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"Look here upon th's picture": Annotating Images

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Giacomo Franco. Habiti d'huomeni et donne venetiane. Venice, ca. 1609 (Detail). 

March 2011
Amber Caron teaches Creative Writing at Cal-SAFE Azusa and Cal-SAFE Arleta.

Plays/Scenes Covered

This lesson covers lines from various scenes from Twelfth Night. Although this assigment is specifically designed to investigate bearbaiting and Twelfth Night, the approach would work with many topics and many plays.


This lesson will take two 90 minute class periods.

What's On for Today and Why

Students are bombarded with images every day: on TV, on billboards, in magazines, on the internet etc. Rarely, however, do they have a chance to look, -really look- at images as texts. This lesson gives them such an opportunity.

Students will look closely at the language associated with bearbaiting in Twelfth Night by reading and performing lines alluding to bearbaiting. Students will read, annotate, and analyze an image of a bearbaiting to prepare for their own image analysis which they will present to the class.

While there is no actual bearbaiting in the play, students will discuss how Shakespeare uses this image in Twelfth Night to make statements about the relationships in the play.

What You Need

Folger edition of Twelfth Night
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

Handout 1 Lines associated with Bearbaiting

Handout 2 Image Reseach Assignment

Fig  #1 thumbnail of Franco Giacomo, Habiti d'huomeni de donne Venetiane

Fig # 2  thumbnail of Franco Giacomo, Habiti d'huomeni de donne Venetiane

Fig #1Annotated image
Fig #2 Annotated image
Franco Giacomo, image 1
Franco Giacomo, image 2
Handout 1 Lines associated with bearbaiting
Handout 2 Image Research Assignment
What To Do

Day 1

1. Provide students with a brief description of bearbaiting: bear tied to stake, trained dogs attacking bear, spectators enjoying the sport and cheering on favorite dogs. Students will likely jump to judgment of the practice so allow time to discuss contemporary examples of animal-related cruelty (e.g Michael Vick's dog-fighting ring).


2. Put students in pairs and distribute Handout 1, Lines associated with bearbaiting. Each pair has one line. (Have dictionaries on hand, if required)


3. Have students form a circle and ask each pair to read out their line so they become familiar with their own and others' lines.


4. Have students move into a space and add actions appropriate to their lines.


5. After a few minutes, have students return to a circle in pairs and perfom their lines to the class.


6. After everyone has performed, encourage a discussion:

What did you notice about the lines?

What did you notice about the actions students selected?

Any similarities, differences, patterns?

What do these lines tell us about the action of the play?


7. Have students look at  Figure #1 (the image on page 98 of the Folger edition of Twelfth Night)


8. Ask students questions and annotate on the white board as you discuss the image. Encourage them to state the obvious as well as more subtle details.

What do you see in the picture?

What is happening?

Where are the people and what are they doing?

What are the people looking at?


9. With the class, make a list of the conclusions that can be drawn about bearbaiting from this picture.


10. Look at Fig#2 annotating the image during discussion with the students.

Ask the following:

Where is the bearbaiting?

What else is going on here?

What do you notice about the people?

What other events are taking place?

Look at the title of the image-What could it mean?What language is it in?


11. Add any additional information to previous list (9)


For homework: Have students choose one of the events in the image and speculate on what could be happening(tips-what is going on with the goose, the cat), others may want to figure out the text and title.


Day 2

1. Have students share the findings from their homework. Add any further annotations to the image. Return to the list of what this image tells us about bearbaiting. What additional speculations can be made based on this new information?


2. Return to the lines from the first day. Have students stand in a circle again and read their lines with actions.


3. Encourage a discussion about what their new knowledge of bearbaiting suggests to them about the play. How might this new information affect the way they performed their lines? Who is being baited? Who is doing the baiting?

Encourage students to go back to the text and identify the context and speaker of the line.


4. Give students Handout 2, the Image Research Assignment (to be completed after studying the play). Explain that this is a repeat of the classroom activity for them to work on individually.


How Did It Go?

Were students actively engaged while delivering their lines? Were students able to make the connection between a bearbaiting and the action of the play? Did all students turn in an annotated image? Did students demonstrate an ability to do a close reading of an image?


The idea of using images as a way of learning about Elizabethan culture or specific references within Shakespeare's texts can easily be used with other plays.Other suggested areas of exploration:

Twelfth Night: shipwrecks, Twelfth Night Holiday, cross-gartered fashion, fools, Illyria


Romeo and Juliet: marriage practices, friars, Elizabethan dance, Elizabethan masks, poison, Queen Mab


King Lear: bearbaiting, eye-gouging, treatment of the insane


Macbeth: bearbaiting, witches, treatment of the insane, executions, banquets


Henry IV, Part 1: Battle of Shrewsbury, gallows, war




If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

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1 Comment

There are a lot of blogs and articles out there on this topic, but you have acquired another side of the subject. thanks festa do peter pan
Sheila October 13, 2014 7:15 PM
  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.

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