Quote of the Week: 01 January 2018

Is royal blood THINNER than water?

pollard_cover

Pollard, AJ:  Edward IV, The Summer King (Penguin Monarchs) (Allen Lane:  London, 2016)

It happens in the best of families.  Royalty is often an accident of birth, and doesn’t guarantee fitness for rule, as we’ve seen in the exploits of Henry VI and Edward II – weak sons of strong fathers.

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Quote of the Week: 18 December 2017

The more things change, the more they stay the same …

BH neale coverNeale, JE:  Queen Elizabeth I (Pimlico:  London, 1998)

Once again, I’m minded to say that we continue to study EMP Literature because whilst times and technology have undoubtedly moved on, human attitudes and the situations we face remain broadly the same.

Endemic Xenophobia?  Check.

Effemination of rival men who dress too well?  Check.

Aristocratic disdain for ‘upstarts’?  Check.

‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,’ as Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (another foreigner*, dammit!) might say …

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Quote of the Week: 11 December 2017

We only want to be kings because we don’t fully understand what it involves?

BH Lee_1603Christopher Lee, 1603 (Review:  London, 2003)

Not THAT Christopher Lee, obviously!

In class, we’ve seen it in Edward II and, I think, Richard III.  There are hints of it for my younger students in Macbeth.  But I see it everywhere: in Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI.

 

In Twelfth Night, Malvolio tells us:

“be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em” (II.v)

Quite simply, the message I consistently get from EMP plays is that greatness – in this case being monarch – is never, ever, all it’s cracked up to be …

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Cultural Capital 01: Dante’s Inferno

Flatterers … are destined to mud-wrestle each other in a lake of diarrhoea … representing the crap they spoke whilst alive, I suppose!

BH george michael choose life
The ultimate HAMLET tee-shirt?

Subtitled:  Big Mouth Strikes Again (The Smiths – my students will know why, today of all days)

This article was written for a forthcoming in-house newsletter/magazine.  First, hopefully, in a series of articles (Cultural Capital) about influential, dare I say essential works that our students need to get under their belts.  I set myself a STRICT word-count of 750, including quotations but excluding titles and references, tried to avoid being too professorial, and I’ve prioritised other texts related to what I’ll be teaching as part of the OCR A Level Engish Literature course.  If I’m spared 😉

Inferno is a valuable source of AO1 and AO3, people.  This won’t replace you reading the original, but it might at least persuade you to give it a go.

Next up?  James I‘s DaemonologieMachiavelli‘s The Prince or The Book of Genesis:  open to suggestions …

[…] Midway on our path in life,

I came around and found myself searching

Through a wood, the right way blurred and lost.

I know the feeling.  More importantly, so begins Dante’s Inferno, the sexiest-titled poem no-one’s read.  Perhaps only at a certain age do you start asking Really Big Questions:  ‘What am I doing with my life?  What’s the point?  What’s left?’  Tennyson’s like a dog with a bone on this.  Ponytail Shakespeare readers – you’re fed up of hearing this sort of thing from me.

The most important question, though, is surely ‘what’s next?

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Model Answer: Edward II CBA

Anything other than modern ‘exclusivity’ could mean demotion and starvation at best, or – more likely – imprisonment, exile, or execution.

BH Marcus Stone
Painting by Marcus Stone:  Edward and Gaveston frolic in front of Isabella et al

CLASSROOM BASED ASSESSMENT:  In Edward II, love is invariably possessive.  Discuss.

Weightings:  AO1 (25%); AO3 (50%); AO5 (25%)

God, I hate this question.

One of the things that I got from my teacher training, back in the day, was that if you asked a poor/stupid/inaccessible question, you only had yourself to blame for crap answers.  This is an OCR question – at least the students get a choice of six to answer for their final exams.  But for reasons beyond my ken, or immediate power to change, it is our first CBA on Edward II.  It also comes too early in the course for people who were in school uniform less than 6 months ago to be asked to deal with AO5, if you ask me.  They were being constantly drilled in AO2, and for this essay, it’s not required …

But enough whinging.  In the spirit of never asking people to do something you wouldn’t do yourself, here’s a model answer for my class to play with.  I tried to do this in the same conditions they were asked to do it in, without any ‘cheating’ on my part.

IF THIS IS THE FIRST TIME YOU’VE HAD A LOOK AT ONE OF MY ESSAYS, PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW.

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 008

WE CANNOT, MUST NOT, WIPE ART WITH ANTI-BACTERIAL WIPES BEFORE ALLOWING THE NEXT GENERATION TO HANDLE IT …

BH CSF blinding of Gloucester
‘Out, vile jelly’:  the blinding of Gloucester …

I took this picture – from King Lear – at the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival back in 2012.  I often show it to pupils who try to tell me that Shakespeare is ‘boring‘.  Or indeed I give them some of the plot details from Titus Andronicus that have caused such concern of late …

It’s taken me a little while to allow this one to sink in to the extent that it became a ‘crime’, but in the Dock, ladies and gentlemen of the Jury, I give you no less than the English Faculty of Cambridge University (or at least some members of that august institution) …

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What Would Shakespeare Say?

BH lego WWSS
Photo by me …

I think I might finally have achieved critical mass.  One of my students (thanks, Struckers) pointed out today that I’ve got a Shakespeare quotation for every occasion.  That pleased me quite a bit, in the way that only an unabashed nerd can take pleasure from their weird obsession being recognised by others (even if they are being gently mocked) …

What was this occasion?

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