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?

Continue reading “QotW (#58): 15 October 2018”

Pay attention, there’s a test (part 2)

At 18, students ought to be able to handle History plays, but the exam boards don’t seem to like them?

BH KS5 texts

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:

Continue reading “Pay attention, there’s a test (part 2)”

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)”

The 2018 Shakespeare Top 10

Forget the Oscars, here are some winners that REALLY matter to me …

BH Ardens
Not – quite – my collection of Ardens … soon, soon!

We HATE lists, don’t we?

Except, actually we bloody love them, if it’s something we’re interested in.

No, really.

That said, the last thing we want is a list that agrees with our perceptions – the dopamine rush of validation is very short-lived compared to the opportunity to passionately argue our disagreement.  We LOVE subjective opinions.  Trust me – my wonderfully fulfilling University years were full of essays arguing the toss – why, for example:

  • Dracula should not be judged for his ‘special dietary requirements’, whereas Van Helsing and his bunch are vindictive bastards;
  • we ought to respect Edward Hyde for his refreshing honesty, as opposed to Henry Jekyll‘s hypocrisy; or
  • Ursula K. Le Guin’s (RIP) The Left Hand of Darkness, whilst a superb book, had no place in the Science Fiction module

You get the picture:  English Lit is a tailor-made subject for those who are argumentative and prepared to do the spadework to back-up their cockiness …

Continue reading “The 2018 Shakespeare Top 10”

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)”

PTS 09/054: 400 Year-Old Smoke Signals

Sometimes the smoke is easier to read than others …

BH smoke

Love’s Labour’s Lost – Act III

Inspired by Ursula K Le Guin and The Pet Shop Boys, I picked this up again with a steely glint in my eye.  I’ll read.  I’ll gloss.  I’ll conquer!

Continue reading “PTS 09/054: 400 Year-Old Smoke Signals”

PTS 09/051: Women Weaken Legs (and Brains, too)

Lesson 1: Books, no matter how interesting, are not a girlfriend substitute …

BH Rocky and Micky
‘You lay off that pet shop dame.  Women weaken legs!’ ~ Mickey (Burgess Meredith)

PTS read through:  Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act I

It feels appropriate to arrive at this play in the month when it seems you’re not a functioning member of society if you don’t add some kind of punishing denial to the post-Christmas blues:  Dry January, the unappetising-sounding Veganuary, or in my case, the Walk 1,000 Miles in 2018 challenge (already behind schedule).  Personally, I think we’ve enough to cope with, waiting for things to warm up and the nights to become appreciably longer.

Nevertheless, this is how the play opens – with a preposterous resolution by the foolish King of Navarre and three of his intimates to ‘abjure the rough magic’ of the fair sex. Unlike Rocky’s trainer Mickey, they’re worried about the intellectual rather than physical effects that women may have on them

I give them a maximum of ten minutes, stage time …

Continue reading “PTS 09/051: Women Weaken Legs (and Brains, too)”