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Shakespeare as a Concentration in UniversityHello there! I am considering a...

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stella-lily-r... | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted April 17, 2010 at 1:50 PM via web

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Shakespeare as a Concentration in University

Hello there!

I am considering a concentration in Shakespeare to go along with my English degree. 

I would love to hear your own opinions as to the pros and cons of this possible decision.  I have to make my mind up by summer, and gather a portfolio together if I decide to do this.  The university I'm tranfering to does not offer such a concentration; thus, I have to present my own work and program ideas.

I would also love some ideas as to what I could include in my portfolio, should I decide positively!  So far, I have essays, Shakespeare homework assignment and quizzes, play reviews, and presentations from class.

Any discussion on this would be greatly appreciated! 

~ Stella

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted April 17, 2010 at 6:53 PM (Answer #2)

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There would be two main reasons for doing this:1)this decision will provide a better opportunity in whatever you plan on using your degree for, or 2)you do it because you love great literature--Shakespeare especially. Either way it sounds like something you really want to do, so make it happenJ

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linalarocca | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:02 PM (Answer #3)

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I agree with post 2; however, I would like to discuss possibilities for your portfolio. I would include an activity or assignment that shows your ability to apply your knowledge of either a major theme in one of Shakespeare's plays, or the evolution of one of his major characters. Try to bridge your knowledge with a creative component. For instance, you could create a short film around Macbeth's ambition or Romeo's impulsiveness. I think it is important to be able to translate your thinking into something new and interesting. As well, another interesting creative assignment is to rewrite the end of one of his plays or perhaps change the language of one of his plays to reflect popular youth culture.

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted April 17, 2010 at 11:44 PM (Answer #4)

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This sounds very exciting if you intend to create your own program. And Shakespeare is an important one, not just in language but in critical thinking and reasoning skills. Interpreting pieces of literature is far difficult and demanding there memorizing mere content. It can offer you an opportunity to go into so many other areas.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 18, 2010 at 12:04 PM (Answer #5)

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Can't go wrong with Shakespeare from an educational perspective.  From a more practical perspective though, you may want to consider the marketability of your concentration and your degree.  With such a specific concentration, as opposed to literature or composition, you may find your best job opportunities are in teaching at the college level and pursuing your Masters Degree.  But jobs in that area are hard to find and competitive, now more than ever in this economy and with widespread budget cuts.  Also keep in mind that many people with specialized English degrees end up working outside of their field once they graduate.

Not trying to be the wet blanket.  Education is not all about marketability to be sure, and it's one of the few chances we have to pursue our passions.  I wish you wisdom in your decision.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted April 18, 2010 at 1:26 PM (Answer #6)

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As far as your portfolio goes you will want to make yourself stand out and be unique and different compared to everyone else. Jobs in education right now are incredibly competitive as the previous post stated and it not supposed to improve any time really soon. Just do what to can to show your passion for Shakespeare and really do something different to make yourself special-go above and beyond.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 18, 2010 at 1:47 PM (Answer #7)

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I'll give a quiet echo to the "wet blanket," poster # 5:  remember that you can pursue your literary passion without having any type of formal degree in it.  My passion is 20th-century Czech novelists (I'm not Czech, I just like them for other reasons), but there is not a great demand for someone that can teach Czech novels in America.  But I still read plenty of Czech novels. 

At the same time, as long as you're getting the standard English degree, there may not be any negative side to a specialization in Shakespeare.  Unless it prolongs your degree and delays you're getting your M.A., if that's what you intend, a specialization probably involves no negatives.   

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stella-lily-rothe | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted April 19, 2010 at 6:21 PM (Answer #8)

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Thank you all so very much for the replies and advice! ask996 and epollack: Thank you for the encouragement and input! Linalarocca: Thank you for the ideas! Some of the materials you mentioned, such as a modern spin on a play (Othello, in my case). The video is an amazing idea, though, and gives me much inspiration! Ophelia is of great interest to me, and now I have all kinds of ideas running through my head. :D brettd and dstuva: Not a wet blanket, but the practicality I was also thinking about. I suppose it would depend on how much extra time I would have to complete the concentration. Thank you both for the reality check coupled with encouragement. :) besure77: Thank you, also, for both the encouragement and handy warning. :) You are all very sweet to help me out with this. Thanks again.
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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 15, 2011 at 3:01 PM (Answer #9)

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The biggest problem I can see with a concentration in Shakespeare is that there is so little information about him.  If you choose an author with a better known background it is "safer" I guess.  Another disadvantage, or possible advantage, is that so many people have studied him before.  As I said, that could be either good or bad for you.

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