How can I organize my site by both theme and title of play (configure the menu to have both)?
Draft of Webtext
Hello and welcome to Shakespeare: A Modern View of a Renaissance Playwright. My name is Hannah Middlebrook, and I am a student at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. This website documents my trek into the depths of Shakespeare’s plays with a modern lens. The plays here are discussed through the lens of the modern world, relating the texts to current environmental issues and social culture, as well as offering in depth analysis and close reading of five of Shakespeare’s plays.
As well as being a student, I also am an actor and have performed Shakespeare’s works, most recently as Ophelia in the New American Shakespeare Tavern’s Intensive production in June 2014. Though I do not overtly go into detail of the texts specifically through an actor’s perspective, all of the analyses and ideas are explored with my stage experience and acting knowledge in mind.
The goal of this website is to foster a connection between media. The different angles used to present each project on this website are meant to create multiple and interesting, modern ways to talk about 400-year-old texts. The projects range from infographics to essays to video presentations to attempt to draw attention to the depths of Shakespeare in a variety of ways. By exploring Shakespeare with a modern lens through the use of a range of media tools, the essence of the ideas in Shakespeare’s works are communicated to the audience.
Shakespeare’s text proved problematic in certain areas, especially when delving into the expression of more modern concepts. For some of the plays, such as The Tempest, eco-environmental criticism is rampant, allowing a clear discussion of similarities in the text and in the current environment. Other plays were more complicated, only offering an indirect connection between a theme of the text and environmental trends. These difficulties were able to be resolved by widening the scope of the modern lens. Although this class’s focus was mainly towards eco-environmental criticism, it also provided an outlet to discuss the text’s relationship with other modern concerns, such as social and political issues. The Taming of the Shrew blatantly discussed feminism in society, and Richard II and King Lear reflected ideas concerning the powers of the head and body of the state. Other problems regarding the projects have to do with the nature of the projects rather than the text itself. Each assignment asked for a different form of presentation, ranging from textual to visual. The difficulty in this was determining the most beneficial display of data and analysis. This required meticulous maneuvering between pedantry and simplicity in order to communicate the ideas in the most successful way to the audience. The projects required often serious subjects to be presented in a slightly more casual, yet still professional way.
Throughout the projects, creativity was essential. Each assignment required a different angle of expression. Creating the infographic called for a balance of text and visual images, in order to communicate ideas to a particular audience, and resourcefulness was necessary to find concise images and data to explore the ideas without being overbearing or pedantic. The digital gloss was wholly different in that it required a weightier analysis and elevated data presentation. The gloss and subsequent analyses were presented mainly with textual data only, which required precise language to develop a theme. In the presentation, image was used as well as audio data to heighten the effect on Shakespeare’s text. Shakespeare was meant to be seen and heard on stage, so providing a vocal presentation was necessary, especially in my topic of the structure of the verse in Richard II.
By taking text and reproducing it in images, sound, and other forms of media, more connections can be made concerning the text. As aforementioned, Shakespeare was meant to be seen and understood on the stage. While purely textual analyses are useful and meaningful in their presentation of information, Shakespeare requires visual and audial tools to convey meaning. These tools force the audience to pay attention to the crumbs of rhetoric in the verse and the countless images that the text conjures. Also, using digital means of presentation for the projects, beginning with a website to display all the projects and blog posts and continuing with a digital gloss, a YouTube video, and an infographic, allowed Shakespeare to transfer easily into the modern world. As this class aimed toward connecting Shakespeare to modern issues in the environment, society, and politics, a modern approach to viewing the material was essential.
In this class, Shakespeare’s relevance in the modern world was easily recognized. The essence and themes of the eco-environmental issues of today are constantly found within Shakespeare’s text, written 400 years ago. Environmental problems such as flooding and natural disasters and pollution are related to the happenings in the plots of the plays, not only plainly related, such as in The Tempest, be also indirectly related, such as in King Lear and The Taming of the Shrew. Shakespeare also draws hierarchies of man and nature in many of his plays. With these hierarchies, the environment, as well as more vague concepts such as fate and the supernatural, can be easily explained in regard to humanity. Interestingly, in my study of the plays in this light, I found that Shakespeare often changed the hierarchy in different plays. In The Tempest, man controlled nature. In King Lear, man succumbed to an uncaring universe. Each of these ideas concerning man and nature mimic today’s standards. Man can control nature through their use of natural resources, yet nature also has the upper hand, easily able to destroy man with natural disasters and the like. The weaving themes in the text all lead to a representation of the modern day world.