Thursday, October 24, 2013

Courseblogging: mid-semester update

So, we're already more than halfway through. Edward II this week, The Duchess of Malfi before that. (They pair amazingly well, what with all the prison / torture stuff, and the ways the protagonists find this incredible level of dignity and wisdom when they're stripped of their temporal power and brought about as low as they can possibly go, and the way that Bosola -- I've only just realized this in retrospect -- refuses to play along with the disposable-hired-assassin script. Which Lightborn, as awesomely creepy as he is, never manages to transcend. One of my students said that she was disappointed to discover that Lightborn could be killed, and killed in such an anticlimactic way at that. She was expecting him just to vanish in a puff of smoke. I liked that.)

It's been ages, really, since I had a chance to spend so much time reading The Other Guys. Not since I was writing my dissertation. I mean, I love teaching Shakespeare, God knows, but teaching Webster and Marlowe back to back just reminds me of how good they both are, and how much the early modern theater world is collaborative and competitive and all about playwrights picking up tricks from each other. And so much of that gets lost in the standard, single-author Shakespeare course. It's really HARD to teach a Shakespeare course without inadvertently perpetrating the lone-genius myth, as much as you don't want to. With this class, I feel more like I'm immersing myself in a much larger world, getting to know its tides and currents.

(I also finally got around to watching the first episode of The Hollow Crown, which has been sitting on top of the bookcase for weeks since I haven't had time to watch anything, and thinking about Edward and Richard together really makes one realize how much Shakespeare and Marlowe owe to each other. You hear little echoes everywhere. It's neat.)

Shoemaker's Holiday next week. This is going to be an interesting change of pace, since it's the first thing we've read with a happy ending since The Second Shepherd's Play, way back on the third day of class. How do you get from ass-pokering to happy singing shoemakers? I do not know. (It's also going to be straight back into dissertation-territory for me, and oddly enough I'm not sure that I'm looking forward to it; in a lot of ways, I feel like I'm better at teaching things that I haven't attempted to do Serious Scholarly Writing about. I think it's just plain easier when I'm feeling my way through a text, the same way as the students are, and don't have such definite ideas about it.) Anyway, we shall see how it goes. We read some of Stowe's Chronicle yesterday, and one of the students made the very smart point that we don't really see much of the common people in Marlowe, even though they're mentioned in the chronicle -- it is all about this little group of aristocrats -- and Dekker's take on history is so, so different that I'm looking forward to blowing everyone's mind.

Friday, October 18, 2013


After the Meeting of the Committee From Hell:

Me: I don't think I even understand what we are supposed to be doing. But apparently it is going to be a lot of work.

Awesome Historian Colleague: I think we are supposed to be assessing our assessment of the assessment. No wonder everyone is confused.

Me: With rubrics for evaluating rubrics! Don't forget that part!

AHC: We HAVE to get off of this committee.

Me: Only six more months. Then we will have tenure! We can tell them to go fuck off! Or else we won't have tenure, and we can ... go fuck ourselves off, I guess.

AHC: [laughs]

Me: I think I will fuck all the way off to Kazakhstan. And teach English As A Foreign Language! I bet they don't have assessment in Kazakhstan...