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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: May ::
Shakespeare Not
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0317  Thursday, 3 May 2007

[1] 	From: 	Marilyn A. Bonomi <
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 	Date: 	Friday, 20 Apr 2007 03:16:52 -0400
 	Subj: 	RE: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

[2] 	From: 	Douglas M Lanier <
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 	Date: 	Friday, 20 Apr 2007 09:32:12 -0400
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

[3] 	From: 	John D. Cox <
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 	Date: 	Friday, 20 Apr 2007 11:43:16 -0400
 	Subj: 	RE: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

[4] 	From: 	Donald Bloom <
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 	Date: 	Friday, 20 Apr 2007 11:03:28 -0500
 	Subj: 	RE: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

[5] 	From: 	Sam Small <
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 	Date: 	Friday, 20 Apr 2007 19:01:36 +0100
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

[6] 	From: 	William Babula <
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 	Date: 	Friday, 20 Apr 2007 11:37:34 -0700
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

[7] 	From: 	Ira Zinman <
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 	Date: 	Saturday, 21 Apr 2007 21:44:54 EDT
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

[8] 	From: 	V. K. Inman <
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 	Date: 	Monday, 23 Apr 2007 09:19:52 -0400
 	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Marilyn A. Bonomi <
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Date: 		Friday, 20 Apr 2007 03:16:52 -0400
Subject: 18.0302 Shakespeare Not
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

QUOTE from article: Earning a bachelor's degree in English without the 
study of Shakespeare "is tantamount to fraud," says Anne Neal, president 
of the group.

I have to say I agree with this assessment, as one who was frustrated at 
*only* two available undergraduate courses in Shakespeare.

And I would very much like to understand the rationale behind eliminating 
a Shakespeare requirement for English majors.  Anyone out there?

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Douglas M Lanier <
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Date: 		Friday, 20 Apr 2007 09:32:12 -0400
Subject: 18.0302 Shakespeare Not
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

This news story needs some close parsing.  It is little more than a 
repackaging of a report from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, 
a conservative organization formerly headed by Lynne Cheney and funded at 
its inception by the Bradley and Olin foundations.  Its most famous 
previous "report" was "Defending Civilization:  How our Universities are 
Failing America and What can be Done about it," issued after 9/11, which 
argued that criticism of Bush policies was tantamount to failing to defend 
Western civilization.  That report included a list of professors who were 
putatively "short on patriotism," a list which many saw as an implicit 
blacklist.

The ACTA has used Shakespeare before in its efforts to promote the 
impression that Shakespeare has disappeared from English department 
curricula and thus that the humanities are in crisis.  In December 1996, 
it issued "The Shakespeare File:  What English Majors are Really 
Studying," a diatribe that apparently makes much the same point as does 
the present report, "The Vanishing Shakespeare."  ("The Shakespeare File" 
is available online: 
http://www.goacta.org/publications/Reports/shakespeare.pdf .)

As to Shakespeare's putative disappearance from the English major 
curriculum, I can offer my own experience at University of New Hampshire. 
Shakespeare is required only for English teaching majors; it is not 
required for regular English majors.  Even so, Shakespeare is by far the 
most popular course in the English department's curriculum and has been 
for as long as I've taught at UNH.  We offer at least 8 sections of 
Shakespeare a year, and usually 1 or 2 sections of advanced Shakespeare. 
By contrast, the only English major course which we offer more sections of 
is Introduction to Literary Analysis, the gateway course to the major and 
a required class.

What ought to concern us is not Shakespeare's place in the curriculum, but 
the shoddiness of journalistic reporting about our discipline.  Apparently 
the reporter made absolutely no effort at all to investigate the truth of 
the "report" she paraphrases--it seems to have traveled straight from the 
fax machine to the pages of USA Today.

In short, caveat lector.

Cheers,
Doug Lanier

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John D. Cox <
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Date: 		Friday, 20 Apr 2007 11:43:16 -0400
Subject: 18.0302 Shakespeare Not
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

I think asking whether Shakespeare is "required" in curricula is a red 
herring, because it's red meat to conservatives. The question is not 
whether Shakespeare is REQUIRED but whether it's TAUGHT.  My guess is that 
the birthday celebrations are NOT empty, though USA Today suggests they 
are, because Shakespeare is in fact TAUGHT almost everywhere, even though 
it's not a required course. That's certainly the case at Hope College, 
where I teach.

Best,
John Cox

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Friday, 20 Apr 2007 11:03:28 -0500
Subject: 18.0302 Shakespeare Not
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

I suspected from the outset that there was something wrong with the study, 
and the first place I checked confirmed my suspicions. This is from the 
English Department website at UC, Berkeley, where I began my college 
career many years ago:

"The core of the major consists of seven courses: English 45A-45B-45C, a 
course in Shakespeare, an upper division course in literature before 1800, 
and two upper division seminars, English 100 and 150. English 45A-45B-45C 
is an intensive survey of literature in English from Chaucer through the 
20th century, including British, American, and Anglophone writing."

Since the various branches of the UC system generally maintain a high 
level of consistency, I expect UCLA and other allied universities also 
require the same things. What's more I expect that most professors 
teaching 45a include at least one play and an array of sonnets in their 
syllabi.

Somebody with the time might want to check into who these people are and 
how they came to their conclusions.

Cheers,
don

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sam Small <
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Date: 		Friday, 20 Apr 2007 19:01:36 +0100
Subject: 18.0302 Shakespeare Not
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

Without going over old ground I have said on this list that "no one under 
30 should read Shakespeare".  I still stand by the spirit of the sentiment 
that the experience of being bored by obligatory Elizabethan plays is 
somewhat beyond the pale.  However, if the teaching of Shakespeare can be 
done - and done well - without the customary soporific effect then I am 
all for it. But there is also an absurd notion to this tendency.  To teach 
English without at least a cursory glance at Shakespeare's use of the 
language is rather like talking about painting without mentioning 
Rembrandt.

SAM SMALL

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		William Babula <
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Date: 		Friday, 20 Apr 2007 11:37:34 -0700
Subject: 18.0302 Shakespeare Not
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

At Sonoma State University a liberal arts college in California a 
Shakespeare course is a major requirement for an English degree. No 
substitutions. A course I happen to teach. I thought you should hear from 
Schools that do require Shakespeare as well. There are fewer of us 
apparently.

William Babula

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Ira Zinman <
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Date: 		Saturday, 21 Apr 2007 21:44:54 EDT
Subject: 18.0302 Shakespeare Not
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

In response to Jack Heller's query and the article on "Shakespeare Not" 
what disturbs me most is that those who are deciding to drop the 
requirement to have English Majors study Shakespeare seem to be a growing 
number of individuals who have no understanding of just how important 
Shakespeare's works really are.  Is there some fault in the manner in 
which Shakespeare is taught at some institutions which has caused a 
backlash by students who feel the material is without merit?  Is there a 
lack of faculty interest in Shakespeare?  I would like to know who and 
what has been behind the decision to cut Shakespeare from the curriculum.

Ira Zinman

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		V. K. Inman <
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Date: 		Monday, 23 Apr 2007 09:19:52 -0400
Subject: 18.0302 Shakespeare Not
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0302 Shakespeare Not

There is nothing new here. I graduated from the University of Maine in 
1968 as an English major. I was not required to take a course in 
Shakespeare. Did I miss anything? No. One is exposed to Shakespeare in so 
many other ways. We read several of his plays in high school, in 
introductory survey courses, and in courses about drama in general. What 
was required was that at least three of our courses had to be in English 
literature before the 17th century. I had Old English, Chaucer, and 
Elizabethan literature. Without these, and if I had only a course in 
Shakespeare, I would have had unbalanced understanding of early English 
literature.

V. K. Inman

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