Friday, February 28, 2014

Final Point 4

Macbeth, the Murderers, and the Diminishing Parallel
Joan Hartwig
This article discusses in particular the scene in which Macbeth hires the murderers to kill Banquo, and argues that the purpose of this scene is to shape the reader's view of Macbeth as a character and the play as a whole. Hartwig explains that Macbeth’s murder of Duncan had no real purpose except ambition; she thinks that this affected Macbeth’s murder order for Banquo in that he wanted it to have a larger and more meaningful purpose, which is why he comes up with lies against Banquo to tell the hired murderers. Hartwig also argues that the shallowness and indifference of the murderers highlights the complex feeling, passion, and morals going on within Macbeth, which helps readers to better understand and sympathize with his character.
In our edition intended for high school seniors or college freshman, I think that this article would be fairly well placed. While it does mention other Shakespeare plays such as Othello and Hamlet, it primarily discusses issues within the play itself. I think that our audience could find this article interesting, and I believe it could help them understand the play at a deeper, but still understandable, level. I also think that this article could be a good introduction to the critical conversation going on around Macbeth in the academic world.

Lady Macbeth’s Indispensable Child
Marvin Rosenburg
In this article, Rosenburg brings to light the fact that Lady Macbeth has “given suck,” which means that she has had at least one child, and suggests that, despite actual history, the father of this child in Macbeth is Macbeth himself. He argues that this child shapes the Macbeths’ motives throughout the play. Macbeth’s need to be assured that Banquo’s children will not take the throne is because Macbeth wants his own son to be king. Rosenburg argues that most of Macbeth’s murderous actions are not mostly for himself, but for his child.
I think that this article would definitely be appropriate for our high school senior/college freshman audience. I myself found this article to be extremely interesting and mind-opening, and I believe that our audience would feel similarly. The article discusses only issues within the play itself  that will help our audience read the play from an entirely different view.

Macbeth the Philosopher: Rethinking Context
Michael Bristol
This article looks at different methods of examining texts and argues against a historicist approach, insisting that not all ancient works have to be run through the lens of cultural and socioeconomic factors of the time; or rather, that works themselves shouldn’t be solely defined by the times in which they were written, but rather that the text itself should be examined and be the focus of evaluation. The first half of the essay addresses this, while the second half is the relevant section that analyzes Macbeth in just the text alone, sans historical context and background.
The second half of the article raises questions often asked concerning the seemingly contradictory and inconstant nature of Macbeth throughout the play, and includes a deconstruction of his character. This is achieved without the aid or reference back to historical contexts, and there is more analysis rather than quoting, permitting a reader unversed in certain texts and precepts to follow along nonetheless. As our edition will be oriented towards college freshmen, this article should both provide clarification and an example of how to analyze a text.

Macbeth’s Rites of Violence
Derek Cohen

This article is concerned with violence in Macbeth and the various purposes it serves. Cohen argues that violence is both necessary to the political state while also indicating corruption. He examines the use of weapons in Macbeth, the meaning of blood, and violence as a part of the culture of Macbeth. He examines violence as a feature of manhood and says that Macbeth is a character for who “is unable to release hold of the implications of his deeds, and instead he embraces and scrutinizes his own consciousness. Macbeth is exceptional in this regard. The world he inhabits possesses for all but Macbeth a simple moral clarity (Cohen 6).” Cohen’s focuses on this point--Macbeth’s moral complexity--for most of the article. He finishes with the consequences of this violence on Macbeth.
This article might be interesting in a high school/undergraduate edition of Macbeth. It focuses on a major theme in Macbeth and is rather easy to understand. However, the author has some strange digressions--on blood and on violence--that distract from the main point of the article. Despite these digressions, I think that it would be a valuable addition to our edition.


Bristol, Michael. “Macbeth the Philosopher: Rethinking Context.” New Literary History  42.2
(2011): 641-662. Project MUSE. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.4

Cohen, Derek. “Macbeth’s Rites of Violence.” Shakespeare in Southern Africa 23.
(2011):55-63. Academic Search Premier. Web. 1 Mar. 2014.

Hartwig, Joan. “Macbeth, the Murderers, and the Diminishing Parallel.” The Yearbook of
English Studies 3 (1973): 39-43. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.
Rosenburg, Marvin. “Lady Macbeth’s Indispensable Child.” Educational Theatre Journal 26.1

(1974): 14-19. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Our Vision: Educated Accessibility

Work: Macbeth
Audience: High School Seniors/College Freshman


1. Being as our edition will be oriented towards high school senior/college freshmen, the footnotes in our edition will largely be intended for the clarification of archaic or out-of-usage terms. The etymology is not our concern, but rather the meaning; for example we will assume that our audience has a basic knowledge of the Greek and Roman pantheons and will not waste footnote space on explaining that Venus is the goddess of love and that anything that appears in conjunction with her is likely to denote such a subject. We will explicate such terms as one would not commonly see today, such a “caitiff” or “puissance”, or terms that have changed in their meaning since the first printing or have different meanings within the text. The aim is to create an edition that does not overwhelm the reader with footnotes, but still provides clarification necessary to the greater enjoyment and comprehension of the text.

2. Because our audience is just getting introduced to Macbeth as high school seniors/college freshmen, we have decided to focus any “extra” materials on the text itself. We want these materials to help the reader better understand and comprehend the plot, characters, and themes in the play. We do not want our extra materials to be overly complex or to veer off into subjects that our readers would find confusing or irrelevant. So, while an essay on the character of Macbeth would be totally appropriate, an essay on the different ways Macbeth has been staged (with reviews of several actors who have played Macbeth) would not be. We want our edition to be friendly to new readers and to give readers enough information to become interested, but not overwhelmed.

3. People in our intended audience often go to websites such as Sparknotes for help with reading Shakespeare. We want our edition to be like a sophisticated Sparknotes: an academic edition that students can read to understand Shakespeare at a basic, but still intelligent, level. We want to use our edition to explain plot, characters, themes, symbols, motifs, etc. These are the main things that we believe our audience will be able to and want to understand this early in their Shakespeare knowledge. Our edition will be a sort of Sparknotes that students can reference in a formal academic paper.

4. All three of the above points are there for one main reason: accessibility. Accessibility is our main goal for this edition. While reading editions intended for more experienced audiences in this class, we realized that many editions had things that even we, as English majors, had trouble understanding or felt were unnecessary. However, other editions seemed as though they were written for people far, far below our level. We want create an edition for the middle point in Shakespeare knowledge. We want this edition to be something that people can pick up and read with no fear; an edition that students can use to more easily learn a lot about a Shakespeare play.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Annotations and Their Intended Audiences

The footnotes included in the Pelican Shakespeare Edition of Macbeth seem to be suited to a high school/casual reader. The footnotes, while helpful in understanding some of the archaic language in the text, were at times obvious. A few of the phrases the editors chose to define—for example “catalogue” is defined as “inventory, classification” and “mummy” means “mummified flesh”—were unnecessary. The footnotes became distracting and cumbersome at places like this. Other phrases, however, were very useful when trying to understand the text. (For example, I had no idea that “chawdron” means “guts.”) I think a basic understanding of the text is what this edition was ultimately trying to accomplish. The footnotes, while not abundant or particularly in-depth, seem geared toward giving the reader a clear picture of what is happening in the text and what the text, at its most basic level, means. That is why I think this text would be best suited for the casual high school reader who has no background in Shakespeare and who, with their teacher’s guidance, is slowly making their way through their first Shakespeare.

As You Like It

The footnotes in The Arden Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” are in-depth, to say the least. Context notes, entries from the OED, explanations of archaic language, notes on the printing of the text, and much more are included in the footnotes. This edition seems more geared towards an academic, scholarly audience than a high school or even an undergraduate audience. The footnotes take up half the page and don’t just explain what the language of a line means but often they cross-reference other works or take a moment for a cultural explanation of that line. The footnotes seem almost as important as the actual text, in this edition, which makes it obvious that the editors expect the readers of this edition to be people who are well versed in Shakespeare and who are coming to their edition for an even deeper understanding of a play they already know well.

The Tempest
The footnotes of Gerald Graff and James Phelan’s edition of The Tempest are overall fairly basic, providing essential definitions for your average undergraduate student to understand the text. A few definitions throughout the footnotes include not only a definition, but an explanation with relation to the text, which can be very helpful when trying to understand and translate the Shakespearean text. At times, some definitions and explanations seemed a bit cumbersome and overbearing for the text, addressing some words and phrases that need not be addressed. However, most annotations made would most likely be useful to an average undergraduate student. The annotations in this edition, however, do not match the audience of the essays included after the text, many of which seem above the understanding of an undergraduate audience. This edition does not seem to be able to decide what its intended audience is, but the annotations appear to have decided on an undergraduate student.

Richard III
In the Norton Critical edition of Richard III, the footnotes are perfectly suited for your average undergraduate Shakespeare reader. The annotations are made with the understanding that those reading probably have some background Shakespearean knowledge and a fairly wide vocabulary, but still basically defines the words and phrases that the average undergraduate student may not know. The footnotes are not overdone for its intended audience; in fact, a few defining footnotes included probably did not have to be. If you were looking for a deep scholarly view of the play during your reading, then this edition would not be for you. However, for an undergraduate student probably just looking to understand the play at a basic but educated level, the Norton Critical edition is perfect.

Measure for Measure
This Bedford Shakespeares Series edition’s purpose is to help connect students with the text through exploration of other texts and documents of Shakespeare’s time. The edition seems catered to an undergraduate audience and is probably more suitable for a class or student more focused on Shakespeare’s works, perhaps more of an upper-level course. There are a significant amount of annotations, which seems appropriate for an undergraduate audience. College students would be more willing to put in the work (as opposed to say high school students) and seek for a fuller understanding of the text. The advantage for the undergraduate student is to be able to delve into the words of the text so as to understand the words as Shakespeare intended, to understand his word usage. However, some of the annotations might be already clear to an upper-level undergraduate student. The disadvantage of so many annotations might influence the reader to either become frustrated with so many footnotes or to see the meaning in the particular way in which the editor annotes it. In the About This Volume section of the edition, the editors note that they have “silently modernized spelling and punctuation...but we have also limited our editorial intervention to preserve their early modern flavor” (IX). All in all, it seems appropriate for their intended audience because it aids in the reader’s understanding of Shakespeare’s meaning in a context that’s slightly modernized.

Ways of Annotating 
There appear to be two schools of thought with regards to annotations: the first that footnotes be used to translate and explain the meaning of words that may have otherwise changed in their usage since the time they were written; and the second, that footnotes be used to provide commentary on a given phrase, or provide cultural and background context for the phrase/word. Naturally, the latter consumes far more space than the former, since the first method entails only clarification, while the second provides explication.
Some editions employ only clarification, while others delve into explication, and a number employ both in a mix. Depending upon what one desires from reading an annotated text, one or the other may be preferable; say, for example, a college freshman or high school student is delving into a Shakespearean work; they will likely want the annotated version of the text that explains the multitude of words and phrases that they have not encountered yet. Conversely, a graduate student or a college senior may desire the edition of the text that annotates with cultural context and explications for certain phrases, as they likely understand the more basic terms present in the text and will find the explication annotations to be useful and citable in a paper or dissertation. Depending on one’s audience and the anticipated usage of the text in concern, one may prefer one style of annotation