further treatment of language in the essay beyond the comment that The

Further treatment of language in the essay beyond the

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further treatment of language in the essay beyond the comment that ‘‘The propositions and operations of deconstructive reading’’ (often argued to be ahistorical) ‘‘may be employed as powerful tools of ideo- logical analysis.’’ ¹⁵ As with Rudanko’s stance, a gap opens up, here one between the conceptual orientation to language as a social phenomenon and the analytical tools: the demonstration of how deconstructive read- ings manifest social determination or constraint in language use is missing. In more general terms, the frequent references within historicist criticism to discourse and to discursive practices have seemed at times to gesture towards a sophistication of linguistic concept that is not always carried over into practical analysis. It is time to negotiate some common ground between close reading and cultural poetics and, in particular, to propose taxonomies for verbal analysis that can address the place of collective invention in the produc- tion of Shakespeare’s complex texts. A fi rst step is to acknowledge that the separation described above between linguistically oriented criticism and historicist criticism may not be entirely, or even primarily, a matter of ideological di ff erence. It may be instead a matter of uncoordinated resources among disciplines, of mismatches between concepts and ana- lytical tools that are not particular to Shakespeare studies, and even of timing di ff erences in how related ideas develop in di ff erent fi elds. If Greenblatt was right to claim that close textual analyses in the  s conveyed ‘‘almost nothing of the social dimension of literature’s power,’’ ¹⁶ it was not because the linguistic and the social are inherent opposites. Language is a complicated – an inexhaustible – subject. E ff orts to explain or contain it have always met with competing claims and been subject to endless revision, and yet the pace of that revisionism is at times slowed by the level of complexity demanded by investigation of language and at times di ff used by the fragmented dispersal of the investigation across many disciplines. This study does not propose to synthesize interdisciplinary work bringing together the linguistic and the social but instead to identify some productive points of intersection that can take the practical criticism of Shakespeare’s language in a new direction. As an important example, it will identify some points of contact between the empiricist research into politeness undertaken by Brown and Levinson on a social-science model and the theoretical insights into linguistic exchange developed by thinkers such as Mikhail Bakhtin and Pierre Bourdieu to develop a practical analysis of how Introduction
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social relationships are constructed both in dramatic dialogue and in epistolary exchanges.
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