“ENG 45 is an introduction to reading Shakespeare. Many students — but not all — read some Shakespeare in high school, typically Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet or Julius Caesar.
“I have been involved in theater since I was in college, and I approach this course as ‘read- ers’ theater.’ We read five plays aloud and watch film versions. Students write a short paper after each play and participate in forum discussions on Etudes. There are a few other ‘language’ assignments: sonnet writing and soliloquy writing in iambic pentameter,” said Professor Paula Sheil in an email interview.
When I first enrolled in this course for the spring 2015 semester, I didn’t know what to expect. Which plays would we read? How would we analyze them? What could I really gain from reading some ancient sto- ries?
“Students who finish my course can ‘speak’ Shakespeare, meaning the language is com- fortable and they can easily scan new works,” added Sheil.
Reading the plays out loud not only helped me understand the content and meaning of the plays, but also benefited my ability to read aloud and speak in front of others. If you ever want to improve your public speaking, try reading prose out loud for a whole semester.
“Shakespeare DNA permeates pop culture; many films, TV shows, etc. borrow plots from the Bard. We ‘speak’ in Shakespearean quotes: ‘All the world’s a stage…,’ ; ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life, is rounded with a sleep’ ; ‘Better three hours too soon than a minute too late’ ; ‘We know what we are, but know not what we may be.’ There are literally hundreds of references to Shakespeare in our everyday speech.
In addition, many au- thors, artists, dancers, allude to Shakespeare characters, themes or situations. Besides
Shakespeare, students should take mythology and the Bible as Literature to be able to pick up the symbols, motifs, tropes, etc. in contemporary culture,” said Sheil.
Sheil creates an inviting environment for students and shows real passion for the subject.