Day One "What is X?"

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Shakespeare Final Literature Revisions

Final revisions for literature review two are due by 9:00 a.m. Friday morning. If you get there before me, slide it under my door. You may submit it earlier if you desire. You can also contact me with any questions so we can help make the review stronger. I'll be around Wednesday and Thursday if you want to drop by. I'm giving a final from 10:30 to 12:30 Wednesday but hope to finish it early. Email before you come by to be sure I'll be there when it works for you.

Some points of concern:

  • Be sure to highlight revisions and submit the commented upon draft with the revision.
  • Biggest concern, which I should have mentioned in comments, but may not have, is the need for material from both the summarized piece of scholarship and the Shakespeare text being examined be included in EACH response point.

Very Important Stuff and Jouranl Nine: Lear

Very Important Stuff

  1. Final, 9:30 to 11:30, Tuesday, March 25.
  2. Study guide for final is attached.
  3. Revision of second literature review, commented upon copy of which you will receive no later than at the scheduled final time, is due by 9:00 a.m., Friday, March 28. Any later and it may not be included in your final grade. Be sure to include the commented upon draft.

King Lear Journal

The original viewers of Shakespeare's King Lear would have no doubt that there was a unquestioned link between the divine, social, political, familial and natural order, all of which are in crisis in the play. More narrowly, the play shows the consequences resulting from the division of kingdom and family because that division went against both God and Nature. Given that reading of the play's events, examine three instances where this division is highlighted, discussing/describing what this tells us, as readers or viewers, about the play or its characters. What can we read into or learn from these divisions today? For each bit of evidence provided, of which there should be three pieces, provide a passage from the play to illustrate the validity of what you write. When you have posted your journal, by midnight Sunday, be sure to respond to two of your classmates and to one response to your journal. Have you response done by Wednesday.

Journal Eight: Hamlet

As a play, not only is Hamlet generally viewed as a tragedy, but also within the sub-genre of being a "revenge tragedy." Our text spells out just what is required of a revenge tragedy:

  1. Revenge is an individual response to an intolerable wrong. It is outside the legal framework of the situation and violent.
  2. Revenge follows a devious path toward its violent end.
  3. Revenger is in grip of inner compulsion maybe exacerbated by institutional failures
  4. Revenger needs victim to know what is happening and why.
  5. Desire for revenge transcends pious injunctions or belief systems

from the Norton Shakespeare, 1070.

Given all of the above, write out a rationale for Hamlet (the play) being a revenge tragedy (or not if that's the way you prefer to go). For each of the five points, provide some explanation and an appropriate snippet/passage of the play to support and develop the explanation. When you have posted your journal, by midnight Sunday, be sure to respond to two of your classmates and to one response to your journal. Have you responses done by Wednesday.

Journal Seven: Othello

Here is a fairly typical translation of Aristotle's thinking on Tragedy from the Poetics: "Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; with incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its katharsis of such emotions.” In this definition, character is second, at best, to the importance of plot.

Given that, for this journal, and using this definition, develop an argument for why Othello is or is not tragic. I'm talking about the play and not the character. For each bit of evidence provided, of which there should be three pieces, provide a passage from the play to illustrate the validity of what you write. When you have posted your journal, by midnight Sunday, be sure to respond to two of your classmates and to one response to your journal. Have you response done by Wednesday.

Journal Six: Richard III

Although the title indicates that we are reading a tragedy (perhaps), Richard III is considered a history play. In class discussion, we've touched on how the view of Richard of Gloucester we encounter in the play is the result of Tudor propaganda intended to bolster Queen Elizabeth's (the monarch, not the character in the play)claim to the throne. This is why I want to revisit the idea of an earlier journal, that "Literature is an expression of a political philosophy, a reflection of the ideal standard for society and government."

Again, suspend disbelief however much is necessary and take that statement to be true. Given that, what does it tell us about the time and place of the play's presentation? What does it tell us about the people involved? What do the film versions we watched indicate about how this could be so? In answering these questions provide some passages from the play and compare what you think they would have been taken to mean in Shakespeare's day and what they are more likely to be taken to mean now. When you have posted your journal, be sure to respond to two of your classmates and to one response to your journal. Post your journal over the weekend and have you response done by Wednesday.

War of the Roses and a little Richard III ditty

Journal Five: More on Richard II

Consider the following quote from a scholarly work: "Shakespeare used historical material, Sen Gupta feels, 'only to draw out meanings that are independent of history.... He interpreted history aesthetically rather than philosophically and presented every point of view for its dramatic significance rather than for its doctrinal value.'" Working under the assumption that this is an accurate observation, discuss three meanings in the play that you see as being independent of history, timeless or universal concerns (a highly contested notion, but one we can still entertain if we like) if you will. For each of those meanings, provide the necessary evidence from the play itself, along with appropriate citations for those who might like to look more closely at the context of the material, and some explanation as to why the meaning is both worth considering and timeless. When you have posted your journal, by midnight Sunday, be sure to respond to two of your classmates and to one response to your journal. Have you response done by Wednesday.

Elliott, John R. "History and Tragedy in Richard II." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900. 8.2 Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama. Spring, 1968. 253-271.

Journal Four: Richard II, Acts I-III

If you missed class Friday, and you know who you are if you did, share your essay online with other classmates who missed class. I've attached the response rubric to this message.

And now, for the blog assignment

Although the title of the play is The Tragedy of Richard the Second this play is generally placed within the genre of history plays. Aristotle tells us that one thing required of a tragic figure is a certain nobility of stature, that the tragic figure (I'm staying away from the word "hero" here) must be capable of some fall, some decline in that stature, a certain social, moral or political fitness that is lost with his demise. A tragic figure must be serious, complete and of a certain social, moral or political fitness. The demise must not result from a vice, but of a failure of character. Additionally, he (and it's always a "he" back then) and he must bring about his own downfall. Given all of this, use this journal to write either for or against the likelihood of Richard II as a tragic figure. Be sure to illustrate your views with a few examples and some explanation as to how those examples indicate he is or isn't tragic. When you have posted your journal, be sure to respond to two of your classmates and to one response to your journal. Post your journal over the weekend and have you response done by Wednesday.

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