Category Archives: Today

Website Afterlives. FAQ.

I suggest you revise the site into a professional digital portfolio. Your portfolios can be organized around a central theme of your work/research, or your professional identity can serve as the basis of the site. Once you choose a guiding idea and set of images, you can organize your larger Domain network accordingly. You may also want to revise the site in anticipation of taking another Domain of One’s Own course at Emory.
You need reorganize your content by moving the work you produced for this course into a separate section of the larger website, perhaps under a tab called Shakespeare’s Globe or ENG 210. OR, you can move the coursework generated for this class into a separate sub website that you connect to your main website. Either way, remember that a personal site (arranged thematically or according to your online identity) will likely include navigation options that direct users to pages/subdomains with content such as Resume, CourseWork, OutReach, and/or SocialMedia. Visualize your main site as a hub that supports all your interests.
You may want to move the content you generated for Shakespeare’s Globe over to a subdomain. A subdomain is an add-on domain, or a site that operates separately out of the root domain you registered. For instance my root domain is and the course site is a subdomain. Follow these instructions to move your site to a new subdomain.
Yes! I will be available online or inperson all next semester, so if you have questions email me at Also, the Emory Writing Center staff is trained to support web writing. Remember, if you get stuck with any sort of online writing, Google the problem and then use the instructional and then try to work through it with the instructional information the search yields.

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”

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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?


RQ: Titus, Act 2-3 (Trigger Warning)


Please note that Titus Andronicus Act 2 stages sexual violence. How does Shakespeare’s adaptation of Ovid and the response the it illicit in audiences compare to complaints made by students in Literature & Humanities courses Columbia. One student wrote, “the student said her professor focused on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text.” I aim to read the text within an ecocritical or ecofeminist tradition that argues objectification and violence sexual assault is always a part of what Jeffrey Cohen calls “resourcism.” Also, why does Shakespeare ask audiences to witness such spectacular violence?

How do these movie and stage production posters figure the violence at the heart of this play?

Act 2

In Wells’ note to Aaron’s entrance at 2.1, he explains, “In F he is directed to enter alone after an inappropriate ‘fourish,’ transferred from the preceding stage directions in Q1, where it accompanies the Emperor’s departure” (n.2.1.1 p.106). What if the direction is not a mistake? Or, how should we read Aaron as a king?

What sorts of metaphors does Aaron use to describe Tamora and his rise to power? Do the metaphors remind you of others we have seen so far this semester? What are Aaron’s plans?

What motivates the conjunction of martial and sexual violence in 2.1 and throughout the play? Do Chiron and Demitrius threaten Lavinia’s chastity because they are Goths, outsiders? Or, is there something inside Rome that motivates their violence?

Though the rape of Lavinia inherits the stories of Lucretia from Virgil and Philomela from Ovid, why does Shakespeare’s version of the story happen outside? Why is the forest, “Fitted by kind for rape and villainy” (2.1.117) according to Aaron?

So far this semester we have seen several instances of characters traveling from courts into “nature.” How does the the “into the woods” sequence in Titus compare to The Tempest or King Lear?

Compare Tamora’s two descriptions of the forest (2.3.10-30) to her other description of the forest (2.3.101-110). What accounts for the change?

What’s Aaron’s plan?

What sorts of appeals does Lavinia make to Tamora? Why does Tamora refuse to relent?

What metaphorical work does the pit in act 2 perform?

Why do Chiron and Demetrius mutilate Lavinia?

How does Marcus respond to Lavina’s deformity (2.4.1-55). Does Marcus ease her suffering? Does he ease the audiences’ suffering?

Why does Shakespeare ask audiences to witness such spectacular violence? Why bring it out in the open?

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?

RQ: Titus Act 1 & Cohen


Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, “Eleven Principles of the Elements”

With what sorts of rhetorical gestures does Cohen begin his Introduction? Are they similar or different to the gestures we have seen so far this semester? How does he incorporate the visual to enable his audience to better understand his claims?

What do are all the “vortex” images (cyclones, chemical trails, garbage swirling in the sea, hurricanes, polar vortex, Charybdis, etc) supposed to transmit? What do they help readers to conceptualize?

What sorts of words/worlds do the spirals generate?

How are all the swirls an “ecopoetics.” Not the subject of poetics or studies, but authors who themselves inscribe a language we read?

Summarize 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? 

Think about ways in which Titus exemplifies a path not taken. What if the modern world, a world mostly given over to the notion that nature is the raw materials of culture (resourcsim), decided to adapt some lost strands of thinking that in Shakespeare’s tragedy? Develop the prompt above through one of the following: what could Cohen’s notion of “ethics of care” bring a reading of Marcus’ response to Lavinia Titus 2.4.11-60? OR how Cohen’s conceptual model of the assemblage help you explain Titus’ vindicatory speech at 5.2.166-208?

For full credit respond to the above in at least 800 words; with a clearly articulated claim developed through at least one closely read in-text citation from Titus and one from Cohen’s “Eleven Principles of the Elements.”

What’s the goal of elemental ecocriticism: “Our collaborations stage inventive re-encounters with historical frames that powerfully foreground worldly activity and material agency, the limits of anthropocentricity, and the intimacy of narrative making to ethics. We seek an elemental ecocriticism that discovers in imaginative and critical texts a lush archive for thinking ecology anew. We believe that attending to matter and writing against the reduction of the world to commodity (resource, energy) is a powerful aid to activism” (3).

“How did we forget that matter is a precarious system and dynamic entity, not a reservoir of tractable commodities?” (4) How do humans figure in the “relentless objectification” of nonhuman things?

What does he mean when he says, “there is no out-to where things are sourced, but always a wherein, with whom, wherefore” (4)?

In the logic of “relentless objectification” or “resourcism,” what agency is left to earth, air, fire, and water? Why is cataclysmic agency or no agency at all a dangerous environmental model?

What if the elements are more than a threat? What does he mean by environmental agentism? How does treating nature as an “unlooked for partner” harken back to Donna Haraway and “Companion Species”?

Act 1

O what are Saturninus and Bassianus attempting to persuade the audience when the play first opens? How does Marcus solve the problem?

According to Marcus, what are Titus’ qualifications (1.1.23-45)? To whom does he appeal? What sorts of rhetorical appeals does he make? What are some specific characteristics of his speech, here and throughout, that make him effective?

Why does Marcus stress the fact that Titus is an outsider, “A nobler man, a braver warrior/Lives not this day within the city walls” (1.1.24)?

Remember when King Lear began, and I asked, “Are the kingdoms in Lear already divided prior to his decision”? Similarly, is Rome already savage? Why is the play so invested on showing how barbarism comes from the inside?

Compare the three elaborate entrances in Titus Andronicus‘s first act. What changes from (SD1.1.1); (SD1.1.69); 1.1.402)?

Why does Titus sacrifice Tamora’s son Alarbus? What is he afraid will happen if he doesn’t sacrifce Alarbus? What does Tamora say will happen if he does? Which of the two is correct? Is the sacrifice the choice the precipitates the tragic action of the play?

How does the tomb figure as a living thing that is also capable of granting life in Titus’ address (1.1.89-95)?

What other sorts of nonhuman things seem to come to life in the first act, ex: “fame” (1.1.158); “Rome” (esp., 1.1.168); and classical gods?

How does Tamora respond to Titus’ murder/sacrifice of her sons?

Why does Titus reject the offer, made by his brother Marcus on behalf of the “people of Rome”(1.1.179) to be “candidatus” (1.1.186)? Why does he allow his daughter to be

Is what follows, i.e. a sort-of civil strife, the consequence of Titus’ decision? OR, would the fight between the two factions, Saturninus (& Goths) on the one hand and Bassianus (& Andronici) on the other, have happened regardless?

Does Lavina ever have a chance for a life that isn’t just terrible suffering? What does Lavina communicate to the audience that words cannot? Compare her to the storm in Lear.

Why does Saturninus marry Tamora? Does he make a solid decision there? What sort of leader is Saturninus?

Why does Titus kill Mutius (1.1.340)?  What sort of appeals does his family make that forces Titus to eventually relent and allow Mutius to be buried in the family tomb (1.1.340-390)?

How can you tell the difference between Rome and a tomb?

The first mention of “Rape” comes near the end of act one, when Saturninus, “Traitor, if Rome have law or we power,/Thou and thy faction shall repent this rape” (1.1.403-5)? What does the term mean in this context and how does it foreshadow what’s to come?

How does Tamora establish the revenge plot? What transformed her into a Roman?


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
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