Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Garrett Fisher's Advice on Studying Shakespeare

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Dear Grayson,
So, apparently you are taking Shakespeare next semester. Well, I know how much you dislike reading, so I can imagine that Shakespeare might seem really daunting. Despite the bias you might feel toward Shakespeare, let me tell you that I had a good experience in the class. My favorite thing was getting to go to a performance. I saw Hamlet, and it even had Benedict Cumberbatch in it. Point is, the performance showed me that the plays are really meant to be performed; they come to life when acted out. I hope that I can show you how you can see this as you read it, like I have been able to.
I think the biggest thing for you, for enjoying Shakespeare, is going to be not worrying about the archaic language. There might be some parts of his plays that won't make any sense. I remember while reading the Tempest there were a couple of parts that were confusing to me. I ended up using a graphic novel I found in the library to supplement my reading. Basically, don't be afraid to just keep reading past something that doesn't quite make sense. You'll probably get the basic idea and can move on to what you can understand. Later, you can always find another source, whether at the library or online, to help with your understanding.
When writing and researching, be sure to look at all sources. Like I mentioned above, I used a graphic novel at one point. This is because I learned in my class that we shouldn't just be using scholarly sources. Though those are good, we have the internet, social media, and people around us to use too. When writing a paper for my Shakespeare class, I actually got a conversation going on Facebook about Shakespeare and responsibility. This really helped me prepare for my paper, and I ended up using one of their ideas to strengthen my argument as well! Don't be afraid to employ similar techniques. One other tip: If you mark your book, either on kindle or a physical copy, it will help you to find things that you liked that you could go back to later and write about!
The biggest push in the class was using non-traditional sources. One thing I haven't mentioned yet was that we used the social media platform, Slack. This platform had different channels of communication and was really good for sharing ideas about Shakespeare. I used it quite a bit, but I would suggest to you to make sure you use it often and read through messages at least to get help with anything you are working on for the class. If you have a different class and don't use Slack, be sure not to forget your easiest resource: your fellow classmates. They can help you letting you  bounce ideas off of them, or just by discussing Shakespeare with them you can find interesting things to research. Many times I found my classmates to be really helpful, like when they peer reviewed my paper and found it interesting, but lacking in a few areas. Then I knew what I needed to work on.
Well, that's probably enough stuff to help you with. Just take a deep breath, remember your resources, and you'll be fine. Good luck!

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha. I love how you mentioned that your brother hates reading...I did the same thing. Your letter comes across as much more authentic because it's informal and geered towards your brother. You address concerns you know he'd have (like archiac language) but I think you did a good job appeasing those worries by talking about your own struggle with it and how you overcame it. For your brother who hates reading, using a graphic novel to understand Shakespeare probably sounds really appealing...