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World Lit II - Class Notes for February 2, 2012
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World Lit II - Class Notes for February 2, 2012

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  • 1. World Literature II Renaissance to the Present Dr. Michael Broder University of South Carolina February 2, 2012
  • 2. Daily Write #8
    • Scholar Leonard Prager writes, “ It is not strange that few people remember the Clown in Othello . He appears twice, speaking a total of about a dozen lines, and is not especially humorous. Most critical discussions of the play simply ignore the Clown.” How would you explain the clown’s function in Act 3 of Othello ?
  • 3. Upcoming Assignments
    • 2/7 Shakespeare, Othello , Acts 4 & 5
    • 2/9 Molière, Tartuffe
    • 2/14 Molière, Tartuffe
  • 4. Work and Play
    • Plays are called plays because they involve playing = pretending = imagination = having fun
    • We think of play as the opposite of work
    • But does a play do work ?
    • “ The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king” (Hamlet, 2.2.599-600)
      • Hamlet is trying to provoke is uncle Claudius to show some sign of guilt about killing Hamlet’s father
  • 5. Horace (65-8 BCE), Ars Poetica, 333-4
    • Aut prodesse volunt aut delectare poetae
    • aut simul et iucunda et idonea dicere vitae.
    • Poets wish either to profit ( prodesse ) or to delight ( delectare ) or at the same time ( simul ) to say things both pleasant ( iucunda ) and suited to life ( idonea vitae ).
  • 6. The Mary Poppins Theory of Literature “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and snap! The job’s a game.”
  • 7. Horace’s Maxim in the Renaissance
    • The idea of pleasure and instruction in poetry resurfaces
      • Sir Philip Sydney (1554-1586)
      • John Dryden (1631-1700)
      • Other Renaissance writers throughout Europe
    • By this time, however, Horace’s either/or has become an emphasis primarily on moral instruction
  • 8. The Defence of Poesy (1583)
    • [The poet’s] effects be so good as to teach goodness, and delight the learners of it… [T]herein – namely in moral doctrine , the chief of all knowledges – he doth not only far pass the historian, but for instructing is well nigh comparable to the philosopher.
    • Sir Philip Sidney
    • The Defence of Poesy (1583)
  • 9. Different Works, Different Plays
    • Is teaching goodness/moral doctrine the only “work” that literary “play” can do?
    • What other kinds of work can literature do?
  • 10. Mary Poppins and Shakespeare
    • How well does Mary Poppins’ theory describe the combination of work and play in poems, stories, plays, etc?
    • How well does it describe Othello ?
    • What is the “job that must be done” in Othello ?
    • What is the “element of fun” in Othello ?
  • 11. Some Questions about Iago’s Motives and Actions
    • What’s the point of trying to turn Brabantio against Othello?
    • How would this help Iago displace Cassio and rise in rank?
    • Does Iago only develop his plot to frame Desdemona for adultery after his earlier plan fails to tear Othello and Desdemona apart?
  • 12. Back to Bahktin: Carnival vs. Satirical Laughter
    • C a rnival laughter = grotesque bodily functions are associated with fertility and the subversion of authority
      • Democratic, anarchic impulse
    • Satirical laugher = grotesque bodily functions are associated with sterility and the breakdown of traditional moral values
      • Autocratic, authoritarian impulse
    • Could we analyze Othello in terms of carnival versus satirical laughter?
  • 13. Carnival vs. Satirical in Othello
    • For example, the “beast with two backs”
      • Rabelais uses the image to celebrate the fertility of the relationship of Grandousier and Gargamelle
        • Subversion of authority?
        • Democratic, anarchic impulse?
      • Iago uses the image to condemn the sterility of the relationship of Othello and Desdemona
        • Breakdown of traditional moral values?
        • Autocratic, authoritarian impulse?
  • 14. Upcoming Assignments
    • 2/7 Shakespeare, Othello , Acts 4 & 5
    • 2/9 Molière, Tartuffe
    • 2/14 Molière, Tartuffe
  • 15. World Literature II Renaissance to the Present Dr. Michael Broder University of South Carolina February 2, 2012