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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: June ::
Degree in Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0402  Friday, 22 June 2007

[1] 	From: 	William Godshalk <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 21 Jun 2007 15:35:56 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare

[2] 	From: 	V. Kerry Inman <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 21 Jun 2007 15:59:32 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare

[3] 	From: 	Marilyn A. Bonomi <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 21 Jun 2007 16:52:24 -0400
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare

[4] 	From: 	Dan Venning <
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	Date: 	Thursday, 21 Jun 2007 21:00:51 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare

[5] 	From: 	Ida Gaskin <
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	Date: 	Friday, 22 Jun 2007 13:36:12 +1200
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare

[6] 	From: 	Connie Geller <
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	Date: 	Friday, 22 Jun 2007 01:36:51 +0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		William Godshalk <
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Date: 		Thursday, 21 Jun 2007 15:35:56 -0400
Subject: 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare

 >Sam would like to know: "In short does studying Shakespeare
 >and other great writers make you a better person?  A more
 >peaceful person?  More mature?  Or merely a Shakespeare
 >anorak?"

I have Christians in my classes who tell me that to be a good person I 
must become a Christian. Perhaps studying Shakespeare's plays will work 
just as well.

Bill

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		V. Kerry Inman <
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Date: 		Thursday, 21 Jun 2007 15:59:32 -0400
Subject: 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare

Sam Small <
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 >

 >In short does studying Shakespeare and other great writers make you a
 >better person?  A more peaceful person?  More mature?  Or merely a
 >Shakespeare anorak?
 >>
 >I'd like to know.
 >>
 >SAM SMALL

Aren't asking us to pass judgment on the Shaksper list?

--V. Kerry Inman

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Marilyn A. Bonomi <
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Date: 		Thursday, 21 Jun 2007 16:52:24 -0400
Subject: 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare

As someone who taught "literature" for almost 40 years (albeit in high 
school) I'd suggest that the analytical interaction with any significant 
work of literature, including but not limited to Shakespeare, helps 
strengthen what Bloom identified as the "higher order thinking skills": 
analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

So long as you are not focusing on the barebones plot/simplistic 
questions about character (what they look like sorts of questions) you 
are asking students to engage with the text and make not only personal 
connections to text but also use the text to work outwards to greater 
understanding on a more global level.

So yes, studying Shakespeare can make you a "better" person if your 
higher order thinking skills improve and if you come to some deeper 
understanding about life and yourself as a result of interacting with 
his texts.  In the case of high school students, I'd add yes, it can 
make you "more mature" as well  :-)

Mari Bonomi

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Dan Venning <
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Date: 		Thursday, 21 Jun 2007 21:00:51 -0400
Subject: 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare

Dear Sam:

I feel that *perhaps* you felt that "nothing much came back" because you 
were either phrasing your questions confrontationally (suggesting that 
studying in any field, whether humanities, sciences, social sciences, or 
whatever you choose to study, is liable to make someone an "anorak" 
seems like a clear case of anti-academism, and may lead to hostile or 
terse responses) or because you were personally inclined to hear 
whatever responses the adjudicator made as "nothing much."

Here are some responses from my end:

I think that adults studying *anything* they are passionate about is 
beneficial, especially when they choose to study with leading scholars 
and experts in the field. Study broadens the mind and, in any field, 
allows one to more thoroughly appreciate that which we love. If one was 
motivated solely by professional promotion, why not study accounting, or 
business, or get an MBA? Study of literature, on the other hand, can 
lead to personal growth. I study Shakespeare because I love reading, 
watching, directing, and working on productions of his plays, and the 
more books I read on the topic, the more thorough and detailed my 
appreciation is. This also allows me to develop my own ideas further, 
and in a more educated fashion, having seen what's been written and 
thought before--both that with which I agree and disagree.

And yes, literature degrees certainly increase the ability to read 
literature. Your way of phrasing this below is telling: you may have 
meant to say that the adjudicator said the "ability to read literature 
critically," but I'd certainly argue that the ability to read critically 
is indeed a "critical ability." Reading critically allows one to argue 
critically, to find (metaphorical) chinks in the armor of writers, to 
identify underlying assumptions and arguments in pieces of writing. This 
is useful in almost any field. Moreover, I don't think saying that the 
ability to "read critically" is a *vague* or unclear benefit in the least.

Does studying Shakespeare make you a better/more moral/peaceful/mature 
person? Does it make you an anorak? I think the answer to both questions 
is: It can! But what it does depends on how you use and employ the 
knowledge you gain through your study, and will differ from person to 
person. Yes, some academics are boring, write terribly, and are 
"anoraks." But many (I'd say most) are genuinely wonderful, and I hope 
you (like I) have fond memories of several from your college days, who 
may even have been mentors or friends.

I'm sorry if this came across as too confrontational, but I'm a PhD 
student in Shakespeare myself, and anti-academism can really get my 
goat. After all, it's the work about which I'm passionate!

Dan Venning

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Ida Gaskin <
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Date: 		Friday, 22 Jun 2007 13:36:12 +1200
Subject: 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare

Sam Small asks what one gains by reading English Literature. Does such a 
degree course have to "make" one anything? Surely it is enough to read 
with enjoyment. After all, as Bacon said "Reading maketh a full man". 
Isn't that enough?

Ida Gaskin.

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Connie Geller <
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Date: 		Friday, 22 Jun 2007 01:36:51 +0000
Subject: 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0391 Degree in Shakespeare

Surely a study of the humanities, and literature in particular, does not 
make anyone a better person. Any look at history confirms this, as does 
one's personal experience with scoundrels of a literary bent.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
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The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the 
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the 
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.