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Sean Keilen: “From Latin Rhetoric to English Poetry: Shakespeare’s Antic Dispositions”
February 22, 2012 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm | Stevenson Fireside Lounge
Sean Keilen, College of William and Mary
“From Latin Rhetoric to English Poetry: Shakespeare’s Antic Dispositions”
The talk Shakespeare’s efforts to distinguish the poems and plays he was writing from the arguments he had learned to make at school—no small task, given the fact that the study of poetry was subordinate to the study of rhetoric in the Elizabethan curriculum. In particular, the talk focuses on the difference between the role the emotions play in determining the meaning of works of art in Shakespearean texts and the role they play in determining the meaning of a case in Latin rhetoric. According to the laws that defined rhetoric as species of discourse, an emotion is a tool that orators must use to make audiences feel what they want them to feel, and nothing else. Shakespeare’s works, by contrast, identify poetry with aesthetic experiences that give rise to ambiguous feelings, multiple interpretations, and authorless texts.
Sean Keilen teaches courses about Shakespeare, English literature and criticism, and the reception of the classical tradition. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation (2008) and National Humanities Center (2006), he is also the author of Vulgar Eloquence: On the Renaissance Invention of English Literature (Yale 2006), co-editor of Forms of Renaissance Thought: New Essays on Literature and Culture (Palgrave 2008), and a General Editor of the series Studies in Renaissance Literature (Boydell & Brewer).
At 4:00 pm, Professor Keilen will conduct a graduate-student-only seminar on “Reading for Pleasure.”
Texts: Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text (excerpts), Sontag, Against Interpretation, and Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis