kolb0148: December 2012 Archives

Emily Kolb Final Blog Entry

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Okay, so that was fun. As a final reflection, the most stand out thing is everything we didn't do. All the things we didn't research, and didn't dig into. And of course that's it, there is so much more to be found and looked at. I was having a moment of regret recently regarding the project- I was thinking of other ways we could have looked at it that would have been more engaging, interesting, new information- but it was all stuff I came across so late in the process that it was a dead end (for this event). Like this Francis Spira guy- this archetype of despair in Elizabethan-era Europe, we could have done a fascinating presentation about him and how he relates to Marlowe or Faustus. Or we could have dug into the differences of the A and B texts (considering how much scholarly discussion there was about the differences, it's crazy how little they came up in our presentation.) OR we could've compared Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and Goethe's Faust to see what the contrasts of the two revealed about Marlowe's society. And that's just looking at this playwright and play! So of course those feelings are almost inevitable. What I kept coming across in the journey of this process was the need for reduction, simplification, trimming. It was hard. I feel like I said nothing in my four minutes but I know I have to be satisfied with the information we put across.

So that being said, considering what we did choose and then how we went about it- I wonder if our presentation was overwhelming. I think we may have benefitted by putting together the actual presentation in a more collaborative way. I think perhaps the through-line of the theme of our argument may have been lost, that each piece seemed its own entity and thereby the audience didn't really get the point. This was not helped by the fact that we struggled very much with the time-limit, especially in the final hour. There was no time for transitions, which may have helped to clarify and highlight the ways in which we did collaborate, that we were thinking along the same lines.
I thought each of our pieces of the presentation we great, I just wonder if the whole thing looked the way we intended it to, the way we discussed. Personally, for my bit, I was happy with it. I thought I did a fair job of reducing and cutting- though I wonder again if it mightnt've been overwhelming- too much information in too little time.

Now for the other groups, I thought this batch was awesome. But it's also kind of hard to compare what we did to the other groups, each focus was so different. I really really loved the Mexican theatre presentation and was super engaged because of how they framed the presentation- putting it in the lens of the Chicano movement, and then that fascinating stuff about the Clintons, and then comparing those events to the conquering of Mexico by Spain? Awesome, and very helpful to my comprehending what they were talking about. I don't know if I would have cared if they hadn't brought it to modern day, but now I genuinely want to look into their subject.

The Russian theatre one was very different from ours as well- we didn't have a hole in our research, we had the opposite. I did think it was great how they dealt with that problem. And I appreciated that they walked us through their struggles with the research. I wonder how we might have been able to reveal more of our obstacles in our presentation, because that too was helpful to understand the subject and how to learn about it.

And then the Roman spectacle presentation. I definitely appreciated that they did something different, their presentation was fun and funny. But I did find myself wanting more of the information that they gave in the conclusion of the presentation- what does spectacle mean? How is it theatre? How isn't it? But at the same time, if their job was to get me intrigued, they succeeded. I definitely want to look at their sources and get more of that information that they started to get into in the end. But again, it was nice to have something other than another lecture and they did get my gears going.

So there's that. Honestly, I learned a LOT working on this project, and a lot of the frustrations I had were that so much of what I learned is still in my brain. One of the best things its done for me is its gotten me to start using the online library- a resource I didn't touch last year. Now, when I'm curious about something- I'll turn to it instead of wikipedia. So that's nice. And I feel very much not done looking at this text. I think it's a fascinating work and I want to dig further. So all in all, I had a great time working on this project and definitely feel like I've grown a lot in the process.

Campbell, Lily B. "Doctor Faustus: A Case of Conscience." Modern Language Association. 67.2 (1952): 219-239. JSTOR. Web.

Campbell suggests Doctor Faustus to be a sort of morality play warning against the sin of despair. She suggests that the audience doesn't Faust's sin as being obvious (in contrast to Goethe's interpretation of the legend, wherein Faust seduces a young maiden, Gretchen). Campbell suggests that Faust's sin is two-fold, with the later being of greater importance but needing the first. His first sin is selling his soul to the devil, this sin leads him to his second, but more dangerous sin, that of thinking he is beyond salvation: Despair. In this way, Faust exemplifies a kind of Rennaisance Humanism that centers around man instead of God, making man self-sufficient.

The author posits that we more background to see just how clear this theme of despair is. This understanding requires an understanding of justification by faith (that is, forgiveness for all sins by faith in God alone) as opposed to the Catholic doctrine which holds justification through works and avoiding grave sin. She suggests Marlowe's expression of the Faust legend as clearly analogous to a real-life case of conscience that theologians would have been discussing at the time, and Marlowe surely would have been taught about in his religious education: that of Francis Spira. Spira denounced his Protestant faith for fear of Catholic oppression. This denial brought about a struggle of conscience which is similar to Marlowe's Doctor Faustus', most interestingly in Spira exclaiming he could tolerate hell if he had some hope for its end, an exclamation echoed by Faustus. Spira became a sort of archetype of the man in despair at the time, and Marlowe would have known this. Campbell suggests that the similarities between Faustus and Spira are deliberate, and that this certainly suggests that Marlowe was writing a play expressing the consequences of despair.

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