Monday, December 12, 2016

McKay's Advice on Studying Shakespeare

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Dear Carter,

I heard you are taking Shakespeare this next semester and was a little worried. So I decided that I could give you some tips of what I did to enjoy and understand Shakespeare more this semester.

Probably the most rewarding experience that I had this semester was when our professor gave us the opportunity to pick any Shakespeare writing that we wanted and then basically do a book club with another student over Slack, a social media app. We picked certain times during the week where we would read the same part of the text and just dialogue with one another, researching things that we found interesting, and bounced ideas off one another. Let me tell you Carter, it was a blast! I learned so much! I felt like I needed to know as much as I could about the play we were reading (which was Julius Caesar) so I could help my partner and give valuable comments to our conversation. Overall, a great experience.

I know that one of your major concerns when it comes to studying Shakespeare is understanding it. That was one of my major concerns when I started this class too. One thing that I did throughout the course was that I would make sure I knew what was going to happen in the scene or act before I read it. I would read a summary from sparknotes, the edition we were reading, or some other source online. This way I didn’t have to worry about the content of the play and I could just soak in the beautiful language of Shakespeare. It took a little extra time, but totally worth it.

To better my ability in researching Shakespeare I started by annotating my text. I would color code my notes by literary devices, topics/themes, vocabulary words, etc. This gave me a repertoire of things to research and use in my essays. For example, in King Lear, I marked the passages yellow that had anything to do with a fool, which made it very easy to find passages about that topic when I was looking for resources in my paper.  I also cited every literary tool that I could spot in the play. So when I recognized the repetition in the speech of Lear was being done to enhance the crazy aspect of his character, I used that in my paper to show that not only the content supported my thesis, but also the literary tools Shakespeare used.

What was cool about my class was that we were able to use social and non-scholarly sources, which helped me have interesting dialogue and learn things that I never would have before. Non-scholarly sources are easier to read then the traditional published sources because they aren’t so wordy and get straight to the point, so it made reading about Shakespeare a lot more interesting and fun. This helped me think of ideas I never would have thought of by myself.

My class also focused on social-oriented learning, which really helped me because I was able to go to my peers for help and verification on my ideas without feeling weird. When you are expected to talk with your classmates about everything, it no longer becomes an issue to ask for help, so that was my favorite part about my class. If I were you, I would definitely take advantage of your classmates and try to converse with them as much as possible.

Well Carter, I hope this helps you! Have a blast this semester!



1 comment:

  1. It's cool to see that you color coded your readings so it'd be easier for you to study and research later! Good idea!