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.

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