We've finished Romeo and Juliet. I can now breathe a sigh of relief. I think I may need to take some time off from teaching this play, or rather teaching around this play.
The trouble is that everybody's read it, and I don't want to repeat conversations that they've already had in high school, so I end up doing around-the-fringes-of-the-play stuff. Such as watching clips from different film versions and comparing them, or looking at snippets from Arthur Brooke's gloriously awful poem, or giving the students the Q1, Q2, and First Folio versions of a passage and asking them to play textual editor.
Actually, the last activity went terrifically well, and I want to do it again. Indeed, they were all fine activities in themselves. But somehow, doing too much of this stuff seems like a desperate attempt to cover up a big gaping hole where the play was supposed to be. And I don't really have anything very original or insightful to say about this play -- with the possible exception of the passage at 3.5 where the Nurse stands up to Capulet and says, "I speak no treason." (Uppity servants are like gravy to me.) So yeah, we did talk a bit about the family as microcosm of the state, and whether this can be read as a political play, and if so, what the political message might be. That's still kind of talking around the young lovers, though. In a lot of ways, I find the older generation, with all their frailties and failures, more interesting.
I have graded the first batch of papers, except for a few that came in late. They were good for the most part, and one was brilliant -- the first A+ that I've ever given on a paper. I suspect that this says more about the students' prior level of preparation than my teaching, but it was nice, regardless.