Every year about this time I get into a Shakespeare slump. I look back at the last few months, how few posts I’ve made, and debate whether I’ve lost my interest in Shakespeare. (Then again, I had a dream just last night that the prize in a video game was a Shakespeare quote and I literally cried with joy, so there’s that.)
I decided to try something different this year. I signed up for an online edX course called Shakespeare’s Life and Work, taught by Stephen Greenblatt, whose name might be familiar to Shakespeare geeks. I expect that the course is going to be a little basic, covering all the “where and when was he born” stuff that I think we generally already know, but I’m not in it primarily to learn a bunch of new information. I’m in it for the structure and reinforcement. I want to force myself to talk about Shakespeare and Shakespeare-related content for a few weeks and get myself back into the zone. Hopefully I’ll learn some new things, I don’t claim at all to be an expert in Shakespeare’s life.
I’ve tried this before – last time was a similar but far more advanced course about Hamlet’s ghost. I didn’t make it far on that one, but to be honest it had more to do with class participation than information. My introvert self loves the online learning thing precisely because I can sit behind the computer and not be forced to interact with others. When you tell me “The required homework for part one is to talk to three fellow students”, I’m probably not going to make it to part two. (This new class asked the same thing, though, and I forced myself to make it happen. Unclear yet whether it’s going to require that of me every time or if that was just a gatekeeping mechanism.)
Anyway, into the class we go. It’s funny now to see a video of someone standing in London describing the sites because now I can say, “I was there! I know where he’s standing!” which is probably nothing to the folks that live in the area but it took me a lifetime to get there so I’m going to geek out over it every chance I get 🙂
My plan is to blog here about how the course is going, especially if I find anything interesting outside general progress reports. The first bits so far are about the general universality (?) of Shakespeare and how “the world” owns him, what’s your personal attachment to Shakespeare and so on. I hope to hear more specifics about life at the time – economy, morals, the kind of stuff that contributed directly to why Shakespeare wrote, not just what he wrote.
Wish me luck!