Archive for the Syllabi Category

Scheduling Update

Posted in Henry IV Part 1, Syllabi with tags , on 2014/04/05 by mattermind

Something Orson Welles said about Falstaff (see yesterday’s blog post) slapped me in the face and caused me to completely revise my schedule for the month of April.

Late in the clip, while discussing the bloody battle scene, he remarks that this moment divides the middle ages and the modern (or something to that effect). Neither war nor human psychology would ever be the same.

His thoughts deserve revisiting, and this cycle of plays cries out for in-depth study and analysis. I’ve reached one of those places on my Eurail tour when I must put down roots or risk turning the entire journey into a farce.

You can’t rush ancient Rome or Prague or Vienna or Budapest. I haven’t embarked on studying Shakespeare merely to rubberstamp my passport with a few colorful entry visas.

I have vowed that when I encounter a mountain I shall climb it. Here is such an Everest and Kilimanjaro. The extra effort required to ascend its peak will be worth it. [Peter Matthiessen died today. R.I.P., dear remarkable soul.]

Therefore I have shoved Henry VI until later, bookending it with Henry VIII. Thematically this actually makes sense because it juxtaposes one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays with one of his last. I look forward to a side-by-side comparison.

April now transforms into the “Henriad” or my own personal Hollow Crown adventure. In keeping with that spirit, I have ordered the complete DVD series.

Yup. I’m excited. I love when my assumptions are challenged, my thinking expanded by new doorways that demand venturing through.

April has taken on a whole new meaning.

Programming Update

Posted in Syllabi with tags , , , , on 2010/02/08 by mattermind

Set your DVRs, boys and girls, there’s been a syllabus change! Due to a certain saint’s day (No, not those Saints. Congratulations, New Orleans!) but rather a saint dedicated to amour each February 14, I’ve decided to break up the monotony excitement of the Greek and Roman historical plays with an ode to love: The Sonnets!

There are 154 of the little buggers, which means that I’ll have to churn through savor 17 per day in order to finish in the allotted nine days and stay on schedule. Which seems a tad o’er hasty to me, like traveling through Florence, Venice and Rome by tour bus over a weekend. So I won’t. (Unless all the sonnets are about a seasoned man giving advice to a winsome, dallying young fellow to crank out babies like in the first six — okay, I peeked at those too. What, you thought I just watched football all Sunday?)

Depending on the pace of the sonnets, it will mean having to trim a little of the luxury around a few of the other works. We’ll see how it goes. I also have five floating “holidays” I can spend according to need as well, but just like accrued vacation time at work, I’d prefer to keep those in the bank for a future crisis. Like Titus Andronicus.

It’s all flying seat-of-the pants, I’ll admit. But that’s why it’s so important to have an itinerary: so you can spontaneously break away from it and yet not feel utterly, shamelessly lost. And need to ask for directions. Or an excuse better than a Slurpee to pull into that 7-11.

Well, that’s the theory, anyway.

Just remember as you gripe, ladies: it’s all (ahem) in the name of love.

February Syllabus

Posted in Syllabi on 2010/01/27 by mattermind

I’ll be spending the rest of the day (more or less) finishing up The Winter’s Tale on deadline. But here it is, your reading syllabus for February (and early March):

28 January – 5 February………………………………….Timon of Athens

6 February – 14 February…………………………………Pericles

15 February – 23 February……………………………….Coriolanus

24 February – 4 March………………………………………Julius Caesar

5 March – 13 March…………………………………………..Titus Andronicus

This will cover the great power plays of Greece and Rome. After that, we’ll be moving on to Italy for Othello, The Merchant of Venice and others, and in May — just in time for spring — we’ll welcome in the tempestuous lovers with the extensive Poems, Troilus & Cressida, Antony & Cleopatra and (you got it) Romeo and his sweet, sweet Juliet.

Sounds fun, don’t it? See… and I had you worried there for a second!

January Syllabus

Posted in Syllabi with tags on 2009/12/29 by mattermind

01-11 January……………………………………………..Hamlet
12-21 January……………………………………………..12th Night
22-31 January……………………………………………..The Winter’s Tale

A Year of Shakespeare breaks down into roughly one play every ten days, more or less, depending upon if you wish to include Two Noble Kinsmen which he co-wrote with John Fletcher.

As the year goes on, I’m assuming I’ll speed up and slow down from that pace according to the complexity/fascination/boredom of a particular work. I’d like to accrue time from the breezy comedies that can later be applied to the Henry sagas etc. I’d also like to mix in the sonnets and poems at some point too, kind of like bon bons or between-meal snacks to liven things up.

Though there are various approved methods for divying up the canon, I’ve decided to cluster the works into monthly questions instead of the usual strict chronology or divisions into tragedy/history/comedy.

As of Tuesday, 29 December 2009, Hamlet appears to be leading in our poll, so that will begin the year’s reading. Based on how that goes (and if I survive), I’ll continue on to the 12th Night — on the 12th night, ha — and finish with The Winter’s Tale because it’s, you know, winter. Hey, I told you this wouldn’t be a snooty approach. I’m just hoping you won’t think it’s bombastic or sacrilegious.

I know there are at least a few people who will be reading along, so I’ll be creating tabs for each work allowing latecomers to jump in and/or backtrack in the future.

I don’t want to overwhelm anybody — including myself — by posting the whole year’s list in advance. For now, I think it’s best to let January get underway with the three listed plays and see how that works out.

If nothing else, maybe we can discuss why two thirds of the image hits for Hamlet on Google include a rendition of the one pictured above… (I could offer my opinion now, but that would spoil the surprise fun.)