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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: June ::
As You Like It in the Classroom
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1339  Wednesday, 23 June 2004

[1]     From:   Susan St. John <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Jun 2004 10:15:09 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1333 As You Like It in the Classroom

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Jun 2004 12:46:16 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.1333 As You Like It in the Classroom

[3]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 22 Jun 2004 15:54:39 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.1333 As You Like It in the Classroom


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susan St. John <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Jun 2004 10:15:09 -0700
Subject: 15.1333 As You Like It in the Classroom
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1333 As You Like It in the Classroom

It distresses me that Jack Heller and Jack Hettinger each had such
dismal experiences teaching AYLI.

Rosalind was the first major role I had in a Shakespeare play, so it
holds a very special place in my heart.  Now, as a high school teacher I
know that students can bash on anything and everything, but a teacher
who is enthusiastic about something should be able to help the students
find its good points.

I fear that both Jack H's have lost their appreciation for AYLI.  I'm
tempted to answer each of Mr. Hettinger's students' comments, but rather
than remind you of all the wonderful parts of this play, I would just
like to offer some advice:  Don't teach a play that you are not in love
with!

Best wishes to all as we prepare for the new school year,
Susan.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Jun 2004 12:46:16 -0500
Subject: 15.1333 As You Like It in the Classroom
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.1333 As You Like It in the Classroom

Jack Hettinger writes,

 >"I've had good students tire of AYLI by the fourth act: Rosalind is "so
 >manipulative," "Orlando saw through her disguise right off," "What are
 >the shepherds doing in the play?" A few noisily dismiss the last act
 >because Rosalind is drowned out by male authority, and where did Hymen
 >come from? Also the sudden conversion of Duke Frederick. Then there are
 >some problems appreciating Shakespeare's ironic pastoral, plus some
 >trouble seeing how Jaques' Seven Ages speech is contradicted by the
 >forest company's care of Adam. And that's not all of it."

It strikes me that students will tend to get what you give them, or
encourage them to get, not just to please you, but because they depend
on you for guidance. If you think R. is manipulative, so will they. But
I find myself startled at "manipulative" being used to describe her.
It's a game she's playing, a joke, a way of spending time with the man
she loves without the stress of awkward courtship, a way of shifting
roles and identities around for the pure fun of it. If you don't find it
either fun or funny, chances are your students won't either.

I am also puzzled at your referring to the "ironic pastoral" and yet
citing students wondering what the shepherds are doing in the play. If
they have been given some background on the pastoral won't they know?

I won't belabor the point. It is evident that you don't like the play,
and that is reason enough not to try and teach it. We are all insensible
to some things that other people find hysterically funny, or romantic,
or tragic, or philosophically insightful. Best to leave them alone.

Cheers,
don

p.s. Don't get me started on the late novels of Thomas Hardy.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Tuesday, 22 Jun 2004 15:54:39 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 15.1333 As You Like It in the Classroom
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.1333 As You Like It in the Classroom

To the questions from Dr. Hettinger's students, I'll add, what's to be
thought about old man Adam? Is he to be taken allegorically? What is the
significance of the wrestling match? Does Jaques also have a conversion?
  How should he be evaluated or understood? As You Like It seems to have
too many threads for inquiry that can be examined independently of one
another. We did not settle upon some unifying consideration.

Jack Heller

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