Saturday, April 14, 2012

What I learned from Shakespeare

After a semester of learning about Shakespeare through mainly digital means I am going to share what I learned.
1. Gain Shakespeare Literacy
  • Breadth - As a class we read a number of plays: The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Henry V, and Love's Labor Lost.  It was interesting to look at how Shakespeare wrote different genres.  As a class we were able to discuss things and this gave me insights that I would not have had otherwise.  Most of this breadth took place at the beginning of the semester and so I was able to learn how to do in-text analysis.
  • Depth - Individually we were required to write an 8-10 page paper and this allowed me to go more in-depth in my analysis of Shakespeare. I was most interested in the sources that inspired Shakespeare and so I learned a lot by comparing those sources to Shakespeare's texts.
  • Performance - Although I was unable to attend the first play that was performed this semester, Henry V, I took advantage of BYU's adaptation of Love's Labor Lost.  It was fun to see a different modern approach to this script, especially because the focus of my Shakespeare studies this semester has been adaptation.
  • Legacy - I have definitely come to appreciate Shakespeare's legacy through this course.  I have been interested in modern film adaptations of Shakespeare and the vast amount of adaptations is, in and of itself, a testament to Shakespeare's influence today.
2. Analyze Shakespeare Critically
  • Textual analysis - I think that this is perhaps the area to which I gave the least emphasis.  Although I did study a number of texts, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and The Taming of the Shrew, I looked at these texts mainly in comparison to other works that had influenced them.  I did learn a little about why Shakespeare changed certain things however.
  • Contextual analysis - This is where I focused the most.  My entire paper topic depended on me understanding where Shakespeare was coming from and what texts he borrowed from.  In the course of this study I became better acquainted with the Shakespeare's day.  I have a clearer vision of the society in which Shakespeare lived and also what else was going on around him.
  • Analysis of Digital mediations - I feel like this was the primary aim of the course.  We read Shakespeare in a number of different formats.  I watched full Shakespeare films and also a lot of clips from other Shakespeare plays.  It was interesting to hear Dr. Burton discuss different aspects of Shakespeare productions that I had not noticed.
3. Engage Shakespeare creatively

  • Performance - Well to begin I was able to watch a Shakespeare adaption on the stage and others on the screen. I was also able to do my own performance: the entire class made 90 second trailers that required us to ‘perform’ in front of a camera. While I was not acting, I did have to display a level of composure and discuss the things I had learned in a meaningful way.
  • Individual creative work - I feel like I did a lot in this regard.  I worked closely with Jake because of the similarity of our paper topics.  Together we made a cartoon that depicts a discussion between two Shakespeare scholars.  We also made a blog together that documents a variety of creative ways that people are adapting academic papers for digital media.
  • Collaborative creative Project - After a few tries and remakes the entire class decided upon a prezi presentation that connected all of our research and paper topics from the semester.  Each student made a 90 second trailer that introduces their topic and creative project. Here's mine:
4. Share Shakespeare meaningfully
  • Formal writing - As I have already mentioned, I wrote a paper discussing Shakespeare's role as an adapter.  click here to check it out.
  • Informal writing - All semester long I have been blogging about my experiences.  Starting in January you can follow my experiences with the blog.  I wasn't much of a blogger before this class and I still don't consider my self an avid blogger but it was a good experience to be exposed to blogging.
  • Connecting - I was able to connect with Jake quite a bit due to the similarities in our paper topics but I was also able to connect to other students and see what they were doing and also connect to other people around the world, including one Shakespeare lover in Australia that I corresponded with.
5. Gain digital literacy
  • Consume - I had never been a blogger as I have mentioned and consequently I did not visit or ready very many blogs.  I was amazed throughout the course to learn that there are so many Shakespeare bloggers.  I particularly liked a series of blogs by a person named Liz Dolimore that detailed the influence of other sources on Shakespeare's works.
  • Create - We created a lot this semester.  The culmination of Jake and my efforts would have to be our blog documenting the possible ways to adapt academic work to the digital age.
  • Connect - I was able to connect to two people outside of our class (mentioned above) and I was also able to see the comments of many of my class mates and I also commented on a number of their works.  I think the biggest way that I have connected, though, would be to the digital network of Shakespeare bloggers.  I now feel as if I were "in" the community because of the things that I have read and also the blogs that I have created.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My new, revised tweethis

What made Shakespeare great was his ability to take existing, popular stories and adapt them successfully to the stage.  We are now in the digital age and the same opportunity that Shakespeare had with the emergence of the new medium of the stage is now available to us through film and social media.

90 Second bananza

So Jake and I decided that there was just too much in each of our topics to combine and still stay under 90 seconds and so we decided to split up.

Click here to visit the blog that Jake and made to document the potential ways that the academic paper can be adapted for digital media.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Take 2

So Jake and I re-made our short 90 second video and I felt pretty good about it.  It is still pretty awkward to stand in front of a camera and talk as if there were a class there (or at least another human) but I am learning and it was more natural the second time.  Our aim was to try and model this after the popular TEDtalk format.  Jake put this up on his blog, so go check it out if you're interested.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Love's Labor Lost

Tuesday I went and saw a BYU student reproduction of Shakespeare's play Love's Labor Lost.  I've been reading the play with my Shakespeare class and so the original play was fresh in my mind.  I soon realized that the BYU version would not be exactly like Shakespeare's version.  The most notable difference was the era that the play was set in.  The director had adapted the plot of Love's Labor Lost for a World War II era military base as well as a night club next to the base.  I was obviously curious to discover the purpose for this change and by looking in the program I quickly discovered that the director had made the change in honor of her grandparents that had met during the war and reminded her of Biron and Rosaline.  I thought this was an interesting change and gave the play new meaning for me.  The only problem with this is that they tried to retain the Shakespearean language which in a 20th century setting I found to be pretty distracting.  I don't think it was just the language however.  The director also attempted to create the 1940's feel by including some terminology from what I assumed was war era Britain.  This combined with some of the Shakespearean language that she chose to retain caused further confusion.

One thing that I thought was very interesting was that at the beginning of the play the characters left the stage and interacted with the students.  I know that in Elizabethan era plays this type of interaction was quite common but nowadays it is not as much and I had never been to a play with that.  Unfortunately this did not last.  Costard said a prayer and then the play really began and there was no longer the interaction that I thought there would be.

I wanted to say one more thing about the costume and also set design.  I thought they were both fantastic.  The officer's uniforms were very convincing and the ladies looked excellent.  As for the set, I thought it was very well done.  By rigging everything up with ropes on stage they were able to make very smooth scene transitions.  In addition to this they also made the set very functional for a variety of situations so that they didn't have to rearrange too much as the play went on.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Market Research

So I have been wondering how I could do market research for my idea because other than the short video that Jake and I did explaining our project I don't have anything finished yet.  What I decided to do was figure out who our potential audience might be and then go find people in that audience and discuss the idea with them.  Since our idea has to do with film and ways to bring Shakespeare and all literature and creative writing into film in a better, more significant way I figured the best person to talk to would be a student from the film program.  I remembered that a friend that I roomed with my freshman year was in the program so I sought him out and explained the idea.  Here are some of the points that he brought up:

  • There is a lack of talented writing in the film program because the students are trained on how to write.
  • He agreed that short films are emerging as a dominant sub-genre in film.
  • The youtube generation is becoming unsatisfied with the unprofessional quality of their videos and are seeking to improve their editing skills and video quality.
  • Since the early 2000's the independent film movement has changed dramatically the way that Hollywood makes movies, resulting in a greater focus on varied shot selection, improved writing, improved acting, and more creative cinematography.  (there are exceptions obviously).
  • He envisions a day when the film and English programs work hand in hand to create collaborative visual narratives.
Talking it over with him I became excited about the work that Jake and I have already started and I hope that by turning our academic papers into a more creative personal essay and then turning them into a short video could open the door of academic research to a greater audience.  By discussing themes in a short video that are usually reserved for a scholarly journal article, we will increase the chances that people outside of English students or teachers will see it and thus give our work greater influence and purpose. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Video proposal

I worked on a video with Jake yesterday.  He put the video up on his blog so here is a link: link