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Lecture 4:
Dishonesty and
Deception
PATRICK MOONEY, M.A.
ENGLISH 10, SUMMER SESSION A
25 JUNE 2105
Methodological principles (228–30)
●
Foucault offers a number of suggestions relating to how we “read”
discourse at a very...
So who’s speaking?
“there is another principle of rarefaction, complementary to the first:
the author. Not, of course, the...
Some quick dramatic terminology
Upstage UL
ULC
(or
UL)
UC
URC (or
UR)
UR
Center stage CL (or L) L C R CR (or R)
Downstage ...
“What is so
perilous, then, in
the fact that
people speak,
and that their
speech
proliferates?
Where is the
danger in that...
Lillian Hellman (1905–1984)
●
Successful Broadway playwright for several decades.
●
Refused to answer questions for the Ho...
“Natural”
MRS. MORTAR. It is natural that young women should
think of young men. But it is not natural until it is
proper....
PEGGY. Well, Mortar said that Dobie was jealous of them, and that she
was like that when she was a little girl, and that s...
Deception and self-deception
MRS. MORTAR. Patient with me? I Have worked my fingers to
the bone to help you both―
MARTHA. ...
MRS. TILFORD. You don’t Don’t you find it odd―
that they want so much to get rid of that silly
woman? She’s harmless enoug...
“Oh, who cares?”
EVELYN. What you going to tell your grandmother?
MARY. Oh, who cares, I’ll think of something to tell
her...
Some positions
on truth
Let’s take a look at the
end of Act II, scene ii (pp.
46-49 in particular).
Media credits
The photo of Lillian Hellman (slide 5) is probably under
copyright, but it is a low-resolution version used ...
Lecture 04: Dishonesty and Deception, 25 June 2015
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Lecture 04: Dishonesty and Deception, 25 June 2015

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Slideshow for the fourth lecture in my summer course, English 10, "Introduction to Literary Studies: Deception, Dishonesty, Bullshit."

http://patrickbrianmooney.nfshost.com/~patrick/ta/m15/

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Lecture 04: Dishonesty and Deception, 25 June 2015

  1. 1. Lecture 4: Dishonesty and Deception PATRICK MOONEY, M.A. ENGLISH 10, SUMMER SESSION A 25 JUNE 2105
  2. 2. Methodological principles (228–30) ● Foucault offers a number of suggestions relating to how we “read” discourse at a very broad level. ● Remember that Foucault is a historian (and philosopher of history), rather than a literary critic or theorist. – And so these are not standard methods for interpreting literary texts that are unambiguously applicable to literary texts. – Nevertheless, his ideas have been very influential in the humanities, including in literary studies, over the last thirty years. ● In brief: Foucault argues for principles of reversal (recognizing what is not said and why), discontinuity, specificity, and exteriority (staying at the surface instead of digging down into the depths).
  3. 3. So who’s speaking? “there is another principle of rarefaction, complementary to the first: the author. Not, of course, the author in the sense of the individual who delivered the speech or wrote the text in question, but the author as the unifying principle in a particular group of writings or statements, lying at the origins of their significance, as the seat of their coherence.” (221) “it was, during the Middle Ages, indispensable that a scientific text be attributed to an author, for the author was the index of the work’s truthfulness. A proposition was held to derive its scientific value from its author. But since the seventeenth century this function has been steadily declining: it barely survives now, save to give a name to a theorem, an effect, an example or a syndrome. In literature, however, and from the same period, the author’s function has become steadily more important.” (221–22)
  4. 4. Some quick dramatic terminology Upstage UL ULC (or UL) UC URC (or UR) UR Center stage CL (or L) L C R CR (or R) Downstage DL DLC (or DL) DC DRC (or DR) DR AUDIENCE Stage right Stage left
  5. 5. “What is so perilous, then, in the fact that people speak, and that their speech proliferates? Where is the danger in that?”* * Foucault 216 Lillian Hellman in the 1970s
  6. 6. Lillian Hellman (1905–1984) ● Successful Broadway playwright for several decades. ● Refused to answer questions for the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952, during the McCarthy years. – Lost a great deal of income when HUAC prevented her from working in Hollywood. ● Had a thirty-year affair with married detective fiction author Dashiell Hammett. ● Had a notoriously loose relationship to her own biographical narrative in her multiple memoirs and in her biographical fictions. ● Sued literary critic Mary McCarthy after McCarthy said, on the Tonight Show, that “every word she [Hellman] writes is a lie, including 'and' and 'the.’”
  7. 7. “Natural” MRS. MORTAR. It is natural that young women should think of young men. But it is not natural until it is proper. (11; act I) MRS. MORTAR. If you had a friend, you always got mad if she liked anybody else. That’s what’s happening now. And it’s unnatural. Just as unnatural as it can be. I say you need a man of your own, and ― (21; act I)
  8. 8. PEGGY. Well, Mortar said that Dobie was jealous of them, and that she was like that when she was a little girl, and that she’d better get herself a beau of her own because it was unnatural, and that she never wanted anybody to like Miss Wright, and that was unnatural. (27; act I) MARY. She said it was unnatural for a girl to feel that way. […] That’s what she said, Grandma. […] I’m just telling you what she said. She said there was something funny about it, and that Miss Dobie had always been like that, even when she was a little girl and that it was unnatural― MRS. TILFORD. Stop using that silly word, Mary. MARY. (Vaguely realizing she is on the right track, hurries on. […]) But that was the word she kept using. (36-37, act II, scene i)
  9. 9. Deception and self-deception MRS. MORTAR. Patient with me? I Have worked my fingers to the bone to help you both― MARTHA. (Turns to papers.) Don’t tell yourself that too often, Aunt Lily; you’ll come to believe it. MRS. MORTAR. I know it’s true. Where could you have gotten a woman of my reputation to give these children voice lessons, elocution lessons? Patient with me? Here I’ve donated my services― MARTHA. You are being paid. MRS. MORTAR. That small thing? (19; act I)
  10. 10. MRS. TILFORD. You don’t Don’t you find it odd― that they want so much to get rid of that silly woman? She’s harmless enough― CARDIN. (Smiles.) You don’t know what you’re talking about, Amelia. You’ve never been around her. Lily Mortar is not a harmless woman, although God knows she’s silly enough. She’s a nasty, tiresome, spoilt old bitch and if you’re feeling sorry for her you’re wasting your time. (44; act II, scene ii)
  11. 11. “Oh, who cares?” EVELYN. What you going to tell your grandmother? MARY. Oh, who cares, I’ll think of something to tell her. I can always do it better on the spur of the moment. (28; act I) MARY. (Hysterically, as she sees AGATHA about to pick up phone.) Grandma! Please! I can’t go back! I can’t! They’ll kill me! They will, Grandma! They’ll kill me! (33; act II)
  12. 12. Some positions on truth Let’s take a look at the end of Act II, scene ii (pp. 46-49 in particular).
  13. 13. Media credits The photo of Lillian Hellman (slide 5) is probably under copyright, but it is a low-resolution version used for educational purposes, and no freely available alternative is known to exist. Original source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lillian_Hellman.gif

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