Monday, December 12, 2011

The End of the Shakespearean Semester

Engaging Shakespeare

First off, I thought the Engaging Shakespeare event went off marvelously. Every group seemed genuinely pleased with how they were represented there, and I was super impressed with all of the different projects. I am definitely excited that we have our own class website for the event to refer back to.

When you have a class split up into groups and design their own projects, sometimes some groups or some people in the groups try to slide by and do the bare minimum. Not here. I was impressed by everyone's effort in my group, as well as the efforts of all the other groups. We definitely did college-level work, and it was apparent.

A little side note on my specific group, I am still so excited that we did as much work as is apparent. I think the artwork shown was really cool, and had a lot of variety. Plus, it was not ten pieces of art total. It filled both aisles of the room. I think the average was about 10-12 pieces of art per over 50 works in total. When we first talked about doing an art gallery, I was not thinking that it would be that large in scope. And then to have them all up online, AND to have them all correspond to lesson plans, which are also on the web? It was great, and I am really glad that we got to share with the participants on Friday, as well as the online world.

Learning Outcomes

1. Gain Shakespeare Literacy
This learning outcome was covered throughout the whole class. For breadth, I have now read Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, The Winter's Tale, Love's Labor's Lost, As You Like It, The Tempest and King Lear.

I feel like now I have two plays that I have really gone in depth with since the final project: As You Like It and Hamlet. For As You Like It, I have posted about the details of the play, as well as contemporary connections for the play. For Hamlet, I created artworks for all five acts of the play, as well as the play as a whole and the theme of madness.

For performances, I saw The Winter's Tale, as well as Macbeth live. And, I watched the film adaptation of As You Like It, as well as small clips of various plays, such as the "To be or not to be" soliloquies that we watched in class.

For contemporary and visual culture, I have seen parallels between characters, the use of titles, missionary work, and my own life in quite a few circumstances. And, by doing research for the final project, I found others who are applying Shakespeare to their own lives, like the Hobart Shakespeareans.

2. Analyze Shakespeare Critically

I really tried to work on textual analysis this second half of the semester, both with my own readings, as well as applying it to our final project. For some examples of textual analysis, I looked at the use of the "the man in the moon" in The Tempest and by comparing Hamlet and Laertes, I compared some of their lines and the words that they used in order to discuss their motives. There was a blog post where I compared the banished dukes of As You Like It and The Tempest, which was fun. I also did a long blog post about King Lear and the quote by Gloucester: "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for sport." In this post, I discussed Shakespeare's word choice and imagery as a result of this poignant line. I also did textual analysis through creating art about different themes and quotes from Hamlet. For each of my works of art, I attributed the work to a quote, as well as wrote an artist statement about the quote and how I portrayed it through art. Here is an example:

“Oh that the earth which kept the world in awe should patch a wall t’expel the winter’s flaw!” (Act 5 scene i)

Digital Print

In this quote, even before the bloody fate of most of the main players in the castle, Hamlet realizes the doom of everyone’s fate – to patch a wall in a grave. This is a major moment for Hamlet, where he comes to grips with death, and therefore accepts his fate. After that, he is willing to act, but his actions are too late to stop the mortal fates of so many. This images conveys that sense of wintry death that I imagined Hamlet was so afraid of throughout the play.

For contextual analysis, I was able to analyze the productions of As You Like It, The Winter's Tale, and Macbeth. I also compared themes of Nature vs. Nurture and Romanticism (especially the Romantic paintings of J.M.W. Turner) to the beginning of The Tempest. In the final project, I think the best concise example of contextual analysis is in our lesson plans. In this blog post, I started brainstorming ideas for lesson plans, and here I posted my individual lesson plan on decisions.

3. Engage Shakespeare Creatively

I think our final project blog speaks for itself in this category, but I will explain a bit. For an actual performance, I did not perform a Shakespeare work on stage, but I did talk about our work for our final project on a YouTube video and we created a script and everything for it. As a side note, while I was posting the YouTube video, I came across another video introducing a site, which I thought was pretty neat. We also had to present all of our work on stage at the Engaging Shakespeare event. For the project, we not only read Hamlet, but created artworks about each of the acts, and lesson plans for major themes of the play. This definitely helped me understand Hamlet better, which is what we wanted students and teachers to be able to do in classrooms where Shakespeare is taught.

On other creative fronts, I was also able to connect Shakespeare to painting and art history, and to contemporary life through a video I made about the theme of "All the World's a Stage." That video actually made it on the "best of" posts for this class, which I was excited about. I also did a small literary imitation through an alliteration I did about Love's Labor's Lost.

4. Share Shakespeare Meaningfully

Prior to the final project, I had this blog that I shared everything on, I shared globally by commenting on another's blog as well as posting a lesson plan that I had created on the web. I also created the video concerning my contemporary definition of "All the World's a Stage" and sent that to family members, who responded positively.

With the final project, we posted all of our lesson plans on connexions, posted all of our art on deviant art, posted a YouTube video about our curriculum, and made a group blog that housed all of our work for the final project.

I really think that I have been able to work with all of the learning outcomes for this class, and in doing so, have had a well-rounded, atypical, amazing Shakespeare experience!

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