Posting your introductions

Now that you are here, the first thing to do is sign in. After that, click on the "create content" link to your left and then click on "blog entry." After that, type in a subject and then type in your introduction. Be sure that you are making a point about the classmate you are introducing, as opposed to just listing a collection of potentially random facts about them. When you are done, hit the "save" button at the bottom of your screen, below this dialogue box, and you're done!

After you've posted your introduction, respond to at least two other introductions in a way that fosters further dialogue. Additionally, respond to at least one response to your introduction.

Final Essay Revisions

The final revision of essay two is due no later than 5:00 p.m. Thursday, March 21. Feel free (please, please, please do contact me!) with any questions you have as you are revising, via email (probably best) or by dropping by my office (best to check that I'll be there).

Otherwise, enjoy your break!

Study Guide is Attached

The study guide for the final is attached. For the sonnets (see the last few pages) you are expected to explicate (think explain) each of those sonnets. the more thoughtful and considered, the better. You need to convince your reader that you know what you are talking about and that they should trust your reading of each sonnet.

For the short answer portion, you are expected to identify the passages and explain what is of concern about those passage.

For the essay portion, you are expected to craft a brief essay in response to the two prompts.

Do each of these as a practice activity and you should be well prepared. I suggest making flash cards for the identification and explanation of the passages from the plays.

The study guide is attached. The final will be made up of the material on the study guide, in whole or part.

Journal Eight: Is Hamlet a Tragic Figure?

For this weeks journal, and you can rely on just the first three acts if you like, discuss whether or not Hamlet has the necessary qualities to be considered tragic. As with last week's journal, rely on the description of tragedy found in the glossary.

As always, be sure to illustrate your discussion with appropriate passages from the play to illustrate the point being made. Once your journal has been posted, be sure to respond to at least two journals of your classmates and to at least one response to your journal.

Journal Seven: The Tragedy of Richard

For this week's journal, let's have a look at Richard III as a tragic figure. Review the brief introduction to tragedy that we had in Thursday's class and use what Aristotle tells us about tragedy to argue for or against the claim that Richard is indeed a tragic figure and the play itself is a tragedy. It's okay if you end up with a split decision, that some elements indicate tragedy, but others completely undermine the possibility. You can decide what is and isn't important, as long as you back it up with material from Aristotle and the play. As tends to be the case, post your journal by the end of the weekend and respond to two other journals by Tuesday.

Journal Six: Richard the Rogue?

Although the title indicates that we are reading a tragedy (perhaps), Richard III is considered a history play. In class discussion, I've touched on how the view of Richard of Gloucester we encounter 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 last week's journal: "Literature is an expression of a political philosophy, a reflection of the ideal standard for society and government." For Monday you should be through Act IV so you can limit your discussion to the first four acts if you like. Feel free to bring in Act V.

Again, suspend disbelief however much is necessary and take that statement to be true. If it is, 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 three 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.

A riff on Shakespeare

My Love Sent Me a List

by Olena Kalytiak Davis

O my Love sent me a lusty list,
Did not compare me to a summer's day
Wrote not the beauty of mine eyes
But catalogued in a pretty detailed
And comprehensive way the way(s)
In which he was better than me.
"More capable of extra- and inter-
Polation. More well-traveled -rounded multi-
Lingual! More practiced in so many matters
More: physical, artistic, musical,
Politic(al) academic (I dare say!) social
(In many ways!) and (ditto!) sexual!"
And yet these mores undid but his own plea(s)(e)
And left, none-the-less, the Greater Moor of me.

Copyright © 2013 by Olena Kalytiak Davis. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem:

"No, really, a found poem; however, I also find, that if one reads thirty or so Shakespearean sonnets in a row (out loud), something is bound to happen."

Olena Kalytiak Davis

Poetry by Davis
Shattered Sonnets, Love Cards, and Other Off and Back Handed Importunities

Poem-A-Day launched in 2006 and features new and previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets on weekdays and classic poems on weekends. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Thanks for being a part of the Academy of American Poets community. To learn about other programs, including National Poetry Month, Poem in Your Pocket Day, the annual Poets Forum, and more, visit Poets.org.

War of the Roses Redux

A Virtual Dramaturg of Richard III

The War of the Roses had its roots in the misrule of Henry VI. Henry’s marriage to Margaret of Anjou exacerbated Court factionalism by preferring her incompetent and self-interested advisers over the competent and loyal followers of the crown. One such loyal follower was Richard, Duke of York, father to Richard III. The elder Richard fought valiantly and successfully for the crown. But when it came to preferments, Richard was repeatedly snubbed while Henry, at the behest of Margaret, rewarded York’s adversaries handsomely despite repeated failures. Despite this, Richard long remained loyal.

Civil war broke out shortly after Henry’s recovery from his first bout of madness in 1455. During the illness, Richard ruled as Lord Protector and returned England to solid political and economic footing. Upon Henry’s recovery, Richard and his followers were ousted and Margaret reinstalled her favorites to power. Margaret focused on protecting her son Edward’s path to the throne, knowing that should Henry pre-decease Richard, the crown would be York’s. She did so by convincing Henry that Richard coveted the crown. Fearing for his safety, York raised an army. Henry did the same, and the war was on. Amid the fighting of the next several years, the throne changed hands. Margaret, in Henry’s name, raised an army to regain the throne after the Earl of Warwick captured Henry and installed Richard as Lord Protector a second time. Richard led troops north to suppress the rebellion and was killed.

With Warwick’s aid, Richard’s son Edward took the throne as Edward IV. Despite Edward’s military victories, Henry VI was at large and remained a threat. For much of the war’s final stages, Margaret was in France with Prince Edward, returning with the Prince when it seemed victory was at hand. Shortly after their return in 1471, Prince Edward died on the battle field (a murder to which Richard III admits in the play) and Henry died in the Tower of London (another murder to which Richard admits). Finally, Edward IV was secure on the throne. It wasn't until Richard III was vanquished by the Earl of Richmond—later crowned Henry VII, father to Henry VIII and grandfather to Elizabeth I—that hostilities ended.

Journal Five: Merchant of Venice concluded

In several of the reaction charts from this week, several of you asked how it is that Merchant of Venice can be considered a comedy given the rather cruel treatment of Shylock at the conclusion of the trial. it's just this treatment of Shylock that leads me to view MOV more as one of Shakespeare's "problem plays," despite there being no such official designation as such, rather than as a comedy.

Certainly part of the problem is that most people today find the antisemitism of the play to be wholly inappropriate. Few among us would consider compelling someone to abandon their faith to take on an antithetical faith to be a sign of mercy. But that's what the action of the play would have us believe. This is why that the other day in class, I wrote on the board something like this: "Literature is an expression of a political philosophy, a reflection of the ideal standard for society and government."

Suspend disbelief however much is necessary and take that statement to be true. If it is, 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 two film versions we watched indicate about how we might be different? 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.

Sample Response Idea

Partial Introduction Paragraph with Thesis

All too often, readers and viewers of some of Shakespeare’s plays think that swapping sexual identities should engender comedy in the way that Milton Berle putting on a dress or Robin William’s playing a Mrs Doubtfire role is comic. Robert Kimbrough writing in Shakespeare Quarterly says that “Androgyny is, then, a psychic striving for an ideal state of personal wholeness . . ., a time when personhood experienced innate wholeness” (20). This is not what many think of when they view or read of Shakespeare’s characters swapping sexual identities. Instead, they are conditioned to look at the swapping of identified sex roles in Shakespeare’s works, Twelfth Night and Merchant of Venice among them, as comic in and of themselves. But such a seeing is a mis-seeing. Rather, what Shakespeare does is create a space in which women show themselves the equal and often the better of men, achieving Kimbrough’s state of social androgyny.

Sample Draft Response Paragraph

topic Statement

One way Nerissa and Portia show themselves to be socially androgynous, striving to be whole, is when they decide to take on the role of men in order to do what their husbands cannot do, save Antonio.

Importance of Topic

While some contemporary viewers of the play might see something comic in the two women deciding to undertake this seeming sex-change in the third act, it is not comic that they were back then, or could be now, boys playing girls playing boys. Rather, it is the need of two women to abandon their expected roles and to venture into dangerous territory that indicates a repressed social state for women, one in which they cannot fully participate according to their abilities if they remain socially feminine. This can be seen in the letter Nerissa provides the Duke before Portia enters as Balthasar.

Primary Example with Citation

The letter states that Portia, as Balthasar, “is furnished with my opinion / which, bettered with his own learning—the greatness / whereof I cannot enough commend—comes with him at my / importunity to fill up your grace’s respect in my stead” (MOV 4.1.154-157).

Secondary Example with Citation

It is in this letter that readers and viewers of The Merchant of Venice will see that Portia achieves social androgyny, where, as Kimbrough writes, "androgyny is the capacity of a single person of either sex to embody the full range of human character traits, despite cultural attempts to render some exclusively feminine and some exclusively masculine” (19).

Warrant/Explanation Looking Back to Thesis

Rather than any comic effect, though that may come in time as the play unfolds, what the viewer or reader can see here is that Portia, and Nerissa with her, that in order to help the men they love, must behave as do those men, against the strictures of society at large. For this to happen, they must enter a state of social androgyny, one where they must wear male clothes in order to achieve social wholeness that would otherwise be impossible without cross dressing or transvestitism.

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