Tag Archives: Trigger Warning

Representation. 19 November.

TitusFlintPoster

Recap

Excellent work on the presentations Kira, Kelsey, Thomas, and Isabelle & nice work on the discussion that followed everyone else. I learned a lot, and the following themes, images, questions on Titus that you all provoked stand out:

  • RSC, 2012

    Barbarism. Kira, “absence of culture, antonym for citizen,” as well as an Onomatopoeia of “bar, bar” or the crude, meaningless phonemes of non Greek speakers. Who gets to decide what language is meaningful and what language is meaningless? The play has a lot of fun answering that question. Consider the following as just some examples of sounds that compete on stage for the audience’s attention: Persuasive, formal rhetoric & blessing/cursing; “the common voice” (1.1.20); hunter’s peal” (2.2.15); Discord in the woods: “The woods are ruthless, dreadful, deaf, and dull” (2.1.127) & “Aaron, let us sit,/And whilst the babbling echo mocks the hounds,/Replying shrilly to the well-tuned horns/As if a double hunt were heard at once” (2.318-20); and, as Hannah shared with us, Lavinia gets to say “O” eight times in 2.3. How does all the racket contrast (or establish the possibility) for Lavinia’s silence? Also, what does Shakespeare say with blood that he cannot say with words?

  • Objectification. Isabelle argued, persuasively, that even though it seems as if Lavinia is converted from a person to a thing in the woods, she was objectified well in advance of her assault (Ex: “Gracious Lavinia, Rome’s rich ornament” (1.1.53).) Thomas pointed us to appeal to “womanhood” (2.3.180) that Lavinia makes to persuade Tamora to spare her. How does this scene compare to other scenes between women have we seen so far this semester? How does the scene compare to other courtroom/trial sequences we have seen in other plays and in other scenes in Titus? Are the women the raw materials of the civilization the play stages (RE: Jeffery Cohen’s “resources” that Thomas pointed us to) 
  • Heroines. Even though Titus’ name is on the book cover, can we (should we) read Tamora and Lavinia as the central figures? Is Tamora a revenger (refer to Kelsey’s helpful checklist)? Is Lavinia a tragic hero? What sorts of mistakes do they make and are they ever able to take responsibility for those mistakes? What sorts of rulers are they? 
  • Horror. Why do audiences, from Rome to the present, like to watch bloody, violence spectacles? Is is the play interested in the difference between watching a real violence (Ex:Roman coliseum where lions rip up people, mastiffs tearing up a bear, or public executions) and a play that represents these events? After the presentations, we might want to turn to Marcus’s reaction to Lavinia to think these about real v. representation.

 

Presenters: Chan, Bailey, June, Tony

To help focus the Q&A, at the conclusion of the presentation please take five minutes and respond to the following questions:
  • 1. Briefly summarize the topic and/or arguments made by 2 of the presenters.
  • 2. What two slides, from any of the presentations, did you find most effective and why?
  • 3. List a few points that the presentations have in common. What’s surprising about the overlap?
  • 4. Draft one discussion question.

Hands

MD_Titus_Andronicus_poster

Take five minutes to respond to the following:

What strategies does Titus Andronicus provide audiences for processing trauma or overcoming grief?

Hands: One Place to Look

The word hand(s) occurs 58 times in Titus Andronicus & 36 times in act 3.What purpose does the repetition of hand(s) serve in this scene or throughout the play? Why does Titus cut off his hand? Are the hands more than just props in this scene?

 

RQ: Titus, Act 2-3 (Trigger Warning)

CroppedBrutus-u-Lucretia

Please note that Titus Andronicus Act 2 stages sexual violence. How does Shakespeare’s adaptation of Ovid and the response the it illicit in audiences compare to complaints made by students in Literature & Humanities courses Columbia. One student wrote, “the student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text.” I aim to read the text within an ecocritical or ecofeminist tradition that argues objectification and violence sexual assault is always a part of what Jeffrey Cohen calls “resourcism.” Also, why does Shakespeare ask audiences to witness such spectacular violence?

How do these movie and stage production posters figure the violence at the heart of this play?

Act 2

In Wells’ note to Aaron’s entrance at 2.1, he explains, “In F he is directed to enter alone after an inappropriate ‘fourish,’ transferred from the preceding stage directions in Q1, where it accompanies the Emperor’s departure” (n.2.1.1 p.106). What if the direction is not a mistake? Or, how should we read Aaron as a king?

What sorts of metaphors does Aaron use to describe Tamora and his rise to power? Do the metaphors remind you of others we have seen so far this semester? What are Aaron’s plans?

What motivates the conjunction of martial and sexual violence in 2.1 and throughout the play? Do Chiron and Demitrius threaten Lavinia’s chastity because they are Goths, outsiders? Or, is there something inside Rome that motivates their violence?

Though the rape of Lavinia inherits the stories of Lucretia from Virgil and Philomela from Ovid, why does Shakespeare’s version of the story happen outside? Why is the forest, “Fitted by kind for rape and villainy” (2.1.117) according to Aaron?

So far this semester we have seen several instances of characters traveling from courts into “nature.” How does the the “into the woods” sequence in Titus compare to The Tempest or King Lear?

Compare Tamora’s two descriptions of the forest (2.3.10-30) to her other description of the forest (2.3.101-110). What accounts for the change?

What’s Aaron’s plan?

What sorts of appeals does Lavinia make to Tamora? Why does Tamora refuse to relent?

What metaphorical work does the pit in act 2 perform?

Why do Chiron and Demetrius mutilate Lavinia?

How does Marcus respond to Lavina’s deformity (2.4.1-55). Does Marcus ease her suffering? Does he ease the audiences’ suffering?

Why does Shakespeare ask audiences to witness such spectacular violence? Why bring it out in the open?