Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary Sparks Learning through Art, Film & Poetry

Shakespeare’s 400th Anniversary Sparks Learning through Art, Film & Poetry

Shakespeare’s lasting popularity over hundreds of years may stem from his command of the English language, and the universal themes explored in his plays and poetry. Shakespeare used a great deal of creativity with words. He combined short, familiar words into compound words, and sometimes changed verbs into nouns and vice versa. This is how he invented hundreds of words still used every day.

Shakespeare’s plays allow us to explore relatable ideas by reading, performing, and witnessing performances of his words. The classic play Romeo and Juliet is well-known enough that lines from it are often quoted or referenced in media. This play’s themes of love, fate, chance, and rivalry speak to audiences struggling with these ideas in a modern context. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Through the Lens of Shakespeare and His World

Williams College Chapin Library Displays Exhibition on William Shakespeare

From now until Oct. 11, Williams College’s Chapin Library will host an exhibition marking the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare: “‘While Thy Booke Doth Live’: Shakespeare and His World.”

Amazingly, Shakespeare’s poetry and plays from the 16th and 17th century are still read and analyzed regularly, and appear on required reading lists in high school and beyond. The world seems to agree that he is one of the greatest writers of all time. What makes Shakespeare so universally popular?

Teaching Shakespeare in literature classes opens up possibilities for discussing several other topics. From a literary standpoint, Shakespeare’s plays are narrative and poetic, therefore allowing for analysis of both theater and poetry. The topic can be approached biographically, exploring Shakespeare’s mysterious life and his marriage to a woman eight years his senior. His plays also teach us about history. The plot lines and character’s behaviors represent renaissance values, raising issues of gender, sexuality and family obligation.

In spite of the rigid gender roles of the time, Shakespeare wrote many complex, powerful female characters. A number of those female characters cross-dressed as men in order to usurp power or gather information. In Shakespeare’s time, all parts were played by young boys. This adds another interesting layer, since some of these young boys were playing the parts of adult women dressing as men.

You can learn more about Shakespeare’s life and work at the exhibition, “‘While Thy Booke Doth Live’: Shakespeare and His World.”  Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: