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Elizabeth Cullingford, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

The Department of English Congratulates Jonathan Lamb

Recipient of the Co-op's Outstanding Thesis Award

Posted: June 1, 2007
Jon received this honor for his M.A. thesis ''Between the Brackets of Philip Sidney's Arcadia''. Professor Doug Bruster had the following to say about this achievement:

''Jon deserves all credit for his hard work and achievement. It says something, too, that so many of our colleagues were a part of his project: he originally treated this topic in Janine Barchas's 384K, was urged by Elizabeth Scala to travel to Cambridge University to consult its manuscripts, and got travel support from Wayne Lesser to do so. I know Jon appreciates our support.''

Included below is an excerpt from the thesis, selected by Jonathan:

''The privacy I have described above as the effect, both local and cumulative, of parentheses deployed throughout Sidney’s text is not a secret or hidden one. It does not, as modern definitions of privacy tend to do, hinge upon concealment from the presence or view of others. The private text of the Arcadia appears as a constituent, yet distinct and self-contained, part of the “public” narrative text, a status uniquely afforded by the rhetorical and typographical status of the parenthesis and its corresponding punctuation marks. This kind of privacy, one visually and grammatically embedded within the very pages from which it distinguishes itself and over which it asserts interpretive authority, is transmitted to the reader by repetitive movement from one ontological status to another, as he or she crosses the privatizing threshold of the lunulae. The text, in other words, habitualizes in the reader the practice of alternating between public and private modes of discourse. Within the private mode, inside the brackets of Sidney’s romance, one may exercise virtue or indulge in vice, participate in piety or skepticism, and control and interpret the public mode. For my purposes at least, the particular activities that occur inside this liminal space matter far less than the establishment of that space by Sidney’s idiosyncratic parentheses. However the actions of the reader may be coded ethically, they only exist as private but not wholly internal possibilities by means of a few thousand curved marks.''
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