Forensic Friday (#03): RIII I.iv.180-183

It’s dawning on Clarence that he won’t talk his way out of this one …

“Do you do ‘PEEFE’* on Saturday nights, Sir?” one wag asked me, to general titters of amusement in C5.

‘Why not?  It’s fun.’ I replied.  And it is.  So why not?

Why not, actually, spend some time thinking again about RIII, I.iv?  Thinking about a grown man who has such a terrifying nightmare that he asks another to sit with him whilst he tries to get some sleep.  About a man desparately pleading for his life in every way he possibly can (see the Blues Brothers, above), when faced with two murderous executioners.  Much more fun than Love Island, surely?

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Forensic Friday (#02): RIII I.ii.107-109

Don’t just talk the talk – walk the walk, Sir!

Subtitled: This Charming Man

BH the smiths

What kind of teacher asks their students to do something they wouldn’t do themselves?

My latest Y12 Homework task was titled, yes, This Charming Man – students were asked to analyse the exchange between Richard and Anne in Act I scene ii of Richard III.  Those who were feeling a bit flash were challenged to get in as many song titles as they could from The Smiths discography.

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QotW: 04 June 2018 (#44)

Students laugh when they hear it, but Anne was in deadly earnest …

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We have hedgehogs.

I say ‘we’, but I’m appropriating the cute nocturnal visitors at my Snowdonia home (also known as ‘her place‘) …

Having spent most of the week camping in the back garden – yes, by choice – I’ve become a lot more familiar with their comings and goings: their enthusiastic crunching of mealworms (these are spoiled, and resolutely ignore the slugs they are supposed to be eating – I’ve seen them nudge slugs aside with their snouts!); their irritated huffing and snorting when a rival appears at bowl number two, all within a couple of feet of my head.

Which, of course, makes me more sensitive to the hedgehogs – just three of them* – in Shakespeare

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Forensic Friday (#01): RIII I.i.20-21

We can give those long dead words tone, inflection, pace … and meaning.

THIS is what we do, students.

We are archaeologists of the written word.  Remember that.

BH skeleton2We take our soft brushes and gently but resolutely stroke away the accumulated layers of popular misconception, plain bullshit, and systemic Shakesnobbery that surrounds a text until we are left with the bare bones – the words themselves …

Then – armed with contextual knowledge that keeps us somewhere on the Continuum of Plausibility – we ‘perform’ (and that is precisely the word, so enjoy the performative aspect of the work) forensic autopsies on those long-dead words: we dissect, analyse and record our findings.  

Occasionally, what we’re looking at might seem as alien as some of the stuff Scully chops up in the X-Files, but we persevere, we find points of reference, and with care we perform a kind of necromancy: we can practically bring the sample in front of us to life.  

We can give those long dead words tone, inflection, pace … and meaning.

THIS … … … is OCR H472/01 (Drama and Poetry pre-1900), A Level English Literature, section 1, question A … your Shakespeare extract task.
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Cultural Capital 06: Bacon’s Essays

Not, repeat NOT, Shakespeare in disguise, thanks very much …

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[part of a monthly series aimed at my Sixth Formers, and the texts they are currently studying]

First things first – we need to be clear which Francis Bacon we are talking about!

Perhaps reluctantly, we need to steer clear of the 20th Century Irish Existentialist artist whose ‘screaming popes’*, amongst other works, are so disturbingly brilliant.  That Francis is part of our ‘cultural capital’ too, but less useful for your studies.

Instead, let’s turn to the man perhaps best known as the ‘father of the scientific method’.  In other, crazier, circles, it’s also muttered that he was, in fact, the ‘real’ William Shakespeare.  Try to avoid those people – they also tend to wear tin foil hats, believe that the world is flat, and that climate change is a myth … 

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A Restless Ecstasy …

Here’s looking at you, H …

BH RIII I i 1.001

So.

It’s been a long, hard, day.  No, really!  In amongst the pre-school meeting; the marking; the trying to keep your errant Year 11s just on this side of hysteria, given they have their second English Lit exam on Friday; the data (two classes’ worth, by lunchtime, thanks very much); the lunchtime storytelling club for younger pupils; the broken photocopiers; and the almost insignificant matter of actually teaching,  you need an oasis of calm.

Or two …

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Quote of the Week: 07 May 2018 (#40)

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Mistrust might be too strong a word, but there was always a youthful rebellious streak in me (Catholic-educated in what was at the time a pretty Catholic town), pushing against what I increasingly viewed as the bastard child of The Party in Orwell‘s Nineteen Eighty-Four and a medieval Ponzi scheme.  The Catholic hierarchy increasingly personified notions of hypocritical middle-men, ‘eternal life’ assurance brokers, gatekeepers against the hereafter who would feed on the poor, vulnerable and frightened, whilst actually allowing anyone through, if the price was right.

Finally, I officially ‘fell out’ with God in a completely predictable spat  – over bureacracy, not the Bible; red tape, not redemption; compliance, not communion …

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