[Milton-L] Greenblatt on Teaching Shakespeare

David Urban dvu2 at calvin.edu
Wed Sep 16 10:25:06 EDT 2015

Yes, I also second (third?) Richard's point.  Amazingly, I just yesterday in a core literature course I taught that very passage from *King Lear* act III  that Greenblatt quotes, and I had another nice session in a different core literature course yesterday with students who were honest/humble enough to admit they were lacking in ability to do close textual analysis, but wanted to do it better, and, I believe, learned well as we did it together in class.  I agree that most students aren't doing these things as a matter of course, but some (many? I sure hope so . . .) want to, and I think/hope if we can model enthusiasm, humility,  patience, and, at the same time, high standards, there is hope for this enterprise.

Carter--yes, definitely having Stella around to discuss it helped your daughter understand *Sense & Sensibility*[😊]!

I sure wish I could have been in on those discussions myself, and I'm sure everyone else here agrees.   Just this past week I was making profitable use of Stella's 1973 PMLA piece on PL, ''Eve and the Doctrine of Responsibility in *Paradise Lost*,'' a bittersweet experience for me.  So glad you are contributing to Milton-L, Carter, as your email reads, "on behalf of Stella Revard."


From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu> on behalf of Stella Revard <srevard at siue.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 3:19 AM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Milton-L] Greenblatt on Teaching Shakespeare

Well and truly said, Richard.  A related case:  I lately watched "Sense and Sensibility" with Emma Thompson et al., then went back and reread Austen's novel. The movie is surely easier for high-school and undergraduate students to take in, and younger readers (unless unusually able) would very likely miss a great many sly and brilliant satiric touches--but our daughter Vanessa tells me she read S&S with much enjoyment and pretty fair comprehension in high school, though later she found lots more as an undergraduate reader.  But she had the benefit of talking about it with Stella, which I'm sure made a difference.

Movies of course can distort, simplify, and so on; but I suspect they can also be useful to young readers--as might recorded versions of Austen or Shakespeare.  I can imagine a long drive, say, for a teen-ager about to start college classes, with a well-performed e-book version of S&S, or The Winter's Tale, or for that matter Paradise Lost.  Probably an academician's fantasy, of course.


On 09/15/15, "Richard A. Strier" <rastrier at uchicago.edu> wrote:

Yes, interesting article, but I think it gives up too quickly on traditional verbal analysis.  Our students CAN do this, and can be led to enjoy it.  I think he exaggerates the distance between "us" and "them."

From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] on behalf of Diana [dianabenet at aol.com]
Sent: Monday, September 14, 2015 9:10 AM
To: milton-l at lists.richmond.edu
Subject: [Milton-L] Not Willingly Let it Die

I wd like to recommend "Teaching Shakespeare," a v short article by Stephen Greenblatt (NY Times Sunday Magazine, 9/13/15) that with some relevance to Milton studies.
Greenblatt writes about the challenges of teaching a student population without the "verbal acuity" with which earlier students approached early-modern authors.   The essay is thought-provoking and could trigger some ideas and discussion on the list.
Incidentally, apropos of  the interest in "They Who Fell" and "Chaos Umpire  Sits": I hope people will remember Steven Brust's "To Reign in Hell"  (1984).  This novel was a consistent post-PL favorite of students in my Milton classes.
Regards to all,  Diana Benet

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.richmond.edu/pipermail/milton-l/attachments/20150916/df3cad78/attachment.html>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: OutlookEmoji-?.png
Type: image/png
Size: 488 bytes
Desc: OutlookEmoji-?.png
URL: <http://lists.richmond.edu/pipermail/milton-l/attachments/20150916/df3cad78/attachment.png>

More information about the Milton-L mailing list