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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: June ::
Degree in Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0409  Monday, 25 June 2007

[1] 	From: 	Jack Heller <
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	Date: 	Friday, 22 Jun 2007 15:42:20 -0400 (EDT)
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0402 Degree in Shakespeare

[2] 	From: 	Fran Teague <
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	Date: 	Friday, 22 Jun 2007 18:09:25 -0400 (EDT)
	Subj: 	Degree in Shakespeare

[3] 	From: 	Nicole Coonradt <
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	Date: 	Saturday, 23 Jun 2007 20:37:10 +0000
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0402 Degree in Shakespeare

[4] 	From: 	Sid Stark <
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	Date: 	Monday, 25 Jun 2007 09:48:39 EDT
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 18.0402 Degree in Shakespeare


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jack Heller <
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Date: 		Friday, 22 Jun 2007 15:42:20 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 18.0402 Degree in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0402 Degree in Shakespeare

There is no single answer to Sam Small's question--which, however, does 
nothing to invalidate interest in and study of good literature, 
including by high school students.

However, as I think Small is intending to question whether studying 
Shakespeare can make a person more moral, then I would like to make this 
anecdotal observation: Of the more than 60 former prisoners who have 
gone through the SHAKESPEARE BEHIND BARS program at the Luther Luckett 
Correctional Center in Kentucky, none has returned to prison. How many 
prison programs have a record, so far, of no recidivism? Kudos to 
listmember Curt Tofteland for that record of success, and if anyone 
would like to know more about SHAKESPEARE BEHIND BARS, I would recommend 
the documentary film about the program, available from Poor Yorick and 
other sources: http://www.bardcentral.com/product_info.php?products_id=1781

Jack Heller

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Fran Teague <
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Date: 		Friday, 22 Jun 2007 18:09:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 	Degree in Shakespeare

I often ask my students whether they think that reading King Lear will 
make them better people.  After a discussion that generally becomes 
intense (and occasionally involves consideration of the moral character 
of some of their professors), they'll figure out that there's an 
implicit false binary in the question.  From there, it's a short step to 
a more useful--and obvious--question:  does reading King Lear make you a 
different person?

Fran Teague
http://www.english.uga.edu/~fteague

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Nicole Coonradt <
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Date: 		Saturday, 23 Jun 2007 20:37:10 +0000
Subject: 18.0402 Degree in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0402 Degree in Shakespeare

RE Sam's question about the value of a degree in literature 
(Shakespeare, et al):

To put a slightly different spin on this-- or perhaps extend the scope a 
bit-- I read an excellent piece in the _Wall Street Journal_ today-- an 
interview by WSJ Features Editor Emily Parker with Peruvian novelist 
Mario Vargas Llosa, titled, "Storyteller," which seemed to speak to this 
very issue: the importance of literature.

(Access the article here:
http://www.emailthis.clickability.com/et/emailThis?clickMap=viewThis&etMailToID=1638219142. 
)

Probably Llosa's most telling line is this:  "I think that literature 
has the important effect of creating free, independent, critical 
citizens who cannot be manipulated" (para. 20).

But, if you need further support for the value of studying literature, 
read on for some other key quotes:

"Through writing, one can change history" (Llosa, para. 5).  [It 
probably follows that this occurs via *readers* and those who study lit.]

"If you live in a country where there is nothing comparable to free 
information, often literature becomes the only way to be more or less 
informed about what's going on" (Llosa, para. 11).

"Literature can also be a form of political resistance, perhaps the only 
way to express discontent in the absence of political parties" (Parker, 
para. 11).

"[I]n underdeveloped countries, the dictators are, well, functioning 
illiterates that don't think that literature can be dangerous" (Llosa, 
para. 12).

Best,
Nicole Coonradt

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Sid Stark <
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Date: 		Monday, 25 Jun 2007 09:48:39 EDT
Subject: 18.0402 Degree in Shakespeare
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0402 Degree in Shakespeare

I come from the perspective of having become a Shakespeare fan in high 
school and college; reading, watching, and thinking about many plays 
during a two-decade business career (I was in sales and management); and 
then becoming a high-school teacher of English and Drama, which I have 
been for six years (I feel like I'm just starting to get the hang of 
it).  My point is that understanding Shakespeare's characters, their 
behavior, and their insights has helped me in both of my careers.

Succeeding in the business world is all about understanding people and 
their motivations-motivations for buying your product, for maintaining 
long-term business relationships, and for functioning as either your 
employees or employers (depending on your place in the corporate "food 
chain."). While I feel that my study of literature in general has taught 
me a lot about human beings and the way they operate, Shakespeare offers 
in his way an "advanced course" in human behavior, in ways of which we 
as serious Shakespeare people are all aware.

As a teacher, I use insights gleaned from Shakespeare's more youthful 
characters in trying to reach the adolescents with whom I work.  One 
could argue that "the kids today are so much different," and there is no 
question that they are.  But, for example, during the first weeks of 
school, as the  students begin to see who's new, Miranda's reaction to 
her first glimpse of  Perdinand gets played out in some degree or 
another in the hallways more times  than I can count (likewise Romeo's 
to meeting Juliet).  Not that these moments of romantic rapture share 
the timelessness (or the endurance) of the Shakespearean moments, but 
some emotions are universal.

Another point:  many English teachers who share our passion for The Bard 
of Stratford can make an argument for the value of Shakespearean texts 
in developing thinking skills, as Ms. Bonomi does here, but I'm willing 
to take it a step further.  I tell my students all the time that 
developing knowledge and understanding of the arts in general, and 
Shakespearean Theater in particular, may not necessarily by itself put 
money in your pocket, but it sure does improve the quality of your life. 
  And life is too short to dismiss out of hand any opportunities 
available out there to do that.

Best,
Sid Stark

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