Welcome to the World of Shakespeare. Please fasten your seatbelts ladies and gentlemen, sit back, and enjoy the ride! PS: Please keep hands and feet inside of the vehicle at all times. ;)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Personal Evaluation

We are now at the end of the road. Semester is over! Here is my evaluation of my own work these past few months:

  • Posts
    • Quantity--  I have posted 37 posts over the semester, all fulfilling various learning outcomes. My posts have been regular and varied, looking into different aspects all while working towards my concluding thesis.
    • Content -- I have tried to do a variety of posts, with some being historical, some being analysis of a character, some being summaries of scholarly sources, and some being a reflection on the social learning that I've participated in.
    • Format -- I have tried to clearly label my posts, and include links to direct the reader to more detailed information so as not to confuse or bore with extremely long posts. My blog is organized and cleanly put together.
  • Research
    • Thematic Focus-- I started out the semester unsure of a theme to pursue, and upon research and reading I came up with my current thesis of modern popular culture and it's ties with Elizabethan popular culture. Throughout my blog I have supporting evidence that proves my thesis. 
    • Thesis & Cohesion-- My hub post ties together my older posts with my recent additions by connecting them all to my thesis statement.
    • Sources -- In my Sources page I outline all of the various sources I used for research throughout the semester, which are many and varied.
  • Personal & Social
    • Author identity -- I think I've done a good job of keeping my own personal voice throughout the blog. I have been more serious when it was necessary, but in the majority of my blog posts I let the reader see my personality through either my own personal commentary or the pictures that I include.
    • Documentation of Process--I have a few posts that describe my process of deciding on a thesis, as well as some posts that admit complete and utter confusion and ask for the help of my peers. I'm not afraid to say I don't know! I think my blog has documented well what I've done throughout the semester, as well as my process of arriving at my thesis.
    • Interactions-- I have done a really good job of interacting with others in the class. From participating in the flash mob, and the Grassroots production, to the Fred Adams interview, and general commenting and blog reading I've tried really hard to be connected with my classmates. It's way more enjoyable that way anyhow!
  • Design
    • Appropriate to Theme -- I'm still no master blogger, but I did learn how to edit my page and layout, and tried to edit it in a way that isn't distracting but compliments my theme of discussion, while still staying somewhat academic.
    • Side content -- I have information about me as the author of the blog, as well as a blog archive that helps readers easily navigate my older blog posts.

My Ophelia Song!


My song is finally done! I don't know if I'd call it a masterpiece, but it's not too bad if I say so myself! I wrote it from the viewpoint of Ophelia, but not from the angle of craziness. I looked more at the confusion and loss she felt upon

1. Hamlet's retraction of his confessed love
2. The advice from many different sources telling her what to do.

I'll be set to perform in on the day of our final, so you can hear it then!

Tying it all Together - Final Hub Post: Modern and Elizabethan Pop Culture

THESIS STATEMENT: Shakespeare's time has long since passed. Though the people of Elizabethan age had a very different life experience from what we experience today with regards to education, government, religion, and technology, our methods of entertainment and reasoning for pop culture is the same - to express the culture of the masses through works of art written by the masses.


1. Today, we use Shakespeare for many of our own works of art, perpetuating the very real scenarios that Shakespeare creates in his work, but adapting it to our modern ways of living and speaking. I talk about this adaptation in this blog post.
        A) Modern soundtracks to Shakespeare's plays are contrasted with traditional Renaissance music.
        B) Modern renditions of Shakespeare seek to recapture the authentic Shakespearean experience.
        C) My own songwriting project demonstrates modern pop culture meshing with Shakespeare.
        D) The BYU production of "Much Ado About Nothing" perfectly shows the cross-cultural    adaptation of Shakespeare, and how it transcends time and setting, speaking instead to the human condition.

2. Shakespeare's works have gone through a transformation, returning again to the way it was originally intended to be; entertainment for all levels of people in all walks of life.
        A) The putting on of his works by "common people" in the Grassroots production I took part in.
        B) The analysis of his works, including in a scholarly forum on Othello and Merchant.
        C) Our class adaptation of the "Romeo and Juliet" soliloquy for the flash mob.
        D) The close read of sonnets and character analysis done both in class and on my blog.
        E) The host of Shakespearean festivals held annually, including the Utah Festival organized by Fred Adams.
        F) The adaptation of Shakespeare to different cultures.
        G) The addressing of very personal human issues such as appearance and reputation.

To Conclude: Though Shakespeare himself is long gone, along with the Elizabethan people, there are many ways in which we owe them for the modern popular culture stories and productions we enjoy today.

Shakespeare and Appropriation

 "The Little Mermaid" was my favorite Disney film as a young girl. Little did I know at the time that its roots are based in Shakespeare's "The Tempest"!

I was reading a little bit about Shakespeare and his influence and presence in modern popular culture, and found an interesting passage in Shakespeare and Appropriation by Christy Desmet and Robert Sawyer: "By appropriating Shakespeare, "The Lion King" and "The Little Mermaid" - as films target at children, adolescents, and their parents - manage not just patterns of desire, but also cultural attitudes towards "growing up" and entering culture." (189)

The article goes on to cite several more instances of Shakespearean influence on Disney works, including "Aladdin" and "The Quest for Camelot."

According to Douglas Lanier's Shapespeare and Modern Popular Culture: "Popular culture is one of the forces that have produced the Shakespeare of out time, and studying its appropriations prompts us to turn our attention towards broad questions about Shakespeare's place, past, present, and future, in the politics of culture." (20)

Shakespeare has led to an offshoot of entertainment productions that have hints of, or even sometimes are entirely based off of his works. According to Lanier, " one of the more curious Shakespop phenomana of recent years has been the appearance of Shakespeare fan fiction." (82)

This type of appropriation by the masses shows that Shakespeare is not only a writer for scholars to admire, but also for the masses to enjoy. "Claims that Shakespeare is a source or analogue for popular culture do more than merely establish a dialogue between specific pop and Shakespearean works. They have also become a way of defending the value of popular sulture in general, of suggesting its cultural importance, its worthiness of close study, its artistic value. Idetifying Shakespearian elements in pop culture . . . asserts the fundamental continuity between high and popular culture." (Lanier 95)

As was asserted in Elizabeth Abele's "Whither Shakespop?" article and my previous post, Shakespeare has gone through a transformation: from entertainment for all types of people, to a scholarly pleasure, and is now coming to a hybridization of sorts, where the scholar and the casual consumer can enjoy the byproducts of Shakespeare's work, thereby bringing us closer to the Elizabethan popular culture view of Shakespeare; as a bard for both the rich and the poor.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shakespeare and Elizabethan Popular Culture

Hollywood Sign Address

Generally this is the first thing that comes to mind when the term "popular culture" is mentioned. Modern day movies, music, billboards, books, etc. are what we'd describe now as part of our current popular culture. I followed up on Rebecca's blog post where she mentions  The Arden Critical Companion on Shakespeare and Elizabethan popular culture, as this is very relevant to my current vein of study.

Gillespie and Rhodes argue that pop culture is currently defined as "cultural products created for the people", and that older forms of pop culture were created "of the people" as "cultural expressions of the people themselves. This older form of popular culture includes events such as:

1. dramatic reemactment of Bible stories
2. festive rituals associated with holidays
3. clowning
4. old romances told through ballads and songs
5. playhouse productions

I submit that there is not much difference between the production of works "for the people" and "of the people", since the popular culture phenomena we are enjoying today is in fact made up of works made "for and of the people". Modern day counterparts of the list above include:

1. Ben Hur and The Passion of the Christ; modern movies on Bible stories
2. our seasonal work parties for Thanksgiving and Christmas, not to mention many family gatherings and parties with friends
3. comedians like Bryan Regan and Dane Cook. Also includes modern comedy movies.
4. listen to any radio station and I challenge you to tell me there aren't romantic ballads and songs. Country music. Pop music. Rock music. These genres all contain love stories told through song.

5. Broadway productions such as Wicked and Phantom of the Opera, still including productions of Shakespeare's own works.

While many people think that the Elizabethan era was so far removed from our current day and age, it really was not so separate. The people of that era had a less sophisticated technological system, a different political system, and vastly different way of providing for the needs of themselves and their families, but they still enjoyed what we enjoy. They cried when we would cry. They too are humans, and as such enjoy many of the same things we still enjoy today, just in a different form.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Peer Blog Review: Martin Michalek


  • Quantity:By my count Martin has 33 blog entries, a good number. He's a very regular blogger.
  • Content: Honestly, Martin's blog has been one of the most interesting blogs to read this semester. I've loved to go over and look at what he's researched, or what he thinks about a topic. Really interesting topics, really interesting posts. Very indepth posts.
  • Format: I have a feeling that Martin has blogged before! His blog is very well organized and formatted. It's very streamlined, and looks very clean cut.
  • Thematic Focus: Martin's focus has been Shakespeare and comic books. He just recently made a more concrete thesis about archetypes and the Batman mythos as compared to the Hamlet mythos.
  • Thesis and Cohesion: He has his thesis, and has a hub post linking that thesis to other posts, but he needs to finish tying down his thesis with his research. He also needs to make a more forceful thesis. He stated what he's going to look at, now he needs to fully form his thesis statement.
  • Sources: Martin is lacking a Sources page, which is a requirement he still needs to complete. I understand from one of his posts that academic sources were a bit difficult to find, but that he is working on it. So he needs to finish getting this set up. 
Personal & Social
  • Author Identity: Martin's authorial voice is definitely present. He does a great job of getting across his viewpoints and personality.
  • Documentation of Progress: Martin does a really good job of documenting all of his research and thoughts. 
  • Interactions: From what I could gather, Martin has done a good job of commenting on other people's blogs. He doesn't really utilize linking to other blogs in his own blog, but I think he still does well in this area. Hard to tell without going through all his comments, which I couldn't see how to do on his blog (I was looking for an IntenseDebate box like on Professor Burton's).
  • Appropriate to Theme:I think his blog design is appropriate to theme. As I mentioned before, it is streamlined and well organized.
  • Side Content: This is where Martin shows that he is no novice blogger. He has many different side options, including a calendar, what media he's currently enjoying, and a time machine option for his posts. Well utilized side space.
I think Martin has done a great job with his blog this semester. I think he still needs to gather more scholarly sources, add a sources tab, and maybe do one more hub post that ties together the thesis that he's forming. Once he does this, his blog will be, in my opinion, completed.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Responses to Comments

Thanks so much for commenting on my posts guys! Like Professor Burton says, it really does make the blogging experience a lot more interesting when I get the chance to interact with you guys and hear about what you are thinking. I've been asked by a few of you the same questions, and I figured I'd post about the answers rather than repeat myself three or four times!

1. More details on Richard III Grassroots Shakespeare - I played the parts of Hastings, and of Queen Margaret. Also at the end, I was in the big battle scene between Richard's army and Richmond's army. The setup of the rehearsal was that we broke off into groups, and each rehearsed our scene for about twenty minutes. We' figure out staging, as well as how we'd share our few copies of the script (since many of the parts got reassigned on the fly). They went through the whole play this way, just quickly rehearsing scenes in groups. Then, we did a dry run through of the play. Each scene went up and acted, and the rest of the cast would watch and provide feedback at the end of the scene. Then, it was showtime! Like I mentioned, it was definitely a mixed bag of actors, interpretations of the text, and props that were used.

2. As for my song, I am thinking I am going to write it from Ophelia's viewpoint...I have two verses written down and I'm working on a chorus. It's coming along! I'll hopefully be able to perform it in class this Friday! Thanks again for all of the input!