Friday, November 18, 2011

Long time no blog

Hey Shakespeare fans,

It's literally been 11 days since I last updated ye olde Shakespeare blog. I don't really have a good excuse, other than that I've been busier that normal. But I finally turned in my 20-page paper for my political science class, and I got through today's crazy day at The Daily Universe ... so I'm ready to talk Shakespeare.

Since my last foray into Shakespeare and social media, not a whole lot has happened. No one responded to any of my tweets. I did get Janet Somerville to follow me on both her personal Twitter account and her literature teacher account. Unfortunately, I haven't tweeted about Shakespeare since! So I've probably disappointed her, haha.

My new plan is to "live tweet" while I continue reading King Lear. My live blogging for Julius Caesar was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. I'm hoping that live tweeting will be less effort and yet have more of an audience. I'll just be sure to add #Shakespeare and #KingLear to all my tweets, and then anyone who happens to be looking for Shakespeare and King Lear tweets will find mine. There's a smaller chance that someone would come across my blog.

So, we'll see how it goes.

Most of my energy for this Shakespeare class lately has been the final project. Austin and I have been assigned to get the word out about all the other final projects, and put together an event to show them off. It's been fun to collaborate and get ideas. Austin will design a website that will preview everybody's projects. And we're planning on a "Shakespeare night" on Friday, December 9. You should all come! Mark your calendars!

Maybe you can help me with something.

What should we call this event? I've been calling it "Shakespeare night" or "the event" in my head, but we should come up with something catchier. A lot of our class has been focused on blogging and digital social media, and that's something we would be showing off for the event. So maybe "Digital Shakespeare"? Or "Cyber Shakespeare"? ("Cyber Shakespeare" would be better, with the alliteration and all.) And I could draw a logo of a cool, cartoon Shakespeare with a smart phone and an iPad or something like that. What do you think? Or what other ideas can you think of?

Monday, November 7, 2011

King Lear and the Twitter

In going over my midterm progress with Professor Burton last week, he challenged me to broadcast my blog and my views on Shakespeare out into the real cyber world. A blog might be considered social media, but usually it's just a one-sided conversation unless people are brought to it. A blog is like a tree that falls in the forest and doesn't make a sound unless someone is there to hear it.

So I'm trying to look for Twitter conversations about #KingLear to jump into. My plan for now is to see what conversations are already going on, and see if I can add to them and also link to my blog. We'll see how it works.

Here's what I've got so far:

1) I found someone named @NaadiShirodkar who compared herself to Cordelia:

It looks like she wasn't really talking about Shakespeare, but she must be at least familiar enough with King Lear to have Cordelia pop into her mind when she felt like expressing some personal frustration unrelated to Shakespeare. Interesting. And I wonder what she'll think of my blog post if she reads it. Will it help her feel better about being a "good character" and knowing that they win out in the end?

2) A literature teacher posed a question that a lot of people responded to. So I gave an answer as well.

You can read other responses to @TeenBoyLitCrit's question by clicking here.

3) I saw a hashtag going around for #SixWordShakespeare or #6WordShakespeare. Some of them are pretty funny (although beware of non-BYU-appropriate language). I did my best to add to the conversation with a link to my blog post.

So, we'll see if the Twitterverse answers me.

Here are some other funny or interesting tweets I saw about King Lear.

1) This is from that same literature teacher who tweets for @TeenBoyLitCrit:

2) Here are couple of #SixWordShakespeare tweets, one funny and one interesting:

3) And somebody tweeted a link to some King Lear-related comics. They're only sorta funny, but Anthony especially might get a kick out of the the one titled "Cameo."

Was blind, but now, I see

The figurative meaning of "sight" and "vision" in King Lear is an obvious message that Shakespeare wants to get across. But I still wanted to share something I thought was cool about it anyway.

Lear: Out of my sight!
Earl of Kent: See better, Lear, and let me still remain
The true blank of thine eye.

I noticed the juxtaposition of these two lines, how King Lear is commanding Kent to do something and Kent is commanding King Lear to do the exact opposite. It's easier to see the "command" if you understand a Spanish translation:

Lear: Sal afuera de mi vista!

Conde de Kent: Vea mejor, Lear, y déjeme que yo siga como el marco verdadero de su ojo.

The words in bold are in Spanish command form.

So far, I don't see Kent as having an independent streak and wanting to rile up the king, like Paulina in The Winter's Tale. Kent seems like the kind of guy where if he is provoked, then something must be really wrong.

Beyond the actual action of the play, I think it's easy to see Kent as an embodiment of the voice of reason. Therefore, what King Lear is actually doing is telling reason to leave, and Kent is telling the king to use reason, and let it continue to be his primary focus.

How many times do we have reason staring us right in the face and yet we find a way to avoid it or ignore it? I can think of a few times when I have been guilty of it as well as family members of mine.

Another embodiment of reason is Cordelia. Did you notice that she doesn't do much to defend herself after King Lear lashes out at her? All she does is explain to the King of France what her father has done. I think it must be because, as the voice of reason, Cordelia knows reason will win out in the end (although, as we readers know, it wins out tragically).

Why do you think Shakespeare keeps Cordelia silent after her father's berating and banishing?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Here we are, halfway done with the semester, which means it's time to look back on a half-semester with Shakespeare.

A. Learning Outcomes

1. How have I gained Shakespeare literacy?

Each scene I read of Shakespeare is a little easier to understand. More and more I can just read the original text, and for the times that I am lost I have found that Shmoop's summaries work well as a modern translation. And often if I read how Shmoop says it and then read how Shakespeare said it, everything clicks and becomes clear to me.

2. How have I analyzed Shakespeare critically?

I think most of my analysis has come from either class discussion or the live performances. I don't know if most of what I do on this blog counts as analysis. I talk about themes and morals that Shakespeare presents, but I probably don't really analyze his writing. But I do participate in class, and I come up with lots of ideas for analyzing the live plays and their connections to the text.

After The Winter's Tale
After The Tempest

3. How have I engaged Shakespeare creatively?

I think through this blog I have found ways to to connect Shakespeare with more commonplace yet still meaningful ideas. (I think this has helped a little with the Shakespeare literacy as well.) I find ways to have fun with Shakespeare rather than just read or watch it. I have an objective in mind, and it helps me have some fun with the play and also pay more attention to what I'm reading.

Here are some examples:

Live blogging Julius Caesar
Looking for word play in Love's Labour's Lost

4. How have I shared Shakespeare meaningfully?

I think this blog has been my main vehicle for sharing my learning process. I don't just blog for blogging's sake, but I imagine an actual audience I'm communicating with whenever I am writing. For the most part, it seems that audience has only been Professor Burton and my classmates. But my wife reads it, or at least claims to (Hi, Babe! :) ) And occasionally when I am either especially proud of a blog post or I think my friends outside of ENGL 232 would be interested, I share a link on Facebook or Twitter.

Here are some that I've tweeted or posted on Facebook:

El Guillermo Shakespeare
'They seemed unto him but a few days'
George Washington the Zombie Killer

B. Self-directed learning

1. What have I done that demonstrates I have taken charge of my own learning about Shakespeare?

Everything about this blog is me taking charge of Shakespeare. This blog is very much a stream-of-consciousness outlet, where I get to write about what Shakespeare makes me think of and what interests me. I think browsing this blog might be a way to show how my brain works, or at least how my brain handles literature.

A few such personalized posts:

I'm All Ears
Clownin' Around

2. How am I doing at planning my learning, documenting my learning, scheduling and carrying out learning activities, and measuring my learning?

The blogging schedule has really helped me. Although I've been late a couple of times, knowing that I need to have a new blog post every Monday and Wednesday has helped me maintain my semester with Shakespeare. It also helps me to document the whole learning process, instead of just blogging after I finish a play.

I admit that for a lot of my blogging for Julius Caesar, my individual play, I did things last minute. I know I would have gotten more out of it, especially the global sharing assignment, if I had started earlier.

C. Collaborative and Social Learning

1. Which students have aided me the most in my own learning (through help inside or outside of class, through their comments on my blog, or through their blogging, etc.)?

My blogging group has been great. Kelsie, Christa, Lauren, Matt and Anthony have all added so much to my knowledge and appreciation for Shakespeare. We've all gotten the hang of this blogging thing and I think all of us have come up with some awesome stuff. Kelsie provides more of the deep insights, Christa more of the entertaining yet meaningful rants, Lauren the fun, "whaddaya know" posts, Anthony with a sincere desire to understand this area that he admits he is unfamiliar with and Matt has been really good at learning from and responding to all of us. We're a great team. We should be made into a sitcom.

I also enjoyed reading Julius Caesar with Averill. She and I had very different approaches to reading the play, but we were interested enough in each other's interpretations to have some good back-and-forth between our blogs, and in real life too. It was fun having her in the carpool on our way to see The Tempest on Saturday.

Speaking of which, my other carpoolmates for both field trips have been great for bouncing around ideas and thinking of any and every observation we made of the plays. Averill, Chris and Meg contributed especially to the car ride discussion.

2. How is working within the assigned learning groups working? How could this be improved?

I think it works really well, especially compared to the usual working with groups in a classroom. I think in most of my BYU experience, students like to do things on their own and despise group projects. Maybe because we all at least care enough about Shakespeare to take a class, or because literature is just fun and easy to talk about, or because of the added blogging element - I don't know, but for some reason we actually look forward to talking to each other in class.

The one thing that would add more to the discussion would be to have some sort of documentation. We have some really great discussions, but it seems like it all vanishes when class is over, unless one of us happens to remember it for a blog post. I don't think I would want to appoint a secretary to take minutes, but maybe there would be some way to preserve our great ideas.

3. How am I involving others (outside of my group or even our class) in my learning? Or, how am I applying my learning about Shakespeare in social settings beyond class?

This is one area that I am definitely subpar in. Other than the occasional Facebook post or conversation with my wife about my day at school, I haven't shared my Shakespeare experience very much outside of class. And I fulfilled the global sharing requirement, but without spending much time on it and without doing anything special, really. I still haven't seen much response from those efforts, but those efforts weren't very impressive to begin with.

D. Looking Ahead

1. State what your plans are for meeting learning outcomes or personal learning plans that are incomplete. This can include discussion of the final project.

For the future, I want to do better to start assignments earlier so that I can spend more time with them, instead of waiting until just before the deadline and then checking it off my list. Other than that, this class is going well and I am getting more out of it than probably any other class I've ever had.

As for the final project, back when I imagined each of us doing a project according to our personal interests, I was thinking of something that would combine Shakespeare with politics (hence the name of this blog). I thought of looking for instances in which U.S. presidents have quoted Shakespeare in a political speech, or thinking of politicians who would make up cast for some Shakespeare play ...

... Like this infographic from Newsweek that pitted Star Wars/the Bush administration against Star Trek/the Obama administration.

But now that the final projects seem to be more collective, I'm not so sure. All the ideas brought up in class sounded good to me. It would be fun to join Averill's project, and it would also be fun to do more stuff online. I'm pretty much open to anything.