One of the two courses I’m teaching winter quarter.
English 214: Introduction to Shakespeare: Page and Stage
To study Shakespeare is to study ourselves. Our language is full of his turns of phrase. His drama informs our drama, our cinema, and our TV shows, from South Park to Game of Thrones to Westworld. We’re going to explore just how current Shakespeare is by putting his plays into action – sometimes from the page (in ear and mind), sometimes on the stage (for eye and ear). Which brings us to the fine print. And it’s important enough to start with some big print. PLEASE TAKE NOTE. This is not your usual GUR. There will be no lectures. There will be no midterm exam. There will be no final exam. There will be a whole lot of discussion; writing, memorization, and recitation assignments; blocking projects; scansion quizzes; and a group performance project worth a big fat chunk of your grade. You’ll be asked to memorize a part and to perform, in character, in front of your peers, although acting ability is not a prerequisite. Do not sign up for this course if you’re not ready to attend every class and to participate actively in all aspects of our work together. If you are so ready, we should have a lot of fun. Our plays: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, Othello, The Tempest.
The image up top, Djimon Hounsou’s Caliban, in Julie Taymor’s 2010 film of The Tempest. A performance of real dignity and power – Caliban enslaved, not a slave. And it can’t not touch on (press damned hard on, actually) the subjugation of the black body, African, American, by such as Prospero are.
By such as prosper. My hope’s to talk with them about that some.
The class went well last time round. Went great, actually. By the end the group was an organic form, a living animal, thriving under its own power, and mostly I could just attend.
My favourite comment in the evals, Shakespearean in its wit: This class was lit.