Category Archives: Class Plans

Full Circle. 3 Dec.


House Keeping

Final Blog Post: If you have any WordPress/technical questions, post them in you final post, so if I can’t answer them in class, I can answer them in the comment section of your site when I read them next week.

“Eleven Principles of the Elements”

[/table_row] [/table_body]
Key Term Definition
Resourcism For Cohen, dominant model that guides how human relationship to animate and inanimate nonhuman world. Human as exceptional creative, living, active force that exploits and manufactures insensible, inert, matter into things: “We seek an elemental Ecocriticism that discovers in imaginative and critical texts a lush archive for thinking ecology anew. We believe attending to matter and writing against the reduction of world to commodity (resource, energy) is a powerful aid to activism” (4).
Assemblage Shakespeare, and his friends and influences, offer modern readers a glimpse of a road not taken. So instead of conceiving of human agency as unidirectional (subjects effect object and are never, int turn, effected because how could they be?), what if, like Empedocles and Margaret Cavendish, we imagine congregational models? So instead of resourcism and all its troubles, culture/nature has shape, is meaningful, and effects change in dense, accidental clusters of of human and nonhuman things across which agency is dispersed. Remember how Lavinia’s mangled body and Marcus’ response to her shows agency as cooperative, and not unilateral.
Elemental Ecocriticism Transhistorical; congregational alternative to resourcism; offers a counter narrative to crisis; and intimate.  Foundational idea, elements are active agents: “Because they are smaller than gods and larger than atoms–not theological or metaphysical, not only the unseen stuff of physics’ elegant equations earth, air, fire and water, alone and their promiscuous combinations, function within a humanly knowable scale while extending an irresistible invitation to inhuman relations” (6). Think Lear and the Storm, or the castaways and the tempest. 
“Storied Matter” Are the elements really outside forces? What are houses and intimate things made of, not to mention our own bodies? “Material Affinity unites the elemental cosmos and the little universe that is the human [body of state/body of man–consult every Shakespeare play ever], and intimacy rather than an invitation to dominance, an ingress for human knowing of world that would otherwise exceed. Strategic anthropomorphism is allied  with the elements, and its goal is to decenter the human from its accustomed universal midpoint” (11). 
Ethics of Care Elemental activity (floods, fires, or moss growing on a mailbox) happens b/c the elements chose out of desire for those things to happen: “Elements are finite: bounded and, in their conjoined state, quite mortal. But finitude does not entail compliance, does not mean that do not yearn extension (the force of love) or the breaking of confines in the hope of ardent fragments (strife)” (9). Seems either too childish/whimsical, or crazy, till we check back in with the ideas that open the essay–assemblage, unidirectional agency, or what Aliamo called Trans-Coporeality. If human and nonhuman things are all of a piece across which agency is dispersed then its not so strange to say that moss desires light or water longs to reach past its boundaries. Elements always-already inside.
So What? Instead of asking, “what steps should we take to avoid or prevent disasters…ask where we, as collectives, are going; what assembleges are being made; what futures are yet to be made in the twenty-first century?” (14).

Presenters: Angeline, Shamala, & Hannah P.

To help focus the Q&A, at the conclusion of the presentation please take five minutes and respond to the following questions:
  • 1. Briefly summarize the topic and/or arguments made by 2 of the presenters and list a few point of overlap.
  • 2. Draft one discussion question. 
  • 3. Locate at least one passage from Titus that was discussed in the presentation. OR locate a passage that you think will help presenters and the audience better understand claims made. Be prepared to cite the passage in discussion.


Indiscreet. 1 Dec.



Excellent work on Nov 19th! My professor, who observed our class, said you were all fabulous and I agree! Thanks for your hard work on the great presentations & discussion that followed.

Titus Andronicus. BBC Shakespeare Plays. Ambrose Video, 1985.
What does Shakespeare say in blood that he can’t say in words? How does the action on stage, the sets, the bodies of the actors, and non grammatical sound compete with against Marcus’ high rhetoric? What’s the connection between Lavinia and civilization?
Part I. Think (10-15 mins)
One your own, (re)read Marcus’ reaction to seeing Lavinia when he encounters her just after the assault 2.4.9-60). Afterwards, respond to some of the following prompts in a freewrite: What’s the purpose of Marcus’ speech? Does he achieve his goal? What phrases, words, images, etc. does Marcus repeat? What sorts of allusions does he make? How/why does he move from one image to another?
Part II. Pair (10 mins)
Pair up with a neighbor, compare your findings from the freewrite, and then compare Marcus’ reading of Lavina another instance of her in the play. So go back to acts 1 & 2, and compare how Marcus talks about & for her to one instance where she talks for herself. OR, compare how Marcus talks for/about her to one other instance where a character speaks on her behalf. OR, compare Marcus’ response to one instance where Lavinia “speaks” for herself after loosing her tongue and hands. BE PREPARED TO DISCUSS SPECIFIC TEXTUAL INSTANCES.
Part III. Square (10 mins)
Pairs join up to make groups of four, compare your findings, and then respond to the opening questions. May also want to think compare your reading of the text to Julie Tamor’s adaptation.

Titus. Dir. Julie Taymor. Perf. Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lang, & Alan Cumming. Clear Blue Sky Productions, 1999. 4.1



Representation. 19 November.



Excellent work on the presentations Kira, Kelsey, Thomas, and Isabelle & nice work on the discussion that followed everyone else. I learned a lot, and the following themes, images, questions on Titus that you all provoked stand out:

  • RSC, 2012

    Barbarism. Kira, “absence of culture, antonym for citizen,” as well as an Onomatopoeia of “bar, bar” or the crude, meaningless phonemes of non Greek speakers. Who gets to decide what language is meaningful and what language is meaningless? The play has a lot of fun answering that question. Consider the following as just some examples of sounds that compete on stage for the audience’s attention: Persuasive, formal rhetoric & blessing/cursing; “the common voice” (1.1.20); hunter’s peal” (2.2.15); Discord in the woods: “The woods are ruthless, dreadful, deaf, and dull” (2.1.127) & “Aaron, let us sit,/And whilst the babbling echo mocks the hounds,/Replying shrilly to the well-tuned horns/As if a double hunt were heard at once” (2.318-20); and, as Hannah shared with us, Lavinia gets to say “O” eight times in 2.3. How does all the racket contrast (or establish the possibility) for Lavinia’s silence? Also, what does Shakespeare say with blood that he cannot say with words?

  • Objectification. Isabelle argued, persuasively, that even though it seems as if Lavinia is converted from a person to a thing in the woods, she was objectified well in advance of her assault (Ex: “Gracious Lavinia, Rome’s rich ornament” (1.1.53).) Thomas pointed us to appeal to “womanhood” (2.3.180) that Lavinia makes to persuade Tamora to spare her. How does this scene compare to other scenes between women have we seen so far this semester? How does the scene compare to other courtroom/trial sequences we have seen in other plays and in other scenes in Titus? Are the women the raw materials of the civilization the play stages (RE: Jeffery Cohen’s “resources” that Thomas pointed us to) 
  • Heroines. Even though Titus’ name is on the book cover, can we (should we) read Tamora and Lavinia as the central figures? Is Tamora a revenger (refer to Kelsey’s helpful checklist)? Is Lavinia a tragic hero? What sorts of mistakes do they make and are they ever able to take responsibility for those mistakes? What sorts of rulers are they? 
  • Horror. Why do audiences, from Rome to the present, like to watch bloody, violence spectacles? Is is the play interested in the difference between watching a real violence (Ex:Roman coliseum where lions rip up people, mastiffs tearing up a bear, or public executions) and a play that represents these events? After the presentations, we might want to turn to Marcus’s reaction to Lavinia to think these about real v. representation.


Presenters: Chan, Bailey, June, Tony

To help focus the Q&A, at the conclusion of the presentation please take five minutes and respond to the following questions:
  • 1. Briefly summarize the topic and/or arguments made by 2 of the presenters.
  • 2. What two slides, from any of the presentations, did you find most effective and why?
  • 3. List a few points that the presentations have in common. What’s surprising about the overlap?
  • 4. Draft one discussion question.



Take five minutes to respond to the following:

What strategies does Titus Andronicus provide audiences for processing trauma or overcoming grief?

Hands: One Place to Look

The word hand(s) occurs 58 times in Titus Andronicus & 36 times in act 3.What purpose does the repetition of hand(s) serve in this scene or throughout the play? Why does Titus cut off his hand? Are the hands more than just props in this scene?


Nov 16. Sacrifice.

Roman Baths and Abbey Circular Bath Bath England

Titus Andronicus, B/G

The earliest recorded performance of Titus Andronicus is in Philip Henslowe’s diary in January 1594; it was play again on 26 Jan & 6 Feb; entered into the Stationer’s Register and also printed that same year.

Gravelot, Aaron cuts of Titus’ Hand 3.1 (1740). Remember Aaron is the lead in the Ravenscroft adaptation played throughout the 18c.

Where was it played? Did Shakespeare collaborate with another author? What sort of stage, costumes, props, and actors does the script demand? What does it demand of its audience?

What makes Titus Andronicus different from other of Shakespeare’s plays we’ve read so far this semester (ex: end stopped lines)? How is the play an anatomy of difference? Why is the play so obsessed with presenting difference to the audience? Does the play appeal to the audience, as Richard II does, as a “populous” called upon to act as jurors?

Roman Play
Why does Shakespeare adapt and adopt the Roman material? What affordances does the classical material allow? What connection does Britain have with the Roman Republic? Philomela, Lucretia, Dido.

The status of the text: Q1 (1594) likely printed from Shakespeare’s foul papers, i.e. the author draft that precedes the prompt book and the fair copy prepared by professional scribes for the printer; Q2 (1600) printed from Q1 and has some issues at the end b/c of the gathering of control text; Q3 (1611) even more messy than Q2; F1 (1623) edition of Act 3.2, set from Q3 and, likely, some sort of playhouse text. Because of the unusual amount and thoroughness of the directions, its likely the compositor had the prompt book or a copy with performance notes.

Performance History
What did Restoration and 18th c. performances, adaptations, and revisions value most about Shakespeare’s 15th/16th c. play? Why did the play fall out of repertory by the end of the 18th c.? Why does the play appeal to late 20th/early 21st century sensibilities?

Figuring Nature

s-l300Summarize Cohen’s reading of Empedocles: In Empedocles we find a useful hypothesis to explain the world in motion. Cohen explains that according to Empedocles, “all matter consists of four elements in shifting combinations: earth, air, fire, and water. Held together by chains of love [philia], pulled together through endemic strife [neikos], these primal “roots” [rizomata] are enduring and unstill” (2). Through the ceaseless intermingling of these elements, i.e. the “shifting combinations,” compose the world, nature, and all the things in it. Cohen invites this thought experiment: set the unseen, or unseeable “elemental strife” of Empedocles’ hypothesis to the series of swirling, turning images. Like choreography set to music: “Through the push-pull of philia and niekos the cosmos begins to whirl, assuming in this movement its distinctive vorticular form” (3).

What sorts of thinking about matter does the “helicoid” make possible? Why is it such a fit illustration of classical theory of materiality and/or the sort of material thinking in which characters in Shakespeare’s plays often engage? 

Presenters: Kelsey, Isabelle, Kira, Thomas, Alexandra

To help focus the Q&A, at the conclusion of the presentation please take five minutes and respond to the following questions:
  • 1. Briefly summarize the topic and/or arguments made by 2 of the presenters.
  • 2. What two slides, from any of the presentations, did you find most effective and why?
  • 3. List a few points that the presentations have in common. What’s surprising about the overlap?
  • 4. Draft one discussion question.


Take five minutes to respond to the following:
Just before Richard dies he says the following: “Exton, thy fierce hand/Hath with the King’s blood stained the King’s own land” (5.5.109-110). This line echoes other instances in the play in which the Richard’s death is figured as a sacrifice perhaps required to change the course of nature. Compare the way that sacrifice works in Richard II to the two sacrificial sequences in Titus Andronicus. Why does Titus kill Alarbus in (1.1.121-26)? Can we read Tamora’s treatment of Lavinia as a repetition (echo) of the sacrifices in both Richard II and Titus 1.1? How does sacrifice express man’s relationship to nature?

Presentations Day Two. 5 Nov.


Presentation 1 Recap

Student Topic 
Patrick In his presentation, Patrick directed our attention to the contest over truth that the play stages. First he defined truth through a nice explication of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: humans in general, like the few people chained in the cave, take mistake the shadows (phenomena) for the thing-in-itself (noumena). To show how the play engages with questions of truth & perception, he drew our attention to the exchange between Gaunt and Bolingbroke in 1.3. Gaunt advises Bolingbroke to “Suppose the singing birds musicians” (1.3.288). Bolingbroke replies, “O, who can hold a fire in his hand/By thinking on the frosty Caucauses?” (1.3.293-4). We’ve seen this contest in every play we’ve read so far this semester. It’s safe to say that Shakespeare was preoccupied with the question: where does truth come from or how is truth determined? Is the world outside of people what people say it is (or what authority says it is), or do I use my senses to observe and deduce the stuff outside? Response to this question determines eco/environmental work.
Hannah M. Hannah directed our attention to the fact that the play is written entirely in verse, which has a weird effect on characterization. For instance, how does the verse form inflect the exchange between the Gardener and the Servant in lines such as “Go thou and like an executioner/Cut off the heads of too-fast-growing sprays/that look to lofty in the commonwealth” (3.4.33-35). If truth is what I say it is does how I say it matter? Hannah argues that the elevated language allows the characters to say more, but also obfuscate their private intentions. When Richard is finally alone in 5.5.41-65, Hannah argues he “uses verse to keep time; hears his failure in the discord; left with only speech and no action; and he figures himself as a clock (which is a weird instance of blazon, like we saw in Taming of the Shrew, b/c he anatomizes/allegorizes himself.
Beau Beau talked about foreshadowing/omens: Gaunt’s speech that begins, “Methinks I am prophet new inspired” (2.1.31-69); sacral kingship, “The sacred king, the human embodiment of the dying and reviving vegetation god, was supposed to have originally been an individual chosen to rule for a time, but whose fate was to suffer as a sacrifice, to be offered back to the earth so that a new king could rule for a time in his stead” (“Sacred King” Wiki); and images of decay: Garden 3.4, ex: “wasteful King” (3.4.55). What sort of proof would confirm for the audience (that Shakespeare has set up as a jury) that Richard is magic and that, by extension, divine right of kings is a real thing?
Jeffrey Jeffrey drew out attention to ways the Richard II performs loyalty. He argued one of the fault lines in the play separates try loyalists from traitors. He drew our attention to the oaths of loyalty the characters express God through the king in 1.2 & that to disobey the king is to disobey God. He wondered, give the structures of obedience, why Richard is all but abandoned by the end of act 2. I wonder, how does the same power that authorizes Richard, or divine kingship in general, also undermine it? For instance, when Richard takes Bolingbroke’s inheritance, how does he negate the same processes that ensure his right to rule. Or as York explains, “Take Hereford’s rights away and take from time/His charters and his customary rights,/Let not tomorrow then ensue today,/Be not thyself–for how art though a king/But by fair sequence and succession?” (2.1.195-99)  

Presentation 2: Sun, Caroline, & Danny

Audience, prepare yourselves for the Q&A


Richard II, Act 4: The Deposition of the King

As we watch the deposition of Richard, please keep the following prompt in mind and be prepared to discuss your responses afterward:
If in Richard II Shakespeare puts absolute sovereignty on trial to be adjudicated by the audience that he has transformed into a jury, what sorts of appeals does the play make for and against sovereignty? Which position is more compelling and why? What is your final assessment?



Presentations Day One. 2 Nov.



Presentation Workshop

Last Tuesday you worked in your “groups” to determine what topics and/or approaches to take for your individual presentations. It seems as though some of you plan to build off of one another’s presentations, while other groups just made sure you would not overlap. Either strategy works! We asked and answered some of the following questions:

  • Should I limit my presentation to the text page range listed on the calendar? No, you are welcome to present on any portion of the play. Use the reading due for that day to gage how much your classmates were required to read.
  • Does my presentation have to explicitly engage with the course theme, i.e environmental crisis, sustainability, nature? No. That said if you are looking for a good discussion question, you might want to ask your audience to make connections between your presentation and eco/environmental themes.
  • Can I read from a prepared script? Yes. Just don’t put your script on your slides and then read from the slides
  • How much text should I include on the slides? None to not much. That said, if the alphanumeric text renders the idea you are trying to get across that’s OK. For example, I used a family tree as one of my slides in the sample presentation. While its all text, its more of a visual aid than copy.

Richard II, Act I

  • Divine Right of kings: while divine right secures the King’s right to rule & subjects all but him to the law he is enshrined to enforce, yet by the same token “heaven” can undo the rights it grants. On this irony see the first line of Bolingbroke’s appeal “First, heaven be the record to my speech” (1.1.30), and the several instances in which God comes before the King during the tournament sequence. Ex: “To God, my King, and my succeeding issue” (1.3.19). Appeal to divine right, or “trial by combat,” which “was based on the idea that divine justice would assure that the victor was indeed in the right” (nt. 203 p.144)  
  • The roles of women: the Duchess is literally subordinate in her interlude between the two highly stylized and formal court sequences. Her affective rhetoric contrasts sharply with the very rule bound language in the scenes that surround her. Though her pathos may suggest she is worthless than the logos of other scenes, the ways in which she figures familial relationships (11-21) and grief (63-75) is finely wrought and echoes through the whole play. She’s a challenging figure & example of ways women characters in the Histories contest expectations. 
  • History as a genre, which I tried (and failed to connected to the extreme popularity of the genre in the last few years). In the introduction, Yachnin and Dawson explain that some standard purpose of History as genre are, educating audience about “exemplary actions and fates of the nation’s past leaders” (35). They argue “Shakespeare made several special contributions to the genre:..”a sense of belonging to a nation consecrated by the shedding of royal blood; development of character as agents of historical change; history is as much a matter of human imagining as it is an effect of forces” (35). How do the characters in the play perform or relate their own histories? And to what purpose is history used by the characters? 
  • Pay attention to the highly stylized physical rhetoric in the play: the way that Gaunt tries to leave only for the Duchess to pull him back again (1.2) will echo in the deposition scene (3.3); when things are thrown down, someone has to stoop to pick them up (Gaunlets in 1.1); and Richard is usually above the action till he “descends” (1.3.54). Richard’s descent in 1.3 prefigures the series of descents, ex: “Down, down I come like glistering Phaeton/Wanting the manage of unruly jades./In the base court? Base court where kings grow base/To come at traitor’s calls and do them grace” (3.3.176-9)

Patrick, Hannah M., Beau, Jeffrey, will present one after another. The presentations will be followed by a Q & A.

So that we may have a rich discussion after the presentations, please keep the following in mind while your colleagues present:
  • Make a note of any key terms. How does the speaker define the terms? How do you define them? How do the terms relate to or describe the text being considered in the presentation
  • Make note of any key imagery in the slides. What is the relationship between the visual and aural elements of the presentation?  
  • Make note of any points of overlap in the presentations. How do the presenters deal with the same source material differently? What does the overlap say about Richard II, English history, Shakespeare’s stage, etc. more generally?
  • Are there details from any of the presentations you would like clarified? Pay attention to any gaps or points in the presentation where the aural did not synch with the verbal. These may seem like mistakes, but more often than not lapses signal moments of complexity the speaker has yet to figure out. Ask questions or offer suggestions about those moments.
  • Draft questions.
During the Q&A, may want to refer to the template below:
  • Key terms: Jim, I like that you drew our attention to ________ in scene _________ of Richard II. I wonder if you could say more about how __________ works in scene ___________?
  • Imagery: You do a really nice job illustrating the ___________ in scene___________. I wonder, though if the image also means_________ & if so, how does that effect your reading of __________?
  • Overlap: Barbara you talked about __________ and Elaine you talked about __________. While your presentations were really different you both seem to be saying ___________. Can you say more about that? 
  • Putting pressure on the weak spots: Karen, ___________’s speech is really confusing. I like how you did __________ and I wonder if that might help us all to better understand the difficult passage.
  • Scaling up: Dillon, I love that you relate __________ to __________, but I wonder how _________ relates to __________? Can you say more about that? 



Appeals. 29 Oct.



What did we cover on Tuesday? Do you have any questions about either the King Lear assignment or the presentation assignment?

Please note: there is no class on Nov 12 and “The Rape of Lucrece” has been removed from the schedule.


Part I. Presentation Groups

Get into your presentation groups and brain storm presentation topics. Also, I had to make some scheduling changes, so check to make sure you can present on the dates listed below. If you have a conflict on those dates, we can reschedule.
Presentation Groups:

Note: presentations should convey a explicit goal, argument, or concept that helps your audience to better understand an aspect of the play, or that sheds light on an element of the play that has been overlooked. To accomplish your task you may want to organize the entire presentation according to one of the following suggestions: provide contextual information; explain issues related to staging and/or performance history; give an overview of ways in which the textual history of the play effects its meaning; or develop a reading of a scene or entire play by teasing out a formal, rhetorical, or linguistic pattern.

Titus Andronicus Synopsis

  • Nov 3, Richard II Acts 2-3. Patrick, Hannah M., Beau, & Jeffrey
  • Nov 5, Richard II Act 4. Sun, Caroline, Danny, & Alexandra
  • Nov 10, Richard II Act 5. Robert, Madison, Ainee, & Nick
  • Nov 17, Titus Andronicus Acts 1-2. Kelsey, Isabelle, Kira, & Thomas
  • Nov 19, Titus Andronicus Act 3. Chan Bailey, June, & Tony
  • Dec 3, Titus Andronicus Act 4-5. Angeline, Shamala, Hannah P., & Sarah


Part II. Generating Discussion Questions

Since you may want to include a discussion question in your presentation, I thought we could work on discussion question generating strategies. For this exercise, stay in your presentation groups and complete the following tasks:
  • First, what are some of the major themes or goals of Richard II so far? Might want to brainstorm a list and then come to a consensus over your responses.
  • Next, choose a scene, a character, a passage, or a repeated word, image, or phrase that you think provides insight into the larger goals of the play. Summarize and close read the evidence you chose.
  • Finally, develop one discussion question out of your findings. What sorts of questions can you ask to help your classmates to better negotiate the first act of Richard II

Workshop. 22 Oct.

Darkest London, Marc Haynes

Letters in Lear


Edmund’s letter that tricks Gloucester (2.45-57); Oswald’s letter to Regan or Gonoril sends Oswald with a letter to Regan to report on Lear’s rowdy knights (4.315); Regan explains to Gloucester that she received messages from her father and sister (6.122); Kent makes the best of a night in the stocks by reading his secret letter from someone sympathetic to Lear (7.156-166); Kent gives ring to the First Gentleman as a sign of his identity (8.39); Gloucester tells Edmund that he has a secret letter from French forces sympathetic to Lear (10.10-11); Edmund turns over the secret letter to Cornwall and Cornwall uses it to interrogate Gloucester (14.1-3); First Gentleman relates to Kent Cordelia’s reaction to the letters he sent (17); Regan tries to get Oswald to show her the letters for Edmund (19.6); and Gonoril’s letter to Edmund asking him to kill Albany (20.254-62).

What sorts of claims can we make about all these letters?

  • Miscommunication: is it easier to communicate fact-to-face or in writing, why or why not?
  • The letters model strategies for interpretation
  • Of course most of the letters never arrive, there is no King to insure basic systems function properly
  • Shakespeare uses the letters to help the audience imagine space and time
  • The letters are more like telephones.

Validity of Scholarly Sources

We reviewed the Digital Edition assignment. Specifically ways to respond to the prompt; how to search for scholarly articles/books; and how to determine the validity of scholarly work.

  • To find secondary sources on Shakespeare (i.e. literary studies), search the MLA International Bibliography using key word combinations usually made up of the title of the work you are writing about and your major topic of inquiry. Be prepared to narrow or expand your inquiry topic. Ex: Politics to Sovereignty, or Language to Simile.
  • There are several ways to determine the validity of scholarly articles, publication date, publication location, and institutional affiliation. For our purposes, articles published in the last 10 years are more likely to speak to our topical interests. The following are the major journals in Shakespeare Studies and early modern literature: Shakespeare Quarterly, Early English Literature, English Studies, Studies in English Literature, Shakespeare, Shakespeare Yearbook, Studies in Philology, English Literary History, Exemplaria, Postmedieval, and Interdisciplinary Studies for Literature and the Environment.
  • To determine the validity of a book, first look up the author. Most professors have a department site or personal cite with their CV (curriculum vitae: sorts of resumes used by people in the humanities), and discern what sorts of work they have published and where. Also, look up publishers you do not recognize and read the “About” pages on their websites. For example The University of Minnesota Press.

Validity of Internet Sources

How do you determine the internet sources you link out to from your text are authoritative?

  • Institutional affiliation: Resources on King Lear posted to a PBS affiliate are likely more useful to a reader than unattributed sources
  • Publication dates and/or most recent update dates listed
  • Location on Google (or another search engine) results list. Does traffic equal validity? 
  • The validity of the source doesn’t matter as much as how you use it. In other words, if the link support, extends, challenges your reading then the validity matters less b/c you have put that source into context and given your users a reading strategy. 

I. Digital Edition Workshop, Pairs

Get into pairs, trade drafts, read the drafts, and then respond to the drafts. Use the questions below to guide your discussion:
  • Does the introduction make a claim? If not, brainstorm the claim with your partner and/or revise the topic into an arguable claim.
  • Does the draft include two of the following categories: textual criticism, critical responses, performance history, or Lear today? If not, brainstorm possible sections. Also, does the information in those sections help support, develop, extend the introduction?
  • Does the draft include a scene from Lear? Does the scene chosen support the claim? Or, why did the author decide on that scene?
  • Are there any links and/or footnotes? How do they develop the claim/goal of the project?
  • Discuss formatting strategies.

II. Digital Edition Workshop, Full Class


Post. Oct 19.



Last Thursday we watched the “Storm” sequence in Peter Brook’s & Paul Scofield’s King Lear (1971).

Storm: Afterwards we talked about ways directors and readers can imagine the storm. Brook’s storm is both literal and figurative (if not entirely realistic owing to technological constraints). We compared the storm outside to all the weeping in the play (Lear 7.434-37; Edgar 13.54-55; Eye Gouging in Scene 14; Cordelia’s tears in the First Gentleman’s report 17.14-16; and Lear, “Why, this would make a man of salt/To use his eyes for garden water-pots,/Ay, and laying autumn’s dust” (20.184-86); and, of course the tears the audience sheds). I asked, what does the storm convey that words cannot? And, is the storm magical, unnatural, or manmade?

Edgar (Natural Man): What sorts of stories does he tell about himself and why (Scenes 11 & 15); and Lear’s famous phrase,”Unaccomodated man” (11.96) and the question of nakedness as pertains to ways to distinguish man from nonhuman things.

Q1 v. F1: near the end of class I mention several scenes/passage we read for Thursday and today occur only in Q1 (1608) and not in the “revised” Folio (1623). The following are some Q1 only passages/scenes:

  • The arraignment sequence in the hovel: 12.15-49
  • Edgar’s final speech that begins, “When we our betters bearing our woes” (12.91-105
  • Gloucester’s two servants planning to help him after he looses his eyes (14.95-110)
  • Albany’s part in Scene 16 is reduced by 50 or so lines
  • Scene 17 where Kent meets with the [First Gentleman] and he gives his report of Cordelia’s response to Lear’s transformation; and the Folio version cuts another exchange between Kent and the [First] Gentleman, 21.77-95.
  • In Q1, Albany gets the last lines of the play and in F1 Edgar speaks them, “The weight of this sad time we must obey,/Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say./The oldest hath borne most. We that are young/Shall never see so much, nor live so long” (24.298-301).

Digital Edition: I made a model of both a first draft and a second draft.


Part I. Group Activity

Get into the groups listed below; introduce yourselves; and then respond to prompt. Be prepared to cite specific examples from the text during discussion.


  • 1. Kelsey, Madison, Patrick, Hannah P, & June
  • 2. Beau, Ainee, Hannah M., Caroline, & Sun
  • 3. Robert, Kira, Sarah, Nicholas, & Jeffrey
  • 4. Isabelle, Shamala, Thomas, Danny, & Tony
  • 5. Angeline, Chan, Alexandra, & Bailey


There sure are a lot of letters in King Lear. Complete the following to explain why:

Trace some of the letters sent throughout the play, compare their content, and use your findings to draft a claim about the function of the almost hyperbolic exchange of letters in King Lear.




Part II. Discussion: King Lear and Contemporary Environmental Crisis

What sorts of connections did you make between the play and current natural events/crisis? What sorts of language is used to describe contemporary events? How does that succeed and/or fail? What themes, images, and/or relationships does the play provide to help us figure nature in the modern world and redress natural problems?

1 2 3