adieu, sir” (4.5.23-25)?

The road to Padua:

Do you agree or disagree with Jean Howard’s assessment of the famous scene: “Kate calls the sun the moon and an old man a budding virgin. Her words at this point no longer express her own perceptions, but her husband’s blatantly willing the reading of reality” (179).

How might we read the scene as an interrogation of the way in which perception works? In other words, what relationship between words and things does the scene establish? 

Act 5

Why do Lucentio and Bianca marry in secret (clandestinely)?

What are the conditions of the game the men play in the final act? How much does each man wager? What does each have to accomplish to win the bet?

How does Bianca respond? How does the Widow respond? How does Katherine respond?

What do you make of 5.2.140-84?

 

RQ: Shrew 1 & Haraway 97-107

Dog_clicker_training

Directions

Keep the following questions in mind as you read Act 1 of The Taming of the Shrew, and Donna Haraway’s, “Companion Species” (97-107). 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.

Taming of the Shrew Act 1

Does Sly remain on stage for the entirety of the play, or return to play another role? If he does return to play another role, what part would you cast him in? If he stays on stage, how does his presence shape the play’s meaning?

What does Lucentio decide to study, and why? What does Tranio suggest he do instead?

What is the matter of the play according to Baptista’s first lines? What other plots does his decision provoke?

What’s Katherina’s first line? How does she offer a rejoinder to Gremio’s “To cart her, rather” (1.155), and then some?

How does Bianca plan to spend her time till she can get married? Is there any reason to fear that “music, instruments, and poetry,” (1.1.93) will transform her into a shrew?

Do Gremio, Hortentio, Tranio, & Lucentio form a chorus? Do they represent everyday values, or do they muddy everyday values?

How does Hortentio respond to Gremio’s rhetoric?

How do descriptions of Katherina in 1.1 compare with what she does and says herself?

Near the end of act one, Lucentio says, “And let me be a slave to achieve that maid/Whose sudden sight hath enthralled my wounded eye” (1.1.18-19). What sorts of poetic conventions does he draw on here? How does this moment suggest an expectation that there is something inherently dangerous in visual composition?

Does Tranio make Luctentio or does Lucentio make Tranio? Is there any danger in their in plot?

Is Petruccio a villain? What do you make of his relationship with Grumio?

How does Hortensio interpret Petruccio? Does his response to him cast doubts on his ability to judge character?

Donna Haraway, “Encounters with Companion Species” (97-107)

What does Haraway mean when she says, “companion species” (98-99)?

  • Companion: what connotations/denotations does her etymology of the word yield? What does she mean when she says the word is “gustatory” (100)?
  • Species: What does connotations/denotations does her etymology of the word yield? How is this term ”visual” (100-102)?

What are tradition expectations of human-animal relations? What happens to those expectations when we recognize that animals not only “look back at humans” (102), but both our trajectories are irrevocably changed as a consequence of the intersection?

What does it mean to distinguish a response from a reaction? What are the stakes of this discrimination (103)?

What might it mean to consider the absence of a name as something “other than a privation” (103)?

What “obligation” did Derrida fail to meet with his cat? What kept him from answering the cat’s invitation (103)?

What questions about animals does Derrida regard as the “decisive question”? What does questions about animals does Haraway regard as the “decisive question”? Why the difference (105-07)?