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Mad Slanted Powers
07-02-2013, 07:10 PM
I just noticed this in an e-mail from Barnes & Noble:

William Shakespeare's Star Wars (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/william-shakespeares-star-wars-ian-doescher/1114194467?ean=9781594746376) by Ian Doescher.

Sounds interesting. I think that experiencing the Star Wars story in a different style might make it seem fresh again, even if it is in the style of something written 500 years ago. Then again, that seems appropriate for a story set a long time ago.

El Chuxter
07-02-2013, 08:12 PM
I saw something about that a few weeks ago. Reading an excerpt, it seemed pretty forced, which is a bit sad because I love SW and Shakespeare.

Bel-Cam Jos
07-03-2013, 09:05 AM
I am waiting for the usual holiday weekend B&N coupon (fingers crossed) to get it this... well, holiday weekend. Can't wait to see how Yoda-speak fits into the Bard's iambic pentameter.

[Edit] Just checked my in-box... there's a coupon email! :eek:

JediTricks
07-03-2013, 12:03 PM
I saw this online recently, read the excerpt and then shook my head. These mashup books are really labored and too self-amused, this one especially feels like it thinks it's too cute presented as a play of the Bard, complete with ornate woodcarving plates.

Mr. JabbaJohnL
07-03-2013, 01:19 PM
I would theoretically be interested in seeing an actual production of this, but I probably won't be picking up the book.

Maradona
07-03-2013, 01:46 PM
As a high school teacher of Shakespeare's work, I can't wait to see what this looks like. I can already see this concept as a future assignment for students. "Ok, kids. FOr the next few weeks, in groups of five, you're going to turn your favorite film, video game, comic book, or novel into an Elizabethan play correctly using iambic pentameter. Each student will write one act. All plays MUST feature iambic pentameter at key points, include soliloquies, and each play must begin with sonnet. Bonus credit for those that put on their plays on film. Double bonus credit for those who do them live in class from memory." That's just off the top of my head. In reality, we have very little time for something like this during the school year now that the principal focus is test preparation - which is often a valid expense of school time.

Bel-Cam Jos
07-03-2013, 04:57 PM
I have done similar assignments before, Maradona, and while the students balk at how "hard" it is, they usually end up liking it and appreciating their own efforts. Usually, it's just a scene's worth of work, not a whole act.

But I bought the book today. Best part: there's a sonnet at the end page. Its title? Sonnet 1138. :pleased: Haven't read the actual words inside the book yet. Its subtitle is "Verily, A New Hope," so there may be five more versions later for each of the films.

JediTricks
07-04-2013, 02:18 PM
I would theoretically be interested in seeing an actual production of this, but I probably won't be picking up the book.Now that I can agree with, while I think the idea of selling this as a book is bleh, something about putting it on as a play would have amusement factor, like Star Wars in 30 minutes. Then again, I would think the stage version would be at least an hour longer than the film version.


As a high school teacher of Shakespeare's work, I can't wait to see what this looks like. I can already see this concept as a future assignment for students. "Ok, kids. FOr the next few weeks, in groups of five, you're going to turn your favorite film, video game, comic book, or novel into an Elizabethan play correctly using iambic pentameter. Each student will write one act. All plays MUST feature iambic pentameter at key points, include soliloquies, and each play must begin with sonnet. Bonus credit for those that put on their plays on film. Double bonus credit for those who do them live in class from memory." That's just off the top of my head. In reality, we have very little time for something like this during the school year now that the principal focus is test preparation - which is often a valid expense of school time.


I have done similar assignments before, Maradona, and while the students balk at how "hard" it is, they usually end up liking it and appreciating their own efforts. Usually, it's just a scene's worth of work, not a whole act.

But I bought the book today. Best part: there's a sonnet at the end page. Its title? Sonnet 1138. :pleased: Haven't read the actual words inside the book yet. Its subtitle is "Verily, A New Hope," so there may be five more versions later for each of the films.You teachers and your quirks. Let me ask, what are students meant to get out of this? There's not a lot of call for modern stories told in Shakespearean fashion, so it's not a direct practical skill. And it's almost another language at this point. So what skill are they developing by doing something like this, adaptive skills, the ability to properly conceive of a material enough to output it in a different fashion?

Bel-Cam Jos
07-04-2013, 04:59 PM
You teachers and your quirks. Let me ask, what are students meant to get out of this? There's not a lot of call for modern stories told in Shakespearean fashion, so it's not a direct practical skill. And it's almost another language at this point. So what skill are they developing by doing something like this, adaptive skills, the ability to properly conceive of a material enough to output it in a different fashion?We teach in California, which has had the CA Content Standards for more than 15 years or so. The new Common Core standards, which go into effort soon, do involve for non-fiction sources and "real-world" applications. Here are some examples, where such a lesson would fit, for 9th or 10th graders:

Vocabulary and Concept Development
1.1 Identify and use the literal and figurative meanings of words and understand word derivations.
1.2. Distinguish between the denotative and connotative meanings of words and interpret the connotative power of words.
2.0 Reading Comprehension
2.4 Synthesize the content from several sources or works by a single author dealing with a single issue; paraphrase the ideas and connect them to other sources and related topics to demonstrate comprehension.
2.5 Extend ideas presented in primary or secondary sources through original analysis, evaluation, and elaboration.
3.0 Literary Response and Analysis
Structural Features of Literature
3.1 Articulate the relationship between the expressed purposes and the characteristics of different forms of dramatic literature (e.g., comedy, tragedy, drama, dramatic monologue).
3.2 Compare and contrast the presentation of a similar theme or topic across genres to explain how the selection of genre shapes the theme or topic.
Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
3.3 Analyze interactions between main and subordinate characters in a literary text (e.g., internal and external conflicts, motivations, relationships, influences) and explain the way those interactions affect the plot.
3.4 Determine characters' traits by what the characters say about themselves in narration, dialogue, dramatic monologue, and soliloquy.
3.5 Compare works that express a universal theme and provide evidence to support the ideas expressed in each work.
3.6 Analyze and trace an author's development of time and sequence, including the use of complex literary devices (e.g., foreshadowing, flashbacks).
3.7 Recognize and understand the significance of various literary devices, including figurative language, imagery, allegory, and symbolism, and explain their appeal.
3.8 Interpret and evaluate the impact of ambiguities, subtleties, contradictions, ironies, and incongruities in a text.
3.9 Explain how voice, persona, and the choice of a narrator affect characterization and the tone, plot, and credibility of a text.
3.10 Identify and describe the function of dialogue, scene designs, soliloquies, asides, and character foils in dramatic literature.
Literary Criticism
3.11 Evaluate the aesthetic qualities of style, including the impact of diction and figurative language on tone, mood, and theme, using the terminology of literary criticism. (Aesthetic approach)
3.12 Analyze the way in which a work of literature is related to the themes and issues of its historical period. (Historical approach)
1.0 Writing Strategies
1.2 Use precise language, action verbs, sensory details, appropriate modifiers, and the active rather than the passive voice.
2.1 Write biographical or autobiographical narratives or short stories:
a. Relate a sequence of events and communicate the significance of the events to the audience.
b. Locate scenes and incidents in specific places.
c. Describe with concrete sensory details the sights, sounds, and smells of a scene and the specific actions, movements, gestures, and feelings of the characters; use interior monologue to depict the characters' feelings.
d. Pace the presentation of actions to accommodate changes in time and mood.
e. Make effective use of descriptions of appearance, images, shifting perspectives, and sensory details.
2.2 Write responses to literature:
a. Demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of the significant ideas of literary works.
b. Support important ideas and viewpoints through accurate and detailed references to the text or to other works.
c. Demonstrate awareness of the author's use of stylistic devices and an appreciation of the effects created.
d. Identify and assess the impact of perceived ambiguities, nuances, and complexities within the text.

Or, to trivialize the entire profession: it's a teacher thing. You wouldn't understand. :p

Maradona
07-05-2013, 01:52 AM
We teach in California, which has had the CA Content Standards for more than 15 years or so. The new Common Core standards, which go into effort soon, do involve for non-fiction sources and "real-world" applications.

Or, to trivialize the entire profession: it's a teacher thing. You wouldn't understand. :p

Word!

Shakespeare appears in more than one content area and is directly referenced. Here are visual and performing arts examples:

Creation/Invention in Theatre



2.2 Write dialogues and scenes, applying basic dramatic structure: exposition, complication, conflict, crises, climax, and resolution.
2.3 Design, produce, or perform scenes or plays from a variety of theatrical periods and styles, including Shakespearean and contemporary realism.


And since I teach 11th and 12th grade English, here's a brief sampling:
Structural Features of Literature
3.1 Analyze characteristics of subgenres (e.g., satire, parody, allegory, pastoral) that are usedin poetry, prose, plays, novels, short stories, essays, and other basic genres.
3.3 Analyze the ways in which irony, tone, mood, the author’s style, and the “sound” of language achieve specific rhetorical or aesthetic purposes or both.
3.4 Analyze ways in which poets use imagery, personification, figures of speech, and sounds to evoke readers’ emotions.
3.6 Analyze the way in which authors through the centuries have used archetypes drawnfrom myth and tradition in literature, film, political speeches, and religious writings(e.g., how the archetypes of banishment from an ideal world may be used to interpretShakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth).

Speaking
2.3 Deliver oral responses to literature: a. Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the significant ideas of literary works (e.g., make assertions about the text that are reasonable and supportable).


Analyze the imagery, language, universal themes, and unique aspects of the text through the use of rhetorical strategies (e.g., narration, description, persuasion, exposition, a combination of those strategies).





2.1 Write fictional, autobiographical, or biographical narratives:
Narrate a sequence of events and communicate their significance to the audience.



Locate scenes and incidents in specific places.
Describe with concrete sensory details the sights, sounds, and smells of a scene and
the specific actions, movements, gestures, and feelings of the characters; use interior
monologue to depict the characters’ feelings.
Pace the presentation of actions to accommodate temporal, spatial, and dramatic mood
changes.
Make effective use of descriptions of appearance, images, shifting perspectives, and
sensory details.


2.2 Write responses to literature:

Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the significant ideas in works orpassages.
Analyze the use of imagery, language, universal themes, and unique aspects of thetext.
Support important ideas and viewpoints through accurate and detailed references tothe text and to other works.
Demonstrate an understanding of the author’s use of stylistic devices and an apprecia*tion of the effects created.
Identify and assess the impact of perceived ambiguities, nuances, and complexitieswithin the text.




The tabs are off, but Shakespeare is a huge part of high school English classes (except in the 11th grade). But your point, JT, about the validity of such an assignment is solid. There is no part of the SAT or in most majors in college where students will write a play in any style, let alone Shakespeare's. The state tests won't assess them on their ability to recite lines or make rhymes. It is for those reasons and others that work in my classroom must be grounded in and governed by relevancy. Spending two months having the kids learn to make togas and memorize Brutus and Anthony's speeches is fun waste of two months, but a waste nonetheless. Out of the nearly two hundred students I have each year, I doubt if more than 1 or 2 will become English majors, much less drama majors - and if they were to inquire about these, I would quickly attempt to dissuade them from entertaining such a dire possibility. But if you have to teach someone about something, making them do something related to it is a worthwhile idea. We have to teach Shakespeare (thankfully) according to the California Department of Education and we have very little time to do so in body of the year. After next year, though, when schools move to the national Common Core Standards, students will be analyzing "workplace documents" far more than the Bard. "To fill out this application correctly or not to fill out this application. That is the assignment. Whether it be nobler in the classroom to suffer the text and fine print of outrageous lease agreements or take up pens against them and, by annotation, understand them." Yes, the kids are doomed...

Bel-Cam Jos
07-05-2013, 09:47 AM
Word!
The tabs are off, but Shakespeare is a huge part of high school English classes (except in the 11th grade). But your point, JT, about the validity of such an assignment is solid. There is no part of the SAT or in most majors in college where students will write a play in any style, let alone Shakespeare's. The state tests won't assess them on their ability to recite lines or make rhymes. It is for those reasons and others that work in my classroom must be grounded in and governed by relevancy. Spending two months having the kids learn to make togas and memorize Brutus and Anthony's speeches is fun waste of two months, but a waste nonetheless. Out of the nearly two hundred students I have each year, I doubt if more than 1 or 2 will become English majors, much less drama majors - and if they were to inquire about these, I would quickly attempt to dissuade them from entertaining such a dire possibility. But if you have to teach someone about something, making them do something related to it is a worthwhile idea. We have to teach Shakespeare (thankfully) according to the California Department of Education and we have very little time to do so in body of the year. After next year, though, when schools move to the national Common Core Standards, students will be analyzing "workplace documents" far more than the Bard. "To fill out this application correctly or not to fill out this application. That is the assignment. Whether it be nobler in the classroom to suffer the text and fine print of outrageous lease agreements or take up pens against them and, by annotation, understand them." Yes, the kids are doomed...Forsooth, Master Shakespeare would use "word" for its wordliness.

I think it's more of Threepio's overreaction "doomed," Maradona, than true doom-liness. We teachers have ways of making you students... get more out of assignments than you can possibly realize. I have always used "workplace documents" in my assignments (due to my history background, where little literature was focused on), but within the context of the literature. My lessons will still continue to do so, especially in the "new" junior year English/history course we designed. :pleased:

But I will admit I am a little skeptical, with how lessened in importance that novels have been in the CC.

JediTricks
07-05-2013, 01:05 PM
I'm thinking about what is the practical and life skill meant to be realistically learned from this. I'm sure the state would be thrilled if you could teach these children to be alchemists, but that's not likely to happen. I see a lot of conceptual theory in those lists, a lot of politicians creating a recipe of desires each one can sign their name to as they add concepts, but not a lot of a roadmap for teachers to actually bridge the gulf between what the state wants from the curriculum and what the student can actually achieve from it.

For example, writing in iambic pentameter and adapting to an archaic form of the language, I don't care that it's "early modern english", it's dated to the point now that learning it seems to have only the use of being able to read and regurgitate it and mimic it to write books and plays pretending to be like Shakespeare. What's the point of that in the modern world, beyond creating the next generation of English teachers? What is the universal goal of learning to express in iambic pentameter? How is it more vital to students than teaching them to write haikus?

Is there not a practical goal there, or is it merely the Ouroboros of education? I do not care for things cyclical if their chief goal is simply "we did it, so you have to do it" - those to me are little more than the educational equivalents of hazing rituals. So I'm assuming there is a value, lest it be a wasteful dawdle indeed, and exploring the idea that the flower has a name so it must have a scent to go with it. (DAMN YOU SHAKESPEARE AND YOUR OVERLY-ABUSED METAPHOR THAT INSINUATES INTO THE PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS!) Otherwise they'll be teaching "Friends" in 500 years as important language art.


"To fill out this application correctly or not to fill out this application. That is the assignment. Whether it be nobler in the classroom to suffer the text and fine print of outrageous lease agreements or take up pens against them and, by annotation, understand them." Yes, the kids are doomed...Doomed to cheesy appropriations of Hamlet, apparently. ;)

Bel-Cam Jos
07-05-2013, 05:14 PM
Well, speaking plainly has its place, but so does "flowery" language.

"Romeo, Romeo. Wherefore art though, Romeo?
A rose by any other name, would smell as sweet."

vs.

"Why are you a Montague, whom my family hates?
If you were from any other family, we could be in a trouble-free relationship."

I use the "Hallmark card" analogy when my students bring up the same issue, JT. Would you want a birthday card that says: "I wish you good feelings on the day that marks when you came out of the womb."? It says the same thing as something more poetic, but seems to be missing something. You'd fit in well with the hard-line Common Core supporters, JT (and that's not meant as a slam), since the practicality and utilitarianism of learning is foremost, not so much the process or style of it. I see the value and even the need for "useful" learning (I use it frequently, making it clear how they can actually do something with it), but to take away "dated" source material, to me, kills any joy of learning and dulls the ability to expand on ideas and recognize patterns or styles.

Maradona
07-05-2013, 06:26 PM
I'm glad you caught the C3PO reference at the end, BCJ, because I absolutely agree that the kids are far from. In fact, what is likely to be really doomed is reading in general, as you point out (you'll recall that the CDE standards had numbers of words per year that the students should be targeted to read which by 11th and 12th grade were two million annually). Everyone knows reading is on the decline, but when school expectations, by way of standards, so diminish the value of reading "chapter books" and other potentially recreational sources of literature, I suspect it will only further encourage and defend the lack of reading among students. I recognize that today's comic books are not priced for kids, but it pains me that maybe one or two kids a year ever demonstrate and interest in comics. Some students will get onto the popular-book-series-of-the-month wagon, but many more just read an online summary, and probably even skim through that. These are just two easy examples. I think for so many students, it is far more relevant to have them look at the intricacies of lease agreements (which is why I long ago copied my storage unit agreement for kids analyze what is covered in the event of catastrophe and what not), employment documents, purchasing contracts, and the like. I attended a training on the new Common Core test and, while I genuinely liked the way the test was laid out and delivered (all online and not exclusively multiple choice, with a variety of written short response questions), all the questions about reading comprehension were written exclusively for the test. There weren't any references I saw to literary periods or terminology, significant works, or much else that was previously part of spring testing.


I'm thinking about what is the practical and life skill meant to be realistically learned from this. I'm sure the state would be thrilled if you could teach these children to be alchemists, but that's not likely to happen. I see a lot of conceptual theory in those lists, a lot of politicians creating a recipe of desires each one can sign their name to as they add concepts, but not a lot of a roadmap for teachers to actually bridge the gulf between what the state wants from the curriculum and what the student can actually achieve from it.

For example, writing in iambic pentameter and adapting to an archaic form of the language, I don't care that it's "early modern english", it's dated to the point now that learning it seems to have only the use of being able to read and regurgitate it and mimic it to write books and plays pretending to be like Shakespeare. What's the point of that in the modern world, beyond creating the next generation of English teachers? What is the universal goal of learning to express in iambic pentameter? How is it more vital to students than teaching them to write haikus?

Is there not a practical goal there, or is it merely the Ouroboros of education? I do not care for things cyclical if their chief goal is simply "we did it, so you have to do it" - those to me are little more than the educational equivalents of hazing rituals. So I'm assuming there is a value, lest it be a wasteful dawdle indeed, and exploring the idea that the flower has a name so it must have a scent to go with it. (DAMN YOU SHAKESPEARE AND YOUR OVERLY-ABUSED METAPHOR THAT INSINUATES INTO THE PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS!) Otherwise they'll be teaching "Friends" in 500 years as important language art.

JT, your arguments are valid in their premise on the applicability of what students get in a state-mandated classroom. I've had similar arguments with various colleagues which, summarized roughly, ring to the tune of me saying "The high school English classroom should not exclusively be a place to provide students with literary experiences." I'm often shot down by seniority-claiming members of my department who want to put on plays in their classes and have students create their own drama companies while the teacher is in the back of the room reading the newspaper or bidding on eBay. I strongly believe that the high school English class should be structured to do one important thing: improve students' writing so that they can compete in college. College writing has two primary focal points: research papers that synthesize multiple sources and in class, timed writing. Getting into high level colleges requires the creation of a precisely crafted personal statement and competitive scores on the SAT (2/3 of which is English and includes timed writing that must reference concrete examples from the student's learning/experience). Studies by the College Board have shown that students who take the senior AP English Literature class in high school and pass the exam are more likely to complete four year degrees than those students who never take that class, one that is ripe with with intense literary study. So getting students interested and prepared enough to take that very challenging course is beneficial to them.

Anything that does not service the aforementioned goals is extraneous to my curriculum. But lets analyze that with the question of what services an improvement in writing that will lead to post-secondary success. I don't think any of us are active dodge ball players, but most of us loved playing dodge ball in PE class, probably not thinking that what we were doing was serving the curricular goal of getting students to learn adaptive mobility and fitness. I suspect few of us are botanists, but we probably remember putting toothpicks in a potato and placing it in a jar to watch it grow, probably unaware of the teacher's goal to fascinate us with the intricacies of agricultural or biological sciences. My point with these is that the goals were present, but the delivery mechanism involved something that did not come across as a boring, obvious worksheet thereby turning the class off to the learning. In English, I want my students to learn to play with language so that they can manipulate it to the ends previously mentioned. Reading any text, archaic and useless as Shakespeare may seem to some, shows students how someone else manipulated language to achieve a desired goal, exposes them to new vocabulary in context, familiarizes and reinforces punctuational structures, not to mention showing students multiple sentence patterns in action. Practicing writing in any style, whether it be first person narration or third person persuasion or even iambic pentameter and haiku, is playing with language, becoming comfortable with it, learning to manipulate it for a variety of purposes, adding metaphorical understanding and facility to their academic repertoire, all under the guise of we're just having fun - hopefully.

Then there's the whole well-rounded education thing, which I suppose is up to the individual to determine if it's a useful paradigm for society to aspire to for optimal functioning. That's where I bridge to the "educational hazing" you brought up. I love that term, which can be applied to algebra, stoichiometry, and laissez-faire economics, along with the literary canon of humanity - we don't all need it, so why did we have to learn it? The teacher had to learn it, so the kids have to now, as well is an attractive theory. In the weeder class for my English major, the professor discussed the then recent attempts to devalue the content and standing of the English literary canon of "dead white guys" in favor or "living multicultural girls and guys" by educational "experts" in Sacramento because the current generation of students was also multicultural, could not relate to it, and, moreover, shouldn't have to relate to it just because others before them had to. These "experts" had decided what they thought would be more valuable to students were texts such as Always Running instead of Huckleberry Finn or The House on Mango Street instead of The Scarlet Letter. My professor's principal attack to this argument was that it was a direct form of institutionalized censorship. These "experts" had decided that some knowledge they already had should not be taught to students. This made the argument for "educational hazing" into something more akin to "you can learn only what we feel you are capable of learning" and since your first language is not English, why bother you with Shakespeare, instead of saying "Here is some of the most challenging texts in the history of the language: lets figure them out and afterwards YOU can decide if this is valid for you, not some bureaucrat who has stereotyped your potential." I remembering being so empowered by that rationale, particularly as a non-native speaker of English, and inspired to continue the path towards becoming a teacher.

JediTricks
07-05-2013, 09:39 PM
Well, speaking plainly has its place, but so does "flowery" language.

"Romeo, Romeo. Wherefore art though, Romeo?
A rose by any other name, would smell as sweet."

vs.

"Why are you a Montague, whom my family hates?
If you were from any other family, we could be in a trouble-free relationship."Dare I point out to you, dear teacher, "thou"
spells not as "though". I fear I must correct.

;)

Also, you have a comma where none should be. :p

Sorry, can't help it, blame the thread and topic. You can correct my iambic pentameter above though.


I use the "Hallmark card" analogy when my students bring up the same issue, JT. Would you want a birthday card that says: "I wish you good feelings on the day that marks when you came out of the womb."? It says the same thing as something more poetic, but seems to be missing something. Poetry has its place, but we're speaking of general English class, not poetry class, we're speaking of a class taught to every American student in the public education system as the foundation for their use of the language, not JUST floral expression. I am not attempting to deny that there is no room in life for poetry and colorful language, but the Bard would say on a hallmark card:

"To me, fair friend, you can never be old, for as you were when first your eye I ey'd, such seems your beauty still. Doth beauty like a dial-hand, steal from his figure, and no pace perceiv'd."

Or as the receiver of said would get from it: "???"

What application as foundation for English class does that sonnet have beyond poetic and archaic language cryptic? I wonder if we as a society have fetishized Shakespeare too much, if we've made it monolithic and foundational as if to tell students that all things of the english language must flow from those works now ancient. It seems to me that we've created stony tomes out of these works that are both inconceivable and unapproachable to students, that we now have to spend so much time just educating them on how to decipher the language within that we've lost sight of conveying the ideas and functions of the way works like them are created in the mind of their authors. But those are mere wisps, just pixies of the ether of the mind, questions under-explored by this lazy travl'r.



You'd fit in well with the hard-line Common Core supporters, JT (and that's not meant as a slam), since the practicality and utilitarianism of learning is foremost, not so much the process or style of it. I see the value and even the need for "useful" learning (I use it frequently, making it clear how they can actually do something with it), but to take away "dated" source material, to me, kills any joy of learning and dulls the ability to expand on ideas and recognize patterns or styles.I highly doubt I'd fit with them. I'm actually asking questions, I'm asking you guys to enlighten me as to its role as I, a layperson, am not seeing it. There's nothing hard-line about it. In 8th grade I picketed with the teachers in the UTLA/LAUSD strike of '89 for days and even went to a strike rally at Exhibition Park. I learned in classes from remedial to GATE and AP, I know the difference between rote learning and immersive education, a hardliner for the piecemeal recipe of demands in place of true education I am not. I am asking why this particular dated material holds such extreme value, not saying it doesn't have value - I'm not an educator or an analyst of such things, I cannot speak properly to that; I only ask from the perspective of a layperson.

But they are reasonable questions to ask, is Shakespeare's body of work still deserving of such significant authority in our public education system as to be the foundation of several years' curricula? I mean, talk about dated textbooks! :D HIYO!

I remember zero people in class enjoying Shakespeare, it was only when I got into the GATE program in Santa Monica, in 6th grade where they trucked us out to the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum and we got to experience the work in living concepts - most students don't get to learn to act out those works, to have help understanding and expressing the ideas in the material that way - that is where it came to life, not on the page, not in the overstuffed classroom. Is the evolution of education incapable of moving beyond Shakespeare for the average student, is there room not for teaching from more approachable material? Or have we simply agreed that Shakespeare is the ultimate and therefor the zenith and nadir of public school education, and thus doom the majority of students into having to struggle to grasp first a new language and then media they aren't remotely familiar with - plays and poetry - in order to simply explain how they need to approach understanding and thoughtful regurgitation of ideas, much less to write their own?



I'm glad you caught the C3PO reference at the end, BCJ, because I absolutely agree that the kids are far from. In fact, what is likely to be really doomed is reading in general, as you point out (you'll recall that the CDE standards had numbers of words per year that the students should be targeted to read which by 11th and 12th grade were two million annually). Everyone knows reading is on the decline, but when school expectations, by way of standards, so diminish the value of reading "chapter books" and other potentially recreational sources of literature, I suspect it will only further encourage and defend the lack of reading among students. I recognize that today's comic books are not priced for kids, but it pains me that maybe one or two kids a year ever demonstrate and interest in comics. Some students will get onto the popular-book-series-of-the-month wagon, but many more just read an online summary, and probably even skim through that. These are just two easy examples. I think for so many students, it is far more relevant to have them look at the intricacies of lease agreements (which is why I long ago copied my storage unit agreement for kids analyze what is covered in the event of catastrophe and what not), employment documents, purchasing contracts, and the like. I attended a training on the new Common Core test and, while I genuinely liked the way the test was laid out and delivered (all online and not exclusively multiple choice, with a variety of written short response questions), all the questions about reading comprehension were written exclusively for the test. There weren't any references I saw to literary periods or terminology, significant works, or much else that was previously part of spring testing.Reading is not doomed in of itself, but what should be doomed is how little exposure to reading most parents have and hand down. If reading were easy, cheap, and convenient - if every parent and every kid had a Kindle with access to a decent library, they'd use it. My niece is 15, she's got a Kindle she didn't care much about for a while until TV got too stupid, too boring, and too repetitive so eventually she reached not for the dusty books on the shelf but for the modern world of books, she bought her own books with gift cards. She's not a significantly great reader, but she has used it and it's opened her mind up to more reading. Until parents read with children from an early age again, or until kids stop having to deal with the 1950s style of literacy education, the majority of society is going to view it as a chore and something to suffer through at school. Oh, and also it's time to turn the damned TV off rather than sit slack-jawed watching reality garbage that is just background music for texting. Still, "literary periods", why is English History Class really important to students? Shouldn't that level of detail be a choice? Why is knowing the difference between Chaucer and Dickens vital to education? To me, that seems beyond the scope of a rounded education into a specific life path, and by foisting onto everybody it becomes part of the reason why folks don't read, a chore to suffer through for a few years in school.

I hate the idea of teaching kids how to read contracts in place of how to read, but it is a skill they will need, non-fictional comprehension is vital in a world dedicated to fine print. I just hate the idea of educating the masses for specific dead-end miserable desk jobs and nothing else - the caste system is as anti-American as it gets, but it's what public education seems doomed to create if more resources aren't put into the system to take pressure off the teachers and students.

BTW, does the Common Core test have more than 4 choices in multiple-choice sections? That's such a ripoff, the student doesn't need an education, just an ability to guess one out of 4 - those are damned good odds if they know half of what they're supposed to, that's a passing grade with 50% guessing and 50% educated knowledge.


JT, your arguments are valid in their premise on the applicability of what students get in a state-mandated classroom. I've had similar arguments with various colleagues which, summarized roughly, ring to the tune of me saying "The high school English classroom should not exclusively be a place to provide students with literary experiences." I'm often shot down by seniority-claiming members of my department who want to put on plays in their classes and have students create their own drama companies while the teacher is in the back of the room reading the newspaper or bidding on eBay. I strongly believe that the high school English class should be structured to do one important thing: improve students' writing so that they can compete in college. College writing has two primary focal points: research papers that synthesize multiple sources and in class, timed writing. Getting into high level colleges requires the creation of a precisely crafted personal statement and competitive scores on the SAT (2/3 of which is English and includes timed writing that must reference concrete examples from the student's learning/experience). Studies by the College Board have shown that students who take the senior AP English Literature class in high school and pass the exam are more likely to complete four year degrees than those students who never take that class, one that is ripe with with intense literary study. So getting students interested and prepared enough to take that very challenging course is beneficial to them. Obviously I don't believe in the disconnected teacher who is not engaging with students, I've had those, they are parasites on the students' education and a waste of precious resources. But we are largely talking about plays when we speak of Shakespeare's role in education, are we not? The sonnets took a back seat in my curriculum, that's how I remember it back when the dinosaurs were serving as playground equipment. Plays are living things, not words on a page but interpretations of ideas onto the stage, putting on plays should be VITAL to learning Shakespeare, and the teacher should be engaging at every level of that play. But plays shouldn't be a significant portion of the curriculum, so I ask why Shakespeare, a playright, is so foundational to lit classes around the country.


Anything that does not service the aforementioned goals is extraneous to my curriculum. But lets analyze that with the question of what services an improvement in writing that will lead to post-secondary success. I don't think any of us are active dodge ball players, but most of us loved playing dodge ball in PE class, probably not thinking that what we were doing was serving the curricular goal of getting students to learn adaptive mobility and fitness. I suspect few of us are botanists, but we probably remember putting toothpicks in a potato and placing it in a jar to watch it grow, probably unaware of the teacher's goal to fascinate us with the intricacies of agricultural or biological sciences. My point with these is that the goals were present, but the delivery mechanism involved something that did not come across as a boring, obvious worksheet thereby turning the class off to the learning. In English, I want my students to learn to play with language so that they can manipulate it to the ends previously mentioned. Reading any text, archaic and useless as Shakespeare may seem to some, shows students how someone else manipulated language to achieve a desired goal, exposes them to new vocabulary in context, familiarizes and reinforces punctuational structures, not to mention showing students multiple sentence patterns in action. Practicing writing in any style, whether it be first person narration or third person persuasion or even iambic pentameter and haiku, is playing with language, becoming comfortable with it, learning to manipulate it for a variety of purposes, adding metaphorical understanding and facility to their academic repertoire, all under the guise of we're just having fun - hopefully.I would ask, must there be singular foundational elements to the classroom? Must the curriculum (the spellcheck just gave up on me and allowed me to type "curiculum", how ironic in THIS particular discussion) be so firmly rooted in a body of work that is older than the country demanding it be taught? Are there no newer works which can serve similar purpose?

Shakespeare isn't "useless", that body of work frames a considerable amount of our modern day, I don't deny that, but one doesn't need to examine every tool in Karl Benz's workshop to learn how to rebuild an engine. The lowliest sitcom and soap opera can trace its roots to Shakespeare, but must its study be so vital to our lives that we dedicate years of our formative education to its comprehension and history? Is there no other prose or body of work that can serve our society equally? The very first image on Google when you search "english lit" is Shakespeare, that is how tied together the ideas are in our society. I guess I don't understand the educational value of building scale Globe Theaters upon the students of the english class which defines the way we as a society view our language and literature.



Then there's the whole well-rounded education thing, which I suppose is up to the individual to determine if it's a useful paradigm for society to aspire to for optimal functioning. That's where I bridge to the "educational hazing" you brought up. I love that term, which can be applied to algebra, stoichiometry, and laissez-faire economics, along with the literary canon of humanity - we don't all need it, so why did we have to learn it? The teacher had to learn it, so the kids have to now, as well is an attractive theory. In the weeder class for my English major, the professor discussed the then recent attempts to devalue the content and standing of the English literary canon of "dead white guys" in favor or "living multicultural girls and guys" by educational "experts" in Sacramento because the current generation of students was also multicultural, could not relate to it, and, moreover, shouldn't have to relate to it just because others before them had to. These "experts" had decided what they thought would be more valuable to students were texts such as Always Running instead of Huckleberry Finn or The House on Mango Street instead of The Scarlet Letter. My professor's principal attack to this argument was that it was a direct form of institutionalized censorship. These "experts" had decided that some knowledge they already had should not be taught to students. This made the argument for "educational hazing" into something more akin to "you can learn only what we feel you are capable of learning" and since your first language is not English, why bother you with Shakespeare, instead of saying "Here is some of the most challenging texts in the history of the language: lets figure them out and afterwards YOU can decide if this is valid for you, not some bureaucrat who has stereotyped your potential." I remembering being so empowered by that rationale, particularly as a non-native speaker of English, and inspired to continue the path towards becoming a teacher.Of course there is truth in what you say here, but I guess I'm questioning the degree of educational hazing used with this particular body of work. Algebra is vital to the understanding of geometry, geometry vital to properly understanding the world of math, science, and... well, the world around you. Algebra, geometry, these are every day math in everything we do, from the bus driver to the farmer to the athlete to the politician, these concepts - whether we think about them or not - are vital to how we live, they are easily quantifiable, that's the concept of math, the language of the universe around us. Chemistry and economics are also somewhat easily quantifiable in our daily lives whether we choose to engage with them actively or remain passive in their grips, we know they're there and what their roles are. But literature is obviously not as clear, one can imagine their lives without english lit easily, they'd live a dull and stupid life, but they'd live, so it's not quantifiable in that same way. Intimately understanding 500-year-old sonnets and plays doesn't connect with reading ingredients on a package, nor does it connect with writing that list of ingredients - don't mistake this argument, I'm not saying there's no value and we can get along fine without ol' Willie, just that it's not as easy to quantify the value.

I believe I could show 30 students in a classroom why math, science, and even economics all are foundational to being well-rounded members of society, despite my not being a teacher or even a college graduate. I can probably think up ways to quantify some level of evidence as to the value of english to those same students; but I don't know if I can dream up a way to justify the imposing, vast stature that is applied to learning Shakespeare throughout grades K-12.

If nothing else, maybe this conversation can not only enlighten me but give you teachers new arguments in your toolbelt.

PS - "here is some"... I promise I won't tell your students. ;)

Mad Slanted Powers
07-06-2013, 01:11 AM
Shakespeare isn't "useless", that body of work frames a considerable amount of our modern day, I don't deny that, but one doesn't need to examine every tool in Karl Benz's workshop to learn how to rebuild an engine. The lowliest sitcom and soap opera can trace its roots to Shakespeare, but must its study be so vital to our lives that we dedicate years of our formative education to its comprehension and history? Is there no other prose or body of work that can serve our society equally? The very first image on Google when you search "english lit" is Shakespeare, that is how tied together the ideas are in our society. I guess I don't understand the educational value of building scale Globe Theaters upon the students of the english class which defines the way we as a society view our language and literature.I think the fact that the lowliest sitcom can trace its roots to Shakespeare answers your question. Shakespeare is important because it is a foundation for so many other works down through the centuries since his time. He also coined or made popular many phrases, some of which are still common today - http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/phrases-sayings-shakespeare.html. It is no wonder that he comes up first in a Google search. Certainly there are plenty of works from plenty of other authors that can and should be studied, but Shakespeare is definitely something that everyone should have a basic knowledge of.

When I was in high school, we read Romeo and Juliet in 10th grade, Julius Caesar in 11th grade, and Macbeth in 12th grade. We may have read some of the poetry, but I don't recall. I remember reading Hamlet in college (and I think Romeo and Juliet again).

I always found it interesting to read something and then realize that something else I was familiar with came from it. For instance, I realized where those cartoons I watched as a kid got the "Lenny" and "George" characterizations from from I read Of Mice and Men. Sometimes I may not have read the source material, but I am familiar enough with it to know that Star Trek II had elements of Moby Dick, while Star Trek VI had elements of Shakespeare in it. Perhaps that is a good way to introduce Shakespeare to people. Start by showing a modern adaptation of it, and then have them read the original. That is sort of what the book this thread is about is doing. We start with a modern film we are familiar with, and then we read the Shakespearean version. However, Shakespeare did not write Star Wars, though there could be things in Star Wars that have roots in Shakespeare. So, it all comes full circle.

I did not anticipate there would be such a big discussion on this. I just thought it was a neat idea. Sometimes things done in a Shakespearean style can be funny, much like Robin Williams when he does an improvisational play on his album Reality...What a Concept. I can imagine people acting out Star Wars scenes in Shakespeare style while waiting in line to see the next movie.

Mad Slanted Powers
07-06-2013, 01:16 AM
I can imagine people acting out Star Wars scenes in Shakespeare style while waiting in line to see the next movie.And after I posted that, I thought someone should do a musical parody of Psy called "Shakespeare Style" (perhaps one has already been done).

El Chuxter
07-06-2013, 01:32 AM
Problem with Shakespeare is that he should be performed, not read. An awful lot is lost on the page, even if you have no problem following the language.

Also, unfortunately, we're taught Shakespeare at a point where most of us aren't mature enough to handle it. It seems pretty standard across the nation that ninth grade is Romeo and Juliet (though most ninth graders won't see how stupid the two are and think it's a great romance), Julius Caesar is tenth (without, oh, any Roman history to supply any context at all), Macbeth is eleventh (the only one so far that's even remotely appropriate), and twelfth is Hamlet (and maybe King Lear as well for AP). Kids tend to remember Hamlet the best. Why? Because there's an excellent, if condensed, film version starring Mel Gibson (and an even better one with Kenneth Branagh, as well as an older but still good version with Lawrence Olivier). But Macbeth and Hamlet, I've seen both performed many times, and they rank highly in my esteem.

In tenth grade, we had to read Julius Caesar and memorize Marc Antony's speech. It meant nothing to me at the time. Today, I recognize it as a play by possibly the greatest English writer of all time (I'd be willing to make the argument in favor of Milton or a few others), but, even with me somewhat accidentally discovering how awesome Roman history is, the play doesn't hold any significance for me. I memorized the passage without really understanding it, and it was never explained to the class. Now, I'm more concerned with the conscious decision Shakespeare made to include historical inaccuracies in order to allude to other events his original audience would be more familiar with.

By contrast, every year the English classes had field trips to see whatever Shakespeare play was being performed by a local company. The same year, I saw A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was an excellent performance. And, despite that not usually being considered Shakespeare's best, it's one of my favorites still. All the Shakespeare plays I love, I love because I've seen great performances of them. I still can't even really get into King Lear because the only time I've seen it was in a dedicated Shakespeare class in college where the professor only showed the BBC versions, and the BBC King Lear is quite awful. I know theoretically that it's on par with Hamlet as Shakespeare's best in the eyes of most scholars, but I prefer Midsummer Night's Dream or one of the cross-dressing comedies (which again, not coincidentally, I've seen performed well).

Bel-Cam Jos
07-06-2013, 10:11 AM
This, this, my friends, is why. This thread, this discussion, this... learning.
It's a shared context. People know Shakespeare. They may not (in fact, likely not) like Shakespeare. They may not really understand it (without the context and background of which Chux wrote).
But there is an awareness of the style, of the word choice and word play, of its significance.
And if thou canst use the skills to decode it, and perhaps even duplicate and USE it elsewhere, thou hast learn'd.
That is the question, answered.
With an additional, unnecessary comma inserted for, effect.
[Exeunt]

Maradona
07-06-2013, 12:52 PM
That is the question, answered.

[Exeunt]

Or answeréd, if you needed an extra syllable to get your fifth iamb through.

Performance is critical to acquiring any play, particularly with language as aged as Shakespeare, since they were intended to be experienced, not read. As such, assigning students to "just read the play" is a recipe not only for failure, but, even worse, for possibly permanently alienating the student from Shakespeare forever. I have the Arkangel box set of all his plays on CD performed by the some of the finest actors of the last fifty years. The way I teach Shakespeare is by giving the kids a scavenger hunt of about 30 items I developed that they complete online (a day in the school library), with prizes and points for all who correctly finish - it rarely gets finished in class time, which is my goal - keep them thinking about it on their own when they leave. The next day we go over what everyone found, where essentially the students give the opening lecture on Shakespeare, his life, his influences, and his influence. I designed it like this because nearly every English teacher I've known really can't help but pontificate on the wonders of Shakespeare and after years of these pronouncements, I think they sort of amalgamate the collection of excited lectures they've given in a stew that can go over kids' heads, flipping the off switch as it passes. My meager method is predicated on making sure the students are the stars of the show, not the instructor. Once they've given the opening lecture on Shakespeare, we fill in some background information on the play to be studied to give them context (you're so right, Chux) and locate them within the story. Then, I hit play on the cd player, as they follow along in their own copies, annotating as necessary. This way, they hear what the words are supposed to sound and feel like. For the first three acts, I frequently hit pause and go over aspects of the language, both figurative and literal in the quest to isolate imagery and symbolism, and the plot, while checking for comprehension. By the fourth and fifth acts, when I hit pause, I don't go over anything, I just hit pause and ask why did I pause it. I scaffolded them for the first three acts, now it's their turn to discuss. It hasn't failed yet; the kids are so into the story (and, really, those stories are easy to hook kids into, if you know how), that many of them are anxious to answer just so I'll hit play again. Afterwards, come the culminating assignments for the units that the plays were a part of. For example, in the unit I use Macbeth and Hamlet with (I call it Leaders, Followers, and Persuasive Writing), I give them a choice (every culminating assignment has a choice within certain parameters to make sure that students use writing) of orally reciting a speech and then giving a visual (multimedia, Powerpoint, Prezi, Keynote) analysis of why it was so persuasive or writing an essay on the following prompt: Which character from Macbeth or Hamlet would Machiavelli choose to mentor and why? The students must establish why Machiavelli, whom we'd read from earlier in the unit, would not want to mentor the others. Here, students must write persuasively, synthesize multiple sources, and defend their positions. This is far from being the best way, just my way of getting Shakespeare into the class for about two weeks.

All the plays are fun to teach, mainly because it's fun to watch the students become acquainted with dense material that many came in disliking merely because the author's name inspired terror within them, for which I partially blame other teachers. The high school plays, as Chux pointed out, are pretty standard. R&J is about lust on the rebound. Romeo has just broken up with Rosaline at the beginning of the play and is ripe to transfer those feelings to the next available girl. Juliet dislikes her parents, as so many young girls do, and is immediately attracted to the bad boy, bad only in that he's a member of a rival family. Kids are often very interested in relationships and this far-from-being-a-love-story play is full of commentary on the universality of the human experience regardless of time and place. Julius Caesar is very much about a gang that wants to depose its boss. It starts out with gang members tagging the walls of Rome and later has the characters take turns persuading each other, escalating to turf war. Hamlet is about a boy who doesn't want to do what he's told he's supposed to do. He's comes from a broken home, can't find his footing in the world, has a girlfriend who he feels can't understand him, in short the kind of situation many students are in. Granted these are gross oversimplifications of the stories, but they demonstrate the timeless appeal of the content. And that content has inspired so much other content that has come afterwards. That content has inspired creativity. Creativity that is just as vital to humanity as science and technology, both of which thrive through the infusion of creativity into it. Shakespeare was not the first domino in the sequence and possibly not the biggest, but he was certainly one that tipped over many others.

JediTricks
07-07-2013, 02:59 PM
I think the fact that the lowliest sitcom can trace its roots to Shakespeare answers your question. Shakespeare is important because it is a foundation for so many other works down through the centuries since his time. He also coined or made popular many phrases, some of which are still common today - http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/phrases-sayings-shakespeare.html. It is no wonder that he comes up first in a Google search. Certainly there are plenty of works from plenty of other authors that can and should be studied, but Shakespeare is definitely something that everyone should have a basic knowledge of.It's not as if Shakespeare is the end-all be-all though, sitcoms tracing their roots back to it are tracing their roots to the sitcoms and soap operas of the 16th century, IIRC, the entertainment for the commoner. Shakespeare is not the only material out there that's foundational, it's lazy to rely solely on it.

A lot of those phrases are ones I'm only familiar with from Shakespeare, I'd say at least 80% are not what I'd consider common.


When I was in high school, we read Romeo and Juliet in 10th grade, Julius Caesar in 11th grade, and Macbeth in 12th grade. We may have read some of the poetry, but I don't recall. I remember reading Hamlet in college (and I think Romeo and Juliet again).I think we read Hamlet in 7th grade or 8th grade and Romeo and Juliet possibly in that same era as well. I don't remember if those were AP or regular classes though, I was in both due to moving from district to district.


I always found it interesting to read something and then realize that something else I was familiar with came from it. For instance, I realized where those cartoons I watched as a kid got the "Lenny" and "George" characterizations from from I read Of Mice and Men. Sometimes I may not have read the source material, but I am familiar enough with it to know that Star Trek II had elements of Moby Dick, while Star Trek VI had elements of Shakespeare in it. Perhaps that is a good way to introduce Shakespeare to people. Start by showing a modern adaptation of it, and then have them read the original. That is sort of what the book this thread is about is doing. We start with a modern film we are familiar with, and then we read the Shakespearean version. However, Shakespeare did not write Star Wars, though there could be things in Star Wars that have roots in Shakespeare. So, it all comes full circle.That actually was kind of my point though, our educational system puts a lot of stress on Shakespeare as the foundation of English Literature, yet our world is filled with great literature such as those you've cited. TOS Star Trek had a lot of Shakespeare in it as well, but that was because it was handled from people who respected the stage - both in front of and behind the camera.

But that's not what this book is doing IMO, it's not adapting Shakespeare or Shakespearean theater into a modern tale, it is the opposite, it is taking an outside material created without significant input from The Bard and shoehorning that material into Ye Olde Shakespearean style, m'lord. It is a mental exercise in copycatting IMO, it's saying "look how clever I am" without any actual merit, it's just adapting one thing to fit another.



Problem with Shakespeare is that he should be performed, not read. An awful lot is lost on the page, even if you have no problem following the language.Very true, experiencing the material as intended is so much more useful than reading it on a page and writing about it. Not every student can act though, I suppose, but combining creative arts with foundational literature seems like a much healthier way to educate since it engages in so many ways.


Also, unfortunately, we're taught Shakespeare at a point where most of us aren't mature enough to handle it. It seems pretty standard across the nation that ninth grade is Romeo and Juliet (though most ninth graders won't see how stupid the two are and think it's a great romance), Julius Caesar is tenth (without, oh, any Roman history to supply any context at all), Macbeth is eleventh (the only one so far that's even remotely appropriate), and twelfth is Hamlet (and maybe King Lear as well for AP). Kids tend to remember Hamlet the best. Why? Because there's an excellent, if condensed, film version starring Mel Gibson (and an even better one with Kenneth Branagh, as well as an older but still good version with Lawrence Olivier). But Macbeth and Hamlet, I've seen both performed many times, and they rank highly in my esteem.We had Roman history in the LAUSD in elementary school, like 4th grade, but it was very much surface fluff. The amount of high school history class not actually taught is astounding though, I remember my jr high history book was only about half finished by the time we graduated.

As for Hamlet, Mel Gibson actually came to our high school and talked with students, shot some corresponding material at the school during the run-up to the movie's release, like 6 months ahead of time. We already knew the play on page and I think were shown some if not all of Lawrence Olivier's Hamlet, but when we finally got to see the movie it really connected for the first time. Olivier's Hamlet I remember going over like a lead balloon, it was in black and white, it was unbelievably stagey which made it unapproachable to us. When we saw Gibson's Hamlet, a lot of character motivations came together and made sense.


In tenth grade, we had to read Julius Caesar and memorize Marc Antony's speech. It meant nothing to me at the time. Today, I recognize it as a play by possibly the greatest English writer of all time (I'd be willing to make the argument in favor of Milton or a few others), but, even with me somewhat accidentally discovering how awesome Roman history is, the play doesn't hold any significance for me. I memorized the passage without really understanding it, and it was never explained to the class. Now, I'm more concerned with the conscious decision Shakespeare made to include historical inaccuracies in order to allude to other events his original audience would be more familiar with.Your point is right on the money, this content is shoved down our throats when we're simply not equipped to understand its meaning. It appalls me to see teens talk about Romeo & Juliet as a great romance and not recognize the stupidity, although partly that's because of how much it's entered the zeitgeist over the last century, I think.

BTW, your "the greatest English writer of all time" reminded me of what mediocre American fiction we were taught in school. I think I remember basically just Catcher in the Rye, Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn, and Johnny Tremain - that's it? That's what we want kids to take away from American literature? We try to force them to revere English lit and we either banish or censor a lot American lit from them, and what else is there is too dense to latch on as anything other than a miserable chore, it's shocking when you really think about it.


By contrast, every year the English classes had field trips to see whatever Shakespeare play was being performed by a local company. The same year, I saw A Midsummer Night's Dream. It was an excellent performance. And, despite that not usually being considered Shakespeare's best, it's one of my favorites still. All the Shakespeare plays I love, I love because I've seen great performances of them. I still can't even really get into King Lear because the only time I've seen it was in a dedicated Shakespeare class in college where the professor only showed the BBC versions, and the BBC King Lear is quite awful. I know theoretically that it's on par with Hamlet as Shakespeare's best in the eyes of most scholars, but I prefer Midsummer Night's Dream or one of the cross-dressing comedies (which again, not coincidentally, I've seen performed well).Oh man, we haaaaated seeing plays in school, whether in person or on the TV. Something about watching others interpret ideas just didn't work for our teenage brains.



This, this, my friends, is why. This thread, this discussion, this... learning.
It's a shared context. People know Shakespeare. They may not (in fact, likely not) like Shakespeare. They may not really understand it (without the context and background of which Chux wrote).
But there is an awareness of the style, of the word choice and word play, of its significance.
And if thou canst use the skills to decode it, and perhaps even duplicate and USE it elsewhere, thou hast learn'd.
That is the question, answered.
With an additional, unnecessary comma inserted for, effect.
[Exeunt]Why is the style so important though? Why is recognizing Shakespeare a useful tool, real or fake'd? Yeah, extra apostrophe, I did it!

Anyway, my question still stands, what is the VALUE in this learning that places it above all else in what we consider proper education? Beyond pop culture references like those found in Gilligan's Island and even West Side Story (I now don't remember if they showed that to us in English or in Music Appreciation class), I mean real learning value.

Also, notice how nobody is talking about the sonnets... funny thing, that.



Performance is critical to acquiring any play, particularly with language as aged as Shakespeare, since they were intended to be experienced, not read. As such, assigning students to "just read the play" is a recipe not only for failure, but, even worse, for possibly permanently alienating the student from Shakespeare forever. I have the Arkangel box set of all his plays on CD performed by the some of the finest actors of the last fifty years. The way I teach Shakespeare is by giving the kids a scavenger hunt of about 30 items I developed that they complete online (a day in the school library), with prizes and points for all who correctly finish - it rarely gets finished in class time, which is my goal - keep them thinking about it on their own when they leave. The next day we go over what everyone found, where essentially the students give the opening lecture on Shakespeare, his life, his influences, and his influence. I designed it like this because nearly every English teacher I've known really can't help but pontificate on the wonders of Shakespeare and after years of these pronouncements, I think they sort of amalgamate the collection of excited lectures they've given in a stew that can go over kids' heads, flipping the off switch as it passes. My meager method is predicated on making sure the students are the stars of the show, not the instructor. Once they've given the opening lecture on Shakespeare, we fill in some background information on the play to be studied to give them context (you're so right, Chux) and locate them within the story. Then, I hit play on the cd player, as they follow along in their own copies, annotating as necessary. This way, they hear what the words are supposed to sound and feel like. For the first three acts, I frequently hit pause and go over aspects of the language, both figurative and literal in the quest to isolate imagery and symbolism, and the plot, while checking for comprehension. By the fourth and fifth acts, when I hit pause, I don't go over anything, I just hit pause and ask why did I pause it. I scaffolded them for the first three acts, now it's their turn to discuss. It hasn't failed yet; the kids are so into the story (and, really, those stories are easy to hook kids into, if you know how), that many of them are anxious to answer just so I'll hit play again. Afterwards, come the culminating assignments for the units that the plays were a part of. For example, in the unit I use Macbeth and Hamlet with (I call it Leaders, Followers, and Persuasive Writing), I give them a choice (every culminating assignment has a choice within certain parameters to make sure that students use writing) of orally reciting a speech and then giving a visual (multimedia, Powerpoint, Prezi, Keynote) analysis of why it was so persuasive or writing an essay on the following prompt: Which character from Macbeth or Hamlet would Machiavelli choose to mentor and why? The students must establish why Machiavelli, whom we'd read from earlier in the unit, would not want to mentor the others. Here, students must write persuasively, synthesize multiple sources, and defend their positions. This is far from being the best way, just my way of getting Shakespeare into the class for about two weeks. "Just read and discuss the play in the classroom" is how I remember the majority being taught, not just my generation but previous ones told me the same as well. And I think there is a significant alienation to Shakespeare and reading in general which could very well be traced to that mindset, does that not do far more damage than good to our society? The way Shakespeare is taught in this country seems more destructive to society than useful.

It sounds like your students have a teacher that is engaging them rather than pontification. I wouldn't say our teachers were pontificating most of the time, but they weren't able to really engage either, it'd end up in the middle - trying to coax students to read a verse and then explain back to the rest of the class its meaning, only to get students sound bored trying to figure out the language and then the contextual meanings and regurgitate enough to warrant a passing grade. Let me ask you, how much of your curriculum is Shakespeare? (You said 2 weeks' time, but I guess I'm asking more percentage.) How much Shakespearean foundation do you expect your students to have before they enter your class? I remember Shakespeare was a very significant portion of the English classes in every level of school, hence I'm arguing from the point of it being a major portion of our various grades' curricula.


All the plays are fun to teach, mainly because it's fun to watch the students become acquainted with dense material that many came in disliking merely because the author's name inspired terror within them, for which I partially blame other teachers. The high school plays, as Chux pointed out, are pretty standard. R&J is about lust on the rebound. Romeo has just broken up with Rosaline at the beginning of the play and is ripe to transfer those feelings to the next available girl. Juliet dislikes her parents, as so many young girls do, and is immediately attracted to the bad boy, bad only in that he's a member of a rival family. Kids are often very interested in relationships and this far-from-being-a-love-story play is full of commentary on the universality of the human experience regardless of time and place. Julius Caesar is very much about a gang that wants to depose its boss. It starts out with gang members tagging the walls of Rome and later has the characters take turns persuading each other, escalating to turf war. Hamlet is about a boy who doesn't want to do what he's told he's supposed to do. He's comes from a broken home, can't find his footing in the world, has a girlfriend who he feels can't understand him, in short the kind of situation many students are in. Granted these are gross oversimplifications of the stories, but they demonstrate the timeless appeal of the content. And that content has inspired so much other content that has come afterwards. That content has inspired creativity. Creativity that is just as vital to humanity as science and technology, both of which thrive through the infusion of creativity into it. Shakespeare was not the first domino in the sequence and possibly not the biggest, but he was certainly one that tipped over many others.I guess I'm concerned because it sounds like you have balance but recognize the majority of teachers don't, and also you sound like an advanced-class teacher with students who have been given that leg up to grasp your style easily, unlike the regular and remedial students who get the short end of the education stick and grow up to hate school, failing to recognize that there is a world of literature beyond the trauma they feel when they remember suffering through English classes - and nothing instills more suffering in those people than the idea of Shakespeare, almost to a Pavlovian response.

Maradona
07-08-2013, 01:29 AM
Also, notice how nobody is talking about the sonnets... funny thing, that.


His sonnets are his most personal work, in my opinion. It's tempting to confuse him with the poetic speaker in his sonnets sometimes. One of the scavenger items I have the students find and record is one of Shakespeare's 154 sonnets, with the caveat that no two students in the class can turn the same one in. They have the selection of a few different things to with their chosen sonnet, such as finding an image in the sonnet and connecting it with the story implied by the lines.



It sounds like your students have a teacher that is engaging them rather than pontification. I wouldn't say our teachers were pontificating most of the time, but they weren't able to really engage either, it'd end up in the middle - trying to coax students to read a verse and then explain back to the rest of the class its meaning, only to get students sound bored trying to figure out the language and then the contextual meanings and regurgitate enough to warrant a passing grade. Let me ask you, how much of your curriculum is Shakespeare? (You said 2 weeks' time, but I guess I'm asking more percentage.) How much Shakespearean foundation do you expect your students to have before they enter your class? I remember Shakespeare was a very significant portion of the English classes in every level of school, hence I'm arguing from the point of it being a major portion of our various grades' curricula.

There are 40 weeks in a school year, so if I teach anything for two weeks, that's 5% of the year. In 11th grade, American Literature in the course title, so 0% of the year is Shakespeare. In 12th grade, world literature is the focus, so I begin chronologically with the oldest piece we, as a human race have found, Gilgamesh (thank you, oh wise ancient aliens!). We move up from there with epics from around the world to teach archetypes were established and give the year patterns to identify and recognize, go to Greek drama, the Inferno and Paradise Lost (yes, I know that Milton does not directly follow Dante chronologically, but the Literary Origin of Evil is the title of the unit and they seem to fit well), anthologies (Canterbury Tales, Decameron, 1001 Nights), Machiavelli/Sun Tzu/Miyamoto, then Shakespeare, thus ending semester one. We just read selections from each, most of the time, to give the students a bit of the flavor of the development of literature and how the same themes and thoughts seem to come up in all the parts of the earth. Interspersed with all this is tons of writing and the weekly study of fallacies. In 9th and 10th, Shakespeare comes up during second semester for me and is a bit longer in the delivery. I have not taught either of those grades for over seven years, so I'm not sure when I would fit it in now with the other stresses of the curriculum for those years.


I guess I'm concerned because it sounds like you have balance but recognize the majority of teachers don't, and also you sound like an advanced-class teacher with students who have been given that leg up to grasp your style easily, unlike the regular and remedial students who get the short end of the education stick and grow up to hate school, failing to recognize that there is a world of literature beyond the trauma they feel when they remember suffering through English classes - and nothing instills more suffering in those people than the idea of Shakespeare, almost to a Pavlovian response.

Nope, my students are mainly non-native English speakers from East Los Angeles. My classes are a mix of remedial, regular, and honors students. I have not taught an AP course, though I am certified to do so by the College Board. I'd like to some day try one, but the people in my department that teach them do not relinquish those classes. I've been there twelve years and have not been allowed to take on this responsibility, despite that even one year students petitioned administration for me to do so. I do vainly love it, though, when my students tell me that "we do more in our class than the kids in AP." I should not feel this way and I never let the students know it, but I find it very validating of the content of my courses and, more so, of the capacity of any student to achieve at a high level.

That said, has anyone read Kill Shakespeare? It's a comic book in the vein of Fables, but starring the characters from his plays that are out to find and kill someone named Shakespeare. It's okay, at best, but I have not read them all yet.

Bel-Cam Jos
07-08-2013, 09:03 AM
JT, I'm going to go all TMZ and ignore all your salient points. That is absolutely amazing that Mel Gibson visited your school to talk about that film! :thumbsup: Even if it was "that guy who said really bad things" in high schoolers' views.

Okay, I'll go CNN and address just one of your points: "what is the VALUE in this learning that places it above all else in what we consider proper education? Beyond pop culture references like those found in Gilligan's Island and even West Side Story (I now don't remember if they showed that to us in English or in Music Appreciation class), I mean real learning value."

I don't put it above the other pieces; my department, school, and district don't either.

My freshman years had: Romeo & Juliet (core literature, meaning all freshmen should be taught this at some point during the school year), To Kill a Mockingbird (core), and a choice of two or three of the following (Night, House on Mango Street, Speak, The Alchemist, plus The Miracle Worker, Tale of Two Cities [I never taught these], and a few others I can't recall now).
My sophomore years had: Antigone (core), Lord of the Flies (core), and a choice of two or three of the following (Julius Caesar, Bless Me Ultima, Things Fall Apart, plus Midsummer Night's Dream, The Good Earth, Cyrano de Bergerac [I never taught these], and a few others I can't recall now).
My junior year had: The Crucible (core), The Great Gatsby (core), and a choice of two or three of the following (Grapes of Wrath, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), plus Of Mice & Men, Poisonwood Bible, Secret Life of Bees [I never taught these in that one year], and a few others I can't recall now).
Our senior year has: Macbeth (core), The Stranger (core?), and a choice of two or three of the following (Hamlet, 1984, Crime & Punishment, plus a few others I can't recall now).

Shakespeare is PART of our high school curriculum, and yes, an important part (2 of the 8 core pieces, optional choices too), but there are others, too. It has so many connections to other literature; that's its importance. Somewhat circular in argument, but not invalid.

JediTricks
07-08-2013, 12:56 PM
There are 40 weeks in a school year, so if I teach anything for two weeks, that's 5% of the year. In 11th grade, American Literature in the course title, so 0% of the year is Shakespeare. In 12th grade, world literature is the focus, so I begin chronologically with the oldest piece we, as a human race have found, Gilgamesh (thank you, oh wise ancient aliens!). We move up from there with epics from around the world to teach archetypes were established and give the year patterns to identify and recognize, go to Greek drama, the Inferno and Paradise Lost (yes, I know that Milton does not directly follow Dante chronologically, but the Literary Origin of Evil is the title of the unit and they seem to fit well), anthologies (Canterbury Tales, Decameron, 1001 Nights), Machiavelli/Sun Tzu/Miyamoto, then Shakespeare, thus ending semester one. We just read selections from each, most of the time, to give the students a bit of the flavor of the development of literature and how the same themes and thoughts seem to come up in all the parts of the earth. Interspersed with all this is tons of writing and the weekly study of fallacies. In 9th and 10th, Shakespeare comes up during second semester for me and is a bit longer in the delivery. I have not taught either of those grades for over seven years, so I'm not sure when I would fit it in now with the other stresses of the curriculum for those years.I see. Man, that list was so big I thought you had super-readers in your class! Do you find working with selections to be limiting as a teacher, or does it engage with the students adequately? How long are your selections, on average?


Nope, my students are mainly non-native English speakers from East Los Angeles. My classes are a mix of remedial, regular, and honors students. I have not taught an AP course, though I am certified to do so by the College Board. I'd like to some day try one, but the people in my department that teach them do not relinquish those classes. I've been there twelve years and have not been allowed to take on this responsibility, despite that even one year students petitioned administration for me to do so. I do vainly love it, though, when my students tell me that "we do more in our class than the kids in AP." I should not feel this way and I never let the students know it, but I find it very validating of the content of my courses and, more so, of the capacity of any student to achieve at a high level.Stand and Deliver, eh? :D Sounds like you have the right idea, it's too bad more teachers aren't aiming for what you are - a quality education at every level.



JT, I'm going to go all TMZ and ignore all your salient points. That is absolutely amazing that Mel Gibson visited your school to talk about that film! :thumbsup: Even if it was "that guy who said really bad things" in high schoolers' views.Heh, thanks, it's not like I spent an hour thinking about and writing them. ;) Gibson was there to engage in part for the video they were shooting to go along with the movie, so it wasn't entirely altruistic. At the time, Mel hadn't become a self-made pariah, so it was exciting.


Okay, I'll go CNN and address just one of your points: "what is the VALUE in this learning that places it above all else in what we consider proper education? Beyond pop culture references like those found in Gilligan's Island and even West Side Story (I now don't remember if they showed that to us in English or in Music Appreciation class), I mean real learning value."

I don't put it above the other pieces; my department, school, and district don't either.

My freshman years had: Romeo & Juliet (core literature, meaning all freshmen should be taught this at some point during the school year), To Kill a Mockingbird (core), and a choice of two or three of the following (Night, House on Mango Street, Speak, The Alchemist, plus The Miracle Worker, Tale of Two Cities [I never taught these], and a few others I can't recall now).
My sophomore years had: Antigone (core), Lord of the Flies (core), and a choice of two or three of the following (Julius Caesar, Bless Me Ultima, Things Fall Apart, plus Midsummer Night's Dream, The Good Earth, Cyrano de Bergerac [I never taught these], and a few others I can't recall now).
My junior year had: The Crucible (core), The Great Gatsby (core), and a choice of two or three of the following (Grapes of Wrath, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), plus Of Mice & Men, Poisonwood Bible, Secret Life of Bees [I never taught these in that one year], and a few others I can't recall now).
Our senior year has: Macbeth (core), The Stranger (core?), and a choice of two or three of the following (Hamlet, 1984, Crime & Punishment, plus a few others I can't recall now).

Shakespeare is PART of our high school curriculum, and yes, an important part (2 of the 8 core pieces, optional choices too), but there are others, too. It has so many connections to other literature; that's its importance. Somewhat circular in argument, but not invalid.Oh yeah, we read To Kill a Mockingbird, I forgot because as soon as we finished they screened the movie and the movie pushed the book out of my head - honestly, I think showing students someone else's interpretation, screenplay and acting, too soon after reading a book can be detrimental. We may have read Tale of Two Cities, freshman year, it looks like there's a lot of modern ethnic lit listed. After that it's a blur for me, but I am pretty sure by freshman year (we were also jr high senior year because LAUSD hadn't yet pushed the 9th graders into high school, which I think is entirely reasonable given the lack of maturity at that age) we had also read Huck Finn and Cyrano and Midsummer Night's Dream.

Your list has 5 Shakespeare plays listed among 4 years, including a year with no english lit at all (you teacher types will have to forgive my inconsistent capitalization of "English", I don't really agree with the point of capitalizing language names now that they're becoming homogenized concepts over strict national ones), what else is given such dominance, such weight in your high school career? There's 2 Steinbeck novels, that's as close as it gets, that's not very close. So it does seem to me like Shakespeare is put on a higher level by your district.

Even if it has so many literary connections, if it's hampering the students' connection to reading might the detrimental effects outweigh the connective value?

El Chuxter
07-08-2013, 04:14 PM
Someone's putting words in my mouth. :p

Bel-Cam Jos
07-08-2013, 04:25 PM
That's the quote from William Shakespeare they used on the back of this new SW version... :p

Maradona
07-09-2013, 12:15 AM
I see. Man, that list was so big I thought you had super-readers in your class! Do you find working with selections to be limiting as a teacher, or does it engage with the students adequately? How long are your selections, on average?



The selections or segments vary, but are usually a few days worth of in class reading. We'll read the entire Passion of the Queen section of the Aeneid, for example, so the students can meet Dido (who must always be referred to with the epithet "she who slew herself for love" in my classroom - fun way to get the kids to learn epithets, they all have to come up with one for themselves and one for a classmate and use them during class discussions). Virgil wrote that nearly two thousand years ago, but the way that students react to it never ceases to be as though it was on last night's episode of Jerry Springer. In contrast, we'll only read essay length selections from Machiavelli and I'm thinking of a powerful essay on revenge by Bacon that conjures up useful controversy in the classroom. Is this limiting, yes and no. Yes, in that by only reading parts and learning about the rest does not give them the complete picture or story. No, in that by giving them tease-sized portions of texts I hope to inspire them to go read the entire pieces on their own. Also, my focus on their writing would be diminished if we spent more time reading.

And, by the way, one of my colleagues worked at Garfield High School with Jaime Escalante of Stand and Deliver fame. I am super far from the revolutionary inspirational force he was, largely because he taught a much more difficult technical subject. Reading and writing are, to me at least, a much easier sale than higher mathematics.

Bel-Cam Jos
07-09-2013, 02:38 PM
Aye, here's a fresh thought of noble int'rst:
Mine eyes hath read the words of this bound book.
For mine comrades I shalt give thee the gist
Word by word, the film it follows. Do look!

For those who've posted in this thread, here's my prediction of who'll like it, buy it, hear about it, or just ignore the book:
- Bel-Cam Jos (uh, that's you, dude, and you already bought it said you really enjoyed it)
- Maradona (I already thought of lessons to use it... and I have all juniors this year! :frus: You need to get it, and show certain scenes of the film whilst students who're currently reading some Shakespeare piece read from this book :thumbsup: or check out the online resources mentioned [I have yet to do that myself] at the back of the book)
- El Chuxter (you may be on the fence, but it's still worth reading [maybe not buying for you])
- JediTricks (if you read the Afterword and Acknowledgements at the end, maybe the arguments Maradona and I have presented will convince you)
- Mr. JabbaJohnL (read it; I think you'll like it)
- Mad Slanted Powers (same as above comment)

There are SW inside comments (some involving the Prequel knowledge that ANH viewers first didn't have then), plenty of Shakespeare lines and characterization, and wonderful insights that characters give in asides (SPOILER: best ones are in R2D2's words! ). It's small, it's short, you all know the story, but there's enough fun and style to make it worth buying (maybe just the e-reader version).

p.s. It was also my 300th SW book read.

Maradona
07-09-2013, 11:26 PM
300! Wow, I doubt The Maker has read that many. I'll pick it up this summer.

Mad Slanted Powers
07-10-2013, 12:41 AM
I purchased the book on Saturday and have read the first three scenes so far.

Bel-Cam Jos
03-15-2014, 01:50 PM
I noticed that the "sequel" book, The Empire Striketh Back, comes out this coming Tuesday.
Sirrah, the book I seek, shall be this'n/To find it indeed shall be my mission/How Yoda speaketh such a joy will't be/Or the Vader reveal from Cloud City.

OC47151
03-17-2014, 07:01 AM
Is it this week or next week? I'm going by the article I read in the Insider.

And the Jedi edition comes out this summer. I'll be picking up both.

Bel-Cam Jos
03-17-2014, 09:13 AM
Online it shows the 18th o' March. I'd be aware.

OC47151
03-17-2014, 01:02 PM
Insider said the 24th. I'll start looking tomorrow.

Bel-Cam Jos
03-17-2014, 02:17 PM
The Internet is never wrong, so I'd guess the 24th is the release date. :p

On an unrelated topic (for this thread, at least) no libraries here have Honor Among Thieves at all; might have to a) buy my own hardcover copy, b) read it pages at a time at a B&N store, or c) just wait months until the paperback comes out. Don't really like any of those options. :(

OC47151
03-17-2014, 02:26 PM
I saw Honor at WM for under $18 at WM last week.

Glad some of the big chains like WM and Meijer are carrying SW hardbacks at reasonable prices. That's where I've been picking them up.

On a really unrelated note. went to the Lexington (KY) Comic and Toy Show over the weekend. The 501st was there and did their usual droid hunt. I've participated in the past and it's fun and for a good cause: local children's hospital. (My brother is a pediatric oncologist at Riley Children's in Indy). But this year I won a prize! Got a paperback copy of Darth Plagueis, the hardback Kenobi and the Essential Reader's Companion. Have Plagueis and Kenobi but the Essentials is new. It looks great.

Bel-Cam Jos
03-18-2014, 09:28 PM
Got WS's: TESB today, and have quickly read the first two acts. May be better than the first book. Why? (spoilers in white font below)

The Wampa, R2, and AT-ATs (yes, snow walkers) talk. The asides, as always, are insightfully great.






I look forward to finishing it.

And in a non-spoiler, the back flap shows that The Jedi Doth Return will also be out. :thumbsup:

OC47151
03-19-2014, 11:12 AM
I will be on the lookout for it the next time I go out.

Bel-Cam Jos
03-19-2014, 09:05 PM
Finished it; and it t'was better than Verily, A New Hope was! Again, I'll list why in white font below, although many of these are listed in the author's Afterword:



More singing, from Ugnaughts and Leia/Chewbacca!
Words from the space slug!
NO words from Lobot!
Lando's and Vader's inner thoughts!
How Yoda and Fett speak (I would never have noticed if the author hadn't said so at the end pages) !



Cannot wait for the third, and I wonder if the Prequels will also grace the pulpy pages of published printing (I would be $urprised if they weren't :greedy: ) .

OC47151
03-23-2014, 07:34 PM
Picked up my copy at Target over the weekend. Might crack it open later tonight.

OC47151
04-03-2014, 08:29 AM
Finished Empire. Loved it. Loved the talking AT-ATs, the space slug (although I kept thinking of the Robot Chicken sketch of the slug ordering Chinese after the Falcon escaped) and the ugnaught song.

More insight into Han and Leia's feelings for each other, and Lando became a real character. The author fleshed Lando out well.

Can't wait for Jedi Doth Return!

OC47151
06-28-2014, 05:29 PM
The Jedi Doth Return comes out Tuesday. I'll pick it up somewhere.

Bel-Cam Jos
07-01-2014, 07:28 PM
I'll wait until others have read it to comment more specifically, but I will say that it is by far the third-best book in the series. And somehow the same artist's quality of the drawings seems worse.

OC47151
07-03-2014, 01:40 PM
About a third of the way through it now.

I'd hoped to pick it up early Monday night, but alas Target didn't have it out on the shelves.

OC47151
07-07-2014, 06:02 PM
Finished it over the weekend. Very enjoyable. I enjoy reading the author's notes at the end where he talks about which Shakespeare books he draws ideas/inspiration from: Han and Leia/Romeo and Juliet.

You're right, Bel-Cam: the artwork wasn't the greatest.

Part of me wondered if the author is going to tackle the prequels. He could have some real fun with Anakin, ala Hamlet and MacBeth.

Bel-Cam Jos
07-07-2014, 06:29 PM
Finished it over the weekend. Very enjoyable. I enjoy reading the author's notes at the end where he talks about which Shakespeare books he draws ideas/inspiration from: Han and Leia/Romeo and Juliet.

You're right, Bel-Cam: the artwork wasn't the greatest.

Part of me wondered if the author is going to tackle the prequels. He could have some real fun with Anakin, ala Hamlet and MacBeth.Without the ending commentary, I think the books would not have been as strong. I was disappointed in how much of the alien languages he kept as spoken in the films (although, his changes to Ewokese were great) and not Shakespeare-ized. Best part was the two Death Star guards debating the possibility of a Rebel victory.

Prequels as Titus Andronicus, perhaps? :rolleyes: But I think he should wait on any PT books; all three out within a year was nice to read but I'd prefer a little wait time (like the 3-year movies delay; maybe one a year?) in between.