Quote of the Week: 26 February 2018 (#30)

Almost nothing seems to have changed in 400 years … as usual …

BH womans placesubtitled, ‘Food for powder

Matthew Beaumont:  Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London (London:  Verso Books, 2015)

My recent article on Gayle Rubin‘s important Feminist work, ‘The Traffic in Women’ touched upon what has been historically expected of women, especially working class ones.  Rubin takes a look at the Marxist position before developing it into a gender rather than class-specific argument:  the commodification of women in the marriage market.  It’s an excellent read.

And we see Rubin’s position everywhere in Shakespeare and the EMP, where women constantly struggle against the social imperative to marry a man who ticks boxes for their family / parents, love coming as an unexpected bonus.  Even comedies such as The Dream feature the tension between ‘kinship‘ and ‘companionate‘ marriages.

To say nothing of the pressures Elizabeth I was under, of course …

In my article, I dipped into Beaumont‘s book for a supporting quotation, but it’s been weighing on my mind.  I think it needs to be considered on its own merits.

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 26 February 2018 (#30)”

Cultural Capital 03: Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto

Prepare yourself for a glorious improvement in your AO5 skills, comrades!

(For non-students, this is part of a series for my A Level students looking at important secondary texts which will assist their studies.)

BH Marx 1

 

 

‘I am not a Marxist’ – Karl Marx

‘Reading The Communist Manifesto does not make you a Communist, any more than reading the Bible makes you a Christian’

says Nigel Cawthorne in the introduction to my copy.  This reassuring sentiment is only slightly undermined by his point that:

‘While reading The Communist Manifesto, it is as well to remember that millions of people have shed blood over this document.’ As they have, to be fair, with last month’s text …

THIS is the power of ideas and words, people. Continue reading “Cultural Capital 03: Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto”

PTS 10/061: What’s Good for the Goose …

Bottoming out THAT relationship …

BH Paton_Titania
JN Paton

PTS read-through:  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act IV

Not for the first time in my read-through, the main thing I want to know is: ‘did they, or didn’t they?’

In this I was egged on by Cedric Watts, though I needed little encouragement, in truth.  Still, it’s convenient to blame him for my prurience.  If my answer is the same as Watts’: ‘of course!’, it begs a second question on which we differ:

‘Does it matter?’

Continue reading “PTS 10/061: What’s Good for the Goose …”

A Bookshelf Update … and a question or two

Being overwhelmed with books is a problem I’ve had to get used to …

BH books bedroom
NOT quite my situation, yet … image: curatormagazine.com

Today, I looked EVERYWHERE for a book that I wanted to quote from and couldn’t find it …

I know you’re in here, somewhere.  You were a Christmas present; when I got back from my second home in Wales I put you down when I unpacked. You’ve not left the flat.  The only place I didn’t check was the kitchen: it’s got no windows and I don’t go in there if I can help it.

Where are you hiding? *

Continue reading “A Bookshelf Update … and a question or two”

PTS 10/060: The Gods DO play dice …

Act III places us at the game table, jostling Shakespeare for a view of the goings-on in that VERY busy wood …

BH Discworld Gods
‘No smiting.  Not up here.  It is the rules.  You want fight, you get your humans fight his humans. [1]
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III: with apologies to Albert Einstein [2]

On reflection, it seems odd that as a child experiencing / undergoing / suffering a Catholic education, once a year, on our ‘Saint’s Day’ –  St Martin de Porres: 03 November – we were treated to a film in the school hall which was invariably a Ray Harryhausen epic.

Not that I want to complain.  I loved them, and still do.

They fostered an appetite for the ancient world – for Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, Jason … any number of  heroes and their associated monsters.  And, like the Book of Genesis, they’ve proved to be invaluable in teaching Literature.

Continue reading “PTS 10/060: The Gods DO play dice …”

Quote of the Week: 19 February 2018 (#29)

“Is black so base a hue?” Aaron, Titus Andronicus, Act IV scene ii …

BH devils-witches-dance
– back cover of Scott’s book –

AF Scott, Witch, Spirit, Devil, (White Lion Publishing:  London, 1974)

Whilst Black History Month isn’t celebrated in the UK until October, this is a bit of an international blog: about half of you are visitors from the US, and another quarter or so from elsewhere outside the UK – thank you, by the way!

So now, whilst I’m reading Scott’s book, feels like the time to look at this …

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 19 February 2018 (#29)”

Cultural Capital 04: Gayle Rubin, ‘The Traffic In Women’

Who gives this woman away?

bh-woman-power

(For non-students, this is part of a series for my A Level students looking at important secondary texts which will assist their studies.)

Gayle Rubin, ‘The Traffic in Women:  Notes on the “Political Economy” of Sex’ (1975)

An [If] you be mine, I’ll give you to my friend;

And you be not, hang, beg, starve, die in the streets,

For, by my soul, I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee

(Lord Capulet, Romeo and Juliet, Act III, sc v)

and

I beg the ancient privilege of Athens,

As she is mine, I may dispose of her:

Which shall be either to this gentleman

Or to her death, according to our law.

(Egeus, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act I, sc I)

Not much fun, being a teenage girl in Shakespeare’s day, was it?  These intelligent, independent and emotional young women must often have felt like second-class citizens …

Continue reading “Cultural Capital 04: Gayle Rubin, ‘The Traffic In Women’”

PTS 10/059: I DO Believe in Fairies …

Puck and Ariel are first cousins – mischievous, not malicious …

BH cottingley fairies
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was taken in by the Cottingley Fairies.  I might have been, too …

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II

“You see, Wendy, when the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” […]

“And so,” he went on good-naturedly, “there ought to be one fairy for every boy and girl.”

“Ought to be? Isn’t there?”

“No. You see children know such a lot now, they soon don’t believe in fairies, and every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.”1

Discussing Act I, I alluded to the fact that my suspension of disbelief was more taxed by Helena‘s actions than by the whole idea of a fairy realm – how strange is that?

Continue reading “PTS 10/059: I DO Believe in Fairies …”

PTS 10/058: Eat up your Shakespeare

Putting Shakespeare in students’ mouths is often as much fun as feeding a baby – the faces they pull!

BH Shakespeare Food
image (C) Francine Segan

A Midsummer Night’s Dream:  Act I

Shakespeare’s language lives in the mouth, not the ears or eyes.  It needs to be tasted, and one of the advantages of living alone is that I can pace up and down my flat’s lengthy corridor reading tricky lines out loud, or just playing with the inflections of favourites:

I wasted time and now doth time waste me.

I WASTED time and NOW doth time waste me.

I wasted TIME and now doth TIME waste ME.

And so on, like the celebrity skit in the BBC’s Shakespeare400 celebration.  You get the picture.

If it needs to be tasted, it also needs, I suppose, to be CHEWED.  That’s what we often do in the classroom …

Continue reading “PTS 10/058: Eat up your Shakespeare”

Quote of the Week: 12 February 2018 (#28)

Should we pay more attention to James I before he became King of England?

BH cogwell james i

Thomas Cogswell, James 1:  The Phoenix King (Penguin Monarchs series), (Allen Lane:  London, 2017)

Studying or teaching Shakespeare’s plays, the figure of Elizabeth looms in the background, like the spectre at the feast.

We see it in the ever-present censorship, in the light of the Treasons Acts in 1571 and 1581, outlawing public discussion of the succession.  Or, more positively, in the ‘Gloriana’ cult that produced works like Spenser‘s The Faerie Queen, and flattering nods to Elizabeth wherever you look – like links between her and Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  We see it in her discomfort with comparisons to Richard II, and the propagandic lionization of Henry VII.

Reading Cogswell‘s short, sympathetic biography has made me reassess the extent to which we / I ignore James until the succession question becomes absolutely critical.

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 12 February 2018 (#28)”