Microblog Mondays: Postcards and Shakespeare

I had other plans for today’s microblog, but I’m thinking about the Shakespeare course I teach every spring and the postcards on my desk are waiting to be shared.

[Click image for a closer look and details]

“As You Like It” is from the Postcards from Penguin collection of Penguin classic covers; I received it for a “Book Lover’s Postcard” swap.  The other two are from the Shakespeare’s Plays collection of postcards featuring images from the Library of Congress.  They will be on their way soon to a couple of Shakespeare-loving friends to celebrate the beginning of the semester.

As part of our conversation about Shakespeare’s world, we will discuss Queen Elizabeth I whose portrait was among the postcards on my desk.

Queen Elizabeth in Queenly Glory

The “Ditchley Portrait” of Queen Elizabeth I by Marcus Geeraerts.

I’m looking forward to hearing what students have to say about portraiture and Queen Elizabeth I, particularly after they study a more “truthful” painting: “A Picture of Misery,” Portrait of Queen Elizabeth.  I have a feeling they won’t be fazed by the “enhancing” of portraits.  They live in an age in which they can modify any image with an iPhone and an app.

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13 Comments

  1. I often encourage my Spelman advisees to examine the ways that black folk have interpreted canonical texts when they’re struggling. Recently, I had an advisee who just hated “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” I recommended Ellington’s SUCH SWEET THUNDER. I don’t know if she bothered, but I started thinking about what a Shakespeare course would look with such a lens informing it. It’s something that I would be interested in guest presenting on in a regular Shakespeare course so I might propose that with one of my colleagues.

    Reply
    • I’d forgotten about Ellington! I teach Shakespeare alongside contemporary Black literature–MAMA DAY with THE TEMPEST, CHILD OF GOD with HAMLET, etc. My students struggle with Shakespeare primarily because of language, but once they work their way through the language, they usually appreciate his works and find them relatable. I had one “seriously” afri-centered student who did not believe a dead white man could offer her anything. By the end of the semester her attitude changed. 🙂 Classes start Wednesday, but I am seriously thinking of radicalizing the course further.

      Reply
      • I was only reminded of Ellington because my advisee is pursuing a double major in music! When I saw this post with a photo of James Baldwin and the Shakespeare statue I thought of you: http://www.aaihs.org/an-introduction-to-the-african-american-intellectual-heritage-book-series/. I never had much of an interest in Jim Crowing my reading experiences; in fact, I remember being excited about Shakespeare because there were so many cultural references to his work. I have been working on some ideas regarding the 16th street baptist church bombing, and MLK’s citing of Hamlet in his eulogy interests me. When he gave another eulogy not long after the girls for another civil rights tragedy (I’m currently blanking on who it was), he changed the reference from Hamlet to Romeo and Juliet. I usually direct students to those texts in their archival capacity through the King papers at Morehouse and on-line. Mandela’s interest in Shakespeare also comes up. I once assigned Belloq’s Ophelia to a class of students who I knew were enrolled in Shakespeare. Many of them never considered Trethewey’s work a Shakespearean reference…thank the Lord that our predecessors didn’t segregate their literary experiences. Good grief! Nonetheless, I just returned from MLA and was shocked to learn that Shakespeare wasn’t being taught as a requirement at a number of high caliber programs. I’m happy that we still are requiring it.

  2. Martha Slavin

     /  January 9, 2017

    Hi Chandra, I’m so glad we became postcard ‘pals.’ Your latest blog reminded me of the wonderful course on Shakespeare I took a couple of years ago through UCBerkeley Extension. I went through their post-BA Creative Writing Certificate Program. The instructor, Mary Ann Koory, was a delight to work with. She filled us with so many interesting ideas about his work. Plus she also teaches a class in Mystery Fiction, which was a good contrast!

    My husband and I both enjoy Shakespeare. We attend Cal Shakes on a regular basis as well as the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The Hollowed Crown on PBS has become one of our favorites. I bet your course will be an eye-opening course for your students, especially since you will be using the postcards from your blog.

    Martha Slavin marthaslavin@gmail.com

    check out my blog at http://marthaslavin.blogspot.com

    >

    Reply
    • Hi Martha! Thanks for dropping in. I’m always happy to find another person who appreciates Shakespeare. The postcard collection is beautiful. I’ll send one your way soon. Your CWCP course sounds wonderful! I sometimes feel compelled to take a course or two, but that will certainly have to wait. My plate can’t handle another item. I make due with an occasional seminar or workshop. I’m going to shake things up in Shakespeare quite a bit this semester, and I’m looking forward to the interactions with the students!

      Reply
  3. What a style in all those images, so classy! Once upon a time, I studied some of Shakespeare’s works when I was in Newnham College, Cambridge University… I am and will be an unconditional Shakespeare’s “fan”…

    Reply
  4. WOW, I bet she is rolling in her grave, know that a terrible portrait survived. LOL. Beautiful cards here 🙂 I don’t even want to know how long it too them to get dressed. No wonder they needed so many “helpers”. LOL

    Reply
    • I’m not sure I could wear such heavy clothes and so many layers. But here’s the thing about the portrait. I don’t even see it as “terrible.” It’s a realistic portrait of an aging woman. Our obsession with youth causes us to see beauty in aging.

      Reply
  5. I’ve never seen that other picture, thank you for sharing it.

    Reply
  6. Oooh, that just blew my mind. I never thought about that connection between enhanced paintings (does she have any organs in that tiny waist?) and the photoshopped selfies of today. You’ve given me food for thought.

    Reply
    • I’m laughing at your comment about the organs. Yes. The selfies and the enhanced paintings–should make for interesting discussion. On another note, thank you for hosting the microblog series! 🙂 And thanks for dropping by!

      Reply

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