Teaching Shakespeare 2012 will focus on four plays – The Comedy of Errors, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and Pericles. Participants and faculty will spend one week on each of the plays, reading the texts closely, examining primary sources to reconstruct historical and cultural contexts, exploring filmed versions and performance histories of the plays, and acting out crucial scenes to explore their expressive possibilities. The Folger has published essays and curriculum for only one of these plays (Othello) in the three Shakespeare Set Free volumes of the early 1990s. Participants will add to the rich resources on the Folger website through the development of lesson plans and projects with an emphasis on using technology in the classroom.
Collectively, these four plays raise significant issues of cultural collision and social change that still reverberate in our time. They also allow us to observe Shakespeare’s creative process at the closest possible range as he adapts and transforms his usual diversity of sources (e.g. earlier dramas, narrative fiction or poetry, history, and folklore). Additionally, because Pericles is a later play it presents opportunities to discuss authorship and collaboration in Shakespeare's plays.
There will be three major assignments during the Institute. Of the two written projects, the first will involve examining primary sources to study the social context of the plays. The second will devise practical applications for the classroom, both with and without the use of primary sources and technology; these will become part of the Folger’s online archive of lesson material. The third assignment will involve the preparation and performance of a scene from one of the plays studied during the Institute.