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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: August ::
Teaching Shakespeare to Large Groups
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1575  Tuesday, 24 August 2004

[1]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Aug 2004 08:16:55 -0500
        Subj:   A 100-member class???

[2]     From:   Stuart Manger <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Aug 2004 18:08:11 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1562 Teaching Shakespeare to Large Groups

[3]     From:   Susan St. John <
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        Date:   Monday, 23 Aug 2004 18:39:53 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1562 Teaching Shakespeare to Large Groups

[4]     From:   Matthew Steggle <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 10:14:58 +0100
        Subj:   Teaching Shakespeare to large group


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Aug 2004 08:16:55 -0500
Subject:        A 100-member class???

Katherine Scheil wrote,

 >I teach a large Shakespeare class (approx. 100 students)...[at the]

 >...University of Rhode Island

I can't answer your question about student (or other) performances in
your Shakespeare group, but I am astonished that the URI places more
than twenty or twenty-five students in their undergraduate classes.
Above that number, the teacher must abandon the Socratic method of
questioning his students and building on their answers with more
questions to have them "discover" what he wants them to see; instead, he
must lecture - and didn't the need and use of that properly go out with
the printing press? Teachers who are forced by such numbers to lecture
instead of converse with their students in class might as well print
what they have to say and deliver it in handouts to them, using class
time to answer their questions, quiz them and test them.

And anyone who has watched those mind-numbing university lectures
offered on television, where if the lecturer is not Lionel Trilling or
Sir Lawrence Olivier, he cannot expect the attention given the merest
television announcer, one who has established the now-expected degree of
performance.  "Performance" is the word, here, for the teacher must see
himself as a performer, no matter whether he is lecturing or
socratically questioning his students - for some measures of his
excellence are his  a briskness of delivery, and the implied urgency of
his "message"; if he is not exhausted at the end of every class, he has
not done his work properly.

L. Swilley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stuart Manger <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Aug 2004 18:08:11 +0100
Subject: 15.1562 Teaching Shakespeare to Large Groups
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1562 Teaching Shakespeare to Large Groups

Only a suggestion: select key scenes from whatever your key plays are
and divide the class into groups - say about 10 each, and get several of
them to target the SAME scene.

Qs: how would you play this scene?

What do you think are the pivotal moments in the scene?

By delivering the verse / accenting the lines in a key speech what
differences in meaning / relationship can be indicated?

THEN get them to deliver their scenes in their different ways, get the
rest of the class to offer evaluation - partic useful if some know the
scenes(s) being done and some don't: i.e. some will come at it from a
textual angle anyway, and the others from the theatrical angle? Also,
try to gert them to give out the parts regardless of gender i.e. a
female Lear, or a female Hamlet etc serendipitously, so that they have
to concentrate on verse / images etc to get at what is being said. Some
might write an answer / directors' notes etc some weeks, while the rest
act / read, then swap round so that by the end of a month perhaps,
almost everybody has done something.

Over a semester, everyone gets a shot at quite a lot - I hope!! Seems a
huge class.

Just a thought

Big Q for you: do you have enough space for this kind of practical option??

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susan St. John <
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Date:           Monday, 23 Aug 2004 18:39:53 -0700
Subject: 15.1562 Teaching Shakespeare to Large Groups
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1562 Teaching Shakespeare to Large Groups

This would take some time outside of class, but perhaps, after you get
your list of volunteers you could have them "audition" for you.  This
way you could hear their delivery style and then you might know who
would be best to call on for various readings in class, in front of the
full group.

As to getting more students to participate, perhaps you could have
students prepare short scenes in advance and present them on a
particular day, rather than doing cold readings.  As an actor I find the
strongest understanding of the text comes when I am working to memorize it!

Best of luck!
Susan St. John

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Matthew Steggle <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Aug 2004 10:14:58 +0100
Subject:        Teaching Shakespeare to large groups

Katherine Scheil raises the topic of read-throughs - I'm biased, but let
me plug the following article anyway:

Matthew C. Hansen, "Learning to Read Shakespeare: Using Read-Throughs as
a Teaching and Learning Strategy", _Teaching Renaissance
Texts_, a special issue of _Working Papers on the Web_ 4 (2002):
http://www.shu.ac.uk/wpw/renaissance/hansen.htm
http://www.shu.ac.uk/wpw/renaissance/index.htm

All the best,
Matt

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