Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 (personal retrospect)

some favorite pictures taken from airplanes this year
by J J Cohen

A great many things happened this year, some of them good, some of them bad (hashtags #mixedbag and #GregoryofTours). It could be last night's insomnia speaking here but as December 31, 2015 trickles to its close I am thinking: the Prosecco is in the fridge. Welcome 2016. Please come quickly.

It's been a sparse year for blogging. Although in general I'm happy with what I did manage to place here, last year's promise to offer more in the way of posts did not quite work out. Still, In the Middle did host some spectacular guest posts: Karina F. Attar and Lynn ShuttersSuzanne Conklin Akbari and Alexandra GillespieLesley S. Curtis and Cord J. Whitaker; Robert McRuer; Arthur Bahr; Sharon O'Dair; and Julian Yates. That seems to me the best of what this shared space can foster. I hope that we will continue to make this space available to all as 2016 progresses. Contact any of the co-bloggers if you have some ideas.

So here is a quick meditation on some of what I did post over the past twelve months, a tradition I've been trying to honor since 2007 (!). I began the year by posting my #MLA15 presentation on teaching Chaucer in the wake of student trauma (especially suicide and sexual assault), and I am ending it eager to return to the GW classroom. I spent my spring semester at the Folger Shakespeare Library here in DC, leading a graduate/postgraduate seminar on The Scale of Catastrophe that became the best teaching experience of my life -- a combination of tremendously good participants and terrific support from the Folger Institute. I was on research leave during the autumn, writing all the time in the way that I do when I don't have a sane schedule of classes and meetings to prevent that borderlessness ... and so I'm looking forward to being back with undergraduates come January. My favorite course, Myths of Britain, begins again in less than two weeks. Also: TWO WEEKS (!!!), holy cow, can it really be starting that soon?

Though 2016 was in general good (professionally, some books published; personally, one child off to college, one child navigating middle school well). Rough patches surfaced frequently over the year though. I lost a cousin and a friend to suicide, and in the aftermath thought a great deal about the ability of teachers to save their troubled students (and without going into further detail I will say that this particular post has been haunting me recently for reasons close to home, since we have an 18 year old recently returned from college and ... well, see what I wrote about insomnia above). My dissertation director Larry Benson died, and I tried to find some gifts in what was a fraught relationship. I put great energy into some capacious projects like the new MLA Environmental Humanities and Ecocriticism Forum (and I love working with Sharon O'Dair, Stephanie LeMenager and Stacy Alaimo on this). I wrote about the ethics of PhD programs and ethics itself as door-opening and door-holding. My frustrations with my university make me count the days sometimes that I have left as MEMSI Director -- but I try to concentrate on the rewards of collaboration despite the soul-grinding mechanisms of institutional bureaucracy that will inevitably work against such efforts at making something communal and new.

I blogged some of my Noah's Arkive project. I travelled to Geneva for a Posthumanism conference and ate fondue in Switzerland late at night while a thunderstorm neared. I revealed a project that I had been working on for about 15 years without really knowing it, an ecological contemplation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by means of a neglected urban park near my house -- a project that is really about the love of life, something I'd like to think more about. I ruminated on Monster Theory now that the book is turning twenty -- and the monster's place in the classroom, wanted or not. I wondered about terror and art, and young people and constricted futures, and hope. I made some new friends and tried some new things. This superb roundtable happened, with contributions so moving I was never able to find the words to blog what unfolded.

My book on Stone was finally published (and this blog post gives you some deep background on why that was a struggle; or look here for a scary glimpse of my writing process). Stone was reviewed very quickly, too: thanks, LARB. Two new books went under contract, Earth (with Lindy-Elkins Tanton) and Veer Ecology (co-edited with Lowell Duckert and featuring an extensive list of contributors). Elemental Ecocriticism is now out, and Earth nearly finished. I am finding such collaborative projects more rewarding than solo endeavors. I wrote two review essays, one with Karl on “Race, Travel, Time, Heritage” and one for GLQ on “Queer Crip Sex and Critical Mattering.” I participated in a review forum on Stuart Elden's wonderful The Birth of Territory and collaborated with Steve Mentz and Allan Mitchell on Oceanic New York. I travelled to Vancouver, Morgantown, Washington PA, Atlanta, Chicago, Cancun (a much needed family break), Kalamazoo, Geneva, London, New Zealand (visiting faculty at University of Auckland, which was superb), Portland (dropping son off for college), Cambridge UK (Indian food and wine in a punt = a lifetime highlight), Vancouver and Tempe. Busy, busy year.

I won't say everything went well personally or professionally. Some dear friends have gone through very difficult things, and I have been trying to help as I can. I learned some good and some bad things about myself, and quite a bit about limits and necessary endings. A great many things will continue to happen, I have no doubt, as 2016 begins. Some of them bad, of course, but here is my hope that for you most of them are good. Happy new year!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Seafaring: an early medieval conference on the islands of the North Atlantic CFP

a guest post by Dan Remein

Seafaring: an early medieval conference on the islands of the North Atlantic - November 3-5, 2016

Hi ITM readers.

With Donna Beth Ellard (University of Denver) and Tiffany Beechy (University of Colorado Boulder), I’ve been planning a conference for next November that we hope will grab the attention of the ITM readership:

Seafaring: an early medieval conference on the islands of the North Atlantic is a three-day national conference that brings together scholars of early medieval Ireland, Britain, and Scandinavia to imagine cooperative, interdisciplinary futures for the study of North Atlantic archipelagos during the early medieval period.  Seafaring invites proposals for two kinds of sessions, seminars and workshops/forums, that will help imagine more collective and cooperative futures for scholars of the so-called "British" archipelago and/or reinvigorate the interdisciplinary mandate of early medieval studies.

Designed less around traditional conference presentations than as a "workspace," Seafaring: an early medieval conference on the islands of the North Atlantic invites proposals that will engage participants in mini-tutorials, masterclasses, writing workshops, and learning laboratories - all of which are designed to widen their linguistic competence, interdisciplinary methods, geographic familiarity, and temporal scope, within and beyond the early medieval period.

This conference, “Seafaring: an early medieval conference on the islands of the North Atlantic” came out of a discussion Donna Beth and I had last year after a workshop on translation theory, contemporary poetics, and Beowulf that I ran with her very smart and pleasantly intimate Graduate seminar on Beowulf of Spring 2015. The workshop produced a series of what we thought were really compelling and fresh readings of particular scenes of Beowulf, partially by forcing the study of Old English Poetry into conversation with some other disciplinary economies (namely, more avant-garde 20th century poetics).

We, and a lot of ITM readers, are trained in the study of Old English—and wouldn’t trade that for anything. But we all know that the world of Old English poetry is a) not only a world that takes place between roughly 450 and 1100 CE (the very fact that this world extends into 21st century classrooms alone suggests its longer and more complicated life), and b) a world that is much larger—geographically, ethnically, racially, and temporally—than the world summoned by the term “Anglo-Saxon.” Thinking through this, along with Donna Beth’s own work on race and ethnicity in Old English Studies, we worked through a number of ideas as to how to build more space for the study of Early Medieval Britain that could at once reframe literary and historical discussions outside the traditional disciplinary lines of Nationalized Literatures and open those discussions to a wide variety field-changing disciplines, from poetics to neuroscience. We think that what we’ve put together will take some very concrete steps towards formalizing spaces for disciplinary experimentation and de-nationalizing literary history in early medieval Britain and across the North Atlantic.

We also think that for this to work, certain kinds of workshop spaces need to be opened up: places to pick up new skills as much as present new readings, spaces where scholars from a variety of disciplines can work on some shared questions. So, we’re inviting proposals for seminars (intimate groups that will focus on a shared text, question, topic) and proposals for workshops or forums (focused on a particular skill, a philological crux, etc). 

We’ve decided to extend the deadline for Seminar Proposals to January 10. Take a look at the Conference Call here: [], and consider carving out a few moments of the holidays to consider how you might want to contribute.

Submit your seminar proposal to, subject line: "Seminar Submission."

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Yes. Let's start.

possible cover for the book
by J J Cohen

So Lindy sent the last letter in our Earth book to me last night, December 25, a festival of light and life against winter's chill.

We don’t celebrate Christmas, but my family loves the various traditions that cluster around the solstice: candles, food and merriment when nights are long. One of my favorite poems for this time of year is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which affirms so much vibrancy (green holly and red berries, feasts and warm fires) without disregarding the world’s violence or things that exceed merely human frames (red is also the color of blood; animals suffer and shelter along with humans; green throughout the poem is supernatural in its ability to stun, challenge and stealthily thrive). Unlike the contemporary poet Geoffrey Chaucer, whose Troilus and Criseyde exults in a moment of viewing the Earth from great distance (so that it becomes “this little spot of earth, that is embraced with the sea”), the anonymous author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight never gives you a moment of rising above it all. He is never tempted to imagine a view of the planet in its entirety, and thereby diminish life lived among the Earthbound. Icy winter weather batters knights, horses, and shivering birds equally, just as the sun’s warmth delights even the plants. It’s hard to take an easy moral from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, especially because the Green Knight is as full of life as death, of peril as exuberance. He’s a monster but he’s also a jolly drinking companion who after he forgives you for lying and decides not to chop off your head invites you back to his castle for cocktails. Facebook yesterday reminded me of that medieval poem’s intertwining of themes because so many friends posted about the Krampus (the horned and hairy devil who punishes naughty children) and Jólakötturinn (the Yule Cat who devours those who do not leave offerings) along with pictures of garlanded fir trees, gifts torn open by the eager young, and plentiful cakes. It’s traditional to tell ghost stories around the winter holidays. Maybe The Smiths said it best: “In the midst of life we are in death etc.” Can we have an un-ironic version of that?

Precariousness is also on my mind because we just made our annual December return to New England to see family and celebrate my dad’s birthday -- 85 this year, and so nearing the nearly 100 revolutions around the sun his father attained. At various family gatherings stories were retold about how many times things went badly wrong, and how persistence and good humor often enabled recovery. When he arrived in 1882, my great grandfather, an immigrant from Lithuania, made his peddler’s way from farm to lonely farm in Penobscot County and was for many Yankees the first Jew they ever met. He eventually saved enough money to open a shop in Bangor, then a chain of clothing stores across Maine. He lost everything in the Depression. Sudden turns of fortune, the unkindness of family towards family, and eventual peace are recurring themes of these stories we tell. I am thinking about all this because Lindy’s letter contains a poignant meditation upon houses reduced to ruin and encountering human history as it vanishes into landscape. Few of my relatives now remember that my great-grandfather’s name was Simon, and fewer still know that it was really Shimson. Today you will not find many traces of the once lively Jewish community in Bangor.

But you will find something, if you look with enough attention.

When Lindy sent her letter I was on an airplane back to DC, descending through so much night rain that it seemed we were on a ship with battered portals. Alex is just back from his first semester in college. Katherine has completed about half of her first year of middle school. Wendy continues two jobs well, as a nonprofit’s vice president and as an elected official. Sometimes I think that time is propelling the four of us so quickly forward (how is it that we now have an 18 and an 11 year old?) that it’s always like that moment on the plane, onwards relentlessly towards destinations we can’t clearly see, trusting we will safely arrive. We landed, happy to be under the storm rather than within it. As we taxied for the gate I checked my phone for email. I read Lindy’s letter while we waited for delayed luggage and as we took a shuttle bus to our car. Its close is so full of hope and promise that I knew it had to end the book, even though she and I didn’t plan it that way. That sudden realization surprised me with the pang of sadness it brought. I do not want the conversation to end.

Earth is a problem. In my last letter I had worried that awe for its beauty can lead to political and ethical paralysis. Too often people convince themselves that it's enough to praise the splendor of the planet. Imagination propels us to find new modes of comprehension but it sometimes immobilizes or betrays. How do we ensure that appreciation and apprehension yield to endeavor? Lindy wrote (and I hope she will not mind my quoting her words here, but they seem so right as we approach the New Year):
So let us, and let all who feel able, both luxuriate in beauty and initiate action and change. We each can find a vision to lead us to an optimistic future, and we can lead with our visions. Let’s start.
This book comes to its close as yet another rotation of the planet round its warming star completes – a cosmically insignificant fact that means the world to us Earthbound observers, who need to pick some place to start and to end, and then to begin again.  A lure for the imagination, a catalyst to creativity, and (if we are lucky) a spur to vision and engagement, Earth is too vast to be encompassed, especially in a book so small. Earth is a shared project, beautiful and incomplete.

Yes, let's start.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Cherries, Untimely Ripeness


This morning, I came across this tweet from Mike Becker, with a photo perhaps taken in Heidelberg:

That is, "The cherry tree is blooming. Just in the nick of time for Christmas Eve."

Middle English scholars, like me, will be immediately reminded of another set of Christmas Eve cherries, from the "lay" (if we can call it that) Sir Cleges, summarized here
As he knelyd oune hys kne
Underneth a chery tre,
   Makyng hys praere,
He rawght a bowghe in hys hond,
To ryse therby and upstond;
   No lenger knelyd he ther.
When the bowghe was in hys hond,
Gren levys theron he fond
   And ronde beryes in fere.
He seyd: "Dere God in Trinyté,
What maner beryes may this be,
   That grow this tyme of yere?
[As he kneeled on his knee underneath a cherry tree, making his prayer, he grabbed a bough in his hand to rise thereby and stand up; he no longer kneeled there. When the bough was in his hand, he found green leaves on it, and round berries together. He said, "Dear God in Trinity, what kind of berries could these be, that grow at this time of year?"]

Untimely ripeness: the former a miracle, the latter a horror. Or, as I say here:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Elemental Ecocriticism: Thinking with Earth, Air, Water, and Fire

by J J Cohen

Although its official release date does not arrive until Dec. 23, the University of Minnesota Press is shipping copies of Elemental Ecocriticism: Thinking with Earth, Air, Water, and Fire a little early. I received mine on Thursday, a happy surprise after a very long day.

The elements are never easy. That's the opening line of the introduction, and it seems to have come to me and Lowell simultaneously, or at least indicates that when the two of us wrote together it was quickly difficult to tell one's prose from the other's. That, I think, is a sign of success. Lowell is a wonderful collaborator, and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to work with him on a second project. 

Yet "the elements are never easy" is also not quite right, at least when it comes to the volume itself: the contributors were a delight to work with, from the symposium that Sharon O'Dair organized in Tuscaloosa to the wending of the volume through UMP (and profound thanks go to Richard Morrison, Doug Armato and Erin Warholm-Wohlenhaus for making the press such a welcoming home). An intellectual companion to Prismatic Ecology, Elemental Ecocriticism will be joined in time at UMP by a book to complete this informal ecocritical trilogy, Veer Ecology (also a collaboration with Lowell, this time with 30 contributors). I've published with many presses over the years but my debt to Minnesota is greatest: this is my sixth book on their lists, which seem to get only better over time (e.g. Steve's book, and Allan's book, and ...)

As you'll discover when you read the acknowledgments, the elements and their interstices were assigned by the book's muse, Jane Bennett. She pulled names and elemental assignments from a burrito bowl in Boston in 2012, and thus each author received an element (or a materiality between two elements) to follow. I somehow expected to get something earthy, considering all I was thinking about at the time was stone, but the spirits of the burrito bowl gave me water-earth. I wrote my essay on medieval imaginings of an ocean that flows above the clouds, and the sailors to be glimpsed coursing those waters from time to time. I will place a complete table of contents and book description at the end of this post. I still find it difficult to believe that Lowell and I got so many great writers and thinkers together like this.

If you can afford it, please consider buying a copy of Elemental Ecocriticism for yourself, and asking your institution's library to obtain one as well (if you cannot afford it, and the book would be very helpful to you ... contact me). The University of Minnesota Press is a not-for-profit entity. Most of their titles never recoup the costs of producing them (a team of salaried professionals is behind each book, and that is not inexpensive, but their care is evident on every page). The Press also took a gamble on this one, hoping that it will be read widely and appeal to more than those readers who are already well disposed. Lowell and I are trying hard through this collection to ensure that medieval and early modern studies are vocal, valued contributors to contemporary conversations within the environmental humanities. We won't save the Earth if we discard its long histories. In part that is why we asked Stacy Alaimo, Tim Morton and Cary Wolfe to contribute (but also: we value deeply their scholarship). The book is reasonably priced: $27 for the handsome paperback [$20 on Amazon], with an e-version soon to come (if priced at about the same as Prismatic, EE should cost around $14 for the Kindle). And if you buy the book and hate it, you can hurl it at my head the next time you see me and I will exact no vengeance. I promise.

For centuries it was believed that all matter was composed of four elements: earth, air, water, and fire in promiscuous combination, bound by love and pulled apart by strife. Elemental theory offered a mode of understanding materiality that did not center the cosmos around the human. Outgrown as a science, the elements are now what we build our houses against. Their renunciation has fostered only estrangement from the material world.
The essays collected in Elemental Ecocriticism show how elemental materiality precipitates new engagements with the ecological. Here the classical elements reveal the vitality of supposedly inert substances (mud, water, earth, air), chemical processes (fire), and natural phenomena, as well as the promise in the abandoned and the unreal (ether, phlogiston, spontaneous generation).
Decentering the human, this volume provides important correctives to the idea of the material world as mere resource. Three response essays meditate on the connections of this collaborative project to the framing of modern-day ecological concerns. A renewed intimacy with the elemental holds the potential for a more dynamic environmental ethics and the possibility of a reinvigorated materialism. 
Introduction: Eleven Principles of the Elements
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Lowell Duckert
1. Pyromena: Fire’s Doing
Anne Harris
2. Phlogiston
Steve Mentz
3. Airy Something
Valerie Allen
4. The Sea Above
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen
5. Muddy Thinking
Sharon O'Dair
6. The Quintessence of Wit
Chris Barrett
7. Wet?
Julian Yates
8. Creeping Things: Spontaneous Generation and Material Creativity
Karl Steel
9. Earth’s Prospects
Lowell Duckert
Love and Strife: Response Essays
Timothy Morton
Elemental Relations at the Edge
Cary Wolfe
Elemental Love in the Anthropocene
Stacy Alaimo
Coda: Wandering Elements and Natures to Come
Serpil Oppermann and Serenella Iovino

Thursday, December 03, 2015

#InclusiveSyllabus: Tips For/From Premodernists


A brief posting for academics who are thinking ahead to the next semester:

Earlier this week, Aimée Morrison and Erin Wunker (two of the co-founders and editors of the excellent blog Hook & Eye) launched an important conversation about how to incorporate a wide range of perspectives and backgrounds into any new course. Wunker proposed using the #InclusiveSyllabus hashtag to carry these discussions over to twitter.

One big challenge that medievalists (and scholars in other historically distant fields) can face is this: how do you craft an inclusive syllabus if the discipline, era, genre, topic, or field is dominated by (dead) white men? You can check out this archived #InclusiveSyllabus convo for more tips (I'll be updating it periodically as the conversation continues).


In case you're not on twitter or don't want to scroll through the tweets, I offered ten ideas with reference to teaching pre-1500 British literature (but much of these ideas apply to other fields too):

1. In each course, include least two female authors. One woman can't represent an entire gender, and it's useful for students to access to varied modes of (gendered) writing.

2. Put texts in conversation, but not necessarily by obvious "identity category." For instance, a Kempe/Mandeville juxtaposition can reveal new insights into travel writing; a Kempe/Malory pairing might consider romance conventions.

3. Even if you can't avoid a "white male" syllabus, you can still include varied scholarly perspectives: women, people of color, non-Anglo perspectives, etc.

4. Use multiple translations or editions of a work to frame varied responses to a text (works by women and men, different media, forms, generations of scholarship).

5. Find "diversity" and inclusion even within a "white male" canon. Thinking about queerness or disability, for instance, can reveal nuanced facets of authorial identity.

6. Use the anonymity of many premodern texts to question classed/gendered assumptions about authorship.

7. Premodern literary cultures are inherently collaborative; scribes, authors, readers, and translators can all be active "players" in interpretation.

8. Even a "male only" syllabus can still stress role of women as patrons, readers, audience, and scholars who shape meaning and context.

9. Present texts in multiple forms (various print editions, different kinds of media, visual art or other adaptations) to show varied modes of accessing a work or tradition.

10. Lead with and integrate women and varied perspectives throughout the syllabus, rather than grouping "diverse" perspectives at the end of the term or within special segment of the term.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

a gathering

by J J Cohen

Dispatch from the front lines of BABEL. Read the post. Support the movement.

Sitting in a coffee shop while daughter is at Hebrew school. I'm just back from a few days in Dallas, where I was welcomed into a rare kind of intellectual community: a gathering of undergraduates, grad students, and professors into difficult conversation, the humanities at their best. This vibrant collective owes everything to Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams and Bonnie Wheeler, and the open doors of their home.

Bonnie and Jeremy are the sweetest couple. Being with them for two intense days made me feel a part of the kind of family I dreamt about as a child, where love is palpable and intellect and humor are hard to tell apart. I always thought college would be like this, but had quietly given up on that kind of gathering until I visited SMU. I hope Bonnie and Jeremy won't mind my sharing this picture from my time with them. The image is blurred because I could not resist breathing awwww as I took the shot, and thereby accidentally moved my hand.

In another photo of Bonnie, displayed in her hallway, she stands in a white dress with long flowing hair and amazing white glasses. Both her hands are upraised: she fills the frame and makes it clear no one will pass her. She is wearing a white shawl and appears as a beautiful yet absolutely commanding Flower Child. I love the image for what it conveys about Bonnie's spirit. Here is what I once wrote about Bonnie:
Few have had such a positive impact upon Medieval Studies as Bonnie Wheeler. Her special mission throughout her career has been the cultivation of young scholars, fostering their intellectual growth through mentoring and their professional possibilities through guiding their research. She is and always has been an inspiration, a catalyst for change, and a fairy godmother for those working on nontraditional projects. 
The photo was taken at a time in the academy when people like Bonnie were so necessary ... and yet persecuted for not conforming to a severely limited academic type (especially for women). Bonnie has searing stories to narrate about medieval studies when she entered the field, but I can summarize their moral: the field is a far better place for women -- for everyone -- because of the shit she challenged and refused to repeat. The feminist fierceness of Bonnie's generation must never be forgotten (even as its focus, assumptions and aims have been, of necessity, widened). Nor should the hostility of the academy towards those who pushed against its status quo. That panic when the academic status quo is threatened continues.

During an afternoon tea that gathered the community in Jeremy and Bonnie's home, we had a wide ranging conversation about micro-aggressions and the "feel" of college campuses. Some people did not know what micro-aggressions are, others saw their invocation as a threat to free speech, but everyone -- even when anger bubbled -- listened with patience, took time thinking through uncomfortable realizations. Bonnie spoke eloquently about the dangers of the forced choice of thinking that college is either a space of challenge or a safe home (it is both). She also spoke about how second wave feminism accomplished its activism, emphasizing the importance of consciousness raising and the face to face encounter.

The previous day I gave a talk to an energetic audience about Noah's ark and the stories we tell about climate change. The first question was about Levinas and the faces of the dead animals in the manuscript illustrations I showed. The question took a little while to be formulated, and some people in the audience became impatient, but it can take time to get things right, to be clear and complex at once. The humanities are not so great at providing answers, at least not easy answers. Yet they excel at teaching us to ask better questions. That takes some fumbling, some time, some willingness to stay with someone as they figure things out.

I left the tea briefly to chat with a graduate student about her thesis project. When I came back, everyone had gone upstairs to watch the news and behold in helpless fascination the attacks in Paris. A concert, a soccer game, restaurants and cafés. The terrorism had targeted the young.

Earlier in the day I'd visited the Texas School Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald built his sniper's nest. The exhibit there is good, and thorough, emphasizing what JFK accomplished -- as well as how many groups hated him for it (one reason conspiracy theories flourished immediately is that so many wanted him dead). The Peace Corps, the NEH, the NEA, the space program, expansion of voting rights, integration of public schools, and the formulation of a comprehensive federal civil rights bill are all his: art with science, humanities with being humane, an emphasis throughout on making the nation better for all who follow even if that means triggering massive discomfort and challenging the status quo. It's sad to think that 50 years later so much of the social justice movement put into place by Kennedy -- and his valuing of the arts and humanities -- have been eroded rather than intensified. A pillage economy has replaced a push for shared equality, gun rights over civil rights, plush retirement accounts for some rather than economic justice for all. It is very difficult to be young right now. When I look at the future imagined in 1963 and the one we live with at the moment, I wonder how we learned to be OK with its attenuation.

Except not everyone in that "we" is OK with constrictions of possibility. I place great hope that student protests at Missouri, Georgetown, Yale and elsewhere are getting things right. The generations that preceded them convinced themselves to perpetuate an economy, a justice system, a world of arts and humanities and science that gets so many things wrong -- that passes along a small future, modes of thriving reserved for a privileged few, instead of opening doors wider, increasing access, imagining the world otherwise.

This nation values money rather than people, increasing what some few have rather than increasing access to that having.

How did anyone come to believe that a valid assessment for any particular course of college study (say, in English or History versus Computer Science) is how much money those holding a credential earn in the course of a career? According to this metric, embraced by both US parties, the more money you earn the more highly your degree is to be ranked as effective. It's that blunt. Screw such appraisal and the assumptions that came with it. Any philosophy major can tell you that the correlation between lifetime salary and lifetime happiness is not one to one. Beyond a certain minimum threshold that enables a person to obtain the food, shelter and comforts of a modest life [a minimum that ALL people merit], more money does not yield more satisfaction with one's life. Nor is a life with tremendous cash flow and a well stocked retirement portfolio a life better lived. I hope more universities and colleges pressure those who would "run a university like a tech company" (as Timothy M. Wolfe disastrously promised to do at the University of Missouri) to realize that they need to sign up for a remedial course of education in the liberal arts, where they might learn a little better what institutions of higher education at their best accomplish.

What if a reply to terror were art? What if an answer to violence were acts of imagining a world otherwise? What if in response to hatred we refused the invitation to hate?

Here's an old piece I wrote about Paris and complicated histories of race and violence. I was thinking about that blog post recently because it's included as an excursus in my most recent book and I was asked to comment on it during a graduate seminar at SMU where the students had read Stone. I declined. Oddly I cannot talk about the piece without tearing up, even after all this time, and I just did not want to have to wipe at my eyes during that conversation. The violence in Paris happened the next day and I sat with the same people glued to a TV set in Dallas watching images in horror and welling up.

I believe that the Zombie Apocalypse arrived long ago, in the form of a small number of well educated, mainly white and affluent Americans who consumed as much as they could grab and gave futurity little thought. They negated or reversed so much of what seemed possible in 1963 and 1968, so much of that vision of a more just future. Their gated communities (a version of Noah's ark) now exclude those who are not thriving. They have seized control of many universities (among so many other things). They do not ask: how can we expand access? How can we open doors in welcome, rather than construct such massive walls? They did not follow the path that Jeremy and Bonnie, social activists both, insisted was the groundwork of more capacious and more equitable community. They turned away from the utopian visions many of them had embraced when they were younger.

Utopia does not vanish when it is no longer by one generation dreamt. Young people -- including my students, current and former -- are much smarter than some of these ark-dwellers suppose. Today's young will not long remain complacent or compliant. I believe they will refuse the legacies of racism, misogyny, rampant militarism, economic disparity, environmental injustice and homophobia being handed them as if natural or inevitable or the way things simply are. 

I revere the visions of a more just, more equal nation that are a rightful inheritance, a world for which so many have for so long labored.  I have great faith in the future a new generation of young activists will make. 


Friday, November 13, 2015

DISPATCH from the Front Lines of BABEL: MLA Subconference, Steering Comm. Elections & More!

Dear BABEL-ers and Friends of BABEL,

This is a quick message from your friendly neighborhood BABEL Steering Committee about three important items. (If the phrase “BABEL Steering Committee” isn’t ringing any bells, check out our self-introduction from about a year ago, available here).

FIRST, we want again to thank everyone who helped make October’s BABEL conference at the University of Toronto such a delight. If you were there, we encourage you (please!) to take a few minutes to fill out our follow-up survey so that we can build an even more magnificent conference next time.

SECOND, we want to draw your attention to an event being supported by BABEL, punctum books, and Studium (a co-disciplinary space for the arts and humanities in east Austin, Texas). This event is the Third Annual MLA Subconference, which takes place just prior to the enormous Modern Language Association conference each January, and which seeks “to confront the (labor) crisis in the humanities head-on” and support organizing among “those impacted most: adjuncts, graduate students, university food and service workers, labor organizers, and activists working within communities affected by university-driven gentrification.” The Subconference is currently gathering donations to help defray travel expenses. As the organizers write:  
We'll [have] as many as 200 participants this January, but we need your help in getting the Subcon organizers and presenters (primarily grad students, non-grad adjuncts, and community organizers) there. 

We've received about $1000 in institutional contributions so far, but with roundtrip airfare running between $225-$500 from most points in the U.S. and Canada -- and with seven main organizers, and as many as 24 presenters, all coming specifically for the Subcon—we need your support. Help us expand the Subcon network and build power and autonomy among contingent workers and allies in higher ed. 

Your contribution will go toward:
  • Roundtrip fares for plane, train, and bus travel; 
  • Mileage reimbursement for those driving; 
  • A limited number of hotel rooms (we plan to provide home-stays for most participants); and/or 
  • Inter-Austin public transportation.
We encourage EVERYone to make donations as you are able, and you can do so here. At this present moment, when we witness the power of campus activism all around us, donating to the Subconference is a way to support those already fighting for a more just future for the academy. We’re proud to say that BABEL has made a substantial donation of $500 to the Subconference, using a portion of the funds left over from October’s conference. Go, Subconference, go!

THIRD and finally, the BABEL Steering Committee will soon be seeking nominations for NEW COMMITTEE MEMBERS. As four of our twelve members rotate off, four more will be elected by the corporate body of BABEL (i.e., you! and anyone who wants to be you! that's everyone!), from a pool of nominations (also generated by *you*). More information is on its way within the next month about the nomination and election process, but in the meantime, we want to encourage you to start imagining which BABEL-associated wunderkinds -- whether academics, non-academics, para-academics, artists, activists, grad students, adjuncts, lecturers, performers, editors, poets, peripatetics, or what-have-you -- might help steer the BABEL ship. More about that anon!

Otherwise, the BABEL Steering Committee hopes you are enjoying either an incandescent or else a most riotous November.

The BABEL Steering Committee

Monday, November 09, 2015

“Shakestime” (On Method)

by Julian Yates

[Julian presented this piece recently at the Folger. I've been collaborating with him recently for a forthcoming punctum book, Object Oriented Environs: you may read our introduction here. We're honored to share this wonderful meditation on method here at ITM -- JJC]

The following post reproduces the paper I gave in the penultimate session at the highly stimulating Fall Weekend Symposium devoted to “Periodization 2.0” (November 5-7 2015) at the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Institute, graciously and expertly organized and hosted by Professor Kristen Poole of the University of Delaware and Owen Williams of the Folger Institute.

I arrived at the symposium with one paper, but the conversation over the two days provoked me to write a new one that reflected on my own training. This trip down one of memory’s lanes led me to articulate the underlying methodology of much of my work as a scholar thus far in my career. I am deeply grateful for the occasion, the papers by fellow speakers, the genial conversation, and the provocation.

I am grateful to ITM for the invitation to post the paper here—I hope that you find it interesting!

“Shakestime” (On Method)

I thought it might be useful at this point in our conversations if I prefaced our entrance to the peculiar temporal or spatial variety that shall have been Shakestime by trying to Polly parrot back to you some of the things I think I have heard over the last two days. I do not have time to do this responsibly, to name names and give credit where credit is due. I apologize in advance as I mischaracterize your contributions—they come back to you from someone who in 1993 or so (that’s the year 5753, of course, in another calendar, also coincidentally the year the Toronto Blue Jays won the World series) embarked on a reading of the philosopher of science Michel Serres with the result that all writers became my contemporary.[1] This didn’t mean very much because all the word “contemporary” meant was that like you and me these writers were or had at one time been finite beings; had to deal with time as they experienced it and as it was mediated for them by their object world or ecological milieu. Just like us, just like King Lear, they were not “weatherproof” and so were buffeted by the eventfulness of this world; subject to physical distress, joy, loss, affective or emotional turbulence. Just like us they created material and discursive shelters, external memory devices, objects (which include texts) some of which remain today in various states of disrepair; some of which survive at the expense of others or do so by the occluded and now invisible labor of a host of animal subjects human and otherwise. Periods are shelters. They provide shelter against the irreversible time of physics.[2]

This contemporaneity—or shared exposure to time (le temps) and to the weather (le temps) meant, so I learned, that in order not to do violence to these writers and their objects, to misconstrue them by marshaling them to the latest interpretive schema, I had to seek “to know them from the position of the known.”[3] I had to work inductively. I had to read without a meta-language; do without symptomatic reading strategies; and avoid synecdoche like the plague. Sociology, anthropology or any explanatory set of terms and paradigms knew no more and no less than the texts they set out to study. Marcel Mauss and Lévi Strauss were very smart. But they knew no more than did Molière who was also very smart. Theater was already a social laboratory that would become, courtesy of the Royal Society, a theater of scientific demonstration.[4] Writing was projective, experimental, and future oriented. Different media interpenetrated and anticipated each other. Moses was a switchboard operator, one in a long line of telephonic intermediaries.

Periodization, to the extent that it was an issue, became a problem of grammar or syntax. Where do you like to end your sentences and begin others? How were you going to emplot texts you declared past so as to produce certain kinds of time effects that would do rhetorical work in what you took to be your present. To periodize was to calibrate, to become the writer of a new text or the producer of a new object, and so to refold the remains of the past to particular ends. To periodize was to delimit. It was violent and so was in some shape or form to be resisted. To declare, for example, that Periodization 2.0 marked the beginning or the end of a Renaissance at the Folger or was a Restoration of sorts was essentially to declare war on a competing narrative or settlement. This declaration enabled you to mark a break with an intervening middle time of benighted bathypelagic sensory deprivation (ages you made “dark”) under the sign of your rebirthed continuity with or reclamation of glories past re-clothed or re-embodied in the likes of, surprise-surprise, oh look it’s us.

Epistemic breaks were right out. They might be posited but only as heuristics or propositions and they were not particularly interesting because they were about reducing the complexity of the noise of things (past, present, and future). They were dangerous because they might all too easily turn into fixed points and reveal themselves to be on ramps to all too familiar intellectual superhighways.

Synchrony versus diachrony was a false choice because timer was multiple, discontinuous, and not linear. It does not flow. It percolates.[5] Different configurations of matter, different objects (the First Folio, a ruff, the Holy Cross Guild chapel, a musical phrase or style) obey different chronologies. They are asynchronous but might also synch up. Things do change. But nothing disappeared. Secularism, for example, was merely a differently religious way of re-tying the knot of belief and belonging. The word religion was to be understood according to a strict Latinism that reminded you that re-ligere means to re-tie. Religion therefore designated all the various processes or routines by which we declare ourselves “fit to be tied,” the narratives, communities to which you claimed to belong thereby authorizing your otherwise irrational, even unforgivable, decision to cut yourself off from other creatures.[6]

Language was about vectoring. Nouns and verbs were less important than prepositions (the pre-placing or positioning of things) or deictic markers. There was no better word or place to be than “between” or, if you like, in the middle.[7] The program, then, was to try to craft something on the order of a “general theory of relations” or poetics of translation or metaphor, a new kinematic aesthetic—how do ideas and things move; where do they go when they seem to vanish; where and how do they come back?[8] Nominalist or inductive forms of historical epistemology; tracing words and gestures; postures; signal tracking, traveling by the turns of a trope, by the force or blow to a figure that impresses itself, were the way to go, but they were not ends in themselves. They were merely translation tools, means of transport, that enabled you to learn how to refold texts that seemed to be separated by vast chronological distances so as to see their similarities, their proximal relations, proximity, and yes, on occasion, their isomorphism.

Time was an effect of space—best metaphorized as a giant hankie that could be unfolded to maximize the distance between two points or folded over and crumpled in order to make two points coincide.[9] Time did not exist without objects; and those objects served as translational relays, crossroads, anchoring points, convocations, which folded together the differently timed remains of persons, animals, plants, and all the various entities that make up our built worlds.[10] They might be palimpsests as Jonathan Gil Harris has argued, but the word overlay seemed more neutral. Objects accreted their uses; abuse, accidents, and decay.[11] Certain objects seemed especially stable—the Eucharist, money, the cell form of the commodity, Shakespeare (sort of) which is to say they spliced together matter, signs, and flesh in ways that could direct or route traffic. All that traffic (repetition as difference) kept them stable.[12]

Agency became annoyingly easy to talk about. Objects or “quasi-objects” didn’t have it; but neither did “quasi-subjects.” Instead they both participated in its production. Subject and object were grammatical positions first and foremost and could be occupied, from moment to moment, by different entities, human and otherwise. This was all best explained by watching rugby, but baseball would work too. For to any unbiased observer the ball was obviously the true subject, giving agency to whoever had it or made it do what was required.[13] The whole subject / object problem was best left well alone and handled by speaking of ties, ligatures, and the way our worlds stack animal and vegetable labor to produce forms of life that confuse all these categories strategically. The only thing you could ultimately say about people is that they were parasites. And, maybe with a lot of hard work we might be able to achieve something on the order of a mutually sustaining relation to our world. Perhaps the parasitic relation that kills might be stabilized or transformed into a symbiosis. But, let’s face it, the Holocene (entirely recent time) if not yet the Anthropocene, hadn’t gone very well so far.[14]

As you can imagine, as a graduate student back in 1993, this all came as a bit of a shock. New historicism (already flagging) looked really strange. It’s synchronic slicing up of things past and bewitching use of synecdoche let you know that it was a powerful mode of translation, a powerful topological operation. Best to steer well clear. So, as a first step, I decided to write a dissertation that, as I would be frequently reminded, had no real literature in it. It’s title, “Cunning Conveyaunce: Space, Narrative and Material Culture in Renaissance England,” let you know that I was very modestly just out to track the peculiar lexical flexibility of the words “cunning conveyaunce” and their compeers “curious contrivance” in describing certain contemporaneous quasi-technological devices in t: portrait miniatures, relics, flush toilets, the printed page, and priest-holes (secret hiding places for books, massing stuff, or priests, a technology that essentially enabled houses to forget). The texts I chose derived from my signal tracking which was, in part, performed by way of a chronological short title catalogue search with a card catalogue; and then reading within the disciplines that claimed expertise for the texts I tried to read. My “period” ran from 1570 (the founding of the Jesuit Mission to reconvert a reformed England) to 1606 (the aftermath of Gunpowder Plot). Antiquarian labor of the early to mid-twentieth century or “fetish labor,” as I like to think of it (and positively so), proved crucial to this endeavor because the labor we have to do now to approach texts and objects always proves reciprocal to the labor they did back then to make and use whatever text or object you are out to understand.[15]

More peculiarly still, as I reckoned with where my reading of Serres and then the sociologist Bruno Latour had taken me, I discovered that I had not been turned into a philosopher or a historical sociologist but had been re-territorialized in questions of media, form, genre, and trope, understood as ways of trying to understand the messy business we call poiesis, making things and the status of the things that we have made and that make us. This was a happy outcome because deep down I was trained as a formalist, had always thought that formal analysis, close reading, narrating the scene of encounter with an object, aesthetics understood as an account of perception, pretty darned inductive—a laboratory of sorts. It also meant that I could finally understand that the lesson of Derridean deconstruction was not a cautionary tale on the irresponsibility of a maximum entropy formalism but a radical empiricism that sought to stop the noumenal or heuristic positing of categories becoming realist by exposing it to the noise that it had sought to filter out but without which there would be no signal to track or to name. That noise was potentially always a set of signals from another differently timed object, echoes of excluded voices, forgotten or invisible labor, human and otherwise. Close reading, deconstructive reading, attempted to hold open the bounded period of the sentence, “the structure of the sentence to the saying,” so that it may be said differently.[16]

What is Shakestime? Who or what, for that matter, is Shakespeare and how is it that he may defy periodization? I have a couple of answers. You could, for example, describe Shakespeare as “a proliferating knot of times and places, a translational node or quasi-object.” “Shakespeare” is an assemblage or activity, a chain of making, whose performance produces an evolving collective of texts, readers, readings, persons, performances, and audiences.[17] More contentiously, if you are a bit fed up with that and want, in Dipesh Chakrabarty’s terms, “provincialize” Shakespeare, you might be inclined to re-describe “Shakespeare” not as a now defunct historical person or a series of plays but as:
a mobile, conflicting, conflicted, and partial time-bound set of practices. What happens if we proceed on the assumption that the academic designation ‘Shakespeare studies,’ as well as school curricula, professional Shakespeare theaters, the film industry, media libraries (on and offline) refer not to a series of agreed upon texts or performances but instead to a series of differently distributed fetish communities, each of which tunes itself to the shifting auratics of its chosen ritual objects as they are variously mediated—from manuscript to quarto to folio, on and off and back to the stage, the movie theater, and the home entertainment system—the ontology of the thing we study ‘Shakespeare’ [or Shakestime] waxing and waning, constantly picking up and dropping actants as it goes. The distribution of readers into different fields of study (performance, theater history, criticism, theater production, and so on) would constitutes not a happy holism, but a series of discontinuous and only sometimes intersecting conversations or crowds that converge on variously mediatized forms of Shakespearean texts. The Shakespeare industry, so it turns out, would refer not merely to an elaborated infrastructure, but to the industry of so very many readers and purveyors, whose vital juices the Bard requires to keep on flowing. In this model, the labor of all such fetishists (myself included) stands in reciprocal relation to the past labors of reading, living, and dying that our work posits as ‘past.’”[18]
If you want to imagine something different, if you want to calibrate the past differently, to imagine other more capacious periodizing strategies, you might need to stop reading Shakespeare or to direct traffic to another set of texts and objects which would then anchor your sense of time.

Nothing I have said thus far about what “Shakespeare” or “Shakestime” are or might be should be confused with what it entails to open a reading of or encounter a play. Plays are projective. They wish to become something else: a performance, a reading, a new text. They are necessarily incomplete and so must be joined. By joining them we activate and perform their structures and turning space into place by our time-bound occupation of them.[19] That is, in a sense, the lesson of the plays as I read them, whose predicaments usually seem to revolve around characters not quite being when or where they thought they were and asking for help or failing to find any.

Coming last, as York tells the audience early on in Henry VI Part II, means that you get to reap the benefits of comprehending the situation; time is less important than timing.[20] But judging whether you are timely is really difficult—best not attempted but frequently unavoidable. Lady Macbeth ends up stuck in Act 2 scene 2 even though she’s in Act 5—in one of Shakespeare’s contribution to making king killing seem unthinkable even as he still thinks about it.[21] Macbeth and Banquo register the disappearance of the witches in Act 1 scene 3 as a moment of sensory estrangement. Everything that happened; everything they heard and seemed to have been promised; has gone, or worse, never actually was at all. The futures they were offered: Macbeth’s life and reign; Banquo’s genealogical afterlife; never will have been. We watch as the two of them register this loss and reckon with the residue or remainder of their inflated sense of being. The lives and legends the witches suggested to them, and which they just now imagined, have become less than virtual. All that’s left, until Ross arrives and hails Macbeth “Thane of Cawdor,” (1. 3. 103), as if he were some witchy speech bubble gone awry and only now making it back, is the aching abandonment become giggly abreaction that the two men share: “Your children shall be kings / You shall be king” (1. 3. 84). Perhaps it was all just the wind. “Have we eaten on the insane root?” (1. 3. 82).

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bottom wakes up in Act 3 scene 1 even though he’s in Act 4 waiting for a cue that never comes or won’t till Act 5; remembers more of what happened in Act 3 than he’s willing to say out loud—more than the lovers, that’s for sure who are totally unable to explain how everything turned out alright.[22] Eager to periodize, to consummate their marriage, Theseus writes them all off along with poetry, dreams, and madness (5. 1. 2-23). But Hippolyta’s the better signal tracker (had read her Ovid apparently); judges that “all the story of the night told over / And all their minds transfigured so together / More witnesseth than fancy’s images, / And grows to something of great constancy” (5. 1. 25-26). She tropes or trumps the play’s lexicon of translation to register the knot, the tying off, that she names a transfiguration. An end is coming—an end she registers in performance either, happily because consciously, with a wink; or, unhappily, strangely, without acknowledgement, at the moment she redacts Theseus’s frustration with the moon in the opening lines of the play in reference to the stunt moon, Moonshine, “I am aweary of this moon, would he would change” (5. 1. 237).

When am I? When are we? Is it in fact now? Does time progress or does the time of others catch us up and out? These questions seem to capture the flavor of “Shakestime,” unless you’re riding the kairos, immanent to the action, at one with the time, or in Iago’s words, “even now, now, very now.”[23] But that won’t last very long.

I am not sure what time it is. But 2016 or year 5777 of the Holocene is coming. I do not know who shall win the World Series but a predictive weather report might safely offer that things will remain changeable, with a chance of shakes-appearing.

Thank you.


[1] Michel Serres and Bruno Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time, trans. Roxanne Lapidus (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 44-45.

[2] Michel Serres, Hermes: Literature, Science, and Philosophy, trans. Josué Harari and David F. Bell (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), 115-116. “History,” adds Serres, “flows around physics” (116).

[3] This use of le temps is fundamental to Serres’s philosophy and a continual reference. But see Serres and Latour, Conversations, 58. On Serres’s strange form of empiricism, see Bruno Latour, “The Enlightenment without the Critique: A Word on Michel Serres’ Philosophy,” in Contemporary French Philosophy, ed. A. Phillips Griffiths (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 89.

[4] On anthropology and theater, see Serres, Hermes, 3-14.

[5] Ibid., 57-59.

[6] For this coding of religion see Serres’s work generally and in particular, The Natural Contract, trans. Elizabeth MacArthur and William Paulson (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), in which the word ligature is successively interrogated and “re-tied.”  On the madness and violence of decision as cutting or the creation of an edge, see, in different registers, Michel Serres, The Natural Contract, trans., 55; and Jacques Derrida, The Gift of Death, trans., David Wills (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 53-82.

[7] Serres and Latour, Conversations, 64. This engagement with prepositions as the way in which beings incline and attach to one another has been life long. For a book-length treatment of préposés (prepositions, pre-placed entities, employees, postmen) as figures of mediation in art and literature, see Michel Serres, Angels: A Modern Myth (Paris: Flammarion, 1995).

[8] Serres and Latour, Conversations, 66.

[9] Ibid., 59-62.

[10] Serres, Hermes, 115-116.

[11] Jonathan Gil Harris, Untimely Matter in the Time of Shakespeare (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).

[12] For a dazzling contribution, inspired in part by the work of Michel Serres, to an analysis of this order of stability, see Michael Wintroub’s analysis of the “metrological work of trying to establish, maintain, and extend the faithfulness of translation--in domains as diverse as literature, politics, religion, and commerce.” Michael Wintroub, “Translations: Words, Things, Going Native, and Staying True,” American Historical Review 120: 4 (2015): 1185-1227.

[13] Michel Serres, The Parasite, trans. Lawrence R. Schehr (Minneapolis and London, [1982] 2007), 224-227.

[14] For Serres’s attempts to think beyond the neutrality of parasitic chain with its excluded middles (“the third man”) towards successive figures of symbiosis along with what frequently sounds like despair at what he takes to be “appropriation through pollution,” writing as a form of excremental marking or re-marking, see, among others, Angels, The Natural Contract, and Malfeasance: Appropriation Through Pollution, trans. Anne-Marie Feenberg-Dibon (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011).

[15] This dissertation would provide the basis for Error, Misuse, Failure: Object Lessons from the English Renaissance (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003).

On the reciprocal nature of “fetish” or antiquarian labor, see “Shakespeare’s Kitchen Archives,” in Speculative Medievalisms: A Discography, ed., The Petropunk Collective, (Brooklyn, NY: punctum books, 2013), 179-200.

[16] For this modeling of deconstruction see, Simon Critchley, The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014).

[17] “Accidental Shakespeare,” Shakespeare Studies, 34 (2006): 90-91.

[18] Richard Burt / Julian Yates, What’s The Worst Thing You Can Do To Shakespeare? (New York and London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 1-2. On provincializing as a strategy, see Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).

[19] On play texts as projective, see “Shakespeare’s Kitchen Archives.”

[20] William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part Two, ed. Roger Warren (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 3. 1. 381.

[21] William Shakespeare, Macbeth, ed. A. R. Braunmuller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 5. 1.

[22] William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ed. R. A. Foakes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 4. 1. 197. Subsequent references appear parenthetically in the text.

[23] William Shakespeare, Othello, ed. Norman Sanders (Cambridge: Cambridge University press, 1995), 1. 1. 89.