In all of my excitement yesterday about school and learning stuff, I forgot to mention the fact that yesterday was William Shakespeare’s death day. I’m really sorry I forgot to mention it, we could have…celebrated…or something.

Anyway, it’s a good thing that today’s class was dedicated to learning everything we could about Shakespeare in a one hour period, because otherwise I never would have known. It’s not like I read the articles I assign my students to read in class–that would be so…ordinary.

Okay, I do read the articles I assign, but I haven’t read any of these articles since last semester when I updated them, which means I have no idea what they say. I have a weird memory that way. The only way I can possibly keep track of everything I need to do in the next five minutes is to forget everything else. Well, it’s not exactly forgetting–I mean, all the info’s in my head somewhere, because it comes out sometimes when I’m not trying to remember it. But that’s another story. Today was all about Shakespeare.

Let me take a paragraph or two here to muse about the mysteries and enigmas and shrouds of the unknown and hazes of ambiguity and veils of indefinableness and mantles of unspecificity, etc., that surround this man, William Shakespeare. If he was a real man . . .

Okay, Shakespeare was a real guy, let it be known. So we don’t have any of his plays written in his hand, big deal. So our version of the plays are probably second hand transcripts of third hand texts pirated from noisy performances by illiterate groundlings…. So what? Despite all of the transcription and translation that has occurred, there is still something totally unique and identifiable about the writings we call “Shakespeare.” In short, Shakespeare is as real or realer than anything I can think of in the contemporary world.

Today in class, I distributed 5 different articles concerning Shakespeare’s life and times. Students read and summarized the articles on their own, and then each student became a “traveling teacher,” joining up with a group made up of students who had all read different articles. Students shared their summaries, pointed out important and interesting tidbits, and generally examined the mysterious, enigmatic, undefinable, etc., etc., author.

If you missed class this day, download the worksheet below, and then come get copies of the articles from me. The password (that will convince me to lend you the aricles) is swordfish.

That’s as far as we got today. Tomorrow we’ll discuss major points together as a class, talk a little about theatre, and try to work our way through a small piece of Shakespearean English, in the form of a sonnet.

Until then, huzzah!


Download: Article summary worksheet


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