The English Department at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) is offering a summer institute for English language arts teachers on “Teaching Drama (without Fear).” The four-day institute provides 20 hours of professional development, covers a wide range of topics, and is taught by TCNJ faculty.
Day 3: Shakespeare’s Language/Translating Shakespeare
July 12, 2017
facilitated by Prof. Felicia Steele
When students encounter Shakespeare, they often complain that the “old English” (note the lower-case ‘o’) that he writes in is inaccessible and incomprehensible. As a result, teachers often resort to “translated versions” of Shakespeare’s plays or side-by-side versions, such as the “No Fear Shakespeare” series. “Translations” and contemporary adaptations privilege plot over language and ignore the rich verbal play that distinguishes Shakespeare from other authors.
Nonetheless, Shakespeare had the same education as his fellow dramatists and approached the English language with the same linguistic and rhetorical background. Our morning workshop focuses on the educational system in Early Modern England, discussing the importance of Latin and classical rhetoric to authors. We examine two important educational texts, Roger Ascham’s The Schoolmaster and Thomas Wilson’s Arte of Rhetorique. We ground our discussions regarding Early Modern English education with Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. The principal goals of the morning workshop will be for participants to
- develop an expanded vocabulary for talking about language and rhetoric that can be used in the teaching of Shakespeare and the teaching of writing;
- apply the terms and techniques from Ascham and Wilson to a discussion of Love’s Labour’s Lost.
Our afternoon workshop addresses the pedagogy of “translating Shakespeare” and discuss techniques for creating these student experiences that 1) heighten students’ understanding of Early Modern English and 2) promote the development of creativity in composition. We discuss passages in Shakespeare that relate to the classical progymnasmata—rhetorical exercises—and discuss how these can be adapted to students’ own “translations” and adaptations of Shakespeare and how they can serve as the foundation for contemporary writing assignments. Our touchstone texts for this workshop are Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet. The principal goal of the afternoon workshop will be for participants to
- demonstrate their understanding of newly acquired rhetorical vocabulary in crafting written texts based on Shakespeare’s plays and on the classical progymnasmata.
Texts: All texts for this day are available free in the public domain.
Felicia Jean Steele (facilitator on Day 3)
Felicia Jean Steele received her B.A. from the University of New Mexico and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She teaches courses in introductory linguistics and the global history of the English language, as well as courses in early literatures and medievalism in British literature. Professor Steele’s main research is in historical linguistics, specifically auxiliary verb change over the history of the English language. She has also published essays in historical phonology (” Grendel: Another Dip into the Etymological Mere,” English Language Notes, 2003) and the uses of linguistic analysis in discussions of literary influence (“Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, Explicator 2004). Steele will present two papers at the 2004 Modern Language Association Convention: “Encoding Colonial Discourse in a Swahili-English Dictionary” and “Traversing Corpora: Tracking Auxiliary Verb Change in English.” She also maintains research interests in writing assessment, cognitive linguistics, medieval literature, and the literature of the Inklings, particularly J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. She is one of the co-sponsors for Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society.
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