Quote of the Week: 14 May 2018 (#41)

Having fun exploring the role of literature in preserving an unfair system …

BH capitalism1Last week finished with me in full theatrical mode, pacing the classroom like a restless, caged predator, declaiming at full volume (and probably decreasingly coherently), on the likely politics of Marlowe and Tennyson.  That’ll teach my Y13s to ask for some ideas on Marxist Literary Criticism (AO5, folks), during Period 6 on a Friday …

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 14 May 2018 (#41)”

Quote of the Week: 26 February 2018 (#30)

Almost nothing seems to have changed in 400 years … as usual …

BH womans placesubtitled, ‘Food for powder

Matthew Beaumont:  Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London (London:  Verso Books, 2015)

My recent article on Gayle Rubin‘s important Feminist work, ‘The Traffic in Women’ touched upon what has been historically expected of women, especially working class ones.  Rubin takes a look at the Marxist position before developing it into a gender rather than class-specific argument:  the commodification of women in the marriage market.  It’s an excellent read.

And we see Rubin’s position everywhere in Shakespeare and the EMP, where women constantly struggle against the social imperative to marry a man who ticks boxes for their family / parents, love coming as an unexpected bonus.  Even comedies such as The Dream feature the tension between ‘kinship‘ and ‘companionate‘ marriages.

To say nothing of the pressures Elizabeth I was under, of course …

In my article, I dipped into Beaumont‘s book for a supporting quotation, but it’s been weighing on my mind.  I think it needs to be considered on its own merits.

Continue reading “Quote of the Week: 26 February 2018 (#30)”

Cultural Capital 03: Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto

Prepare yourself for a glorious improvement in your AO5 skills, comrades!

(For non-students, this is part of a series for my A Level students looking at important secondary texts which will assist their studies.)

BH Marx 1

 

 

‘I am not a Marxist’ – Karl Marx

‘Reading The Communist Manifesto does not make you a Communist, any more than reading the Bible makes you a Christian’

says Nigel Cawthorne in the introduction to my copy.  This reassuring sentiment is only slightly undermined by his point that:

‘While reading The Communist Manifesto, it is as well to remember that millions of people have shed blood over this document.’ As they have, to be fair, with last month’s text …

THIS is the power of ideas and words, people. Continue reading “Cultural Capital 03: Marx and Engels: The Communist Manifesto”

PTS 10/058: Eat up your Shakespeare

Putting Shakespeare in students’ mouths is often as much fun as feeding a baby – the faces they pull!

BH Shakespeare Food
image (C) Francine Segan

A Midsummer Night’s Dream:  Act I

Shakespeare’s language lives in the mouth, not the ears or eyes.  It needs to be tasted, and one of the advantages of living alone is that I can pace up and down my flat’s lengthy corridor reading tricky lines out loud, or just playing with the inflections of favourites:

I wasted time and now doth time waste me.

I WASTED time and NOW doth time waste me.

I wasted TIME and now doth TIME waste ME.

And so on, like the celebrity skit in the BBC’s Shakespeare400 celebration.  You get the picture.

If it needs to be tasted, it also needs, I suppose, to be CHEWED.  That’s what we often do in the classroom …

Continue reading “PTS 10/058: Eat up your Shakespeare”

PTS 08/049: No Weddings and No Funerals

Not everyone gets their just desserts as our RomCom ends …

BH CoE finale
Do I know you?

The Comedy of Errors, Act V

Shakespeare has plenty to do in the 400-odd lines of Act V.  The general confusion needs to create a crisis before we can have our happy ending – in this case, perhaps an equivocal, unsatisfying one, but more on that later.

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PTS 08/045: Oh, no it isn’t! Oh, yes it is …

You just can’t tell some people that you wouldn’t HAVE Blackadder without Shakespeare …


Ponytail Shakespeare read-through The Comedy of Errors: Act I scene I

‘Which is it today?’
The Comedy of Errors.
‘Ugh!’
‘It’s about two sets of twins, separated at birth, who find themselves-‘
‘Stop! Enough!’
Continue reading “PTS 08/045: Oh, no it isn’t! Oh, yes it is …”

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?

Continue reading “Cultural Capital 01: Dante’s Inferno”