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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: May ::
Re: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0492  Monday, 25 May 1998.

[1]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 May 1998 09:08:06 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

[2]     From:   Simon Malloch <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 May 1998 22:34:00 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

[3]     From:   Ray Lischner <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 May 1998 15:47:41 GMT
        Subj:   Re: Easy SHK Homework

[4]     From:   Bradley S. Berens <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 May 1998 09:00:30 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

[5]     From:   Paul S. Rhodes <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 May 1998 13:15:42 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

[6]     From:   Karen Pirnie <
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        Date:   Thursday, 21 May 1998 19:54:20 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

[7]     From:   Michael Mullin <
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        Date:   Saturday, 23 May 1998 22:13:41 +1000
        Subj:   Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

[8]     From:   David C. Frankel <
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        Date:   Sunday, 24 May 1998 23:29:47 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 May 1998 09:08:06 EDT
Subject: 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

You might consider asking them to analyze the function of important
speeches in each play: why does the Ghost tell Hamlet to avenge his
death on his murderer, but "leave thy mother to God"?  Why does Hamlet
tell Ophelia not to be a "breeder of men"?  What does Hamlet's
instruction to the players criticize? etc.  If you ask the questions in
terms of the purpose as well as the meaning, most non-majors will
immerse themselves in such short assignments.  (I have done this
successfully over the years in Western Lit surveys.)

Best,
Carol Barton
Department of English
Averett College - Northern Virginia Campus

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Simon Malloch <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 May 1998 22:34:00 +0800
Subject: 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

> I'll use videos of SHK movie productions and have the students read the
> text with the plays or afterwards.

Unless it is a class specifically related to Shakespeare and film,  why
not have them read the plays first,  then look at the productions?  Let
them interpret and discuss first. Let them know the play(s) before
showing them the productions.  Knowledge of the former should prepare
them for the interpretations in the latter.

> I'd like to build in some homework or in-class exercises which are
> fairly elementary.   The main focus will be to help people to
> fundamentally understand and appreciate the language, the plot and the > characters.

You could try the unfashionable, but here effective, method of giving
them a scene or two,  and having them write a "prac. crit."  If you
chose your selection carefully,  you should be able to cover most of the
demands you outline above.  Above all,  at such an early stage you
should avoid prescribing secondary criticism.  Ideally, give them a
scene without notes - that should be a challenge to them.

Simon Malloch

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ray Lischner <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 May 1998 15:47:41 GMT
Subject: SHK Homework
Comment:        Re: Easy SHK Homework

>I'm putting together a proposal to teach an adult evening class which
>will be introductory Shakespeare or beginning appreciation of
>Shakespeare, geared toward adults who have never read SHK but want to
>learn ... Do people have suggestions for short exercises that don't
>require outside research which would generate some critical thinking and
>discussion?

Here is an exercise I learned from John Doyle that helps people
understand language and imagery. We will include it in Shakespeare for
Dummies, to be published in the Spring of 1999.

Give each student a large, blank piece of paper and a writing
implement.  Pick a short passage (about 10 lines) and read it to the
class. Have the students close their eyes, while you repeatedly read the
passage. Let the students hear the words over and over, and draw
anything that comes to mind.

Closing their eyes is important so they focus on their own images, not
on getting their drawing "right."

After a while, have the students form pairs and share their drawings.
None of the pictures will be well-drawn because the students had their
eyes shut, so no one should be embarrassed because he or she cannot draw
well. Nonetheless, many of the pictures are recognizable. In pairs, one
student tries to interpret the images drawn by the other.

Then have the students form small groups of 4-6 people. They share their
images and find what is common and what is different. You will probably
find many common images. Other pictures will be unique, which shows how
each person can have his or her own point of view.

This exercise accomplishes a number of things. By hearing the passage
repeatedly, it gives students a chance to pick up words they miss the
first time, or the first five times they hear it. Eventually, most
students will understand the entire passage, just by hearing it repeated
many times.

By drawing and sharing pictures, the students learn the importance of
images to bring words to life. Compare their images with the images in
the videos you watch. This gives you a point of discussion for
similarities and differences.

Ray Lischner, co-author (with John Doyle) of forthcoming Shakespeare for
Dummies

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bradley S. Berens <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 May 1998 09:00:30 -0700
Subject: 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

Greetings All!

This is for Alicia Connolly-Lohr:  If it's a continuing adult ed class
that you're teaching, don't expect your students to have ANY time for
homework or assignments.  I did three small lecture series in Northern
California this year (on "Shakespeare and the Jews" because of a long
review of Jim Shapiro's book I wrote for Tikkun) and had a terrific time
doing it.  They students were engaged, active, smart, interested, (and
deaf-one group was entirely octogenarians) but aside from getting most
of them to read the plays (JEW OF MALTA, MERCHANT OF VENICE), they
didn't do a lot of reading.  Don't count on them doing homework.

For in-class stuff, one great way of generating discussion is to play
different versions of the same scene for the class.  Say, the Mousetrap
in Olivier's version and Branagh's, or the Act V dream sequence in
Olivier's Richard III and McKellan's.  When you just play one scene, for
many students that scene becomes THE version, whereas if you stick the
text and two performances into a kind of trialogue, it levels the
authority issues.  If you're worried about getting access to different
videos, why not contact Lars Engle-Shakespearean honcho at the
University of Tulsa-who might have some suggestions.  Prof. Engle-you
out there?

Good luck with the class.

        Regards,
        Brad Berens
        Dept. of English
        U.C. Berkeley

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul S. Rhodes <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 May 1998 13:15:42 -0600
Subject: 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

I have a suggestion for which I may be pilloried and ridiculed, but here
goes:  Scrap all attempts at "exercises", forget about videos.  Just get
the people together, pick a play, divvy up the parts among them, and
read the play through aloud.  Encourage the people to take their time
reading, tell them when they come upon a strange word to greet it as a
stranger and give it a warm welcome.  Most importantly, exhort them to
be as hammy as they can.  The best way to learn Shakespeare is to learn
to enjoy him, and I can think of no other way to do that better than
simply to read his glorious works aloud and with gusto.

Paul S. Rhodes

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Pirnie <
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Date:           Thursday, 21 May 1998 19:54:20 EDT
Subject: 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

In reply to Alicia Connoly-Lohr's query about introductory Shakespeare
classes using films, I've had very good luck asking freshmen to compare
film and text.  I ask them to identify interpretive options eliminated
by film editing, i.e.  Branagh's visual insistence on a physical
relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia or Zefirelli's omission of the
Fortinbras subplot.  This gets students quickly moving beyond plot and
content to more sophisticated thematic issues.

Good luck!
Karen Pirnie

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Mullin <
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Date:           Saturday, 23 May 1998 22:13:41 +1000
Subject:        Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

Hi, Alicia

I'd be interested to hear what people suggest.

I've taught such adult classes since 1980 (when the BBC/PBS Shakespeare
was broadcast, and I was on its National Advisory Council)..

This led in time to CyberShakespeare, which I'm now gearing up from
Melbourne, Australia, where I'm on research leave.

Check out <<http://cybershakespeare.ola.edu.au> and please give me your
reaction by signing the guestbook at the end of the tour.

I think the blocking exercise might provide a pattern for what you do in
class.

Yours,
Michael

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David C. Frankel <
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Date:           Sunday, 24 May 1998 23:29:47 -0400
Subject: 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0489  Q: Suggestions for a Shakespeare Class

One of the exercises I do involves having two or three groups work for
about fifteen minutes on the scene in Midsummer when Lysander and Hermia
appear in the forest (Fair love, you faint with wandering in the woods.
. .)  You can do this even before the play is read as the scene is
pretty self-contained.  I use the "performances" as a way to talk about
the relationship of text to physical action and the choices open to
actors and directors (do they notice, for example, that Hermia probably
faints-or feigns fainting-before Lysander's first line?  When do the
each sit down or move away from the other?  How does the intensity of
movement and line affect the scene. . . and so on.

This scene, like many others, also contains both "prosaic" verse and
"poetic" verse, and can be used to launch a discussion about the
varieties of language in the plays.

In addition, someone in the class will recognize (or you can gently
suggest) the parallels between this scene and a more modern equivalent
("Honey, we're out of gas. . .") which can lead into a discussion about
the nature of Hermia and Lysander (and the other characters) in their
fictive world.

There are lots of other places to go (and many other scenes would work
just as well).

cdf
 

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