Monday, December 12, 2016

Kate Swindlehurst’s Advice on Studying Shakespeare

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Dear Ben,

It’s super exciting that you are going to be following in the Azevedo footsteps and will study English. (I know, I’m not an English major, but Mom was and I kind of am.) So, I hear you are a little nervous to study Shakespeare this year. Which, I suppose in understandable, but seriously, you do NOT need to worry. Shakespeare is great. I had an awesome experience this semester studying his works and I know that you will be successful in your course as well.

During my time in the course this semester, I had a ton of different opportunities to study Shakespearean texts. I really really liked studying The Winter’s Tale, so hopefully you’ll get to read it in your course. One thing that really helped me while studying the tale was that my professor put us into groups to co-read and discuss, so anytime I was  reading, there was someone else to help me see different things I would have missed if I read it alone. Shakespeare can be difficult, but having another person reading with you can be a “safety net” just in case you misunderstand anything. Also, reading with someone else just makes it a more enjoyable experience.  Even if your professor doesn’t present this as a formal assignment, I’d recommend testing this out because it really worked for me and makes it so much easier to understand and enjoy Shakespearean texts.

And, Ben, if your course is anything like mine you will be writing papers! Now, I actually really like writing papers, but I know that you don’t love it too much. But, don’t let that get you don’t or shy you away from the course. This class actually really helped me reinvent how I do research. I always start off my research by doing some brainstorming. Generally, I take a play or passage I really enjoyed and then I think about why I liked it, or why it caught my attention. Lots of times, especially in a class that focuses on close reading, this can help formulate a thesis for your paper. Then, I go to google scholar and search for some cool sources there. I think the best way to be successful for papers is too make sure you are writing on something that interests you and to start the paper early. Then, you will be golden.

Also, don’t be scared to think outside the box. Traditional sources are awesome. Jstor is awesome. But, don’t limit yourself by ONLY reaching out to those sources. An awesome way to gain better insight into Shakespeare is talking to others. Often, peers that aren’t English majors are the best people to talk to Shakespeare about because you hear it from an outside POV. You can also get awesome media sources by searching Youtube, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media sites. Also, don’t stop there. Engage with the people that posted these sources. Trust me when I say, this will give your paper and your research such a leg up on previous research!

Ben, you are great and Shakespeare is great. I’m sure you guys will get along super well this semester. Plus, you can always call me if you get lost!


1 comment:

  1. I totally seconded the start early thing. I also forgot how interesting it was to read the play with another person.