From: Richie Swanson
I’m a novelist and recent Pushcart nominee for short stories in journals such as HEART: Human Equity through Art. I regret that GRSF has stigmatized those disinterested in Shakespeare as “phobic.” This and “I-hate-Shakespeare” events unfairly attribute irrational emotions to non-fans.
Ever since Winona created an ugly class system regarding art, lopsidedly funding Shakespeare, GRSF officials have made sweeping generalizations about non-fans, perpetuating centuries of British arrogance that views other cultures as inferior, needing enlightenment by superior Europeans.
Classifying non-fans as phobic, or diagnosing those intimidated by Shakespeare as phobic, undermines diversity. No matter how GRSF spins the pitch, Shakespearean texts are too verbose and overstuffed with portentous characters and overwrought plots to create phobia in those who readily access art that’s not all-male, all-white, all-British, and one-author-only-center-stage in source.
People disinterested in or tangled up by Shakespeare don’t need to be fixed, emboldened or educated. The fear-needling GRSF merely seems a projection of hegemonic ego, conceit which unrealistically desires itself as transformative to everyone, which fears insufficient attention will fail its unquenchable thirst.
Fear campaigns frequently distort and diminish their targets. Consider the Winona story celebrated by the male European sculpture in Windom Park. Winona the bride-to-be potentially embodies the miracle of regeneration, and the wrinkle in Euro-American versions comes when she must marry the wrong guy—a misrepresentation of Dakota culture, says Ella Deloria.
Yet Euro-Americans have Winona’s story straight from geniuses like Shakespeare — Twain, Longfellow. Winona fears a misled life. She jumps, and Euro-American traditions replace her with the Holy Virgin, Immaculate Conception. Why worry about the genocide, displacement and monoculture when regeneration can be perfectly clean, and the savage virgin kills herself anyway?
“There are many inaccuracies in the written accounts of the Dakota people that (Ella) Deloria was not able to correct…because she was not white, in academia, or male,” wrote Deloria’s social granddaughter. GRSF has sent Winona’s culture reeling backward in this regard.
If you’re afraid you don’t understand Shakespeare, consider instead institutions over-requiring and over-selling monoculture. They’re the deeper source of your unrest, requiring your boldest courage to discount or change.