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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: Pedagogy: Course Structure
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1263  Thursday, 22 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Steven Marx <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Jun 2000 07:22:53 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1253 Pedagogy: Course Structure

[2]     From:   Hannibal Hamlin <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Jun 2000 10:30:02 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1253 Pedagogy: Course Structure

[3]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 21 Jun 2000 11:54:16 -0500
        Subj:   A Shakespeare course


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steven Marx <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Jun 2000 07:22:53 -0700
Subject: 11.1253 Pedagogy: Course Structure
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1253 Pedagogy: Course Structure

I mentioned this site earlier while it was under construction at a
different URL, so please excuse the repetition in response to the query.

> I'm interested in learning how other teachers of Shakespeare structure
> their courses.  I'm asking here about organizational patterns and
> approaches other than the usual division of the plays into genres or
> time periods,

"Triangulating Shakespeare"
[http://cla.calpoly.edu/~smarx/Shakespeare/triang/index.html] outlines a
course structure for introductory, advanced and graduate level classes
that combines reading, viewing and performing.  It emphasizes student
responses in writing, pictures and film-clips of performances.

Steven Marfx

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hannibal Hamlin <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Jun 2000 10:30:02 EDT
Subject: 11.1253 Pedagogy: Course Structure
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1253 Pedagogy: Course Structure

Not to discourage discussion of teaching Shakespeare on this list (I too
will be teaching "Shakespeare" this year, and I look forward to reading
comments from all quarters), I would recommend a simple search using the
terms "Shakespeare syllabus" at www.google.com.  It turns up dozens of
syllabi from colleges and universities all over the country.  Very
useful and interesting reading!

Hannibal Hamlin
The Ohio State University-Mansfield

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 21 Jun 2000 11:54:16 -0500
Subject:        A Shakespeare course

Bob White wrote, " I'm interested in learning how other teachers of
Shakespeare structure their courses.  I'm asking here about
organizational patterns and approaches, etc..."

Since the Unversity's undergraduate curriculum allows only one semester
to be devoted to Shakespeare's plays, when teaching the course, I select
four of the major plays to be studied intensively, eight more to be read
out of class.  Students are tested for their careful reading of all
plays assigned, the many questions on each usually taking this form:  "
[quotation]. Identify speaker and context."  This necessary business out
of the way - for there is no point in further examination in class if
this work has not been done - we spend several classes on each of these:
Hamlet, Lear and Antony; a fourth set of classes on either Tempest,
Merchant, Measure, Twelfth, Richard II, or Coriolanus. The plays are
usually arranged by date of composition, although this is not critical.

In the first class on a play examined intensively, the first speech of
the play is read aloud, the students are asked to rephrase the point in
plain, modern English and  - granting only what they know of the setting
as described at the head of the scene and, of course, the remarks in
that first speech - to "give instructions" to the actor for the delivery
of the lines, including the reasons why the actor should so say them so,
move so, etc.  The second speech is read; the answers to the
first-speech question are revisited and perhaps altered, for the second
speech, the questioned student "gives instructions" to the actor, etc.
This is followed for the first few speeches, then the scene is examined
as a unit, questions of motive and character and possible direction of
plot determined (as much as such limited information allows.)

At this point, a video-taping of the play is introduced, and the first
scene (only) is played, sometimes only part of it; the students are
asked to comment on differences observed and to question both the taped
presentation and the "answers" given earlier by the class.

As this investigation proceeds, larger sections of the play are
addressed - perhaps two to three scenes at once.

This method is entirely formal, of course, and based on the assumption
that the characters and plot require no historical gloss for the
comprehension of the deepest, most human (therefore most constant and
most important) elements of the play.  It is the method of examination
used by directors and actors, who cannot, should not  depend on their
audiences' historical knowledge of the play, but must touch down in them
to find all that is immortally human.

In the hands of a teacher who knows his students and can mentally keep
track of their  remarks about a play under daily consideration,  this is
the most powerful, the most exciting means of awakening even the
sleepiest minds.  It is successful even with regular high school
students - but it will not work if the class has more than 25 students,
or if the teacher, because of the number of students or for any other
reason, is not able to keep up with the *way* each student is thinking
(as becomes apparent over a series of exchanges in class).  And, of
course, that making the student aware of *how* he is addressing a
problem and how it is different from other "how's" is the chief business
of teaching and learning any subject whatsoever.

Intensive work on each play ends with each student assigned a different
scene of the work for an essay relating that scene in as many ways as
feasible to the larger work containing it - an explication of text, as
it used to be called (is it still so?) .

I hope the above is of some service.

L. Swilley
 

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