Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: September ::
Teaching: Questions, Comments, and Observations
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0686. Thursday, 14 September 1995
 
(1)     From:   Bernice W. Kliman 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Sep 1995 17:51:18 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: Novels and movies
 
(2)     From:   Thomas Ellis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 14 Sep 1995 19:32:46 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0680  Re: Teaching Shakespeare (Part 1)
 
(3)     From:   Ronald Dwelle <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  >
        Date:   Friday, 15 Sep 95 08:31:03 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0680  Re: Teaching Shakespeare (Part 1)
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bernice W. Kliman 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
Date:           Thursday, 14 Sep 1995 17:51:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Re: Novels and movies
 
Dear colleagues:
 
On the C18-List recently there has been a lively and helpful exchange having to
do with using novels and films to teach the ambience of the times--not so much
versions of the literature as works that could substitute for a backgrounds
lecture. In the recent *SQ* edited by Ralph Cohen, on teaching, Martha Tuck
Rozett mentions using *Firedrake's Eye* (1993) by Patricia Finney.  I wonder if
anyone else has used such materials and if they would care to suggest a list?
 
Happy teaching!
Bernice
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Thomas Ellis <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 14 Sep 1995 19:32:46 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0680  Re: Teaching Shakespeare (Part 1)
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0680  Re: Teaching Shakespeare (Part 1)
 
Continuing this lively and fruitful discussion, I'd like to report on a (fairly
characteristic) problem I had in my Shakespeare class today. (For those who
missed my first post, all of my students are African-American, though I am
myself as anglo as old WS himself). We were reading/enacting the climactic
scene in Midsummer Night's Dream where mutual misunderstandings and
bewitchments of Hermia, Lysander, Helena, & Demetrius generate an escalating
spiral of abuse, when at one point Helena refers to Hermia as an "ethiop."
 
Needless to say, the gales of laughter up to that point abruptly ceased.
Suddenly, the atmosphere changed. Despite my efforts to demonstrate how
delightful and witty this play can be, the ugly spectre of racism surfaced;
Shakespeare (and I) became, for a moment, The Enemy.
 
I acknowledged the insult, explaining how the English of Shakespeare's time
were (like everyone else on Earth) completely ethnocentric, casting aspersions
on "others" of all types, but the uneasiness--the pain--remained, simply
because they knew, as I know, how deeply connected those late 16th century
prejudices were to what followed; to their own experience as 'black' people in
a 'white' society.
 
I feel frustrated by moments like this. It is one thing--quite manageable--
when (as I often do) I establish a pedagogical frame of reference for plays
like Merchant, Othello, and The Tempest that brings the prominent issue of
ethnic prejudice and the problem of the Other into the foreground. But when we
are reading along in a play for other values entirely--the fickleness of young
love--and a gratuitous racial slur arises, I feel my students' pain, but I feel
powerless to ease it, yet at the same time, loath to trivialize it. I welcome
your comments or suggestions.
 
Sincerely,
Thomas I. Ellis
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ronald Dwelle <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  >
Date:           Friday, 15 Sep 95 08:31:03 EST
Subject: 6.0680  Re: Teaching Shakespeare (Part 1)
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0680  Re: Teaching Shakespeare (Part 1)
 
I'll side with Piers Lewis when he noted:
 
     "not a word has been said so far about the most serious difficulty our
     students encounter: Shakespeare's poetry.  It's like learning a new
     language they say; worse than Chinese--a language they know nothing
     about except that it's exceptionally tough."
 
I now spend the first two days of each semester on a couple sonnets. Day one, I
spend about an hour on a single sonnet, doing all the talking, half the time
treating the sonnet as though it were written in a foreign language (and
translating it); the other half treating it as poetry. For day two, I make the
following assignment: Choose a sonnet (I give them a list of 4 or 5 to choose
from); copy it exactly (in handwriting, not typed); write a brief paraphrase;
then write for 20 minutes, commenting on any aspect of the poetry of the
sonnet. The assignment seems to work well. The main thing the students learn is
that, with just a little work, they can make sense of Shakespeare's English and
recognize the poetic character in it.
 
I'm a big fan of the copy part of the assignment, which seems to do the most
work.
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.