HON293C: Literary Scandals and Controversies

An archived version of a 2007 NCSU course blog

List of readings

These texts are required for our class:

  • Scott McRea, The Case for Shakespeare: The End of the Authorship Question (Praeger 2005)
  • Stephen Booth, Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Yale UP 2000)
  • Stanley Wells, Looking for Sex in Shakespeare (Cambridge UP 2000)
  • K. K. Ruthven, Faking Literature (Cambridge UP 2001)
  • Thomas Mallon, Stolen Words (1989; Penguin 2001)
  • Paul K. Saint-Amour, The Copywrights: Intellectual Property and the Literary Imagination (Cornell UP: 2003)
  • J. M. Coetzee, Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship (University of Chicago Press 1997)
  • Daniel Pipes, The Rushdie Affair: The Novel, The Ayatollah, and the Satanic West (1990; Transaction 2003)

We’ll also be watching the 2003 film “Shattered Glass” directed by Billy Ray, but I’ll put that on reserve at the library.

Looking forward to meeting you. Please submit a test comment to this post by Friday 1/12.

36 responses to “List of readings

  1. Geoffrey Broadhead January 11, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    Testing Testing 1 2 3

  2. Heather Faircloth January 11, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    This is only a test

  3. Linda Bruner January 11, 2007 at 8:58 pm


  4. Johanna Schafer January 11, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    Greetings!! 🙂

  5. ChoNayse Sellers January 11, 2007 at 9:31 pm


  6. Danny Mays January 11, 2007 at 9:52 pm

    Have a great night and a fun weekend!!!

  7. Scott Pecnik January 11, 2007 at 9:53 pm


  8. Jon Forrest January 12, 2007 at 8:59 pm


  9. Amanda French January 15, 2007 at 10:00 am

    Great! Looks like everything works.

  10. Scott Pecnik January 15, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Discussion Questions:
    1. Was Shakespeare aware that various directors and playwrights would interpret his writing in different ways? Did he leave questionable statements in his works for a reason or is there some type of hidden meaning?
    2. Are we simply incorrect about Shakespeare? Do modern actors and directors construe sexuality into current literature and plays in order to sell more?

  11. Geoffrey Broadhead January 15, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    1) Were Rubinstein’s interepretations taken seriously at the time they were published?
    2)Wells mentions that not all readers notice the double entendres hidden within Shakespeare’s words, however, it seems that the readers who miss these double entendres don’t seem to miss any significant details or meanings in the play. If the bawdiness is not important to the general plot of the play, nor is it obvious enough to be used as blatant comic relief, is there a real point to its inclusion? Or is it just for fun?

  12. Danny Mays January 15, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    What effect, if any, did the disapproval of the 17 and 1800’s of Shakespeare’s sexuality in his works have upon the accuracy in which they were transcribed?

  13. Linda Bruner January 15, 2007 at 7:55 pm

    Wells Introduction /Chapter 1 Discussion Questions:
    1. Did Shakespeare really mean to include so much sexual content or has his work been misinterpreted over the years due to people becoming more and more open to sexuality?
    2. Is it justifiable for Boehrer to suggest ?A Midsummer Night?s Dream is patently about bestiality? or is this simply an unauthentic interpretation of Shakespeare?s play?

  14. ChoNayse Sellers January 15, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    Did Shakespeare intend to include as many sexual innueindos in his texts as he did or has the socialization of society deemed his writing as inherently sexual?

  15. Johanna Schafer January 15, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Should parts of a play or any other piece of literary work have lines or sections ommitted? Do the authors that revise sections of Shakespeare think that their version is an improvement from the original? Also, is it right to write revised sections of Shakespeare without his consent?

  16. Heather Faircloth January 16, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    1. Is it right for writers to censor Shakespeare to make it more appropriate for the “young sister’s ear” when many of the innuendos are either overlooked or obviously assumed? Why would one change the word “guts” to “inwards” but leave an obvious sexual pun in a sonnet?

  17. Scott January 17, 2007 at 11:15 am

    Do Shakespeare’s sonnets stem from personal experience or are they purely fiction?
    Was Shakespeare an emotionally troubled man? Wells writes, “These surely are poems in which the poet is talking to himself, trying to work through and to gain control over an emotional crisis by imposing poetic form upon an expression of feelings that no words can ultimately assuage.” (page 56)

  18. Geoffrey January 17, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Can Wells be relied upon as an unbiased source of information even though he states that the sonnets are, “not to put too fine a point upon it, crap” ? Does his opinion affect his discussion of the sonnets?

  19. Geoffrey January 17, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    **** “crap” as a means of story telling, that is ****

  20. Danny Mays January 17, 2007 at 8:10 pm

    Wells suggests that Shakespeare’s sonnets were more like personal confessions and private poems. Despite the short-term unpopularity of them they have stood the test of time and are still highly critisized by scholars today. Does the true and very personal confessions of people have a better chance of becoming timeless rather than pop culture writings?

  21. Linda Bruner January 17, 2007 at 8:18 pm

    Wells – Chapter 2 and 3
    Why didn’t Shakespeare publish the sonnets himself? Is it possible that he didn’t publish them during his lifetime because he wanted the questions raised by his work left unanswered so scholars could continue to debate the meanings without ever knowing exactly what Shakespeare meant? Also, does the fact that he didn’t publish his work himself make it acceptable that he may have “borrowed” work from others?

  22. ChoNayse Sellers January 17, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    Wells suggests that in the psychoanaylsis of dramatic characters, we are using the text as therapy to exhibit the inner thoughts and desires of our own mind. Is it possible that all scholarly interpretations of Shakespeare’s, or any other playwrights, work are just the inner thoughts of their authors projected into the play?

  23. Johanna Schafer January 17, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Page 58 quotes, “Two loves I have, of comfort and despair, Which like two spirits do suggest me still. The better angel is a man right fair, The worser spirit a woman colored ill.” If Shakespeare does base his poetry off of his own experiences, do you think he may not only be homosexual or heterosexual but bisexual?

  24. Jon Forrest January 18, 2007 at 2:17 am

    Wells mentions that Shakespeare wrote many of his sonnets during the height of the popularity of the sonnet. If so, why did Shakespeare chose not to publish the sonnets during the height of the sonnet’s popularity? And if he did not wish to publish them, why were they published at all?

  25. Heather Faircloth January 18, 2007 at 3:22 pm

    On page 65, is Wells implying that Shakespeare is a greater poet than Barnfield because his poetry “is more intense in its expression of love” rather than being “explicitly homoerotic?”

  26. Johanna Schafer January 23, 2007 at 1:27 am

    I wonder why Francis Bacon was thought to be the true author of Shakespeare’s plays. I understand he was a nobleman and a scholar, but why would so many people write books about him inparticularly?

  27. Johanna Schafer January 23, 2007 at 1:32 am

    Another random question…maybe not a research question…but why would Drummond write down comments Jonson would tell him after their visits together? I don’t find his actions to be that normal.

  28. Heather Faircloth January 23, 2007 at 2:26 am

    why did ben jonson have such a fluctuating opinion? is it likely that he, who’s opinion of shakespeare seemed to constantly change, would “orchestrate” such a cover-up? page 20-21

  29. Danny Mays January 23, 2007 at 2:44 am

    What social or historical factors led to the gross censorship and disapproval of Shakespeare’s plays due to them including homosexuality and sex.

  30. Linda Bruner January 23, 2007 at 11:53 am

    “The Case for Shakespeare” – Chapter 1-4
    Why is it that some scholars believe the “Author” had to be well-bred, well-educated, and experienced? Why do these characteristics lead to their assumption that Shakespeare could not have been the author? Also, is it possible to determine an author’s qualities by their writing when it is not known whether the writing is fact or fiction?

  31. Scott Pecnik January 23, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Wells states that he has come across no homosexual readings in any of Shakespeare’s plays in the first 300 years of their existence. The nineteenth century sprung the beginning of homosexual discussion. How did the culture in Shakespeare’s time hold and view homosexuality?

  32. ChoNayse Sellers January 23, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    What other writers of Shakespeare’s time are questioned as being the “true” author of their works? If none, why is there such controversy over the works of Shakespeare? If there are, are the same people assumed to be responsible for the works and is their authenicity questioned for the same reasons as Shakespeare?

  33. Jon Forrest January 23, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    if so many of the assumptions that anti-Stratfordians make are unfounded in McCrea’s eyes, why is there scholarly debate on the authorship of the plays? If so much testimonial evidence must be ignored or explained, why is the idea of an alternate author so popular?

  34. Geoffrey Broadhead January 23, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Are there any such author-scandals related to modern literature?
    How does having “seals to press in wax” elevate Shakespeare’s parent’s social status? Was it the fact that they were important enough to need seals, or that it was expensive?
    How did wax seals act as a status symbol in the 1500s?

  35. Johanna Schafer January 25, 2007 at 1:00 am

    Page 95 expresses the possiblity of Shakespeare engaging in the sport of tilting. This is a sport that I do not recongize. My simple question is, what is tilting?

  36. ChoNayse Sellers January 25, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    On page 86, the author briefly mentions the Inns of Court and names 3 out of 14. What were these Inns of Court and what were the other 11 named?

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