Lou Reed had Donald Trump nailed as long ago as 1989, namechecking not just the POTUS but also his latest cheerleader, Rudy Giuliani, in his polemic track, ‘Sick of You‘, which also contains the following memorable and prophetic lines:
They say the President’s dead,
No-one can find his head,
It’s been missing now for weeks.
But no one noticed it!
Yeah, he seemed so fit …
Marlowe probably DID make a hazard of his head by easing his heart …
The more I read about Marlowe, the more I like and sympathise with him – arrogant, frustrated genius, malcontent, morally questionable, and attention-whore as he may have been. I sense a kindred spirit: my best friend would say the same about me – perhaps with a lot more arrogance and a lot less genius. As I get older, I like to think that my moral code is finally begining to crystallise, where it was entirely fluid 25 years ago, but then Marlowe never had the opportunity to mellow …
Increasingly, I see Marlowe as the kind of ‘mis-shape‘ Jarvis Cocker sung about in 1995:
Episode 6 of Forensic Friday – the rules are here for first-timers – effectively kicks off this summer’s likely obsession with Marlowe.
My OCR A Level students are not obliged to analyse Edward II in this way; perhaps they’ll wonder at the point of today’s exercise. The point is that you ought to be able to do this – and enjoy the process – for any text, people. We are, after all, archaeologists of the written word – this is what we do …
Anyway, here’s a tiny extract that speaks volumes about Edward II’s lover and their relationship …
Should I oppose the slings and arrows of teaching the same thing year in, year out?
… THAT is the question occupying my thoughts at the moment.
No, this isn’t a Machiavellian masterplan for world domination (although see below, perhaps it’s just part of one).
What you see above is the bare bones of a 12-week (forty-eight lesson!) Scheme of Work on Julius Caesar that I’ve been toying with producing over the summer. I’m hoping for advice – not just on the skeleton of the scheme (although that would be highly appreciated), but on whether or not to bother …
For a perfectionist, it’s an opportunity: time to produce something better than ‘good enough’ …
It seems like years since it’s been here. [a]
So many people seem to resent our summer holiday. They bemoan having to take responsibility for their own offspring (my favourite pet peeve); whine about the cost of holidays; whinge about the number of tourists clogging their area (without appreciating how their local economy depends on that tourist pound, or how often they are the problem in other parts of the country).
Hot ice and wondrous strange snow: the appetite for articulation …
Frequently, I ask my class to step into the time machine and join me back in 1592.
Conveniently, it’s as close as we can get to dating both Richard III and Edward II, my Key Stage 5 texts. The other plays I teach at the moment – Much Ado About Nothing and Macbeth – follow on from here.
This period was a crucible in which Drama as we know it was being born, alchemically transmuted from the didactic Morality Plays into something fresh and exciting. With my Marxist critical hat on, if we can understand the contextual elements poured into that cauldron, we can better appreciate and analyse the resultant heady brew.
At 18, students ought to be able to handle History plays, but the exam boards don’t seem to like them?
Following my recent KS4 post, I extended my research to A Level – that is the exams taken by 18-year olds before they hit university. Again, I’d love to hear from students or teachers, especially in other countries. Here are a few thoughts of my own:
Ponytail Shakespeare read-through: Romeo and Juliet, Act I, scene i
Regular readers will understand my complex relationship with the notion of ‘England’.
The catchy simplicity of Three Lions (It’s Coming Home) turned from pleasantly nostalgic ‘earworm‘ – I well remember the song’s release for Euro ’96 – to a cankerous ‘worm ‘i the bud‘ [a] long before Wednesday’s almost inevitable defeat to Croatia. The entire nation, it seemed, had been reduced to a vocabulary of just three words – a mantra which was unchallengeable, a self-evident truth destroyed in just 120 minutes (if only Brexit could fall as quickly.) As I watched people (including several students) spill out of The Sun – opposite where I was drinking – in a numbed state of shock after the match, I was glad I wouldn’t hear it for a while. Having ‘sat like Patience’ I was now, almost, ‘smiling at grief’. To no avail: by 11am the next day – no lie – I was hearing “World Cup 2022: It’s Coming Home” in the corridors of ‘C’ Block … sigh.
Has this anything to do with Romeo and Juliet? Of course.
Maybe it’s ironic to quote an author I haven’t read – apart from a single short story in a SF anthology (‘The Way of the Cross and the Dragon’ (1978), if anyone’s interested) – but this is the second time I’ve used GRR Martin‘s quotation (and indeed this image):
‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.’
‘Everyone‘ says I would love Martin’s work if I could find the time to read it, by the way. It’s not even close to reaching the slopes of Mount Tsundoku at the moment.
If Marxist literary criticism were renamed, say Contextual Critical Theory, I wonder if it would be taken more seriously by the uninitiated … like rebranding Labour as ‘New Labour’ in the UK helped Tony Bliar (intentional misspelling) come to power in 1997 … How can we possibly dissociate a text from the society in which it was created, or indeed from the intertextual cauldron that formed the author’s views?