Tag Archives: History

Conventions. 10 Sept.



Historical Terms Description
16th & 17th century Shakespeare, and the thriving theater business to which he contributed, performed in public, open air theaters; private, indoor theaters; at court; at the ins-at-court; at the colleges; and on tour from 1576 (when James Burbage opened The Theater in Shoreditch) till 1642 (when the staging of plays was banned by the Puritans who controlled Parliament during the First English Civil War).
Elizabethan Queen Elizabeth I ruled England 1559-1603. 
Jacobean James I ruled England and Scotland 1603-1625.
Renaissance (1450-1600 approx.) The term “Renaissance” came into use in the later half of the 19th century to describe cultural production in mostly Italy and France. Literary critics and historians began describing Shakespeare as an author belonging to the “English Literary Renaissance” in the early part of the 20th century. Might want to keep in mind: Terms contemporary scholars use to describe the past are “…more typically extensions of the naming practices seen in examples of ‘Renaissance’ businesses found in any telephone directory: labels that seek to suggest qualities in objects, practices, persons, and times that do not obviously possess them” (Douglas Bruster “Shakespeare and the End of History” 149). 
Early Modern (1500-1700 approx.) Term applied by scholars and historians in the late 20th century to describe the period defined by events such as the Reformation, the printing press, the Age of Discovery, Vanishing Point Perspective, etc. This term emphasizes and affinity between Shakespeare’s time and post-war America. The term is also useful because, unlike Renaissance, it does not assume that the period prior was somehow dead enough to be reborn.
Restoration (1660-1689) Last gasp of the Tudor/Stuart monarchy and a production of art, especially theater, that advanced impulses similar to those Shakespeare and fellow authors, actors, impresarios. This little slice of English history describes the years Charles II and briefly his brother James II ruled England were restored to the throne in England after eleven years of Parliamentary rule called the Interregnum. The theaters in England remained closed from 1642-1660.

Writing Workshop

Part I. Take 10 minutes and read through the draft of the short paper that you brought to class. Once you have finished make note of the following:

  • What is your main claim and how have you developed it?
  • Do you define your key terms?
  • Do you attend to the citations you chose from The Tempest at the sentence level? 
  • In a couple of sentences describe the next steps you plan to take.

Part II. Push the desks into a circle, and each of you can read her/his paper aloud or describe your claim, terms, and evidence. Take note as your peers read and/or describe their papers, so you can ask questions/make suggestions when they finish speaking.

RQ: Tempest, Act 2 & Berensmeyer



Keep the following questions in mind as you read The Tempest, Act 2 and the second half of Ingo Berensmeyer, “Shakespeare and Media Ecology: Beyond Historicism and Presentism.” 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.

Tempest Act 2, Reading Questions

  • What does the Island look like? Where is it? Why can’t the nobles cannot agree on what should be object facts?
  • Who’s Dido & what purpose does the classical reference serve?
  • If Gonzalo had a plantation on the island, what would it be like? What assumptions does Gonzalo’s vision of his “plantation” make about “nature”? (2.1.143-59).
  • Is Alonso, the King of Naples, a good leader/administrator? Compare Alonso’s leadership with some of the other characters and their leadership skills: Prospero, Gonzalo, Sebastian, and Trinculo. Who’s kingdom would you most like to live in? Why does Ariel save Alonso from assassination?
  • What does Caliban look like when Trinculo meets him for the first time? How does Trinculo react to his first meeting with Caliban?
  • Compare Caliban’s description of the Island to other descriptions.
  • Where does Trinculo get the “sack” (fortified wine) that he and the rest of the conspirators drink?
  • Do the two scenes in act two suggest that conspiracy to overthrow the king is natural?
  • What sorts of monsters do the Europeans believe inhabit the island? What sorts of monsters actually inhabit the island?
  • Why does Caliban agree to help Trinculo and Stephano? Can he ever really be set free?
  • What key words, phrases, or images that get reptead in this act?

“Shakespeare and Media Ecology” Questions:

  • According to Berensmeyer, how have ideas about Shakespeare as an author shifted over the years & why? Is ‘history’ in The Tempest politically mediated and if so, why and/or how?
  • How does Berensmeyer’s definition of “media ecology” help account for supernatural elements in The Tempest?
  • Berensmeyer cites McLuen definition of media as “extensions of man” (520). When do we see media or technology as an extension of a character in The Tempest?
  • What does Berensmeyer mean when he says “Costumes provide a good example of this multilayered process of medialization” (524)?
  • What does Shakespeare expect from his audiences?
  • What’s a masque? why does it mean different things to early 17th c. audiences than it does to early 21st century audiences according to Berensmeyer? Why does Berensmeyer connect the fourth act nuptial masque with the 2012 London Olympics? Is he successful?