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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: October ::
Re: Teaching the Sonnets
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1058  Thursday, 29 October 1998.

[1]     From:   Dale Lyles <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 28 Oct 1998 12:43:57 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1043 Teaching the Sonnets

[2]     From:   Jan Stirm <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 28 Oct 1998 13:22:50 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 9.1043 Teaching the Sonnets

[3]     From:   Joe Shea <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 28 Oct 1998 12:21:06 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1043 Teaching the Sonnets

[4]     From:   Jefferson Cronin <
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        Date:   Thursday, 29 Oct 1998 07:39:37 +1000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1043  Teaching the Sonnets


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dale Lyles <
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Date:           Wednesday, 28 Oct 1998 12:43:57 EST
Subject: 9.1043 Teaching the Sonnets
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1043 Teaching the Sonnets

Have them trace the dialectic which occurs in most of them...
THIS/but/THIS. Move from the tidy ones, like 73, to the less tidy ones.

Dale Lyles
Newnan Community Theatre Company

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jan Stirm <
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Date:           Wednesday, 28 Oct 1998 13:22:50 -0600
Subject: 9.1043 Teaching the Sonnets
Comment:        RE: SHK 9.1043 Teaching the Sonnets

Hi Don,

I taught some sonnets at the very beginning of my Shakespeare class this
semester and tried something different.  I put them in groups and asked
each group to choose two sonnets it would be able to lead discussion
about.  I did that a couple days ahead (while they were working on a
performance project) and then had them email me and the class their
choices-so that no one would double up.  (First come, first serve.)  I
then chose a sonnet none of the groups had chosen, and on the first day
discussed sonnet structure and a short, dirty history of sonnets and
sonnet sequences (making sure to explain that by the time Shakespeare
wrote his sequence, they were old hat, and he tried some different
things-anti-Petrarchan, focusing even more on writing, gender issues,
etc.), gender issues in the sonnets (I made sure to choose a gender
indeterminate sonnet), and worked through the sonnet that day with the
class.  The next day I started the groups leading discussion of their
sonnets, and they were pretty much able to tie in what they'd found with
the background lecture, but also came up with fun stuff on their own.
(I get to choose which of the two they present.)

I also tend to draw A LOT on the board to explain metaphors-that fixed
mark on the ship whose worth isn't known and such-and they tended to
follow my lead.

We had 5 or 6 groups, so it took a couple of days for each group to lead
discussion of one sonnet.  The class doesn't get an overview of the
sequence that way, but they do gain some facility with the language and
really grapple with one or two sonnets closely.

I'd be really interested in hearing what others come up with!

Best, Jan Stirm

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[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joe Shea <
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Date:           Wednesday, 28 Oct 1998 12:21:06 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 9.1043 Teaching the Sonnets
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1043 Teaching the Sonnets

If I may be so bold, as a longtime student of the Sonnets and author of
my own, may I suggest for your class what also worked for me: rather
than to become mired in the evidentiary issues, assign a different
sonnet or several to each member of the class for the first week, and in
the second week, make reading of them required for the actual grade.
Those that most fully understand the Sonnets will convey them best.  In
class, too, you can query about meanings of words and phrases.  I know
it is probably unusual to grade on a verbal reading, but in the end-
this being love poetry, after all-it is the medium for which it was most
intended.

Best,
Joe Shea

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jefferson Cronin <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Oct 1998 07:39:37 +1000
Subject: 9.1043  Teaching the Sonnets
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1043  Teaching the Sonnets

I have found that approaching the sonnets as stories makes them somewhat
more accessible.  Students seem to hook into the idea of each is a small
tale.  The poetry becomes a kind of mystery for them to unravel.  I also
have each student pick one to 'present' to the class.  They read the
sonnet, then tell the story in their own words.  They focus on the story
and forget to be intimidated.  This has led to some very interesting
discussions. I hope these ideas are of some use to you.  Have fun.

Jefferson Cronin
University of Maryland, Asian Division
Guam
 

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