Tag Archives: Class Discussion

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.


Visual Rhetoric. Sept 24

L0035582 An Iron 'scolds bridle' mask used to publicaly humiliate
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
An Iron 'scold's bridle' or 'branks' mask, with large nose piece, grotesque ears and two horns, used to publicly humiliate and punish, mainly women, for speaking out against authority. Brussels, Belgium
1550 - 1800 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


Nice discussion on Tuesday! We drew out some of the following features from Shrew‘s first act:

  • Physiological/medical valences derived from both the idea that the whole play is framed as cure for Sly’s melancholy (Induction 2.125-32), and the Petrarchan love tropes (love darts) see Lucentio (1.1.218-19)
  • Hannah told us that shrew is the root for shrewd, which opens up ways to consider Katherine that are grounded in the language. According to the OED the term ‘shrew’ can also pertain to men, what’s that about?
  • While there is no way to be sure if the play reflects early modern expectations of the right and wrong ways to be a man or a woman, we can ask: why does this play provoke us to consider general social attitudes toward sex and gender? We compared these ideas to Ferdinand and Miranda’s vows in Tempest 3.2
  • We talked about staging conventions: all male casts; animal bating that was conducted the same theaters where the plays were played; stock characters of the Commedia dell’arte such as Grumio, the pantalone; that the groups of men form a sort-of classic style chorus; and that references to corporal punishments through out the text, such as “To cart her, rather” (1.1.58) suggest “folk performances” such as Skimmington Rides; Cucking Stools; and scold bridles.

Donna Haraway & Animal Studies

Term Definition
Anthropocentrism The distinction human/animal falls short of really differentiating all the different sorts of animals and people on the one hand, and on the other hand, the human/animal divide cannot describe ways the two are always interacting. The line dividing the two categories can be dangerous b/c it authorizes terrible mistreatment of humans and animals.
Companion Species Haraway says maybe looking at loving human/animal relationships might be a good place to start: “Historically situated animals in companionate relationships with equally situated humans are, of course, players in the world” (99). It’s very good to realize that people partner with dogs, horses, cats, cows, etc. to shape the word. But…Haraway argues, that’s not the whole story because human and animal partnership change over time & for her that “becoming with” is a much kinder place to think about relationships (99). To that end she says, “The partners do not precede their relating, all that is is the fruit of becoming with–” (99)
‘Companion’ While “companion species” in ordinary usage doesn’t quite encapsulate the sort of movement she’s interested in, its a really good phrase and she doesn’t want to throw it away. Instead she gets to the bottom of it, by first think through the history of the ways the terms have been used. Overall ‘companion’ denote eating together. And also, perhaps, who eats; who or what can be eaten?
‘Species’ Specre, Latin for ‘too look/behold is at the root of ‘species.’ From its root, Haraway draws out the connection between specre, the root of species, and respecre (or respectus), which is the root of modern English word ‘respect.’ That is to say, respect also means to look again. So Haraway argues that the term companion species already has built into it a movement or futurity that can best describe humans and animals. Or as she explains, “To knot companion and species together in encounter, in regard and respect, is to enter the world of becoming, with, where, who and what are precisely what are at stake” (102).
Applications What might it mean to suggest the of Kate and Petruccio that “the partners do not precede their relating”? There are several instances in Shrew in which human and animal voices are indistinguishable, what are the implications of such confusions? Are there moments in Shrew in which characters ‘look again’ and are then irrevocably changed from that point forward?

Part I. Key Word Search, Visual Rendering, &

Piktochart, ‘How-To’

Please complete the following tasks. Be prepared to cite evidence from the text to support your findings during discussion:

  • Choose a key term from Taming of the Shrew & briefly describe or make note of the passage in which you found it
  • Look up your word in the OED and/or UrbanDictionary, or Brill Renaissance Latin Dictionary
  • Look up your word in Open Source Shakespeare
  • Draw some conclusions about your findings: does usage vary over time; does the word show up in fewer or more plays than you expected; is it more likely to show up in comedies than tragedies; were there connotations you did not expect, etc.?

Part II. Franco Zeffirelli‘s Taming of the Shrew (1967)

2.2 “wooing sequence” (36-48 mins)The_Taming_of_the_Shrew_(1967_film)_poster

While we watch the clip, please consider the following questions:
What’s the relationship between the visual and aural in this scene? Where are the scenes set? Does the character movement, scope of the shots, color composition, and/or lighting enhance the dialogue? Does the composition or adaptation contradict your reading of 2.2?

RQ: Shrew Introduction & Induction



Keep the following questions in mind as you read Barbara Hodgdon’s Introduction (1-38) and the Induction of Taming of the Shrew. The questions are designed to guide your reading practices and our class discussions. You are not required to provide formal answers in class or online.


According to the Introduction, what genre is Taming of the Shrew?

How does the play adapt contemporary events and literary forms?

1967 RSC Shrew Poster

How does the play draw attention to the early modern English stage practice of all male casts?

What is the relationship between The Taming of a Shrew (1594) and The Taming of the Shrew (F1 1623)? When were the plays first performed? Where were the plays first performed? (see esp. page 20 where Hodgdon lays out the three theories of the text: 1. Shakespeare copied/adapted ‘A Shrew‘ or he wrote both; 2. the ur-Shrew theory; 3. Memorial reconstruction).

How have editors resolved the problem of the two texts?

What’s a conflated edition of a text?

Nicholas Rowe

Who is Shakespeare’s editor? How have editors over the centuries shaped Shakespeare’s plays?

What does “induction” mean (23)?

What is Barbara Hogdgon’s (and by extension the edition we are reading) final word on the relationship between ‘A Shrew‘ and ‘The Shrew‘ (36-7)?

Are you surprised that there is no such thing as a true, original Shakespearean text?

What’s the relationship between the notes and the main body of the text?


Induction I

Where does Taming of the Shrew take place?

Does Christopher Sly’s name describe his character? Why are names so important to him?

What purpose does the repetition of contrast between hot and cold serve throughout the induction?

What are some of the Lord’s dog’s names? Do think it’s strange that Lord’s dogs have names when so many of the other characters in the Induction, the Lord included, only have descriptive titles, or not titles at all and are merely referred to as boy?

Compare the Lord’s treatment of Sly to his treatment of the dogs.

What does the Lord mean when he says, “Sirs, I will practice on this man” (Induction 1.35)? What sort of outcome does he predict? Do his attendants, 1 & 2 Huntsman agree?

What sorts of arrangements does the Lord ask the Huntsman to make to his chamber to convince Sly to “forget himself” (Induction 1.40)?

Are there points of contact between the Induction and The Tempest?

How does the Lord greet the players?

What sorts of instructions does he give them concerning Sly? Who else is his advice aimed at? Why is he so excited about inciting laughter only to “abate the over-merry spleen” (I.135)?

What does it mean that that everyone has to obey a Lord even if he order them to help him give his power away and undermine the very authority that binds them to his service?

Who does the Lord get to the play Sly’s “humble wife” (Induction I.115) & what instructions does the Lord tell his servant to pass along to Bartholomew?

How does the Lord’s training of Bartholomew compare to Pertuccio’s training of Katherina?

Induction II

Are you surprised by Sly’s initial reaction to the situation he finds himself when he wakes up?

Do clothes really ‘make a man’?

What sorts of evidence do the Lord and his servants offer to Sly to persuade him that he is actually “a mighty man of much descent” (II.13)?

What sorts of pictures does the Lord want to show Sly? Why will looking at a series of visually rendered, Classical rape sequences persuade Sly that he is a lord?

What finally persuades Sly that he is a lord?

Is the Lord and his household play on Sly cruel?

How does Bartholomew excuse himself from having sex with Sly? What is the connection between love/lust and madness/illness?

What are the medical properties of the play?

Media. 8 Sept.



Act two provides us with a series of rhetorical/figural responses to nature. They include joke work-puns, taking-the-piss, & slapstick; lists, measure, quantification, commodification; and repetition; allusion; and tragedy juxtaposed against comedy.

Building off of both Danny and Kira’s comments towards the end of class on 9/3, we might also ask of The Tempest:

  • What do individuals or smaller groups of people lack that government supplies?
  • How are Shakespeare and his characters readers of a literary historical tradition and/or political the context in which they find themselves?


MLA citation

Berensmeyer, Ingo. “Shakespeare and Media Ecology: Beyond Historicism and Presentism.” Poetics Today 35.4 (2015): 515-533.

Before we work on the essay, can we quickly discuss the following:

  • What is a primary source?
  • What is a secondary source?
  • How can we assess the validity of secondary sources?

Berensmeyer, Ingo. “Shakespeare and Media Ecology: Beyond Historicism and Presentism.” Poetics Today 35.4 (2015): 515-533.

Part I. Group Activity

Please get into the groups that follow, introduce yourselves to your peers, and then respond to the prompts below. Write down as much as you will need to participate in discussion and be prepared to cite specific instances from the text.

  1. Ainee, Hannah M., Nicholas, & Robert
  2. Alexandra, Jeffery, Danny, & Angeline
  3. Kelsey, Beau, Caroline, Chan, & Thomas
  4. June, Sun, Isabelle, Patrick, Shamala, & Bailey
  5. Kira, Sarah, Madison, Tony, & Hannah P.
  • What are Berensmeyer’s main claims or goals?
  • Point out 1-2 of conceptual frames he deploys, and describe how he fits those frames to The Tempest. EX: Presentism, Historicism, Media Ecology. 
  • How does Berensmeyer’s essay and/or The Tempest expand or challenge ordinary expectations about human agency? Do you agree?

Part II. Mini Writing Workshop

  • Get into pairs
  • Exchange blog posts–either online or trade hard copies
  • In 3-5 sentences convert your partner’s blog post into a short “paper”


Discussion. 1 Sept.



Before we move begin class discussion of The Tempest, act 1 and the first half of Ingo Berensmeyer’s “Shakespeare and Media Ecology” (515-523), I want to review some basics of literary analysis and the rhetorical gestures required for successful discussion.

Why Discuss?

Discussion in the literature classroom is an oral and collaborative form of close reading. Close reading, a skill that makes possible all of literally study, is a sort-of tacking back and forth between global, general claims about a text and local, linguistic features. Discoveries made at the local level–revelations about meter, repetition, metaphor, synonym, vehicle, tenor, tone, or unusual features.–shape the claims you make at the global level. The claims at the global level eventually attract key textual patterns that you then shape into a reading. So in discussion we perform the skills required for successful close reading and argument, driven analysis. Discussion also helps us make connections between textual elements and commit new information to memory. For these reasons class discussion is the most widely used pedagogical tool.


Good discussions requires participants to engage one another’s ideas. Sustained, collaborative engagement requires the following skills: listening, paraphrase, synthesis, and creativity, i.e. saying again or revoicing. As we discuss the question that follows, I’ll ask you to speak to one another’s ideas about The Tempest.

Take 5-8 minutes to respond and be prepared to cite specific evidence in the text to support your answer.
Does Prospero cause the storm?

Discussion Templates (For more discussion templates seeGerald Graff and Kathy Berkenstein’s They Say; I Say)

Try using some of the templates listed below to engage one another’s ideas:

Paraphrase: “I hear Jimmy saying______ about topic_________”

Synthesize: “Kelly has supported her point, which is_________, with_________ example from the text.”

Contribute: “To build on what Charlie just said, I think_________”

Apply: “The conclusions that Ted draws can also be applied __________”