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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: December ::
Re: Teaching and Reading Shakespeare
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 893.  Saturday, 4 December 1993.
 
(1)     From:   Steve Metsker <
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        Date:   Friday, 3 Dec 93 08:56:31 CST
        Subj:   RE: SHK 4.0881  Re: Teaching and Reading Shakespeare
 
(2)     From:   James Schaefer <
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        Date:   Friday, 03 Dec 1993 21:12:47 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0886  Re: Teaching and Reading Shakespeare
 
(3)     From:   John C. Harrison <
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        Date:   Friday, 03 Dec 1993 13:10:08 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 4.0886  Re: Teaching and Reading Shakespeare
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Metsker <
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Date:           Friday, 3 Dec 93 08:56:31 CST
Subject: 4.0881  Re: Teaching and Reading Shakespeare
Comment:        RE: SHK 4.0881  Re: Teaching and Reading Shakespeare
 
Bill Godshalk asks, "Does anyone have any good methods of teaching college
students how to read Shakespeare?"  One suggestion is to introduce
students to the plays in illustrated form, a genre that today is called
the "graphic novel".  Graphic novels (or graphic plays) provide some of
the visual benefits of a play.  Pictures help depict what's going on, and
they maintain a higher level of interest.
 
The only graphic rendition of Shakespeare that I've seen (and read) is
Hamlet, and it's terrific.  The artwork is first rate, and the drawings
provide a sensitive and insightful interpretation of the text.  There's
only one problem, and that's the name of the folks who produced this
graphic play.
 
The creators did a wonderful job in rendering Shakespeare's classic, and
indeed this outfit's first name is "Classic".  So you might think you can
send your students off to buy the "Classic Graphic Novels" edition of
Hamlet.  Too bad, their name isn't "Classic Graphic Novels".  Instead of
"Graphic Novels", their name is "Comics".  Classic Comics.
 
If you remember Classic Comics from years ago, you may not think of
quality artwork, or conscientious fidelity to the original text.  Take a
look at the new Classic Comics Hamlet, and you'll find outstanding artwork
and excellent fidelity in both the pictures and the text.  Your local
comics store should be able to get you a copy.  You may well wind up
requiring your students to buy it, since it really is nicely done.  But
can you imagine a stack of Classic Comics in the campus book store, for
LIT401 ?
 
If you love the Classic Comics Hamlet, as I did, you'll have to wrangle
with explaining that a "comic" can be used to help teach students how to
read Shakespeare.  And if you get that far, please let us know your
techniques and how they worked.
 
   Steve Metsker
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <
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Date:           Friday, 03 Dec 1993 21:12:47 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0886  Re: Teaching and Reading Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0886  Re: Teaching and Reading Shakespeare
 
As one trained in the old-fashioned discipline of Oral Interpretation
(before it was taken over by Performance Theory) I am very pleased to hear
serious discussion of the value of teaching Shakespeare (or _any_ literature)
through oral performance.  Anyone interested in this alternative
to silent (and theory-based) approaches why might want to read an
article by  Roger Shattuck's, "How to Rescue Literature," published in
*The New York Review of Books*, 22 (17 April 1980), pp. 29-35.
 
Jim Schaefer
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John C. Harrison <
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Date:           Friday, 03 Dec 1993 13:10:08 +0200
Subject: 4.0886  Re: Teaching and Reading Shakespeare
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0886  Re: Teaching and Reading Shakespeare
 
Terence Martin's idea about formatting the text of Shakespeare so that
"actual" sentence structure is more clear, is actually very similar to my
approach in comprehending Shakespeare, although his approach seems much
more time consuming. I agree with Terence, that the problem many first-time
Shakespeareans encounter is that they can not distinguish one sentence from
the next. As an actor, my solution has always been to take a passage (like
the first 12 lines in Twelfth Night), and circle each sentence on the page.
Then, write out a contemporary paraphrase for each encircled sentence. In
writing a contemporary paraphrase for Shakespeare, it's essential that you
pay close attention to each individual word. If you start generalizing or
paraphrasing you're not being true to the play's meaning. Once the
contemporary paraphrase is complete, the meaning become much more clear.
When students do a contemporary paraphrase of Shakespeare they have a much
stronger appreciation and understanding of the language. I've had a
director have the entire cast perform contemporary paraphrases of As You
Like It and King Lear onstage, without notes. The impact on the performance
and comprehension level of the actors is incredible.
 
John Harrison
University of Oregon

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