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13 May 2010 @ 04:54 pm
unrelated data points  
- I always feel dispirited when my students refer to the "universal themes" of Shakespeare in their papers. As though I have had no effect on them at all.

- headline: "Vampires influence baby names." I know this means that Jacob and Isabella are more popular, but I can't help imagining a secret cabal of vampires trying to bring back baby names from earlier centuries. And then I giggle.

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viomisehuntviomisehunt on May 14th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
You sound a bit like my Aesthetics Professor. We have to keep in mind that this a "sound bite" generation. They pick up on slogans, and fast answers. And it's ZShakespeare, and that is what people always say about Shakespeare. I would challenge that by asking how certain themes are universal. Cultures are different enough that even within one society, values are different. I don't mean something as simple as Gay marriage; but ideas of duty, ideas of loyalty, of honesty, identity
tempestsarekind: books and flowerstempestsarekind on May 14th, 2010 10:46 pm (UTC)
That's the point, though--I've been challenging that concept. It just doesn't seem to go *away*.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on May 15th, 2010 12:45 am (UTC)
Ewwww. So even if you ask something like l is the English concept of mercy,justice,equality truly universal" you get a resounding Yes? With examples?
tempestsarekind: all the world's a stagetempestsarekind on May 15th, 2010 12:52 am (UTC)
No, thank goodness! It's more that we all kind of come to the realization that "universal" (or whatever similar thing people say about Shakespeare) is a flawed term, at that moment, and then they just go on using it in their papers anyway.
viomisehuntviomisehunt on May 15th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC)
It is flawed, simply because values are so different, not only in cultures, sometimes from household to household, individual to individual.
tempestsarekind: books and flowerstempestsarekind on May 15th, 2010 11:26 pm (UTC)
Yes, precisely! It always surprises me that they hang on to the term the way they do, because a few minutes' thought would surely indicate that people think very differently about the same topics. It's possible, I suppose (and I've only just thought of this), that what they mean is relevant: that Shakespeare deals with issues that still matter to us. Maybe they just don't know how else to say that?
Valancy: DarcyDon'tSparklevalancy_s on May 15th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC)
Okay, if vampires were really influencing baby names, that would be the best non-evil but deeply tricksy plot ever.

At least Jacob and Isabella are nice names. Gods, I hope "Reneesme" or however you spell that isn't catching on!
tempestsarekind: elizabeth bennet is amusedtempestsarekind on May 15th, 2010 05:04 pm (UTC)
I know, right? It's like, "We could use our powers to crush you all and rule on high as overlords, but we choose merely to influence your choice of names for your children."

Apparently "Cullen" has shot up in the charts as well, in recent years. I didn't even know that was previously a name on the list!
viomisehuntviomisehunt on May 16th, 2010 04:07 am (UTC)
Cullen was popular a few decades back, but I think it was because of some Western. I remember Shogun had everyone learning Japanese! I'm not into Twilight at all. At least Anne Rice's Vampire took us on a fanciful trip into the past.
tempestsarekind: books and flowerstempestsarekind on May 16th, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
Yes--it seems like half the fun of telling vampire stories would be to explore the past in some way, but Twilight doesn't capitalize on that at all.