Should we pay more attention to James I before he became King of England?
Thomas Cogswell, James 1: The Phoenix King (Penguin Monarchs series), (Allen Lane: London, 2017)
Studying or teaching Shakespeare’s plays, the figure of Elizabeth looms in the background, like the spectre at the feast.
We see it in the ever-present censorship, in the light of the Treasons Acts in 1571 and 1581, outlawing public discussion of the succession. Or, more positively, in the ‘Gloriana’ cult that produced works like Spenser‘s The Faerie Queen, and flattering nods to Elizabeth wherever you look – like links between her and Theseus in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We see it in her discomfort with comparisons to Richard II, and the propagandic lionization of Henry VII.
Reading Cogswell‘s short, sympathetic biography has made me reassess the extent to which we / I ignore James until the succession question becomes absolutely critical.
I wonder if there was a time when, at least as an adult, the name Germaine Greer was unknown to me. Yet this slim volume, picked up in the last mad pre-demolition trolley dash round our old sixth-form building almost a year ago, is my first reading of any of her works. I feel a bit embarrassed about that.
The more things change, the more they stay the same …
Neale, 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,’ asJean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr(another foreigner*, dammit!) might say …
Anything other than modern ‘exclusivity’ could mean demotion and starvation at best, or – more likely – imprisonment, exile, or execution.
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.
Where Marlowe went when he should have been at Uni …
George Carleton, A Thankfull Remembrance of God’s Mercie (1630)
Much as I’d like a copy of this on the Boar’s Head Bookshelf, I’ve been playing with a facsimile copy I got from www.archive.org. I think it was mentioned in one of the episodes of BBC’s wonderful Shakespeare’s Restless World – which I recommend to anyone remotely interested in Shakespeare, Marlowe and their contemporaries.
As usual, I have one eye on anything that could be interesting or useful to my A Level students, so whilst I’d like to dwell on some of the pretty hilarious vitriol this man of the cloth (Bishop of Winchester, to be exact) reserves for the Catholic faith, I’ve something a little quotable for the students of Marlowe.