Navigating the Book-Space: Reading Shakespeare Online

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that, ‘there is creative reading as well as creative writing’ (179). Reading is an exercise in the imagination; it involves just as much labour and invention as composing a sestina. With digitization and hypertext, the nature of reading is changing: how we make sense and derive meaning from texts depends on the verbal and nonverbal codes embedded in those texts, and our understanding of materiality. My project is concerned with mediation and the material transactions that occur between texts and readers: specifically, those of Shakespeare. By examining current digitization projects in conjunction with critical theory, I will argue that the twenty-first-century reader is also the editor of his/her own text. The purpose of my thesis is not to affect an answer but to articulate a question: what modes of reading do we practice when we encounter online versions of Shakespeare? Continue reading

Mediating Shakespeare: From Book to Screen

‘To print a text differently is to print a different text.’ – Stephen Orgel

There is a permanent indentation in my Arden copy of Henry V. When I lay it out flat at my kitchen table, the pages fall of their own accord to the opening chorus lines: Continue reading

Swā Swā

This blog has lain dormant for some time now. Curious, how writers and their platforms can slip into states of 4-month hibernation. When I step into the musty air of Old English class, I am reminded of why I came to study English. There is a grounding there, in the phonemes and the verb tenses, and we say words like “swā swā,” chorally chanting, until a nearby Greek and Roman Studies professor comes by and closes the door, saying, “really, I do believe it’s a beautiful language.” I stare at the blackboard, watching my professor balance and counterbalance the noun phrases, watching as he coordinates a coordinating conjunction with an “and” or an “or” and thinking, “This. This must be poetry.” The prepositional phrases dangle off the subject and its modifiers like grocery bags, and the professor then adds more prepositional phrases, more grocery bags, with milk and eggs and jam and cheese and honey, until the sentence forms a long gold string of endlessly melting candles, reflecting and bouncing, one after another, down a long, dark, mirrored hallway. This is what I have come to write about, I think, and I start typing.

A Material Turn: Tentative Research Questions and Thoughts on Next Year’s Thesis

It has been three weeks since the end of classes and (despite that final fortnight of sleep deprivation, trail mix, dark coffee, and total disgust) I already look forward to Fall semester.

Tentative Research Question: “What is the relationship between the medium and the message of a text?” Continue reading

Paradise in Print: Editorial Practices and the (Early) Modern Reader

In his “Note on the Text,” John Leonard states that he has “most often followed the punctuation of the first edition [of Paradise Lost] (1667),” but has “freely substituted punctuation from the second edition (1674)” when he feels it is superior (1iii). In light of this, I have taken the liberty of downloading both the 1667 and 1674 editions of Paradise Lost, probing further into the meanings of my own modern text by examining its precursors. Continue reading

Participation Report

Persistently silent students can often be misinterpreted.  They can, however, be just as engrossed in the material as their gregarious classmates. With such facts in mind, I insist on proposing, for myself, a participation grade of 10 out of 10. Let me begin by stating that I participate in almost every class discussion. When I do not, I am careful to compensate for my silence in a variety of ways. Below, I outline my alternative modes of participation, justifying and proving their legitimacy by means of quantitative evidence: Continue reading

Theory vs Practice: The Problematic with Regards to Textual Analysis and Shakespeare

I have spent the larger part of the past month agonizing over the subject of my honours thesis: what are the issues most important to me, in which area do I want to specialize? With each passing day, I find myself doodling in my class notes, dreaming up potential topics: modernism & Shakespeare, Place Theory, “The Taxonomy of Genre,” Spenserian allegory sprinkled with pagan ritual and Celtic mythology . . . the list goes on. What I end up with (most evenings) are scraps of yellow paper, a half-filled journal full of existential ranting, a neurotic cat meowing for bedtime, and a series of essays that I should be working on in stead of this blog. Continue reading