Verses Proposing a New Course: “Shakespeare in Context”
You’ll pick a modest count of Shakespeare plays–
Say, five. Three weeks to each you’ll dedicate.
One context week, one week on text, and next
One week to multi-modally create
A research paper, podcast, monologue,
Or supercut of twenty diff’rent Lears
Who curse their sixty daughters’ cruel hearts.
Professional and student actors we will hear,
In stagings mounted locally. What’s more,
We’ll screen some films that Shakespeare’s paths re-tread:
“Shakespeare in Love,” “Forbidden Planet,” “Ran,”
And “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,”
Shall we attempt a scattershot approach,
And sample every genre of the bard?
Choose one great comedy, one tragedy,
One hist’ry, one romance, and one wildcard?
Or alternate the focus; be perhaps
Tragi-comic now, hist-romantic next?
Imagine this your Shakespeare syllabus
Must specify the context for the text.
Imagine filling out the paperwork.
What contexts do you focus on, and why?
What are the five main plays you choose to read?
You want to challenge, not to terrify.
No final shall the students take! Instead,
They’ll write a 10-page research paper, or
Submit a mini-documentary
With local expert interviews galore.
This course must cover early British lit,
So Beowulf and Chaucer must appear.
Elizabethan rivals must we read,
And echoes of the Bard in later years.
Imagine versing up your Shakespeare course
In ten-beat lines that syllabize the plan.
Deanward march your bold iambs! Alas,
Your title, “Shakespeare in Context,” won’t scan!