Representation. 19 November.
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:
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
- 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.
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?