Monday, December 12, 2011

a FINAL Reflection

Pause to THINK and reflect
Here it goes again, another time to stop and reflect Shakespeare in my life. Lets start with the awesome event we just had.


Ok, I am incredibly satisfied with how the event Engaging Shakespeare went down. To be honest I was a little skeptical when our class jumped one the, "lets do a huge complicated event where we synthesis all of our ideas and projects" bandwagon. I wondered why we couldn't all just do our own thing. However as  things went along I really became a believer and very excited for the event. Then when it happened I was very impressed with what we were able to pull off.

The play was really good. I wish it was showing for a week because I would go again, I was really impressed. The music video was well done and I'm glad it has been imortalized on the internet because I want to watch it a few more times along with the documentatry, which was very professionaly done. The audio book was cool as well. In my humble opinion the art was fantastic, and then the whole event was well planned and executed.

Since I had more of a part in the art I want to share a little bit about how that happened.

Less Matter More Art

Artwork done by Cassandra
I am really happy with how well the two ideas of creating artworks for Shakespeare and creating an art curriculum for Shakespeare worked. The first few days of the project seemed a little rough as we all tried to get on the same page. It seemed like not very much got done at first, but as soon as we all understood each other we became very productive and were able to all create multiple pieces of art and very well done lesson plans. Everyone in the group was very dedicated to doing a good job and that is just what we did.

I really liked how our group, with not very much artistic experience, were able to make so many great works of art. Angela is a Landscape Design major, Eric is doing Spanish, Cassandra made more sense with Art Education, Melanie is Pre-Photography (and turned out to be a closet artist. It was hard to get to see her art works, but we were able to convince her to actually hang some up for the background of our video so that it would be more visually pleasing than just a blank wall) and don't ask me what my major is. It's really cool how we were able to get together and study Shakespeare, then think about what he wrote and then react creatively.

Personal Part

The main reason I got the idea to do art with Shakespeare was because of my paintings and sketches I was making. I was somewhat bummed when I found out we had to make our final project a group project. Then I got the idea for an art gallery. After some work this was able to mesh with Cassandra's art curriculum idea, and I am very glad it did, because I think it really helped us to meet all of the learning outcomes. Making the art was for sure engaging him creatively, and thinking of what to create was thinking critically (deciding what was really being said, what should be highlighted from a scene or act, how specific lines should be portrayed). The lessons we made were able to make us think more critically and also share better.

I had the opportunity to make two of the six lesson plans. One was the overarching Hamlet research plan. I talked a little bit about introducing Hamlet and how students would make works of art as they read the play. The other lesson I got to make was speaking of a specific theme in Hamlet, death. It was made to help students see the theme of death through the play and also to create works of art that go along with the theme of death.
My response to Melanie

I also got to try out Melanie's lesson plan which was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the thoughts on control and the art works I got to make.

Another fun thing was making the name of our group. J.J. told us we needed a title an so I looked all over Shakespeare for references to painting, art, etc. I found Gertrude says, "More matter, Less art." I disagreed with her and switched it around to "Less Matter, More Art." Our group voted and we loved the name. Yay. 


I really feel that from the mid-term assesment time I really have gained an understanding of the learning outcomes and have done much better at reaching them.

Gain Shakespeare Literacy

I feel that I have become much more Shakespeare literate. This was one thing that I wanted to test with reading King Lear. All of the plays we had read up to that point I had background information at least on. King Lear was brand new to me. I loved it and felt that I really understood it on a level I would not have before this class. My blog posts on King Lear I think show this.

Reading all of the plays that I did also helped me realize a larger breadth of Shakespeares works. I got to read Hamlet, Love's Labours Lost, The Tempest, A Winters Tale, Othello, and King Lear. I also loved being in groups where people read other plays because talking to them taught me more about plays I was not reading myself. Like Gabe with Merchant of Venice, or Justin with Henry IV.

I feel like I got a lot of depth with the play Hamlet especially. We studied him in class and the play was the subject of the lesson plans we made which encouraged us all to study it even more.

Performance I got by the incredible one of Friday as well as watching A Winter's Tale, and The Tempest. Also during this time I went and saw Macbeth done by the Grassroots Shakespeare Company.

Legacy I got by going to class and learning of the history behind the plays and reading blogs of my peers to see Shakespeare in a lot of pop culture.

Analyze Shakespeare Critically

This was one I was struggling with at the midterm. I was doing plenty of creative things with Shakespeare but not as much research. I really tried to get deeper into what the play was saying or background. I think my post on King Lear really demonstrates this. As well as my lesson plan on death and the lesson plan on Hamlet overall. I feel like I got a lot of historical analysis done in class, talking with my group, or listening to the lectures. That was one of my favorite parts of class was  learning background and the renaissance context from Dr. Burton. Analysis of digital mediations happened with my works of art, others works of art,  seeing the Othello movie, and reading blogs outside of my classmates.

Engaging Shakespeare Creatively

Flag of Navarre
This is the one I feel I did best at. Whether I was writing poems about Hamlet, writing poems defending Hamlet, adapting popular music to Winters Tale, painting, drawing, sketching, more drawing, more sketching, creating lesson plans, analyzing art. This learning outcome I enjoyed and excelled at. I really believe that in all of this creativity I really had to analyze Shakespeare creatively as well. In order to make something that connects well with Shakespeare I had to really process and analyze what was being said or how to depict those things. A minor example. In creating drawings for Love's Labour's Lost I wanted to depict the nations of France and Navarre in a simple symbolic way. I thought of flags and so looked up flags for Navarre, I never would have done this or learned anything of this place had I not wanted to do something creative with it,  again, a minor example.

Share Shakespeare Meaningfully

Once again I am glad that the final project was as a group because it really helped us all do this. Earlier in the semester I had share by posting on blogs of classmates, and blogs of other people outside of our class. I talked to my room mate, took people to productions of Shakespeare. I would share with informal blog posts as well as more formal researched blog posts.

Since that time however, I have been able to find more meaningful ways to share Shakespeare. The Engaging Shakespeare Event was very important. I honestly invited tons of people. Unfortunately all my room mates, my ward, and most of my friends were either at temple square, had a date, or were sick. However when I would invite people it gave me a great opportunity to share what I have been learning. The event was great to share with other people who came too, and I did see a few friends in the audience who still came.

Art work by Melanie
Along with this my group was able to share our curriculum by posting it to a website for teachers, connections or We also made a video explaining our project which we posted to youtube. Then with all of this we posted our artworks to our blog, but we also shared them on an online art website, This was actually really cool because our art had not been up for more than five minutes before we received messages that our works were being posted to other "deviants" favorite pages.

Sharing globally and locally was very meaningful and satisfying to me.

In Conclusion

This class was great and the blogs we get to make were awesome. I plan to continue mine with a Shakespeare thought or drawing every now and again. I really feel like I have met all of the learning outcomes, like I make a better connection to Shakespeare, and like I am competent in the digital world we now live. I am very happy I took this class and I have referred it to many people. Who would have know that what my earlier experience with Shakespeare which began as a closet love, and came out due to a crush, would blossom into the experience that it has today.

Thanks Will.

Shakespeare and I

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blue Ribbon Blog Posts

So we are to put one of our favorite blog posts and another from someone in our group that we like.

It really helped to have my blog show me which posts were most popular according to everyone else, because then I could choose a post from one of those.

For my post I'm going to say that it is the Fallacy Inspired Soapbox Rant about Shakespeare, Hamlet, and Emo people. I think it feels the learning outcome of engaging Shakespeare creatively as well as analyzing critically what he wrote and what he meant by it.

As for a blog post from another person in my group, this was harder because they all have done such awesome jobs with their blogs. I think it would be Angela's posts where she takes quotes from the play and looks into the imagery and scenery. My favorite was the first one of these she did, talking about the flowers Ophelia uses in Hamlet. I think it really exemplifies analyzing critically  and also a synthesis of Shakespeare with another subject that interests her.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Nature Danger

Thinking about King Lear which we recently read in class, I had an experience much like his. King Lear gets kicked outside for a night and a huge storm comes up. He almost defies nature and goes kinda crazy.

You really don't know how bad nature can get until you are stuck in it. We spend lots of time in our safe homes with heating, walls, and windows. No big deal right, man is strong enough to build those walls and keep nature out.

Last night I got to go to the Christmas Devotional of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was so cool. I love the choir, I loved the message so much. I got to go with a good friend I haven't seen much. I even got to see my mission president, mission mom, and their son. That was cool. But this isn't the story.

Driving home on I-15 there was a lot of wind and a small bit of snow, not really that bad, but to be safe we reduced our speed to about 40 miles per hour. Somewhere near Thanksgiving Point the car started swerving a little. "Mason, we're swerving!", yelled my friend. At first I thought she was playing a joke, and making the car go back and forth...until the car went sideways, and I thought, "Oh. we are swerving." It was surprising how calm we both were as the car went sideways on the freeway and headed towards the concrete median. Next thing we know we're parallel to the median, in the emergency lane, backwards. Miraculously we had not hit anything. Pretty sure angels helped us, because we were perfectly parked on the side of the road, just backwards. We almost died, but we didn't, thank goodness.

Wondering what to do we called a few people, got out and checked the car which was perfectly fine, and an off duty police officer pulled over. He made sure we were okay and then he walked into the road and stopped FREEWAY TRAFFIC (yeah, cars on the freeway!!!) so we could turn around and keep going. I was driving now, a car that wasn't mine, and the road was still very slick, very scary.

For some reason, in all of this crazy situation, all I could think of was King Lear, shouting at nature.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Suddenly I see

I just want to talk about something real fast. Now I know symbolism is really cool in plays or stories and sometimes it may go right over the head of those who are watching the play, so in order to have the symbol or clever twist noted sometimes it needs to be pointed out.

I just want to tel Oedipus and Gloucester that they don't have to let us all know that they suddenly see the light of the situation by bringing attention to sight when their eyes are stabbed out. Stabbing out your eyes with a brooch or having them plucked out by a very angry man is gross. Instead can't you just do what Rapunzel does and sing a wonderful song in a boat about how "At last I see the light." That goes over so much better.

Well, I was shocked by the eye plucking out thing. It's clever I suppose, but disturbing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nothing comes from nothing

Reading the play King Lear I found a line that seemed interesting. It is the title of this post. I kept reading and was surprised to see it again. I decided to write a post about it but wanted to see if it appears anywhere else in the play and so I held off as I kept reading. Becoming impatient, I looked it up, and it appears only the two times I found it.

"KING LEAR: ..what can you say to draw
A third more opulent than your sisters? Speak.
CORDELIA: Nothing, my lord.
KING LEAR: Nothing?!
CORDELIA: Nothing.
KING LEAR: Nothing will come of nothing, speak again.

I was curious if this was a common idea in Shakespeare's time and I looked it up. Turns out the phrase, nothing comes of nothing (in latin "ex nihilo nihil fit"), was first talked about by the Greek philosopher Parmenides. It is an idea that continues today and is called the law of conservation of mass. That energy cannot be created or destroyed. It merely changes form. If you burn a piece of wood, the wood is not destroyed but is changed into heat, smoke, and ash. There were cool articles that were interesting, but a little beyond me about zero-energy universes and so on.

This quote of Lear's goes to the Bible. Where the more common translation of Genesis says "God created the earth". Other sources, like the Joseph Smith Translation, show that the Hebrew word which is commonly translated as "created" would be better translated as "organized", implying that the world and it's parts was organized from already existing matter.


Another line King Lear says that makes him seem more a philosopher than the senile grumpy old man he comes across as, comes as he is suffering in the storm. He looks at poor naked Edgar and says:

"Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer
with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.
Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou
owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep
no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! here's three on
's are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself:
unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor bare,
forked animal as thou art.
Off, off, you lendings!
come unbutton here."

Is man no more than this? It is a line that reminds me of Psalm 8:4, "What is man that thou art mindful of him." It is a humbling moment for Lear and he realizes, now outside of the comfort of his palace, how frail and sad man really is. Its a Siddhartha Gautama moment here! In reading about Lear's line I found this interesting quote from a well written article:

"When Lear sees Edgar’s cold, shivering, and “uncovered body,” he asks the eternal question “Is man no more than this?” (3.4.105). When Lear says that “The unaccomodated man is no more / but such a poor, bare, forked animal,” he is essentially saying that human beings, like their naked bodies, are pitiable creatures (3.4.109-110). Likewise, when he proceeds to strip of his garments, he is making the symbolic gesture that he is no better than Poor Tom; that is, he realizes that he, too, is pitiable. Lear’s recognition that his own body is pathetic, the literary critic Paul Jorgensen argues in his book Lear’s Self-Discovery, is Lear’s first insight."

Lear, the old senile downfallen king, and budding philosopher.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Combined Blog of Power

Hey everyone. I have two blogs. This new blog that I have is geared more towards collaboration with my Shakespeare group with our final project. Recording our process and posting results. I think it's going to be cool and worth taking a look at even if you're not in the group.

For the new members of my group, I made the new blog that we all can write on. The only thing that I am missing is all of your email addresses. Once I have those I can add you as administrators so you can post on it too.

I really didn't know what to do for the title, so ideas are welcome.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Art Gallery

Hey everyone, so with this idea of an art gallery of Shakespeare art I have had a lot of ideas ruminating in my mind. I'm looking forward to the feedback and communication to refine this undertaking.

Basically the idea that I was thinking is that we have enough people in the class who are interested in art, that we could get together and come up with enough works to display it in a gallery. Even if you don't feel like you are a good artist in any way I'm sure you can come with something, especially with the groups powers combined!  This could be a good moment for all of us to learn how to make art together all in the context of thinking critically about Shakespeare and how to analyze his works and do enough justice to them.

One thing we might want to do is get a theme put together or ideas of how we will organize this. That way we can go to a gallery with a solid proposal and a strong portfolio of work rather than a maybe theory hopefully thing.

There are art galleries everywhere, I just checked out the one in the Provo Library and that may be a place to look at. If we really look for a place I'm confident we will be accepted somewhere, the biggest thing against us will be preference. Most schools or galleries give preference to art students or professionals more than a Shakespeare class.

HOWEVER, this might be a great connector piece to Cassandra's wonderful education idea. Schools. What local public school would not be overjoyed to have an exhibit like this. English teachers would love it.

Anyway, lots of ideas. Needs refining, lets get collaborating!