Workshop. 22 Oct.

Darkest London, Marc Haynes

Letters in Lear


Edmund’s letter that tricks Gloucester (2.45-57); Oswald’s letter to Regan or Gonoril sends Oswald with a letter to Regan to report on Lear’s rowdy knights (4.315); Regan explains to Gloucester that she received messages from her father and sister (6.122); Kent makes the best of a night in the stocks by reading his secret letter from someone sympathetic to Lear (7.156-166); Kent gives ring to the First Gentleman as a sign of his identity (8.39); Gloucester tells Edmund that he has a secret letter from French forces sympathetic to Lear (10.10-11); Edmund turns over the secret letter to Cornwall and Cornwall uses it to interrogate Gloucester (14.1-3); First Gentleman relates to Kent Cordelia’s reaction to the letters he sent (17); Regan tries to get Oswald to show her the letters for Edmund (19.6); and Gonoril’s letter to Edmund asking him to kill Albany (20.254-62).

What sorts of claims can we make about all these letters?

  • Miscommunication: is it easier to communicate fact-to-face or in writing, why or why not?
  • The letters model strategies for interpretation
  • Of course most of the letters never arrive, there is no King to insure basic systems function properly
  • Shakespeare uses the letters to help the audience imagine space and time
  • The letters are more like telephones.

Validity of Scholarly Sources

We reviewed the Digital Edition assignment. Specifically ways to respond to the prompt; how to search for scholarly articles/books; and how to determine the validity of scholarly work.

  • To find secondary sources on Shakespeare (i.e. literary studies), search the MLA International Bibliography using key word combinations usually made up of the title of the work you are writing about and your major topic of inquiry. Be prepared to narrow or expand your inquiry topic. Ex: Politics to Sovereignty, or Language to Simile.
  • There are several ways to determine the validity of scholarly articles, publication date, publication location, and institutional affiliation. For our purposes, articles published in the last 10 years are more likely to speak to our topical interests. The following are the major journals in Shakespeare Studies and early modern literature: Shakespeare Quarterly, Early English Literature, English Studies, Studies in English Literature, Shakespeare, Shakespeare Yearbook, Studies in Philology, English Literary History, Exemplaria, Postmedieval, and Interdisciplinary Studies for Literature and the Environment.
  • To determine the validity of a book, first look up the author. Most professors have a department site or personal cite with their CV (curriculum vitae: sorts of resumes used by people in the humanities), and discern what sorts of work they have published and where. Also, look up publishers you do not recognize and read the “About” pages on their websites. For example The University of Minnesota Press.

Validity of Internet Sources

How do you determine the internet sources you link out to from your text are authoritative?

  • Institutional affiliation: Resources on King Lear posted to a PBS affiliate are likely more useful to a reader than unattributed sources
  • Publication dates and/or most recent update dates listed
  • Location on Google (or another search engine) results list. Does traffic equal validity? 
  • The validity of the source doesn’t matter as much as how you use it. In other words, if the link support, extends, challenges your reading then the validity matters less b/c you have put that source into context and given your users a reading strategy. 

I. Digital Edition Workshop, Pairs

Get into pairs, trade drafts, read the drafts, and then respond to the drafts. Use the questions below to guide your discussion:
  • Does the introduction make a claim? If not, brainstorm the claim with your partner and/or revise the topic into an arguable claim.
  • Does the draft include two of the following categories: textual criticism, critical responses, performance history, or Lear today? If not, brainstorm possible sections. Also, does the information in those sections help support, develop, extend the introduction?
  • Does the draft include a scene from Lear? Does the scene chosen support the claim? Or, why did the author decide on that scene?
  • Are there any links and/or footnotes? How do they develop the claim/goal of the project?
  • Discuss formatting strategies.

II. Digital Edition Workshop, Full Class


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