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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: September ::
Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0677.  Friday, 8 September 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Michael Swanson <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Sep 1995 17:06:33 -0600
        Subj:   SHK 6.0672  Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
 
(2)     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Sep 1995 01:13:42 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0672  Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
 
(3)     From:   Chris Gordon <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Sep 95 19:35:23 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 0672: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
 
(4)     From:   Richard J Kennedy <
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        Date:   Thursday, 7 Sep 1995 18:17:00 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0672  Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
 
(5)     From:   William Proctor Williams <
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        Date:   Thursday, 07 Sep 95 21:03 CDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0672  Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Swanson <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Sep 1995 17:06:33 -0600
Subject: Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
Comment:        SHK 6.0672  Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
 
On Sept. 6, Tom Ellis wrote:
 
"But then, having emphasized the strangeness of Shakespeare's conceptual
universe, I showed how paradoxically *relevant* Shakespeare could be to the
world of 1995 by emphasizing the climactic lines of Ulysses' oration:
 
"Then everything include itself in power/Power into will, will into
appetite/And Appetite--a universal wolf--so doubly seconded with will and
power/Must make perforce a universal prey/And last eat up itself".
 
Then I just said "Disney."
 
On Sept. 7, Robert Dennis wrote:
 
"I must have misunderstood, but I read that Ellis compares Shakespeare to
current Disney productions or Michael Eisner's pronouncements and plans, or
something like that???  And this is supposed to make WS appeal to young
persons?  What about those who never liked Disney stuff, thought it was
childish or silly?  You have sent the wrong message to every single
student."
 
I think that Robert has really missed the point of Tom's quote of Ulysses. I
think that Tom suggests that Ulysses's description of power fits Disney's
recent power grab nicely.  I don't think Tom was comparing Shakespeare to
Disney or Eisner at all -- simply pointing out Shakespeare's relevance to our
age by showing how his view of power transcends power in 16th-century England
and can relate to 20th-century corporate / entertainment power. Far from
sending a wrong message, it seems to me to be a perfectly appropriate message
-- about both WS and Disney, actually.
 
Incidentally, while Tom's teaching approach might not be for everyone, it
seems, IMHO, that some of his techniques might be used well by others of us
teaching Shakespeare.  I especially like the use of the Fludd map, and the
suggestion that, while Shakespeare might well have believed in the equality of
all men, most poilitical and philosophical systems of the time would have found
this unlikely at best.
 
Michael Swanson
Franklin College of Indiana

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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Sep 1995 01:13:42 +0100
Subject: 6.0672  Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0672  Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
 
On teaching undergraduates I hear
 
...free associate...make it sexy...demystify...don't scare them...dispel
bardolatory...
 
Are the students in question fulfilling the terms of a court order by attending
these classes, or did they sign up of their own free will? If they aren't
self-motivated and interested, why bother? If they don't want to read the damn
things, what are they in your classroom for?
 
Shakespeare's plays are not, of themselves, good for you. I hear them being
discussed like they are unpleasant medicine which we have to find ways of
administering.
 
Gabriel Egan
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Gordon <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Sep 95 19:35:23 -0500
Subject: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
Comment:        SHK 0672: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
 
I've been enjoying everyone's posts on this topic, so thought I might as well
add my two cents. I've traditionally begun the first class with a video clip
from an episode of *Star Trek: The Next Generation* called *The Traitor.* It
begins in near darkness, and at first we hear only voices: the voices of
Court/Bates/Williams from the pre-Agincourt scene of *Henry V.* Next we hear
the disguised Henry, and when he finally comes into the light, we discover that
it's Data playing Henry in a holodeck rehearsal. Shortly thereafter, he's
interrupted by his director, Captain Picard, who utters a line something like:
"Splendid, Data, splendid. There's no better way to understand what it means to
be human than to embrace Shakespeare." That's where I stop the tape, and we
launch into a short discussion of why it is that we're still interested in
Shakespeare in the late twentieth century and why a television writer is
willing to hypothesize that we'll still be interested four centuries hence. I
also try to get everyone to read a line or two during the first class, usually
by selecting a speech from one of the plays we'll be reading and just moving
through the circle of desks with each person reading two lines. I'd like to
tender my thanks to my high school English teacher (sophomore year), Donald
Przybylowski, who really brought Shakespeare to life for me. I'm just trying to
do him (and the other fine teachers I've had since) justice.
 
Chris Gordon
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard J Kennedy <
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Date:           Thursday, 7 Sep 1995 18:17:00 -0700
Subject: 6.0672  Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0672  Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
 
THIS FROM A FRIEND TEACHING HIGH SCHOOL THEATER:  "Can you remember what small
scene turned you on to Shakespeare when you were just a monster freshman or
sophomore?  That's what I need, those scenes that exited you and will still
excite the kids.  Or, if you could share a web page which speaks particularly
to this interest, I'd appreciate that as well.  But I look forward to your own
memories. I'll report back, and thanks.  Tom Robinson"
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <
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Date:           Thursday, 07 Sep 95 21:03 CDT
Subject: 6.0672  Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0672  Re: Teaching Shakespeare to Undergraduates
 
I find much of this discussion either pointless or egotistical. You just get
the text in your hand, walk into the classroom, and do it!  I find much of this
discussion a bit like Method Acting.  Method teachers may do such things as
have been described, those of us who are but teachers "for the working day"
just get on with it.  1995 may be quite different from 1985 or 1975, and that,
I think, is a good thing.
 
Throw old WS out there and see what they do with him.-- "they", of course,
being the students.
 

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