Shakespeare Studies at Troppo

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… can be found here, for new readers. The exam will be on Friday at 9am sharp. Bring a 2B lead pencil, as your chief examiner/Grand Inquisitor, Rafe Champion, will be setting a multi-choice test.

Seriously, I’d love to post more on my literary obsessions like Kit Marlowe, Goethe, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Trollope, Michael Moorcock, Ernest Dowson, and a whole lot more, if I had the time. Too much blogging and not enough work already today. One day…

In the meantime, don’t forget – Troppo provides you with the chance to discuss literature and film, as well as how they should be taught!

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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C.L.
C.L.
2021 years ago

Link not working Mark. Delete “here.”

; )

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Cheers, C.L. Fixed now.

Chrissy.M
2021 years ago

Don’t call me Kit, please.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Can we call you Sir Christopher then? etc etc see http://bau2.uibk.ac.at/sg/python/Scripts/Cinema-TelevisionInterview

Tony Trollope
2021 years ago

And while your at it, don’t ever call me ANTONY, it’s ANTHONY with an aitch.

That’s AITCH for you filthy papists out there.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2021 years ago

Angel paws?

Rob
Rob
2021 years ago

Did you really have an obsession with Michael Moorcock, Mark? Oh, well, I used to listen to David Bowie. What did you think of the Jerry Cornelius series?

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

My favourite writer, Rob, to whom I return again and again. Love Jerry! Why stop listening to Bowie?

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill
2021 years ago

Underlying Fowler’s review, as I read it, is a polemical question. Are great sums of money good for scholarship? Is Greenblatt’s life of Shakespeare as good as Renaissance Self-Fashioning? No. What is Harold Bloom’s best book? The Anxiety of Influence for which he probably got peanuts. What is Bloom’s worst book? Without doubt, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, which, like Will in the World, made the NYT bestseller list and reputedly earned its author hundreds of thousands.

Universities began in monasteries. Most of those who enter the profession today do so in the knowledge that, like their monastic forebears, the job comes with a vow of poverty. The authorities gratefully concur. Like working dogs, the trick with academics is to “keep ’em lean, keep ’em keen”. Don’t overpay the professors, it just makes them fat and lazy (administrators’ salaries are, of course, something else).

In my experience most academics want no more than a decent professional salary. Enough money not to have to worry about money. The rewards of their chosen career are not monetary. The joy of teaching and scholarship is what makes the job worth doing. There are many ways of ruining scholars. Overburdening them with administration is one (little joy there). Another is offering them so much money (offers they can’t refuse) that they write books which the hucksters in the book trade want rather than the books their discipline needs.

That, if I read him correctly, is the point that Alastair Fowler was making, in such disciplinary fashion. Or, of course, it may be that he simply thought that Will in the World was a stinker and deserved some stick.

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill
2021 years ago

Oops, it seems to have only posted the John Sutherland quote, for some reason my comment didn’t post properly.

This was in regards to this John Sutherland article, about the hostile review given to new historian icon Stephen Greenblatt’s new book on Shakespeare by Alastair Fowler in the TLS. I think Sutherland makes an interesting point, I can think of many academics who while ground-breaking scholars in their time have produced some pretty mediocre scholarship in recent years.

“Underlying Fowler’s review, as I read it, is a polemical question. Are great sums of money good for scholarship? Is Greenblatt’s life of Shakespeare as good as Renaissance Self-Fashioning? No. What is Harold Bloom’s best book? The Anxiety of Influence for which he probably got peanuts. What is Bloom’s worst book? Without doubt, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, which, like Will in the World, made the NYT bestseller list and reputedly earned its author hundreds of thousands.

Universities began in monasteries. Most of those who enter the profession today do so in the knowledge that, like their monastic forebears, the job comes with a vow of poverty. The authorities gratefully concur. Like working dogs, the trick with academics is to “keep ’em lean, keep ’em keen”. Don’t overpay the professors, it just makes them fat and lazy (administrators’ salaries are, of course, something else).

In my experience most academics want no more than a decent professional salary. Enough money not to have to worry about money. The rewards of their chosen career are not monetary. The joy of teaching and scholarship is what makes the job worth doing. There are many ways of ruining scholars. Overburdening them with administration is one (little joy there). Another is offering them so much money (offers they can’t refuse) that they write books which the hucksters in the book trade want rather than the books their discipline needs.

That, if I read him correctly, is the point that Alastair Fowler was making, in such disciplinary fashion. Or, of course, it may be that he simply thought that Will in the World was a stinker and deserved some stick.”

Oops URL

http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/comment/story/0,9828,1415046,00.html

Rob
Rob
2021 years ago

Who was that Moorcock character whose sword stole people’s souls? I thought he was pretty cool. And Bowie – talk about cool. Unforgettable in Christiane F. I finally found a German language copy of that film with English subtitles. Infinitely better than the American dubbed, or dubbed American. Sorry, this is hopelessly OT.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Don’t worry, Rob. Treat it as an open topic thread.

It’s Elric!

Stephen, have you read the Greenblatt book? I saw it at a bookshop the other day and wondered if it was worth a look?

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill
2021 years ago

Mark,

Can’t afford most specialty scholarly texts, I wait until they hit a library near me. For example there is a new book of essays on William Gaddis with which I might make an exception of but I’ll have to see if the uni will cover some of my costs. It would be handy for the thesis but I can’t afford this sort of thing and will just have to live without it if they refuse. There are a stack of other texts in the same boat, but some of these are more tangential but would be bloody useful for follow-up articles.

Also, I just don’t have time to read things that are off-topic at the moment. I make some exceptions sometimes to keep sane but I feel really frustrated that focusing on such a specialisation can be so inhibating that I just can’t read as widely as I feel compelled to do. I mean there are also a host of contemporary texts I’d love to take a bite out of, I’ve even got the new Saramago (who I did my Honours thesis on) but don’t have the time to read it.

Originally, I wanted to do my postgrad project on Portuguese literature as I had established an interesting theme that had developed in researching my honours thesis. I think it would have made a good argument but I just couldn’t afford the materials (translations of critical material etc.), and the days of having a second supervisor (one an Iberian expert, one from the English dep) just aren’t feasible in the post-Dawkins environment. Also unlike America with a large Latin-American population, there is little Iberian scholarship in this country, which is a crying shame considering the immense literary production of various literary heavyweights (e.g. de Assis, Borges, Vargas Llosa, Saramago, Lobo Antunes, Pessoa, Goytisolo, Amado)

One thing that persistently frustrates me about unis is how ultra-touchy they are about work in translation, which leads to such a miminal production of critical material in many foreign texts. For example the only way to get any critical material on the Nobel Prize winner Saramago is to fork out a lot of money for books in the US, although there is a book in the works in UK (Cardiff Uni if I recall). There is so little material in English (my thesis suffered I bit as a result) on who Harold Bloom describes as Europe’s finest European writer that you’d think the academy would be crying out for such commentary.

It’s bizarre that despite how inclusive unis try to be in most their policies, that there are such limits a lot of great foreign works from course outlines and modules. Personally, I’d much rather if more attention was given to German, Russian, Japanese, Spanish authors, but without the resources it seems unlikely this is going to happen. Surely it is a world of literature, and decisions of texts should be based solely on literary merit, language should only be a minor consideration. There are so many gems that would be far more interesting than some of the B-grade crap that is pedelled in certain fadish domains.

But I guess with scholarships now set at the 92% mark, why wouldn’t you pick a “safe” topic and retrack well trod ground. If I could do Honours again I would have done this. I would have picked something with a healthy amount of critical material and something not as taxing. I wish they had told me how impossible scholarships are before I started, this would have been much more flexible in my topic selection and I would have just found something to get the marks. As they say once your head is above water you can actually do some thinking for yourself, before then its just treading water.

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

I agree, Stephen, it’s a crying shame. Even study of traditionally valued canons such as those in Russian and German has largely disappeared – at least at UQ.

The other factor conducing to “safe” PhD topics is the pressure to finish them in 3 and a half years or the University effectively receives no funding for the candidate.

Not to mention the running down of the few genuine research libraries we had in this country and other research infrastructure. Lest anyone think this applies only in the humanities and social sciences, consider Physics students working on 30 year old equipment, not to mention the blow to people’s morale when “pure research” is constantly bagged. Things like the Federation Fellowships and other such schemes are a start, but if the Universities don’t provide the facilities and encouragement for research, will not make much difference. The way we are heading now the whole country will be suffering sooner rather than later from disinvestment in research and education.

Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill
2021 years ago

I’m about to go to bed, but I do want to write something about what Sophie said tomorrow, as I thought her piece did open some interesting points for debates, which unlike other pieces didn’t just indulge in polemics.

Maybe its because I’m tired and in a grumpy mood with such lack of sleep. But I am amazed that I hear such repeated silence from these people allegedly so concerned about the decline of English teaching in schools and universities about the lack of scholarships for up-and-coming scholars. Surely you would want the next generation of scholars to have the economic security and some sort of footing in the employment market to enable them to challenge and debate the aesthetic issues of the day rather than having them cool off in some ward reciting lines from the “Steppingwolf” like some acid-munching refugee from some new-age commune.
I thought the Liberals were meant to be the party of enablement, they should be ashamed about the APA shortage.

I remember someone from the Research Office telling me they knew the situation is ridiculous, but with the current political climate there was little they could do no matter how unfair it is. Does Brendan Nelson get out of Bradfield to see how the postgrads are living (or trying to)? Or is it more important that such money be spent on fucking flagpoles.

David Tiley
2021 years ago

Stephen, these are vicious times for people who want to think. There’s a lot of little symptoms and one big one – the state and direction of universities.

David Tiley
2021 years ago

Oh, and Mark – Moorcock apparently wrote one of the Jerrry Cornelius books in three days.

That should give you hope with your PhD.

Rob
Rob
2021 years ago

Not ‘The English Assassin’, surely! (Are there too many s’s in that? Seems like an awfu lot for just one word.)

Mark Bahnisch
2021 years ago

Probably one of the much less complex tales. Moorcock used to write his sword and sorcery staples in the 60s in weeks if not days – the only way to make a living for a science fiction/fantasy writer in those days.

Rafe
2021 years ago

On the topic of Lear, one of my best mornings at Tas Uni was the time I played hookey from Ag Science and went to a lecture by James McAuley on Lear. Not a special event, just his regular Tuesday morning English II lecture, but it was a real performance and a revelation.

Fyodor
2021 years ago

Interesting. Favourite “Eternal Champion”, Mark? I’m guessing it’s JC.