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The Printing Press is the English Department Newsletter. Its purpose it to inform major and minors about programs and activities within the department. The Press will inform readers of activities and opportunities outside of Monmouth College. For any questions or submissions, contact or
                                                         Fall 2003, Issue One


So a Classicist and a Literary Critic Walk into a Bar…

By Mathew Underwood

            “I am reading some Lawrence for the first time.  What kind of reading should I give it?” inquired Professor Soused.  “Freudian to be sure would be most obvious, however I would not be so clichéd if it is at all avoidable.”  He sipped his Marnier appreciatively from a fine crystal snifter; a solitary quizzical eyebrow arched Gothically.  His eyes blazed with antagonism.                

            Professor Vitriole sat lumpishly at his swivel bar stool with his face contorted in a manner that belied his un-aggressive, audaciously unassuming posture and body configuration.  Professor Soused grinned, his wiry form suddenly tensed in anticipation of a hermeneutical polemic.  Here was something that thrilled and engorged his anemic blood. 

            “Dammit Soused!  I have expressed my distaste for analyzing texts by methods that insist on fashioning tidy boxes which preclude the possibility of the reader from taking anything with them after a read.  I suggest approaching Lawrence as an independent thinker, rather than as a tool.  Once you make presumptions about what you shall find in a text then it is certain you will not find what is actually there.  Your school of thought is a remedium periculum to having a poor imagination and substandard critical skills,” replied Professor Vitriole.  Although seemingly annoyed, Professor Vitriole relished making Soused’s depravity as an intellectual very conspicuous.  He perceived himself as the obviously more intelligent man.

            Professor Soused thought silently for a moment while he sipped.  It is not a simple thing to get a person trained in translation, a discipline in which the text itself must be made precisely understood, to consider a text in a more contextual, theoretical manner.  He sipped his Marnier and turned to his Colleague.  “It’s like this.  Literature is constructed by people that existed in specific time periods where prevailing attitudes and ideology were certain to affect them positively or negatively.  To do deny that simple, self-evident fact would be puerile logic, agreed?”  He sipped.

            “Continue,” permitted Professor Vitriole. 

            “From here it can be deduced that these ideologies affected what authors thought about either consciously or sub-consciously,” said Professor Soused.  Professor Vitriole nodded perfunctorily.   “And what authors think about is directly related to what a writer writes since writing is not some autonomous function of the nervous system.  Then would it not be correct to say that because of these aspects, an ideology or attitude contemporary with a particular author could manifest itself within a body of work?  I think so.  What say you?”

            A grunt.

            “So how would one studying a piece of literature go about finding these conscious and sub-conscious elements of a work, which have been externally influenced, without actually knowing what those elements could possibly be?  How could I identify racial tendencies of an author if I did not know what racism was?  Do you see what I am saying Vitriole?” said Professor Soused as he slapped Professor Vitriole’s back with a triumphant chortle.  “You have to bring particular…filters to a text in order to discover what is hidden in them.”

“I see.  So what an author intends to communicate is tertiary to his or her unconscious biases and historical context?” asked Professor Vitriole.

“Precisely,” responded Professor Soused.

          “Huh.  So what’s your motivation to be something more than just a literary critic?” asked Professor Vitriole.

            “Nothing.”  Professor Soused swallowed the last bit of his Marnier and swiveled from the stool to the doorway while he pondered sobering thoughts.

If you would like to make a comment concerning this piece to be published in the next Printing Press


Shenandoah Shakespeare Express

By Carrie Casper

            “Praised by critics for ‘blowing the cobwebs out of Elizabethan drama,’ Shenandoah Shakespeare Express delights audiences at home and abroad with a fresh, energetic approach to Shakespeare.”  The SSE are coming to Monmouth College on Monday, October 6th to give students a taste of their approach to Shakespeare.

 The touring group started in 1988 with a production of Richard the III and slowly began adding more plays onto each of their yearly tours until they became the most active Shakespeare touring company in the world.  Their tour this year, entitled “Excellent Motion,” will take the company across the country to dozens of colleges and high schools.  SSE will wrap up their tour in May at their home theatre The Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, Virginia.  Blackfriars was a long time dream of SSE that they have worked hard to accomplish.  The theatre is actually two theatres in one.  One side is a replica of The Globe and the other side is an indoor replica of the Victorian theatre Blackfriars, both of which were used by Shakespeare.

            SSE strives to give Shakespeare a new life and to bring it closer to the audience.  The lighting of the actors is shared by the audience so that at all times the actors can see the audience vice versa.  Gender is often addressed in Shakespeare plays and the SSE is there to mix things up experimenting with gender roles in characters and actors in their productions.  Sets are mostly bare and ask the audience to use their imagination to fill in the blanks to further engage them in the play.  Costumes and music are modern to try to bring the plays closer to the modern audience.

            SSE will be giving two performances and two workshops during their stay in Monmouth and both are FREE!  Monday the 6th at 7pm they will be performing Henry IV part one and on Tuesday at 2pm will be the performance of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.  Both shows will be in the Dahl Auditorium and are FREE.  So go and experience what Shenandoah Shakespeare Express is all about. 





  • Dr. Bruce will be doing a presentation and reading from her new novel Dr. Sally's Voodoo Man  on Oct. 29 at 6:30 in the Galesburg Public Library.
  • Sigma Tau Delta will be hosting a reading of Halloween appropriate fiction (i.e. scary stories and poems, but no Wordsworth), on All Hollows Eve at the Boone House.  Contact Michael Fanucce for more information.

Suppose a piece of canonical literature is found to contain elements of racism and misogyny that reflect the author’s actual feelings towards women and people of other race.  Do those elements de-legitimize that piece of work as a canonical text? 


Of course not.  You contextualize the author, the beliefs and the texts.  You don’t have the right to be racist or misogynist, but if the work merits study as a piece of historically-received and important (because of moment, technique, overall content, etc.) literature, you can’t just ignore it.  Eventually it might get de-emphasized in the canon – this is what happened to Hemingway and his testosterone – but that doesn’t mean you censor the work.  You deal with it.  It’s like racists and misogynists in life:  you can’t shut them up but you can argue against them plenty.
Dr. Mark Willhardt  


I don't think that those elements would de-legitimize the piece of work as a canonical text, because the views most likely reflect the prevailing sentiments of people living in the time in which the work was written. Prior to the civil rights movement, it was not viewed as socially unacceptable to use some of the racial or ethnic slurs which were commonplace during those times. These words, however, are now seen as extremely socially unacceptable, and we do not invalidate works created by people holding the prevailing societal views of that time.

 Michelle M. Anstett  

I thought I'd contribute to your survey by including my seventh graders' responses, but they had to look up the following words:

Suppose a piece of canonical literature is found to contain elements of racism and misogyny that reflect the author’s actual feelings towards women and people of other race.  Do those elements de-legitimize that piece of work as a canonical text? 

 We don't talk that kind of talk around here.  We decided that those words weren't kind, and since we "only speak kindly to others," we were not permitted to submit any responses.                                                          Betsy Marht


I do not believe that misogynistic or racist elements de-legitimize a work.  If it has made its way into the Canon, there is a reason for it, namely its literary merit.  We have been reading works with both of these elements for years without questioning the true feelings of the author.  We do not necessarily have to turn our backs against works for things we disagree with.  Can we disregard the sonnets of Shakespeare because he wrote love poems to a younger man although much of our society has strong feelings against homosexual pedophilia?  Should we burn our copies of Emily Dickinson because she was allegedly in love with her sister-in-law?  Besides, if we did remove these works from the Canon because of their misogynist and racist tendencies, what would all the Hemingway fans do?

Ryan Shrodt  

Elements of racism and misogyny that appear in canonical works do not de legitimize the works.  These elements generally reflect the attitudes of a particular time period and offer insight into the authors and their times.  When the sexist and racist attitudes become propaganda, then in some cases (in my mind at least), they can diminish the value of the works.  However, works of propaganda would generally not enter the canon in the first place.  There are plenty of works that might be deemed racist or sexist that still exist in the canon (i.e. Twain's Huck Finn or Conrad's Heart of Darkness) and have great literary value. 

More important than depictions of racist or sexist behavior in literature, acts of racism and sexism have generally been implicated in excluding works from the canon.  In works such as the blues poetry of Langston Hughes and Kate Chopin's The Awakening contemporary critics found the techniques (slang diction) and themes (domestic life) did not fit with white male norms or values and so were not considered worth reading.  In fact, many of these works offer new and interesting insights into the lives of all people and the ways these ideas were expressed offered striking ways to communicate the human experience.  These kinds of real world discrimination in canon formation are much more dangerous than depictions of them in works of literature because they silence people who may not be in the mainstream and imply particular artistic standards as inherent norms instead of as recognizing them as socially constructed value systems.                                                                                               Dr. Hale


No, they do not de-legitimize it.

Dr. Bruce




Writing Labs 3:00-5:00 pm Monday - Thursday
  7:00-10:00 pm Sunday - Thursday

Carrie Casper

Mathew Underwood

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