Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Tragedy of the Handkerchief with a Cherry on Top: TSI Wednesday

First, I want to credit my friend Gina for making this great list of all the things we have done this July at TSI:

Some of you may be wondering what I'm up to here in DC, so I'll tell you: In the past 12 "school days," I've: attended 15 lectures, 7 seminars, 8 lunchtime colloquia, 4 tours of Washington DC/Folger library/Folger library electronic resources, 1 performance of "The Merchant of Venice" in Staunton, Virginia, performed a monologue from Pericles, created 2 how-to teaching videos with a group to be used in the Shakespeare Set Free Toolkits, designed a research project using 16th century books at the Folger Shakespeare Library, co-designed a series of lesson plans based on ideas from the lectures I've attended, recorded interview about My Favorite Shakespeare Play to Teach response to be published on the Folger education website. What's up for the remaining 8 days: 6 lectures, 6 lunchtime colloquia, 4 seminars, an oral presentation of said research project, write-up of said research project, write-up and presentation of said lesson plans to be published on the Folger education website, Performance Project #2 (as yet unknown), and creation and performance of Performance Project #3, and a film screening. Aaaaand, that's my July.

Intense does not even begin to cover it!  Thanks Gina!

I did not blog yesterday because I was in a complete daze due to the fact that I had my Regional Teacher of the Year interview via Skype.  I was so focused on myself and having a good interview that I decided to sleep after a great dinner with my fellow TSI peeps.  Everyone was so kind and accommodating yesterday; I really feel a kinship with these people I have only known for 3 weeks.

Morning Lecture with Margaret Maurer:  Emilia and Roderigo in Othello

Another day of discussing one of my favorite plays!  Yesterday, Jay Halio discussed how to read Othello "backwards" which entails looking at the play from the climax scene and going from there.

Today, Margaret got into why Emilia and Roderigo are needed in the play.  The play has so many questions and so many moments where you really want things to end happily.  Emilia and Roderigo and completely wrapped up in Iago's discourse and both are victims of it.

We do a lot of comparison to the Cinthio tale that is the source for Othello.  Desdemona is actually killed by the ensign and Othello in this version by a sandbag(!) and then they try to cover it up.  I think Shakespeare did a much better job!

The play is filled with sex references galore.  Including that the handkerchief is a symbolic representation of the wedding sheets spotted with blood and that suicide is a kind of masturbation. Also, Iago is the flag bearer (carrying a pole) and Othello and Desdemona may not have ever consummated their marriage.  

My seminar time this week is with Stephen Dickey and I love how he has a spin on the plays we study.  He is so humorous and fascinating.  Today we went over the loss of that damn handkerchief!  Oh, Desdemona!

Did I mention I have a crush on Kenneth Branaugh and LOVE every movie he is in?  I am his sole fan here at TSI though.

Research Presentations

This afternoon we all did 5 minute presentations about what we have found in our primary source research.  I was amazed and proud at my fellow TSI-ers!  We have immersed ourselves in this world and can now talk about these rare books as if we have studied them all our lives.  My colleagues have great topics like sumptuary laws, the juggler/sleight of hand, witchcraft, love tokens, etc.  We have been so blessed to have access to all of these things!  I did a cute Pecha Kucha presentation on Venice.

I would like to speak to the camaraderie which has been established during the institute.  I feel as if I have known these fellow teachers my whole life.  They come from all backgrounds and school systems, yet we all agree on the importance of teaching Shakespeare.  We are truly "pregnant with celestial fire" and ready to kick some ass this year in the classroom!

Curriculum Session

Today we did the Film Expert exercise.  We watched the beginning of two versions of Othello and took on roles as cinematographer, sound, acting, set, etc.  We took notes on each films use of these.  Then (and here's the cool part), instead of just saying what we noticed or what we liked/disliked, we used first person.  This made us responsible for the choices in the film and we had to defend/qualify our choices.  

Instead of:  I didn't like how they filmed the wedding scene
It becomes:  I chose to film the wedding scene through a window to show how the couple is isolated.

Subtle difference, yet students suddenly have ownership over their element of the movie.  And you don't have to show the whole thing!!

Finally, a cute Pinterest card quote:

My TSI classmates have decided that it is really fun to make fun of Greta and how she is an over-achiever! For all the good times I have provided for them, I say "you are welcome."

Blessed to be a Teacher!


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