Tuesday, August 18, 2015

syllabus dilemma

Let's say you usually take five days of class to teach a play, but you discover that after you've blocked off the first six weeks of class for Dr. Faustus + The Comedy of Errors + a really complicated (but hopefully worthwhile) role-playing game,* you have exactly twenty-four days left. On tap for those twenty-four days, for sure, are Much Ado, 1 and 2 Henry IV, and As You Like It, in that order. What do you do with the extra four days?

A) Insert The Merry Wives of Windsor after 2 Henry IV -- it pairs well with the H4 plays, and it's not so deep that you really need five days to teach it.

B) Cut a day from 2H4, and insert Richard II before 1H4.

C) Take a day to lecture about the stuff that happens in Richard II and show students a few key scenes and passages, but don't assign the whole play. Use the other three days to teach A LOT A LOT A LOT of sonnets.

D) Teach one of the narrative poems, which are just the right length for sliding into that space. (N.B., I've never taught V&A and barely remember it from grad school. I have taught Lucrece, and like it, but I'm not sure it works all that well with this lineup of texts -- I'd normally teach it in a sequence with Titus and Julius Caesar. OTOH, the whole obsession-with-chastity thing might pair interestingly with MAAN.)

E) What, are you STUPID? Show a MOVIE.

* Yep, I'm trying Reacting To The Past. Nope, I've never done anything remotely like this before. I may blog about it. Or I may go and hide in a corner and lick my wounds, depending on how it goes.


Bardiac said...

Will students be writing a paper or doing another sort of project? I take up several days with projects. I start with time talking about questions or topics, whatever. Then teach them how to do the sort of specific research this project will take. And then read something researchish together to model how to read carefully. And then peer revision sessions for the project.

I like to think I get better papers/projects as a result. And they learn some writing skills.

Fretful Porpentine said...

No, I'd usually have a few days of student presentations on the research-papers-in-progress, but I've dropped the research paper this semester in favor of the Reacting game (which has a pretty heavy primary-source research component, so I figure it evens out). There will be short papers, but not the kind of thing you'd need to take days and days of class to prepare for. And I'm pretty sure I do want to use those extra days for an additional reading, since what I have is very light, I just haven't decided what yet.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I figure if you're going to teach 1&2H4, you might as well teach H5. As the Chorus notes in 2H4, it is a downer play. You have to see whether or not rejecting Falstaff was worth it by reading H5. R2 is meh in comparison. I suppose you could just show a film version of H5, but I think they'd enjoy reading it too.

Then again, the histories are my gig. So feel free to ignore me. If you only wanted to do two histories, though, I'd skip 2H4, maybe just read aloud in class the good parts, and then read H5.

Speaking of reading aloud - have you ever read a whole play aloud in class with students? It's a hell of a lot of fun, and would take two or more days. It takes about an hour per thousand lines to read a play aloud, so that would fill your time easily, get in some reading, and give the students a different experience with Shakespeare. I did that for my final last semester, and it was excellent! We read Comedy of Errors -- one of the shortest plays. It went fast and we had fun. :)

Fretful Porpentine said...

Fie -- My normal histories sequence is 1&2 H4 / H5 / MWW, but reading H5 this semester isn't going to be an option because I'm planning to start the spring semester with it. (It's slightly early for the Late Shakespeare class, but there's a touring production I can take them to in the spring, and the only other local options for seeing a play will be Midsummer and R&J, which are even earlier.)

I've pretty much settled on R2 at this point, with some regret since I don't love it as much as MWW, but I realized the Essex rebellion connections would be a really, really good fit as a follow-on to this role-playing thing.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

If you're seeing the ASC H5, be prepared for a treat! The only disappointment for me was the Californian valley accent given to the character playing Pistol. But the guy playing Henry is pitch perfect. I think I'm in love. Haha.

Helena said...

I miss Shakespeare class! :)