Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 509. Thursday, 26 August 1993.
Date: Wednesday, 25 Aug 1993 22:26:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Syllabi and Papers
At the University of Cincinnati we are stuck with the modified quarter system,
and the quarter is usually about ten weeks long these days. I spend the first
week telling my students about the Tudors (and me), and from then on we read
one play a week, say, nine plays. To me that seems just about right.
Each Monday my students either take a quiz or turn in a short paper. I begin
the quizzes during the first weeks with simple questions: who did what to whom
and when and why? By the middle of the quarter I'm giving them passages to
identify, and by the end I'm asking them to both identify and comment upon.
By short paper I mean 250 words, and I've developed an instruction sheet for
the no-bullshit paper. I've found that a good student can say a whole lot in
250 words, and the word limit forces all the students to select. I think of
these short papers as exercises, and I give a different exercise every other
week. I'm not afraid of "meaning," so I feel free to ask my students to collect
references from a play (e.g., food, clothes, trials, blood) and to come up with
a meaning. And since I have a terminal case of characteritis, I can also ask my
students to analyze a minor character, and so on and on. I never give the same
assignment twice. Life is too brief. And I don't assign critical or theoretical
Of course, all this is for undergraduates. For graduate students, I either do a
play a day, or a day a quarter!
Yours, Bill Godshalk