A review of Julia Lupton’s Thinking with Shakespeare: Essays on Politics and Life from a recent issue of the Time Higher Ed opened with a clip from Samuel Johnson on the Bard:
“There is,” wrote Johnson in the magnificent preface to his edition of the plays,” always an appeal open from criticism to nature.” Shakespeare is true to life when he shows joy bumping up against sorrow and the sublime against the ridiculous.
The review went on to call into account Lupton’s premise: that to “think with Shakespeare” was to learn about both politics and life, as well as to call into question how—with nods to Agamben and Arendt—Shakes might help us unravel a contemporary crisis or two.
The next afternoon, reading a piece by Rosemary Counter in the Globe and Mail on Carrie Pitzulo’s Bachelors and Bunnies: The Sexual Politics of Playboy, we were reminded of Johnson’s reference to the open appeal. Here, too, in a review that delved into the viability of Pitzluto’s premise, was a question that posited the sublime with the ridiculous: can we “think with Playboy?”
In search of answers, Pitzulo begins with what we’re all thinking: the centerefolds. While objectification comes straight . . .