Posts Tagged ‘Paris’
Shakespeare’s tongue – Call for papers for the 2013 French Shakespeare Society Congress (SFS)
The 2013 Conference of the French Shakespeare Society will take place in Paris in March 21-23, 2013.
Shakespeare’s tongue is and is not « Shakespeare’s tongue » or what the French call « la langue de Shakespeare ». If Shakespeare has largely contributed to the evolution and enrichment of the English tongue, the language that is cultivated in his works seems in many ways to be as far from the English of his time as from the English spoken by our contemporaries. As a foreign language within the English language, both near and distant, dead and living, Shakespeare’s tongue is all the more fertile since it resists comprehension, pronunciation and translation, forbidding any stability of sound and meaning. The great number of Shakespearean dictionaries can in itself suggest that Shakespeare’s tongue is not one but multiple, a theatrical tongue, a living tongue par excellence, which has spoken to us and has been spoken for four centuries, on stages worldwide. It is “of an age” but also “for all time” and if, according to Jonson, the playwright had “small Latin and less Greek”, one can nevertheless say about Shakespeare that « he hath the tongues » (Much Ado About Nothing, 5.1.163).
In his treatise Lingua (1525), echoing the story of Aesop’s tongues, Erasmus described the tongue as the best and the worst organ, calling it an “ambivalent organ”, an idea similar to the biblical proverb according to which “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18 : 21). Shakespeare’s plays draw our attention to the materiality of the tongue, which appears as the organ of taste and “gormandizing” (2Henry IV, 5.3.53) but also as an instrument of speech that allows us to “do things with words”, an organ that is “doubly portcullised” (Richard II, 1.3.161) with lips and teeth and whose barriers are often transgressed. To study Shakespeare’s tongue is to explore how Shakespeare represents the tongue in a corpus where the word “tongue” in all its forms appears more than 600 times, according to the Harvard Concordance. « There’s a double tongue ; there’s two tongues » (Much Ado About Nothing, 5.1.165-66) : whether it be caressing or wounding, poisonous or sweet, eloquent or rebellious, feminine or masculine, the tongue that appears in Shakespeare’s world is the subject of numerous comments that are embedded in the biblical and classical culture of the tongue but whose specificities are worthwhile exploring.
One of the purposes of this congress is to examine the particularities of the Shakespearean idiom and to assess the playwright’s and poet’s part in the shaping and the evolution of the English language. Contributors are invited to consider what makes Shakespeare’s language different from Marlowe’s or Jonson’s and to examine the reasons why “Shakespeare’s tongue” has come to stand for the English language as a whole. Further topics for study might include the evolution of Shakespeare’s language from one play to the other, from one period to the next, as well as the challenges that Shakespeare’s tongue presents for translators. The heteroglossia that emerges from Shakespeare’s “gallimaufry” of words will be another object of focus and the congress will welcome analyses of the presence of foreign languages (French, Latin, Italian, Spanish), of dialects (Irish, Scottish, Welsh), and idiolects such as « Pistolisms », or « Quicklyisms ».
A vehicle for poetic expression, the Shakespearean idiom is also a spectacular tongue, designed to be seen, embodied, tasted and voiced out. Both good and evil, amorous and injurious, sweet and bitter, Shakespeare’s words dramatize a war of tongues which achieves its full meaning in performance. Contributors are invited to examine the various features of this war of tongues as well as the good and evil tongues that inhabit Shakespeare’s world. The orality, pronunciation and articulation of Shakespeare’s language will be another area of study.
Adapting the biblical aphorism (James 3 :7-8), one could say that “Shakespeare’s tongue … can no man tame”.
Taming the untamable: those of you who wish to meet this paradoxical challenge can send their proposals to email@example.com before October 1st, 2012.
Visit the SFS wesite here:
Johann Gregory (Cardiff University) will be heading to Paris tomorrow for the Congrès 2011 de la Société Française Shakespeare. The conference is focused on Shakespeare and the arts of the table.
Johann’s paper is entitled:
Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida:
viewing expectations as a matter of taste
W.R. Elton explains that Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida has “been estimated [to contain] twice as many images of food, cooking and related matters as in any other of its author’s works”. This may seem surprising, until we realise that the play utilises the language of food to create a poetics of expectation and taste. In the second act, Agamemnon says of Achilles:
all his virtues […]
Do in our eyes begin to lose their gloss,
Yea, like fair fruit in an unwholesome dish,
Are like to rot untasted.
The simile is part of a poetics that visualises spectatorship and expectation in culinary terms. Although Thersites’s performances are figured as a “cheese” to aid Achilles’ “digestion” that should be “served in to [his] table”, on the whole the drama is actually not consumed immediately by the audience. Rather, in a confusion of the senses, food becomes a visual metaphor for thinking an audience’s appetite for a play and other matters of taste. The audience is invited to watch Troilus and Cressida as a monster that eats up, in its mastic jaws, the notion of chivalry and “glorious deeds” that past versions of the story – in epic and romance – had been so keen to emphasise; it is these past traditions, the prologue promises, which “may be digested in a play”. The paper seeks to discover whether the play leaves us with “fragments, scraps, the bits, and greasy relics” of past literature, or if Shakespeare was cooking up something else.