Thursday, September 15, 2011

Powers of Horror and Shakespeare and Popular Culture

So I didn't really get Powers of Horror. I understand that the abject is a position between subject and object, and that confronting that you exist in such a social space is a scary thing. I get that Kristeva is responding to Freud and Lacan's views of woman-as-lack, and that she's against collective identity politics within broader feminism. That's really all I've got. After Cixous, Clement, and Wittig, Kristeva was a big letdown for me. I feel like she was taking all of the emotion in the other French feminists' work and covering it up with unnecessary theoretical jargon. Blah. I don't want to talk about that on my exams, and will try not to.

On to more adaptation theory. I really love Doug Lanier's Shakespeare and Modern Popular Culture. If I teach my course on Shakespeare and adaptation again, I'm definitely assigning excerpts. I f the course were a specialized Senior seminar, I'd assign the whole thing. He condenses years of trends and scholarly debates into 167 readable, engaging pages that still manage to both highlight important theoretical cruxes (Is popular culture really "of the people"? Why are the anti-Stratfordian debates important? Is "Shakespop" about how we see Shakespeare--and what/who is that?--or about how Shakespeare sees us?) and use specific examples to try to explore those questions. As a teacher, I really like the sections in which he puts on a Marxist hat and questions the goals of the culture industry's uses of Shakespeare. His section on The Compleat Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) is a particularly good example of what we use Shakespeare for and why. In this play, a bardolatrous academic extolling the virtues of proper Shakespeare morphs into a televangelist, this history plays are one long football game, and (my favorite bit) Titus Andronicus is a cooking show. Lanier says that such a critique shows us "what Shakespeare looks like when it is stripped down to its main points" as well as how we feel popular culture allows us to place ourselves within texts we would not have personal access to otherwise. He also covers fan fiction, YA lit, porn, and other genres I'm particularly interested in as "Shakespop" (his term) due to the ways the blend high and low cultures.

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