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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: March ::
Re: Shakespeare Bashing
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0570  Monday, 12 March 2001

[1]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Friday, 09 Mar 2001 12:22:32 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Shakespeare Bashing

[2]     From:   John Velz <
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        Date:   Sunday, 11 Mar 2001 23:11:37 -0600
        Subj:   Shakespeare bashing


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Friday, 09 Mar 2001 12:22:32 -0500
Subject:        Re: Shakespeare Bashing

Stephenie Hughes suggests that parents' concerns about suicide in Romeo
and Juliet provide a perfect opportunity for taking up the subject in
depth, and thus providing a service to the students that parents would
learn to appreciate.

Yes and no. Yes, it can be -- and has been -- done, but parental
reactions are mixed. Some parents see what the teacher is doing and
approve. But others say that the result is "a mixed message" that
confuses kids and makes them MORE likely to consider suicide.  Think
about how some parents react to sex education: for them, the only answer
is NOT to teach it; any examination of sex just leads to trouble, or so
they argue.

A lot of this comes from a collection of essays I edited in the early
90's about teaching Shakespeare in high school. Times may have changed;
I'm sure the high school teachers on this list can add a lot more about
this issue -- and others related to it.

--Ed Taft

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Velz <
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Date:           Sunday, 11 Mar 2001 23:11:37 -0600
Subject:        Shakespeare bashing

Said of *Romeo and Juliet:*

> want it taught as an object lesson in what happens if teenagers
>>DON"T obey
>> their parents (!).

Interestingly enough that is just the interpretation of the story made
by Arthur Brooke in his *The Tragicall Historie of Romeus and Juliet*.
He puts this edifying interpretation in the preface and then proceeds to
ignore it and sides with the lovers as the story itself unfolds.

A propos of *Julius Caesar* being once a favored play. It began being
taught in the schools when Shakespeare went on the list of authors for
the entrance exams to Oxford and Cambridge in 1857.  The Victorians
thought that the sentiments in the play about philosophy and
statesmanship and principled government all were suitable for boys to
prepare them for the civil service in the far-flung Empire.  The
Americans promptly aped the British schools and *JC* was utterly
inescapable until fairly recently, the one Shakespeare play you could be
sure your college students had read in high school.  Odd that it should
be dropped in the late twentieth century when we recall that the 1960s
were a decade of political assassination on ideological grounds.  JFK,
RFK, MLK, George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the American Nazi Party,
Malcolm X and George Wallace.  Canonicity and curriculum are beyond
rationalizing, one supposes.

Cheers,
John
 

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