Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Digital Webtext Draft

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.

Blog Post 3- King Lear

OverpopulationThe first thing that usually comes to mind when reading Shakspeare’ s King Lear is not the topic of the environment; instead most people gravitate towards analyzing the social dynamics between characters like Lear, Cordelia, and Goneril. By overlooking the environmental factors that arise in King Lear, readers miss out on important commentary of Shakespeare’s world in which he lived, as well as the opportunity to connect his issues to present day environmental concerns, such as pollution and climate change. While it may seem that the gap between Lear’s history and today’s present might be difficult to connect, the bridge between the time periods is bridged far easier than thought, as ideas and opinions about nature that were held during Shakespeare’s era are still seen today.

Take, for example, the issue of overpopulation in today’s society. Does King Lear have anything in particular to say about overpopulation? No, not at all. But there are pieces of text that explain the problems humans have when dealing with nature that can fully apply to, and describe, the issue of overpopulation in present times.
Overpopulation, according to different sources, “is among the most pressing environmental issues” (everythingconnects.org) facing our generation and the world today. Although many believe other issues, such as global warming and animal extinction, to be more important than overpopulation, these problems may not be as demanding as the issue of human overpopulation. This isn’t to say that global warming and other environmental issues aren’t important, but these claims tend to forget that overpopulation is actually the cause of many other environmental troubles. A straightforward explanation is that an increase in population creates a strain for new technology (in order to increase quality of life, space to live, needed resources, etc.). This new technology creates ways for the new population to thrive, but many times disregards the environment in favor of helping humanity. Examples of this disregard could include tearing down forests to create new housing and agriculture, or utilizing finite resources in high quantities. Therefore, much of the problems surrounding the environmental disaster occurring now can be traced back to overpopulation, making it one of the most important and necessary issues to manage.

Many of the lines in Shakespeare’s Lear can help to understand the issue of overpopulation by creating a bridge between human thoughts and actions. For example, in scene nine, Lear speaks directly to nature as he stands outside in the midst of a storm.

Rumble thy bellyful; spit, fire; spout, rain.
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters.
I task you not, you elements, with unkindness.
I never gave you kingdom, called you children.
You owe me no subscription. Why then, let fall
Your horrible pleasure. Here I stand your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak and despised old man,
But yet I call you servile ministers (9.14-9.21)

This quote serves as a clear message as to what Lear thinks of nature. Here, he asks nature to put an end to the ravaging storm, telling it [nature] that he has not treated it like children or subjects in his kingdom. With this logic, Lear believes he has not asked nature for anything, and thus has been fair; he wants to have nature respect him for his “kindness”. He feels like a slave to the elements’ unkindness and wants to change this. In the end, he still calls the elements his servants, because that is what he hopes will reoccur.

The passage can tell readers many things about how Lear-and through his character, people of Shakespeare’s time- must have viewed nature. Lear believes he is fair to nature for not subjugating it or asking it for anything. These beliefs are skewed for two reasons; one, because readers know that in fact, Lear does ask nature to acquiesce to his will- he builds on land and splits it for his daughters, he tills the land and grows food for his own use- and two, because the idea that not subjugating nature equates to being kind to nature is not valid. Just because he believes he does not ‘tie nature down’ or use it for his own needs does not mean he actively gives back to nature, nurturing it in the way that is needed. Instead, he still wants to dominate nature, seen in his comment about being a slave and wanting the reverse. Lear is scared to be controlled by something out of his control and, as much as he says he is kind to nature, wants to take that control back. He even calls nature a servant in the end, because that is what he hopes he can achieve.

This text from King Lear can help readers think through the confusion and teetering imbalance that is humans dealing with nature. Many cultures (namely Europeans) historically viewed nature as something to be controlled, and this value is still seen today, even though, in many cases, nature overtakes humans (Pattberg). Although the view of human control is changing due to the acknowledgement of human causation on environmental problems, the past views that created the problems in the first place cannot be erased. Some still believe nature should bend to human whim constantly, and this view carries its effects to the present day. Humans never want to feel out of control, so they shape nature to their needs, seen in the idea of overpopulation and molding nature to allow for more people than there should be. If humans didn’t create technology to overcome the forces of nature, overpopulation to this extreme would not have been able to occur. Natural resources couldn’t be over-extracted, and many other human-caused environmental disasters may not have happened. The manipulation of nature as servants has created problems beyond repair.
Right now, it seems humans are in the place similar to where Lear is in this section of the text; people are servants to the whims of nature as it lashes back from the damage civilization has caused. Humanity must sit while animals die, the ocean acidifies, and the climate gets warmer. But this quote also hints at the possibility of a positive future through the inter-connection of humans and nature; we can become ‘owners’ of nature by calming it to a state of ‘servile ministers’ through working with the elements to create solutions to present environmental problems, including human overpopulation. Without this, humans will be out of control and the storm will continue to rage.

Works Cited
“Effects of Human Population.” Everything Connects- Why Nature Matters. George Tsiattalos, 20 Nov. 2013. Web. 15 Oct. 2015.
Philipp, Pattberg. “Conquest, Domination and Control: Europe’s Mastery of Nature in Historic Perspective.” Journal of Political Ecology 14 (n.d.): n. pag. Journal of Politcal Ecology. The University of Arizona, 2007. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
Shakespeare, William, and Barbara Hodgdon. The Taming of the Shrew. 3rd ed. London: Arden Shakespeare, 2010. Print.
Shakespeare, William, and Stanley Wells. The History of King Lear. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.

Infographic- Taming of the Shrew

  • Within the play of The Taming of the Shrew, the word ‘curst’ is usually used as an adjective to mock and make fun of another person. In most cases within The Shrew, the word curst refers to Katherine Minola and her uncharacteristically unfeminine personality. The men, including Horensio and Gremio, who are looking for a woman with more socially acceptable behaviors, call Katherine a “curst” woman because they do not how outspoken and “ill-tempered” she is. The word curst was first seen in text around approximately 1300 AD. It seems that the word was derived from the word accursed (also spelled accurst), which was used even earlier around 1225AD. Accurst means “That has been cursed; lying under a curse; doomed to perdition or misery” as well as “Worthy of being cursed; damnable, detestable, hateful.” By the time Shakespeare used the word in his texts, curst and accurst had two very different usages. Around the time of the penmanship of The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare utilizes the definition “Of persons (or their dispositions, tongues, etc.): Malignant; perversely disagreeable or cross; cantankerous, shrewish, virulent. Obs. or arch. (also dial.)” as an adjective to describe both people and situations which are less than agreeable.
  • This connotation also seems to stem from the word cur, a name for “a dog: now always depreciative or contemptuous; a worthless, low-bred, or snappish dog”, but also used “as a term of contempt: a surly, ill-bred, low, or cowardly fellow”. Shakespeare even uses this definition in Midsummer Night’s Dream. This analogy between a “scoundrel” or “ill-bred” person and an animal acts as a comparison between bad behaviors and bestial or uncivilized living.
  • In Richard II, the usage of ‘curst’ has a similar connotation to how it is used in Taming of the Shrew. He uses curst as a way to describe a negative situation or person, while utilizing accurst to describe an actual “cursed” person, event, or object. The word ‘cursed’ is found approximately 30 times in plays such as Taming of the Shrew, Henry VI, King Lear, Midsummer Nights Dream, and Much Ado about Nothing, among others. The word ‘accurst’ is seen generally much less in the plays Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Two Gentleman of Verona, as well as Venus and Adonis.
  • This difference in connotation between the two words shows a difference in plot and context of each of Shakespeare’s plays. The word ‘curst’ shows up more often in plays with humor and wit, since it is used as a derogatory term. The word ‘accurst’ is used as an actual explanation for negative situations, and thus is found in more serious, problematic plays.
  • As I traversed Shakespeare’s works to find examples of the usage of ‘curst’, I noticed that the term was utilized in a defamatory way for women in more than just The Shrew. I also found examples of this same word choice in Love’s Labour’s Lost, where Boyet says “Do not curst wives hold that self-sovereignty…” and Much Ado about Nothing, when Antonio states “In faith, she’s too curst”. Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, and Two Gentleman of Verona all also have similar indications of using ‘curst’ to describe women, pointing to the argument that during Shakespeare’s time, it may have been regularly utilized to describe negative traits within women that did not subscribe to traditional societal values. By comparing women to animals, Shakespeare makes the claim that women must be tamed and civilized to live with man; they are ‘beneath’ man. This ideology lines up with thinking from Shakespeare’s time- similarly to animals, women are owned and act as companion-servants to men, instead of being independent humans with a personal will.
  • Because Petruccio and other characters adopt the use of ‘curst’ as an epithet for Katherine, elevating the word above a basic description. This points to the idea that Katherine’s identity is dominated strictly by her behavior (or in this case, her lack of proper, expected behavior). She is degraded to a level of baseness that does not include her desires and personality, and is only valued based on how useful she is to the men in her life.

Works Cited:

“Accursed.” N.d. Oxford English Dictionary Online [Oxford UP]. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

“Cursed.” N.d. Oxford English Dictionary Online [Oxford UP]. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

“Cur”. N.d. Oxford English Dictionary Online [Oxford UP]. Web. 8 Oct. 2015

Shakespeare, William, and Barbara Hodgdon. The Taming of the Shrew. 3rd ed. London:    Arden Shakespeare, 2010. Print.

Tame: Wild to Domestic

Katherine and Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew

 

The context of the word tame in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew gives the word the meaning of transforming something that was once wild to something domestic, acceptable, docile, and useful to society and man. In one striking definition I saw that a few centuries before and during the play’s inception that the term tame was rarely applied to people. This along with the use of shrew when referring to Katherine gives the readers a distinct feel that Katherine is not seen as entirely human to some of the play’s character, and is considered lower than most men.

taming of the shrew

 

Blog Post 2- Taming of the Shrew

The word ‘curst’ within Shakespeare’s canon

  • Within the play of The Taming of the Shrew, the word ‘curst’ is usually used as an adjective to mock and make fun of another person. In most cases within The Shrew, the word curst refers to Katherine Minola and her uncharacteristically unfeminine personality. The men, including Horensio and Gremio, who are looking for a woman with more socially acceptable behaviors, call Katherine a “curst” woman because they do not how outspoken and “ill-tempered” she is.
  • The word curst was first seen in text around approximately 1300 AD. It seems that the word was derived from the word accursed (also spelled accurst), which was used even earlier around 1225 AD. Accurst means “That has been cursed; lying under a curse; doomed to perdition or misery” as well as “Worthy of being cursed; damnable, detestable, hateful.” By the time Shakespeare used the word in his texts, curst and accurst had two very different usages. Around the time of the penmanship of The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare utilizes the definition “Of persons (or their dispositions, tongues, etc.): Malignant; perversely disagreeable or cross; cantankerous, shrewish, virulent. Obs. or arch. (also dial.)” as an adjective to describe both people and situations which are less than agreeable.
  • Within most of Shakespeare’s plays, with the exception of Richard II, the usage of ‘curst’ has a similar connotation to how it is used in Taming of the Shrew. He uses curst as a way to describe a negative situation or person, while utilizing accurst to describe an actual “cursed” person, event, or object. The word ‘curst’ is found approximately 30 times in plays such as Taming of the Shrew, Henry VI, King Lear, Midsummer Nights Dream, and Much Ado about Nothing, among others. The word ‘accurst’ is seen generally much less in the plays Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Two Gentleman of Verona, as well as Venus and Adonis.
  • This difference in connotation between the two words shows a difference in plot and context of each of Shakespeare’s plays. The word ‘curst’ shows up more often in plays with humor and wit, since it is used as a derogatory term. The word ‘accurst’ is used as an actual explanation for negative situations, and thus is found in more serious, problematic plays.
  • As I traversed Shakespeare’s works to find examples of the usage of ‘curst’, I noticed that the term was utilized in a defamatory way for women in more than just The Shrew. I also found examples of this same word choice in Love’s Labour’s Lost, where Boyet says “Do not curst wives hold that self-sovereignty…” and Much Ado about Nothing, when Antonio states “In faith, she’s too curst”.  Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, and Two Gentleman of Verona all also have similar indications of using ‘curst’ to describe women, pointing to the argument that during Shakespeare’s time, it may have been regularly utilized to describe negative traits within women that did not subscribe to traditional societal values.

Works Cited:

“Accursed.” N.d. Oxford English Dictionary Online [Oxford UP]. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

“Cursed.” N.d. Oxford English Dictionary Online [Oxford UP]. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

“Open Source Shakespeare: Search Shakespeare’s Works, Read the Texts.” Open Source Shakespeare: Search Shakespeare’s Works, Read the Texts. George Mason University, 2003. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

Blog Post 1- The Tempest

Portrayed version of Ariel from The Tempest

Portrayed version of Ariel from The Tempest

In Act 3, Scene 3 of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Ariel appears before the group of wandering, shipwrecked men consisting of Gonzalo, Alonso, Antonio, and Sebastian. Under Prospero’s orders, Ariel scares the men by dissipating the feast set before them while accusing them of having driven Prospero out of his position in Milan. Ariel states:

You fools, I and my fellows
Are ministers of Fate. The elements
Of whom your swords are tempered may as well
Wound the loud winds, or with bemocked-at stabs
Kill the still-closing waters, as diminish
One dowl that’s still in my plume. My fellow ministers
Are like invulnerable . If you could hurt,
Your swords are now too massy for your strengths
And you will not be uplifted.
(Shakespeare, The Tempest lines 60-68)

In this quotation, Shakespeare utilizes different linguistic features, including alliteration and metaphors to stress the rhetorical devices of logos and ethos.

This passage showcases alliteration of the ‘f’ and ‘s’ sounds to stress certain phrases that are thematically significant. For example, at the beginning of the passage, Ariel’s speech emphasizes the consonant ‘f’ in the lines, “You fools, I and my fellows are ministers of Fate” (Shakespeare, lines 60-61). This stylistic choice starts the passage off with a biting, short segment that creates power and tension as well as point out the dramatic difference of rank between Ariel and the shipwrecked men. While the men previously were in control back in Europe, Ariel now makes them weak in comparison as he uses his magic to prove his authority on the island. Being “a minister of Fate” is an important position, and Shakespeare brings attention to this fact through his linguistic choice of alliteration. Similarly, the alliteration of the ‘s’ sound in lines 67 and 68, “Your swords are now too massy for your strengths and will not be uplifted”, again stress the power struggle between the island and its intruders. Through this struggle, Shakespeare makes the point that the men can only physically fight back, and in this instance, Ariel’s magic is stronger.

These examples of alliteration create passionate sections of the passage not only to showcase the difference in power between Ariel and the men, but to promote the rhetorical device of ethos, an emotional response to the passage. When spoken on stage, the lines should capture the attention of the audience and become raptured, if not scared, by the vocal passion coming from Ariel. This response of emotion to Ariel’s lines makes the audience scared of him just like the group of men, and thus relate to their situation on a personal level. The rhetorical device of ethos puts audience members into the situation instead of just having them watch it from the sidelines.

Shakespeare also employs metaphors and similes in this passage to pursue the other rhetorical device of logos. The lines “The elements of whom your swords are tempered may as well wound the loud winds, or with bemocked-at stabs kill the still closing waters, as diminish one dowl that’s in my plume” (Shakespeare, lines 61-65), promote the reoccurring idea that Ariel and the other spirits are elemental in nature and are actually part of the magical island itself. As seen in Act I when Ariel creates the fake tempest, Ariel can harness the elements on the island. These lines Ariel speaks equates harming him (and others), which the group of men is trying to do, with harming the elements themselves. He also then does control the metal swords the men pull out, which gives the impression that he has a natural, environmental magic. This specific metaphor gives Ariel and the other spirits lots of power, physically and mentally, over the mortals intruding on the island.

As well,the lines “My fellow ministers are like invulnerable” (Shakespeare, lines 65-66) use a simile to strengthen the power of the spirits on the island. Therefore, these lines in particular use metaphors and similes as a way to foster the device of logos, as audience members could recognize the significance in these lines and see them as proof of Ariel’s power. The logic of the metaphor appeals to the importance of the situation, and invites the audience in to the situation as more than just onlookers. Likewise, the lines “My fellow ministers are like invulnerable” (Shakespeare, lines 65-66) use a simile to strengthen the power of the spirits on the island.

This citation relates to the modern day theme of power struggles between individuals. While power struggles take many forms of fighting, whether it be proving strength through large circles of followers or monetary bargaining, arguments still tend to the basis for gaining positions of power. During arguments, people try to use specific linguistic styles, including alliteration, metaphors, and similes, to prove their points. Without these details, points made, whether wrong or right, have less verbal impact than those arguments that make a statement through speech patterns. Consequently, this citation proves that just as linguistic choices influence basic power struggles between people in present, these same stylization selections did affect the outcome of fighting for power in the past.

The Tempest

The Tempest

As I was reading the first two Acts of The Tempest by William Shakespeare, a speech by Gonzalo, a Councillor of Naples in the famed play, stood out to me. The dialogue from page 29 of The Tempest by William Shakespeare goes as such,

I’ th’ commonwealth I would by contraries

Execute all things. For no kind of traffic

Would I admit. No name of magistrate.

Letters should not be known. Riches, poverty,

And use of service—none. Contract, succession,

Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard—none.

No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil.

No occupation. All men idle, all.

And women too, but innocent and pure.

No sovereignty—

Gonzalo; Sebastian, the brother of the king of Naples ; and Antonio who betrayed Prospero to be the Duke of Milan are trying to console Alonso, the king of Naples, after the perceived death of his son in the tragic ship wreck. Gonzalo describes his ideal kingdom if he could colonize the island they were stranded on, he tells them there would be no officials, administrators or monarchy on his land. Evidently from the sarcastic comments, Sebastian and Antonio ridicule Gonzalo’s ideas.

From the speech above, I would like to bring a various linguistic features to light. Firstly, semantic field, a set of words grouped together by meaning, is prominent. In my opinion, this approach expressed Gonzalo’s enthusiasm and spirit on the subject matter. With parallelism and repetition weaved into the excerpt, Shakespeare demonstrated the emphasis of freedom in Gonzalo’s speech. Shakespeare cleverly utilized distinct forms of writing to convey diverse emotions in his plays, highlighting William Shakespeare’s exceptional play writing skill, cementing his place as the greatest writer of the English language and the world’s preeminent dramatist (Fraser 497).

Economic and political institutions are themes of a modern world that applies to the dialogue I chose. Gonzalo desires to build a Republican nation in opposition to Monarchy which was a common form of government in that era. The Councillor exudes thoughts and concepts that were beyond his time. Although his notion on a state without socioeconomic status seems impractical, I am beginning to question the feasibility of a society living without social class and income hierarchy.

Reference:

Shakespeare, William. “Act 2 Scene 1.” The Tempest. Ed. Peter Hulme and William H. Sherman. New York: W. W. Norton, 2004. N. pag. Print.

Fraser, Russell. “Shakespeare And The Revolution Of The Times.” Sewanee Review 114.4 (2006): 495-511. Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 Sept. 2015.

Getting to Know You

cropped-13982702464_21148e47d3_o.jpg

Directions:

To give your colleagues and I a sense of your interests, please freewrite a response to the following prompt. Once you respond to the prompt, we will discuss the responses–first in pairs, then in groups of four, and then as a class. Make sure you introduce yourself to your colleagues before discussing your responses in pairs and groups.

Prompt:

What is your favorite Shakespeare play or poem? (Or, if you don’t have a favorite Shakespeare work, name your favorite poem, novel, movie, or TV show). Next, in 5-10 sentences, briefly describe how your favorite Shakespeare text helps you to think about contemporary events and/or engages your individual interests.

 

Shakespeare’s Climate Crisis

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Directions

Read the passage; summarize its meaning in a sentence or two; and briefly explain how a passage like this one might help modern people think about the environment:

Prompt:

The speech that follows is an interjection. During the wedding masque he conducts to celebrate the marriage of Miranda and Ferdinand, Prospero remembers he is urgently needed elsewhere. He offers the following as an explanation:

“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”

The Globe Theater(s) (1500-1613 & 1614-1632) housed Shakespeare and his acting companies: the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and later the King’s Men. The word globe can, of course, be put to more use than just the proper one. That the term globe could also signify a heavenly body, an eyeball, an emblem of sovereignty, the new world, and women’s breasts, was certainly not lost to on early modern author, least of all Shakespeare. As enthusiasts from around the world prepare to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, we do so in dire circumstances: inescapable climate shifts, constant species extinction, relentless resource depletion, and the final adulteration of air, water, and land. In the years since Ben Jonson declared the “drooping stage” mourned Shakespeare’s loss “like Night,” his audience is haunted by more than just his ghost. Here at the end of the world, we take up Shakespeare, his ghosts, and his sphere of influence to mourn, produce, and eventually prosper. The globe on which we live and the one for which Shakespeare write his plays have a lot to say to one another. For instance now and then we engage with the plays at a time of fabulous technological possibilities. The apocalyptic landscapes through which Shakespeare and his friends forced their characters to range shows they knew they were writing after the end of the world. Over the course of the semester, we will read Shakespeare’s plays and poems in order to predict the shape of the world to come.