Saw two interesting talks this week: Diana Henderson, giving a fleet, rollicking lecture at MIT based on her book Collaborations With the Past (about reinterpretations of and textual engagements with Shakespeare across media), and Laura Kipnis at the Harvard Bookstore, reading from The Female Thing and leaving the GF and me decidedly unimpressed. I think I might just read the book - why not? - but wasn't terribly fond of the presentation. She did warm up a great deal over the course of the 90 minutes or so, but seemed (in my companion's words) a little more prone to sound bites than deep analysis. And my question - if you can bloody well believe it - received no kind of answer at all; for once I asked a coherent enough question instead of rambling for ten minutes, and Kipnis kind of never got around to addressing it at all. So next time I'll just ask a better one, no problem. I need to remember to bring the ol' Moleskine next time, Reader(s).
Diana's talk reminded me what a magnificent lecturer she is; her postmodern theatre seminar (Stoppard/Churchill) was one of the high points (and turning points) in my academic career, but when she gets in front of a crowded lecture hall she puts on her Theatre cap and really lets fly. I miss that. The book looks interesting, and we'll have it at our household sometime relatively soon if the stars align properly. Go and get it! She writes clearly and elegantly, with a great allusive density and less than the usual amount of faux-cleverness that so often mars academic literary criticism. The tome is meant for a popular audience and gets around to a lot more than just Shakespeare (as if the Bard weren't enough).