Tag Archives: Textual Criticism

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?

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

RQ: King Lear Intro. & Scenes 1-5

Vortigern-Dragons

Directions

Keep the following questions in mind as you read Stanley Well’s Introduction and King Lear Scenes 1-5. 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.

Well’s Intro. (1-20)

According to Stanley Wells, why does King Lear “pose a nice philosophical problem” (8)?

When was the The True Chronicle of the Life and Death of King Lear and his Three Daughters composed? When was it printed? When was it performed?

When was The Tragedy of King Lear written, printed, and performed?

How have past editors of Shakespeare reconciled the two texts of King Lear?

How does Wells reconcile the two texts? What theories guide his editorial decisions?

Where does Shakespeare derive the plot and characters in his versions of King Lear?

Key terms: Quarto (Q1); Folio (F1); Stationers’ Register; Master of the Revels; Act to Restrain Abuses of Players (1606); and Historia regrum Britannie (1136).

Scene 1

Are the kingdoms already divided?

What is Edmund’s legal status?

Is there a connection between Gloucester’s sexual and verbal incontinence? How is he like Kate and Bianca?

Why does Lear divide his kingdom? How does he decide which sister gets which portion of land?

How much does Gonoril love her father? Does Regan improve Gonoril’s speech? Is it possible to love someone as much as they say they love their father? How much does Cordelia love her father?

Does Cordellia take the contest for the biggest portion of the kingdom too seriously? Does she transform the plot from comedy to tragedy?

What sort of test proves love? Is the entirety of the play a love test? If yes, does the ‘game’ undermine the play’s seriousness?

What are some consequences of Lear’s curse (1.100-12)?

What’s in a name?

What does Kent mean when he says, “Think’st thou that duty shall have dread to speak/When power to flattery bows?” (1.136-7). Is Kent out of line? Does he misread and misspeak in court? Or, are his criticism warranted?

How does Lear do Cordelia a favor by disowning her?

Why does Lear give everyone in his kingdom so much latitude to choose their futures?

When France says, “this is most strange” (1.203), to what does the ‘this’ refer? Do you agree?

What’s the trouble with sophistry? Is there any way around “that glib and oily art” (1.216)?

Compare the use of nature in Scene 1 (1.201 & 1.210) to Edmund’s use of the term in monologue at 2.1-20.

Evaluate Lear’s claim: “Better thou hadst no been born than not to have pleased me better” (1.224-25).

What’s Regan and Gonoril’s final assessment of Lear? Do you agree with them?

Scene 2

What sorts of words carry over from Scene 1 to Scene 2?

What’s the gist of Edmund’s first speech? Are you persuaded?

There is a great deal of repetition in Edmund’s opening speech. How does the meaning of the repeated words or phases shift over the course of the speech?

How/why does Edmund trick Gloucester?

Summarize the contents of the letter.

What steps does Gloucester want to take to ascertain if Edgar wrote the letter?

What’s the source of human behavior, or are eclipses bad omens?

Why does Edgar believe Edmund that Gloucester is angry with him?

Scene 3

Why does Gonoril want Lear to go stay with Regan? How does she plan to accomplish that goal?

Why does she phrase her plan as suggestions, instead of just ordering Oswald to treat her father and his retainers with negligence?

Scenes 4-5

 

 

Illumination from 15thc. MS of Historia Regum Britanniae Vortigern and Ambros watching the fight between two dragons

Etymology.Sept 22.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 6.38.28 PM

Recap

We talked about how Shrew is a play deeply interested in the relative status of evidence. In other words, what sorts of evidence are most persuasive, or, even more specifically, is visual, verbal, or aural rhetoric more likely to persuade a person of the truth? Why the emphasis on visual evidence/rhetoric in this play? How does the “Induction” fit with the rest of the play? We talked about Textual Criticism, and ways in editorial practices have different relationship between claims and evidence than Literary Criticism (i.e. close reading & argument driven analysis). We talked about evidence and types of appeals or modes of writing in terms of the assignment Visual Rendering Assignment which is due Sept 29.

Calendar Updates

Blog Post 2, now due Tuesday, Oct 6.

Take minute and answer the following:
Is Katherine a shrew, why? And…so what?

Part I. “Companion Species: Entangling Dogs, Baboons, Philosophers, and Biologists”

Please get into the groups that follow, introduce yourselves to your peers, and then respond to the prompts below. Write down as much as you will need to participate in discussion and be prepared to cite specific instances from the text.

  1. Ainee, Hannah M., Nicholas, & Robert
  2. Alexandra, Jeffery, Danny, & Angeline
  3. Kelsey, Beau, Caroline, Chan, & Thomas
  4. June, Sun, Isabelle, Patrick, Shamala, & Bailey
  5. Kira, Sarah, Madison, Tony, & Hannah P.
  • What does Haraway mean by “companion species”? What steps does she take to define her terms? (i.e. what strategies doe she use to define the terms?) 
  • What does the term “Companion Species” give her that other terms, such as Posthumanism, cannot (102)? Why? 
  • According to Haraway, What “obligation” did Derrida fail to meet with his cat? What kept him from answering the cat’s invitation (103)? What does she suggest What should he (or really ‘we’) have done differently?
For your consideration…

Part II. Key Word Search

Please complete the following tasks. Be prepared to cite evidence from the text to support your findings during discussion:

  • Choose a key term from Taming of the Shrew & briefly describe or make note of the passage in which you found it
  • Look up your word in the OED
  • Look up your word in Open Source Shakespeare
  • Draw some conclusions about your findings