Gambino and the Bard - A Complex Performance
Film, TV star, singer, and entertainer Donald Glover, (stage name Childish Gambino) has put out a grim and troubling music video (This is America). What caught our attention was an article comparing the piece's multi layered messaging and overall complexity to Shakespeare, and the Bard's tendency to write on multiple levels about complex issues — graft, intolerance, cruelty amongst others. The article, from Heidi N. Moore writing for NBC news is well-written and thought provoking.
Beyond the references to Shakespeare, this video also reminds us of the different ways in which critics can make their points. Slate and The New Yorker choose writing (with embedded videos), while Art Insider chooses a deconstruction of the video with voice over and words and diagrams overlayed on the video. Both approaches work well, but Art Insider's approach seems to us slightly more effective overall. Judge for yourself!
Unsex Me Here
David Crystal, noted linguist and father of the excellent Ben Crystal, lays out in great and fascinating detail the words and phrases that Shakespeare brought to life in Macbeth. That one man could produce (and have adopted into the vernacular) so many great and powerful words and phrases in just one play, is simply astonishing. For teachers helping students grapple with Shakespeare's language, this really is a wonderful article.
Shakespeare Magazine (now 13 issues old) works to bring all things Shakespeare to a broader audience. With varying degrees of success, they surface a number of issues surrounding Shakespeare's works. Another resource of possible interest to teachers, and here we highlight Amogha Sridhar's piece. We particularly like the image of a text, together with the annotation tools she uses to work on Shakespeare's texts - highlighters, pencil, eraser, and sharpener. All still necessary, even in an increasingly digital world.
It's Time, Once Again, to Suggest that Shakespeare was not Shakespeare...
Every six months to a year or so, a claim is made that Will Shakespeare, of Stratford, did not write the plays we generally associate with him. This article is slightly different, since it leaves that aspect of the Shakespeare debate to the end (with a pretty good refutation of the theory that "Shakespeare is not Shakespeare".) The first part of the article suggests that a 1576 copy of a French collection of tragedies (François de Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques) was not only used by Shakespeare for inspiration (specifically, Hamlet), but also has some of his annotations. As always, the debate will rage on!
Writing While Under the Influence...
Shakespeare did not write in a vacuum, and scholars today confirm that he was heavily influenced by Holinshed's Chronicles, and Plutarch's Lives (properly titled Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans.)
Now, an amateur and deeply capable scholar — Dennis McCarthy — has, in collaboration with Professor June Schlueter, ferreted out what is likely to prove a powerful third influence on Shakespeare, the writing of one of Queen Elizabeth I's ambassadors to Sweden, George North. An obscure diplomat until now (his Wikipedia entry starts onFebruary 8, 2018 — 4 days ago!) he had an elegant turn of phrase that clearly caught Shakespeare's attention and imagination. The book that sparked Shakespeare's — and now our — interest, was A Brief Discourse of Rebellion & Rebels. Read the New York Times article here.
Sounds About Right!
David and Ben Crystal provide a genuine service to Shakespeare lovers (and doubters too, really) by hypothesizing on what Shakespeare's language might have sounded like in its original pronunciation. In addition to being intrinsically interesting, it has an impact on performance, if actors and directors wish to provide an "original" production to their audience. Very worthwhile video clip.
The Course of Academia Never Did Run Smooth?
IUPUI professor Terri Bourus teaches Shakespeare classes. She was one of four general editors of “The New Oxford Shakespeare.” (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)
Troubles assail the inner working of the production of the New Oxford Shakespeare project.
It's All Just Vector Space Mathematics to Me (Or Maybe Not...)
Fascinating (and a little over our head) article in MIT Technology Review about how computers may one day be able to detect sarcasm, and other subtle linguistic tricks. More.
Analogy Lovers, Start Your Engines!
The Guardian proposes that Leonard Cohen is to Bob Dylan, as John Donne was to Shakespeare. Discuss...More.
Comparing Hamilton to Henry IV, part 1.
Isaac Butler, compares Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton, with Shakespeare's Henry IV, part 1 -- (proper title: 1 Henry IV) in this complex but well reasoned piece for Slate. More.