The Course of True Shakespeare

A recent post on Reddit compared Shakespeare and Taylor Swift as “voices of their generation.” Needless to say, it generated just a wee bit of debate. Is this the way to get a modern student’s attention? Or is it indicative of a downward slide in what we think those same students can handle? For the record, I was on the “nay” side. I’m all for teaching Shakespeare through pop culture examples, but I don’t think you need or want to elevate Taylor Swift to top billing like she’s the new Shakespeare or even deserves to be in the comparison.

It also got me thinking about what might be some good modern Shakespeare courses. If you could build your own course, how would you do it? Taking the original post as our example, we want to build a general education course for non-majors. So, while it might ultimately attract some knowledgeable Shakespeare geeks, it’s geared toward those students who don’t have to take it and may not otherwise get that Shakespeare content if they don’t happen to trip into this class.

I asked an AI for some ideas. Would you sign up for any of these? I love the cinematics one. Note how it focuses on looking at the gaps between the text. Endless room for interpretation there. The remix is pretty good, too, but for my taste, it’s got too much room to go off the rails. How much Shakespeare does something have to have in it for us to call it still Shakespeare?

(If we have to, I suppose we can put Ms. Swift into “remix” or “composing”. But I bet she shows up in the Fan Fiction one, too.)

Shakespearean Mashups: Remixing the Bard’s Universe

Synopsis: Explore the art of literary fusion by creating modern mashups of Shakespeare’s characters and plots. Imagine Hamlet meeting Macbeth in a steampunk London or Juliet navigating the world of social media. Through writing and multimedia projects, students will craft dynamic narratives that bridge classic and contemporary storytelling.

Shakespearean Culinary Chronicles: Feasting through the Plays

Synopsis: Embark on a gastronomic adventure inspired by Shakespeare’s feasts and banquets. Investigate historical recipes, recreate dishes from the plays, and design a modern Shakespeare-themed menu. This culinary journey will indulge both literary and culinary appetites, bringing Shakespeare’s world to life on your plate.

Shakespearean Escape Quest: Puzzles in the Bard’s Realm

Synopsis: Immerse yourself in an interactive storytelling experience where you become a character in Shakespeare’s universe. Solve puzzles, decode riddles, and make strategic decisions to progress through the narrative. From Hamlet’s castle to Prospero’s island, this course blends escape room dynamics with the intrigue of the Bard’s tales.

Shakespearean Fan Fiction Frenzy: Crafting Alternate Realities

Synopsis: Unleash your creativity by crafting fan fiction that reimagines Shakespeare’s stories in unexpected ways. Rewrite the endings, transport characters to different eras, or explore “what if” scenarios. Through writing, multimedia projects, and collaborative workshops, you’ll create a fan fiction collection that breathes new life into the classics.

Shakespearean Cosplay Creations: Crafting Wearable Art

Synopsis: Merge Shakespearean passion with craftsmanship as you design and create costumes inspired by the plays. From Elizabethan court attire to fantastical creatures, you’ll delve into historical fashion, fabric manipulation, and character interpretation. Showcase your creations in a Shakespearean fashion show and explore the intersection of art and theater.

Shakespearean Soundscapes: Composing Music for the Bard

Synopsis: Dive into the auditory dimension of Shakespeare’s works by composing original music that captures the essence of his plays. Create melodies for soliloquies, dramatic themes for pivotal scenes, and even experiment with Shakespearean hip-hop. The class culminates in a musical showcase that harmonizes your musical talents with the Bard’s verses.

Shakespearean Cinematics: Directing the Unseen Scenes

Synopsis: Put on the director’s hat and breathe life into the lesser-known moments of Shakespeare’s plays. Analyze the gaps in the text and collaborate on scripts, storyboards, and visual concepts for scenes that occurred offstage. Explore how these “unseen” scenes deepen the characters and themes of the plays.

Shakespearean Gardening Guild: Cultivating Literary Landscapes

Synopsis: Tend to the gardens that flourish within Shakespeare’s works. Study the symbolic significance of plants and flowers in his plays, then design and cultivate your own Shakespearean-inspired garden. Through hands-on gardening and creative projects, you’ll nurture nature while exploring the literary connections.

Shakespearean Virtual Reality Odyssey: Immersive Theatrical Expeditions

Synopsis: Step into Shakespearean worlds like never before through virtual reality. Craft immersive experiences that transport participants to key scenes from the plays. Combine your love for technology and theater to create virtual stage designs, allowing users to interact with the Bard’s works in innovative ways.

Shakespearean Comedy Club: Stand-Up Inspired by the Bard

Synopsis: Merge the wit of Shakespearean humor with the art of stand-up comedy. Analyze comedic elements in the plays and craft your own original stand-up routines that infuse modern humor with classic themes. The course culminates in a comedy showcase that celebrates the hilarity of the Bard’s timeless wit.

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