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Engaging Students in the Reading

posted: 1.28.15 by Emily Isaacson

One of the great challenges for many of us is getting students to really engage with the readings. Students may read before class, but don’t annotate. Student may not read at all. And many students don’t necessarily think on their feet about the readings at hand. One of my challenges in the classroom is getting students to go back to the text itself, rather than simply talking in abstract terms about what happened in a story or a play.

As a member of my university’s faculty development committee, I’ve found myself in charge of a workshop on this very topic: getting students to engage with the reading. Given that’s it’s time for a new semester, I thought it might be useful to share a list of activities to use in the classroom to help foster thoughtful engagement with the text itself. Some of these are things I’ve written about before, some are ideas from other people that I’ve found helpful.

In-class discussion questions

Everyone approaches classroom discussion differently, and every class dynamic requires some different approaches to the way we present the questions to the students.

  • I’m a frequent user of small groups in my classrooms, and I’ve developed a number of ways to get the groups working on ideas. This particular exercise is one that encourages students to consider their own answers — but then to also evaluate the quality of other people’s answers.
  • This semester I tried something new with students who were reluctant to jump into full-class discussions. I projected 4-5 discussion questions (usually culled from the instructor’s manual to the textbook) and gave students the first 5-10 minutes of class to find information that would help answer those questions. I wish I could tell you where I ran across this idea, but it worked wonders with a class that was reluctant to join in discussions.
  • I’ve long used student-generated discussion questions in my upper division classes.
  • This guest post by Ben Bunting has some nice ideas about literature and contexts as discussion openers.

Writing as Discussion

Many of my courses are writing intensive courses, so I try to integrate written analysis of the literature into classroom participation.

  • I’ve found success with having students write analytical paragraphs as part of their approach to the texts, which can work in any classroom where analyzing information is central.
  • Barclay Barrios suggests having students write argument haikus about complex informational texts, which could certainly be translated into discussion-openers in a literature classroom. I will be doing this next semester, most assuredly. (Barrios has also suggested a way to do this with Vine.

In class reading

Actually having students read in the classroom can be useful, particularly early in the semester when they’re just figuring out how to do the work of the literature classroom.

  • Critical Reading , as exemplified here, is a technique I picked up from the Foundation for Critical Thinking. It can be useful when students are approaching a really challenging work. It helps students recognize the need to slow down as they read, and can build confidence in the idea that they can actually do the difficult reading.
  • I also like to have students make use of contexts sections in anthologies.
  • Having students view characters through the eyes of other characters in the text can be a useful way to understand character motivation.

Multi-modal approaches

Encouraging students to have fun with the literature, while still looking carefully into the text itself can be a useful way to engage students who are not English majors.

  • I recently had students create comics about Charles Dickens.
  • In teaching “The Things They Carried,” I’ve had students create categories of the items in the book — and I think this is something that could be adapted for a wide variety of stories and poems.
  • Barclay Barrios has written both about drawing the argument (which I’ve adapted as drawing the poem)

The aural nature of literature

And finally, literature — especially poetry — should be approached through the aural experience.

  • Joanne Diaz has students perform Shakespeare’s sonnets as slam poems, which encourages the students to consider the varying patterns of the poems.
  • Joanne Diaz also has her students use the Woodberry Poetry Room to teach students about active listening.

I think that all of these are adaptable for different levels and for different texts, which is generally how most of my teaching goes: I see what others are doing, and I adapt it to what works with my particular groups of students. I’m looking forward to another semester of teaching — and I certainly plan to adapt some of these activities in new ways for my classrooms.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Classroom Challenges and Solutions, Creating Assignments, Critical Reading, Emily Isaacson, In-Class Activity, Teaching Advice, Teaching with Technology, The Classroom
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Promoting Literature on Campus

posted: 1.13.15 by Emily Isaacson

This year, in teaching my Shakespeare course, I used the 450th birthday as an excuse to get students to bring Shakespeare awareness to campus. To that end, I created an assignment that I called “Pop-up Shakespeare,” which I described like this:

You will be developing some sort of experience for your fellow Heidelberg students, whether it’s through chalking Shakespearean sonnets onto the sidewalks, developing a Shakespeare film festival, performing flash mob scenes, or creating a Shakespeare-related volunteer project (just to suggest some ideas). For this assignment you can work with a group or alone. You must document the event through pictures; you will also write a brief analysis of your work, explaining why you chose to do what you did.

The object of the assignment was to encourage students to have some fun with Shakespeare and to exercise some creativity in doing so. It was ultimately a small part of the final grade, but I wanted something that would make Shakespeare just a bit less intimidating and would make literature a bit more visible on campus.

The results were fun — and I heard from a number of colleagues in other departments how much they were enjoying the different things that students were posting around campus. We had some sidewalk chalk, we had a movie night in one of the residence halls, and mostly we had a lot of great signs.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Emily Isaacson, Literature, Popular Culture
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Form vs Formula

posted: 1.6.15 by Ayşe Papatya Bucak

This semester I’m teaching a graduate workshop called Forms of Prose.  If you are a nonfiction writer, this suggests things like the lyric essay, narrative journalism, and the personal essay.  If you’re a fiction writer, it probably suggests only short story vs novel. But I am teaching the class as an examination of any of the implied or stated rules imposed on a work of prose.  Some might be arbitrary rules about rhythm, rhyme and repetition (as in much formal poetry), and others might be the unspoken rules of reader expectations.  For example, we will look at how the workshop story bemoaned by the world at large (or just the anti-MFAers) might actually be a consequence of an abuse of form.  That when form is poorly executed it becomes formula.

By way of example, let’s take the fad of six word stories and essays.  I’m generally not a fan. Especially not of the possibly apocryphal Hemingway version: “For Sale. Baby Shoes. Never Worn.”  Supposedly Hemingway said this is all the story you need to tell.  But I suspect one of my finest teaching moments may have been when I said to a totally-disturbed class: that story is only interesting if that baby has no feet.

Listen, I get it.  It’s heartbreaking; that story can make me cry, because anything suggesting the mortality of babies can make me cry.  But a reliance on abstract emotional manipulation is not the same thing as great storytelling.  Which is not to say a six word story couldn’t be great.  Because herein lies the difference between form and formula.  Form forces a writer to rise above restrictions to reach originality; formula allows a writer to rely on restrictions to be relieved of the burden of originality.  Formula works on some readers, of course (including me: hello, Sophie Kinsella, I love you), but it isn’t what anybody enters an MFA program aspiring to, so my class is going to set all kinds of rules, just to show how well writers can surprise readers when we follow them.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Ayse Papatya Bucak, Critical Thinking, Writing Process
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Fostering Creativity in the Classroom

posted: 12.23.14 by Emily Isaacson

Recently, a colleague in the social sciences asked me how I was getting my students to put together creative presentations for class.

My first response? I genuinely don’t know. Not all of my students do things that are out of the ordinary, but sometimes they really do put together presentations that challenge themselves and challenge conventional ways of presenting interpretations of literature.  The best examples from this semester were in my post-1798 survey of British Literature course.  One group, after presenting a bit of background on the work of Lewis Carroll, acted out “The Jabberwocky.”  Another group turned the epistolary juvenalia of Jane Austen’s “Lady Susan” into a play, based on everyone texting each other and using hashtags to indicate themes.

Not everyone, of course, does such things. I had plenty of student presentations that stuck to a fairly standard formula of background information, overview of the text, then interpretation of the text. These are fine. They do the work of the assignment.  And for the most part, even though they weren’t quite as exciting as watching a student use a toy lightsaber as the vorpal sword to slay the jabberwocky, they made good use of visual aids and were thoughtful in their commentary. (I suppose it helps that I have a list of pretty specific expectations for what not to do with PowerPoint — most importantly, I insist that students cannot just read from the slides.)

But to get back to that question: How do I get students to be creative? How do I get them, ultimately, to have fun with what they’re doing?

I don’t have a complete answer for those questions, but I think that there are some ways that we can foster creativity in our classrooms and encourage our students to not take themselves too seriously, even as we take the study of literature (or any subject, really) seriously.

The first is that I do not take myself particularly seriously, even though I consider literary analysis to be serious work. Some of this has to do with teaching students about audience — and making sure that students begin to recognize the difference between the (relatively) casual conversation about the text in the classroom and the more formal analysis of the text in their written work.

But it really isn’t about me.  It’s really about getting students to engage with the texts in front of them, and getting them to work on the texts in a variety of ways. I’ve written before about my own adherence to multimodal methods in the classroom, and I think that this helps foster that creativity.  We draw things in my classroom.  We write group paragraphs that analyze quotations in class.  We use analogies to explain major concepts. We do dramatic readings of the literature. Most importantly, and what takes up a lot of my prep time, is the fact that I try to only use each technique once or twice — so whenever we’re doing some sort of group work, it’s different from the  activity that we’ve done before. This is especially true in my 100- and 200-level literature courses, where I’m trying to teach students about the many different ways that we can talk and think about literature.

It does, unfortunately, take time to foster this creativity — many of my most creative projects this semester came from students who have taken multiple classes with me, and so know that my classroom is a fairly safe space to try something new and weird. The study of literature is all about ambiguity and the many ways that we can consider a work — and once students become comfortable with that idea, their creativity can really shine through.

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Categories: Creating Assignments, Emily Isaacson, In-Class Activity
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Horizontal divider William Bradley

Reflections During Week 14

posted: 12.9.14 by William Bradley

With two weeks left in the semester, my students are busy revising creative nonfiction essays for inclusion in their final portfolios.  I admit, this is a very relaxing time for me.  While many of my colleagues are frantically grading papers and writing exams, I’m showing up to school to listen to students give presentations on their favorite authors and to answer questions during office hours.  I’m thinking about getting a hammock for the office, actually.

Of course, portfolios will come in and the days leading up to Christmas will be filled with frantic grading.  But I’m enjoying the peace right now, and am reflecting on all of the good work I have read from my students this semester.

Back in August, the students entered the classroom for the first time unsure of what to expect.  Everyone knows what fiction and poetry is, but the idea of a “creative nonfiction” workshop is foreign to most of them.  Some of these students are in my class because someone recommended me to them.  Others are majors who need the course in order to move on to more advanced classes.  Others just need to get an arts elective out of the way.  Most, though, aren’t taking the class because they already have a deep and abiding love for the essay or literary journalism.

I hope that, over the course of the year, they have grown to love these forms.  Not just because I love these forms myself, but because I have seen this group of students come together and understand each other better as a result of sharing their own personal narratives.  These 18 and 19 year olds began the semester a little nervous, sometimes reluctant to allow themselves to be too exposed in their writing.  But at this point, I think that we have all become friends—or, if not friends, then very supportive colleagues.  We have shared family secrets, discussed our private anxieties, and revealed truths that we usually keep hidden when we’re in the dorms, at the bar, or in a department meeting.  We’ve established a sense of trust with each other, even though—or, perhaps, because?—we didn’t know each other 14 weeks ago.

Some of these students will go on to study English and creative writing.  Some will go on to publish their work.  Most will not.  But I hope that these students will look back on the experience of taking this class fondly, and I hope they feel like they learned useful things during our time together.  Of course, if they find that they’re able to express themselves through writing more effectively, that’s great.  But more importantly, I hope that, through reading and writing creative nonfiction, they’ve come to understand that they’re not alone in the universe.  I hope they realize that their friends, their classmates, and even their professors struggle with private stresses and anxieties.  I hope they have learned that, sometimes, we all feel isolated, or freakish, or terrified.  And I hope that they’re able to take this knowledge with them after they leave my classroom, better equipped to try to understand someone else’s point-of-view.  This, I think, is the most important reason to study creative nonfiction.

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Categories: Collaboration, Creating Nonfiction, William Bradley
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Collaborative Documents and Student Centered Classrooms

posted: 12.2.14 by Emily Isaacson

I’ve been a slow adopter of using Google Drive, despite many years of having Google-supported email at the different universities where I’ve worked.

But in my late adoption of it, I’ve come to realize how useful it can be in the classroom, particularly when it comes to facilitating a lot of the work that I do to create a student-centered discussion.

I realized over the summer that I could use Google Drive for a couple of things. The first was to create journal templates for my students in my 100- and 200-level courses.  In those courses, my students keep daily reading journals — and by having students write in a journal that I can see, I can immediately tell who is doing the work. More importantly, I can draw ideas into the classroom that students write about in their journals. It took some work to set everything up (I created a template, then made copies for all of the students), but it’s been a useful way to keep an eye on what interests the students in what they read.

My other major use of Google Drive is to create what are essentially collaborative documents of discussion questions.  I did this initially because I’ve got an assignment that’s always been a bit clunky for me in terms of organization. In my 300- and 400-level courses, I’ve always taught students how to write open-ended discussion questions, and then I’ve had them submit questions daily (in lieu of a quiz).  We use those questions in class to guide our conversation.

Previously, I’ve tried having the students just hand the questions to me in class (which really made me work on the fly) or email me either the night before or the hour before class.  With the email, I wound up spend a lot of time collating the work, which also meant the potential for missing some of the questions in the overflowing email inbox.  As I was preparing for my courses over the summer, I remembered an admonition from my student teaching days — if you can let the students do the work for you, have them do the work for you.  Thus, for this, I’ve got the students in my upper division courses writing and collating their discussion questions in Google docs. Here, I simply created forms for each day of class — titled with the name of the text we’re reading and the assigned chapters of acts — and shared an entire folder with the class.  Students submit questions until 30 minutes before class — then I print the entire thing off and use it as we work through the literature. I’ve found that students’ questions are less repetitive when they see what’s been asked before — and I’m even noticing that students will sometimes reference other students’ questions in their own (in which case, I know we have to discuss a certain topic).

I went into the semester thinking that this would be all we use shared documents for.

Then I decided that the students in my novels course really needed to take a careful look at the chronology of events in Dracula.  I realized that this was not something we could really just do on the blackboard. We’ve been doing chapter-by-chapter breakdowns of plots at the beginning of class, but there are simply too many days and too many different narrators in Dracula for that to be effective.

So I created a shared document that simply lists all of the dates in Dracula when a character writes in a diary, sends a letter, or receives a message from a solicitor’s office. On the first day of class, I shared it with all of the students in the class, projected it from the overhead, and set students to the task of sorting things out.  Students worked in groups of two or three, huddled (admittedly) around their phones, laptops, tablets, and the classroom computer, adding to the chronology together.

Once we spend the first chunk of class doing that, we take a look at the story in order — and it’s really helped the students find the details of Dracula’s movements (“Oh, wait! That’s what the dog on the ship was!” “Oh, that’s why there was the detail about the escaped wolf!”).  I also color code the document, according to the different characters narrating (i.e. John Seward’s diary is in green, Mina Murray/Harker’s journal is in purple), which allows us to see how the narrative bounces from one character to another, and how the characters themselves have to piece information together over time.

In doing this we’ve been able to have an effective discussion of the structure of the novel, which has shown the students that they can, indeed, break down the narrative into its parts and look inside the inner workings of the novel.

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Categories: Classroom Challenges and Solutions, Collaboration, Emily Isaacson, In-Class Activity, Teaching with Technology
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Horizontal divider Heather Sellers

Grading Vows

posted: 11.25.14 by Heather Sellers

I have many writing students, and I assign each one of them writing—a lot of writing, both critical and creative pieces—for each class. So, I read a lot of student work.  And this time of the semester all my vows are tested. My vow to keep my daily writing practice going. My vow to sleep and eat well and exercise daily—that’s pretty much over now that it’s late November. My vow to be present for my students, to be a good colleague. My vow to live a life centered around kindness, awareness, and meaning.

I have three strategies—which may or may not work for you—to keep from feeling overly stressed about reading so much student work, especially towards the end of the term, when getting behind, getting off track with other projects and neglecting the fun and fulfilling parts of life is most likely.

Strategy 1

I read 1/3 of the papers that come in the day they come in.  I stay in my office after each class period and spend at least an hour reading for each class. I get home late, but I get home free. I don’t carry student work around with me. I feel like a pile of student writing, left untended, mushrooms into something larger. [Full disclosure: I am teaching creative writing. I feel very, very lucky to have the job I have. I get to choose the assignments, their length, and schedule the due dates. Most people aren’t in that position, so I want to be careful here.  However, I taught comp for many, many years and always I try to associate, deeply, reading student work with pleasurable things.] I read in my office, and I have made that space beautiful by making sure I always have in my space

  1. Fresh flowers
  2. A diffuser spewing lavender oil molecules into the air
  3. Soft light
  4. Soft music.
  5. Access to hot tea.

Strategy 2

I schedule, in my calendar, blocks of time for doing the rest of the reading and then I don’t talk about grading papers before, during, or after those scheduled blocks of time. Ever. Not one word. Not ever. I simply refuse to talk about this part of my life.  I talk about what my students are up to that’s surprising to me. I talk about what we are reading in class, and what I am learning as a writer from the readings, or from my students. If I talk about grading, I feel like I’m complaining and then I also feel like I am spending time in a negative place—like I’m stretching out the task to be a huge part of my life.  It’s time consuming, and important, but it’s not the center of my life. I like to hear other people’s creative strategies for improving teaching so I try to steer conversations about the tedious parts of teaching toward interesting elements, creative solutions, and, hopefully, humor.

Strategy 3

I made friends outside of academia and I hang out with them during my social time. People outside of academia have great strategies for managing workload, increasing efficiency, and approaching the parts of the job that are most challenging and I love to listen to how they talk about work. They are so not interested in my grading woes that, once again, I’m not spending my time in that slough.  I learned a different way of relating to work conversations by listening to those in other fields and it gave me a fresh perspective that I really needed.

At first, when I made my vow to not talk about grading papers, I felt a little weird and lonely. I worried my colleagues would think I was lazy or unfocused. When there’d be a gripe session in the halls  and I didn’t join in, at first I felt like I wasn’t really being part of the team.

It seems like it would be super annoying to enter the conversation, rubrics in hand, smiling, papers all graded and scores neatly entered in the gradebook.  So, I restrain myself.  But if you want to talk about teaching, and response strategies to creative writing, and what we’re learning from researchers about what happens in peer response groups, my door is open. Please come in. Even during this busy time of year, I’d love to talk!

My office is pretty. I did yoga this morning.  End of the semester, and hanging in!  Do come by.

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Categories: Avoiding Burnout, Classroom Challenges and Solutions
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Making Comics

posted: 11.11.14 by Emily Isaacson

I’m a big fan of multi-modal approaches to reading comprehension — I’ve written before about having students draw a poem, and I’ve adapted Barclay Barrios’s idea about IKEA directions for my freshman orientation group. Most recently, I borrowed an idea from my colleague — a Germanist who teaches a course on fairy tales — for my day on Charles Dickens in my survey course: create a comic highlighting the main points of the story.

On this particular day, my students read “The Story of Little Dombey” and “Sikes and Nancy,” which are Dickens’ own adaptations of his work for his public speaking tour — essentially, they are selections from two novels that he performed for his audience, giving only the central parts of these two particular episodes.

So, to prep my students, I showed them a few examples from Hark, a vagrant. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the artist takes literature and history as a subject matter for 6 or 9 paneled comics.  They’re funny, they’re spot on, and they can show students how it’s important — even in making jokes — that we have something to hang on to from the literature. (My favorite is “Dude Watching With the Brontes”.)  For me it established a tone for the class — we’re serious here in our study of literature, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. This is supposed to be fun — but reflective of the text in front of us.

From here, I provided groups of three a sheet with six panels on it, and had students select one of the two stories. The directions from this point on were to pick the 6 most important moments, and illustrate them as best as they could. This work got students talking about the plots, and particularly identifying the plots that didn’t quite work out of the context of their respective novels. But they also talked a great deal about the central themes of the stories.

What the students came up with was amazing. In general, students approached the topic differently. We had lol-speak. We had serious attempts at illustrating the important moments. We had references to contemporary pop-culture — and one group even explained that the last moment of “Sikes and Nancy” would be saved for the post-credit sequence.

After students worked on their comics, I had the groups explain their choices, which allowed us to look at what they saw as not only central moments in the stories, but also the themes of the stories. What was remarkable about the effort was that students gravitated towards similar moments in the two stories. For example, the groups that chose “Little Dombey” all focused on the little boy’s complaint that money (his father’s highest concern) could not bring back his dead mother.

Student Cartoon Panel

In all, the students were able to sort out the plot, the characters, the themes without my intervention — and that goal is certainly a huge part of working on their ability to read literature.

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Critical Thinking, Emily Isaacson, In-Class Activity, Popular Culture
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Audio Theatre: A New Writing Platform

posted: 11.4.14 by David Eshelman

It had long been my contention that playwriting is more practical than screenwriting because it leads more directly to a finished product.  In other words, whereas an ambitious playwright could organize his or her friends and stage a piece on a weekend, the screenwriter was dependent on the whims of Hollywood producers to obtain the resources to get their films made.  This assessment of practicality, though, seems to apply less and less to today’s world in which there are so many opportunities through the internet.  If a screenwriter uses the production and distribution means available through the web—for example, if a writer creates scripts for short Youtube films—then screenwriting can be every bit as practical as playwriting.

Besides screenwriting, the internet has enhanced the practicality of another field—radio drama.  The format, which dwindled in the U.S. with the rise of television, is now reemerging under the aegis of podcasting and audiobooks.  Teachers of dramatic writing are wise to embrace audio theatre for the following reasons:

  1. It stands to become more and more important in our Internet Age.
  2. It provides easy production opportunities for emerging writers—requiring no sets, costumes, or even line memorization, as required by film and the stage.
  3. Digital recordings, the product of audio theatre endeavors, are easy to disseminate to a wide audience.

My university, Arkansas Tech, has been leading the way in audio theatre ventures for seven years now.  Through an organization called the Arkansas Radio Theatre, we have created more than forty broadcasts which play on the local radio station, are made available to the visually impaired throughout the state, and are available on-line  (click Public, then Radio Theatre).  The Arkansas Radio Theatre is dedicated to new plays and adaptations of classic literature.  An audio theatre company like the Arkansas Radio Theatre is easy to establish because free recording software is easily available.  An interested instructor simply needs some microphones in order to record voices.  Apart from that, an audio theatre company simply requires a means for broadcast—or some server space, which is readily available at most universities.

However, just because a production opportunity exists, that does not mean that student writers are prepared to take advantage of it.  Because audio theatre is a unique form, writers must be trained with relevant coursework.  In order to build the Radio Theatre into the curricular structures of my university, I am teaching (in Fall 2014) an upper-division topics course focusing on Radio Theatre Writing.  Some of the assignments explore audio theatre as a genre:  for example, listening to broadcasts from the Golden Age of Radio and comparing them to the audio drama available today.  Students will eventually work toward hour-long original scripts.  Hopefully, the insights learned in teaching this class will help others who attempt to engage in audio theatre projects.  I will report on the progress of the course in later posts.

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Horizontal divider Paul Menzer

Teaching Shakespeare’s Contemporaries

posted: 10.21.14 by Paul Menzer

Every other year I teach a course called “Shakespeare’s Contemporaries.” And therefore every other year I end up thinking that it’s the worst possible name for the course. For starters, when you consider that Great Britain boasted a population of 4,811,718 in 1600, the title alone would obligate me to entertain 4,811,717 thousand individuals, and though my strength is as the strength of ten, I am but one man. More seriously, if we were even to entertain only the dramatic entertainments of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, that still leaves an enormous number of plays.

Consider this: with enough time on his hands or money in her pocket, an industrious young man or woman of 21 in 1584 could have seen the premier of the plays of John Lyly, as well as plays by Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, and Robert Greene before she or he hit 30.  In the next decade, my imaginary – though aging – playgoer could see plays by all of the Thomases (Heywood, Dekker, Middleton), the Johns (Marston, Webster, Fletcher), Ben Jonson, Francis Beaumont, Cyril Tourneur before he or she had passed his or her 40th.  Won’t they be tired?  Oh yeah, by the way, they could have also seen all the plays of Shakespeare, and about 1200 more for which we have records in the period.

But we don’t have world or time enough – in fact we only have fifteen weeks.  So I end up selected about 25 plays and, by selecting, doom each play to the status of sample.  Each play must be a sample of something about all of the other plays in the period not written by William Shakespeare, and there’s a surprisingly large number of them. This in turn seems to doom the class to an exercise in which whoever wrote the play they’re reading, they’re always reading a play not-by-Shakespeare, whereas when they’re reading a play by Shakespeare, they’re never reading a play, for instance, not-by-Marston. A former student in the course put it crudely but effectively when she said, there’s Shakespeare and there’s early modern drama. She’s right.

I’m not really complaining, and I’m certainly not diagnosing. At this point I’m merely describing the case that is the case. After all, what else would we want to call the class?

  • Tudor, Jacobean, and Carolinian Drama
  • Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Century Plays in English
  • Plays in English: 1580-1642
  • Non-Shakespearean Early Modern Entertainments
  • Early English Drama
  • Medieval and Renaissance Drama

I could write several hundred words, at least, on the problems of each title, but I’ll spare you for now. Suffice to say that all these course names are variously misleading.  For now, at least, “Shakespeare’s Contemporaries” will serve. Not least because it seems, of all the titles auditioned here, to be the most provocatively bad.  “Shakespeare’s Contemporaries” is the worst possible name for the course, except for all the others.

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Categories: Cultural Mythologies, Genre, Literature
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