QotW (#58): 15 October 2018

Can we just stop putting ideas in Shakespeare’s head, please?

BH atent-dead
GNU Sir Terry Pratchett

… just busy.

 

And increasingly grumpy … when I’ve found no time to blog, other than a single new Golden Dogberry.

Autumn Term is always a log-jam, and my least favourite of the three.  I told my better half today that whilst there had been a LOT of time at home and weekends where I was too busy to see her, there wasn’t really any ‘me time’ in there.  I haven’t read anything for weeks, and obviously, the blog has suffered.  At least our school has finally been inspected now after years of being on ‘DEF-CON2’, and with any luck we won’t see THEM for a while …

Let’s get back to it, shall we?

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QotW (#57) 17 September 2018

BH organise-fish-solidarity-hi
ORGANIZE!

Why do I keep reading books about the plays, about the contextual crucibles in which they were cooked up?

Because there’s always something new to learn, or an angle that I hadn’t considered before.  And that’s where this week’s QotW comes in.

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My Delightful Society

‘I’ll show you mine; you show me yours …’

440px-Portrait_of_William_Gladstone‘Books are delightful society.  If you go into a room and find it full of books – even without taking them from the shelves they seem to speak to you, to bid you welcome.’  William Ewart Gladstone

This post came out of a discussion on Reddit where I asserted that we weren’t seeing enough Shakespeare shelf-porn.  SHAKESPORN, in fact.  Yup. You heard me.  So in the spirit of ‘I’ll show you mine; you show me yours‘, here’s a tour of my Shakespeare bookshelf: MY ‘delightful society‘ …

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Forensic Friday (#10)

Richard II = Edward II = Prospero = Duke Vincentio = Henry VI = every useless boss you have ever worked for,

BH let us sit
Richard’s return from Ireland is NOT a happy one …

Richard II appears on my reading list for Edward II each year.  It’s not just me – this is what Jonathan Bate, who I recently gushed about, has to say:

Richard II’s relationship to Edward II is so obvious that it is not very interesting. The structure of the two plays is identical: the King is surrounded by flatterers and pitted against an assemblage of nobles with vested interests of their own, then isolated and uncrowned, stripped of his royal identity, thus forced to discover his inner self by means of a supple, reflective soliloquy delivered whilst humiliatingly in prison. In each play the Queen is pushed to the margins in part because of the king’s homoerotic leanings. Marlowe is bolder than Shakespeare in his explicit portrayal of the homosexuality and his neat device of joining the Queen with the rebels in revenge. [a]

It should be easy to find something in Richard which’ll look familiar to my Edward students, right?  Let’s have a go …

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QotW (#56): 10 September 2018

Studying a History play? Look for the playwright’s sources …

BH Edward-IIMy Marxist critical inclinations – that a text can’t be read in isolation from the contextual crucible that created it – get pretty much free reign when it comes to teaching Edward II.  For the OCR A Level course, my students need to compare Marlowe’s drama to Tennyson‘s monodrama, ‘Maud‘ and, get this, 50% of the mark is context (that’s AO3, troops).

What, exactly, is context?  I’d suggest that for both texts, maybe all texts, context is usually a mix of two things:

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[book review] Bate: The Genius of Shakepeare

BH bate geniusJonathan Bate:  The Genius of Shakespeare (Picador:  London, 2008)

Professor Bate will probably be a familiar face, or voice, to anyone on the ‘Shake-scene’ in the UK.  You can hear him participating in Shakespeare-themed episodes of BBC Radio’s ‘In Our Time’, he heads a University of Warwick MOOC on ‘Shakespeare and his World’, and amongst his many written accomplishments, he edited the Arden third edition of Titus Andronicus.

This is such an engaging book. Because ‘you don’t read Shakespeare, he reads you‘, we learn almost as much about Professor Bate as we do about Shakespeare.  If you want to know what a modern Shakespeare scholar is like, you could do worse than start here.

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Quotation of the Week (#55): 03 September 2018

What, exactly, is a text?

BH edward ii front

As the school year commences, for teachers if not students, welcome to the first page of my main copy of Marlowe‘s Edward II. [a]

Why am I showing you this?

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