Why we shouldn't study Shakespeare...help! My shakespeare class is holding a debate, and my group has been assigned the stance that Shakespeare is an old tradition that shouldn't be studied anymore. We need good reasons as to why Shakespeare could be considered outdated or even detrimental. So far, we have discussed his racism, sexism, and possible plagiarism. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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In reply to #4: Some contradictory rhetoric here -- either it's obvious or it's been analyzed for hundreds of years. These remarks seem particularly disingenuous coming from an "expert" editor. And "aggravate high school students" is a cheap shot devoid of serious thought. The student asked for debate help. You...

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In reply to #4: Some contradictory rhetoric here -- either it's obvious or it's been analyzed for hundreds of years. These remarks seem particularly disingenuous coming from an "expert" editor. And "aggravate high school students" is a cheap shot devoid of serious thought. The student asked for debate help. You did not contribute. Wordprof
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In reply to #15: What effect do you think your address name has on people? Your "present now" is not well served here.
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You could look at it from a parent's point of view, too.  You could say that if the average parent really knew what was in Shakespeare's plays they might not want their under-aged children reading it. Teacher's can't show movies that are PG-13 much less rated R and some of the themes in the plays border on rated R material.  In a Christian-dominated society like the United States, maybe parents should have to sign waivers before a teacher approaches a Shakespearean play.  I know for a fact that in this recession, I need to do everything I can to keep my job.  If that means that I don't teach certain aspects of a work of literature because parents might write my boss about it, it's for dang sure I'm not teaching it. I don't know if that helps, but it is a different perspective that might help in your debate.

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My POV would be that he adumbrates other worthy contemporary playwrights -- for example, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, John Marston, to say nothing of the slightly later Jacobian playwrights. Maybe you could build an argument on how many good plays deserve the "Romeo and Juliet" spot in the curriculum.
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While I can't agree that Shakespeare shouldn't be taught, I can see some of the points presented above as good places to start in this topic. You might also try making a list of reasons why we should study Shakespeare, then use this list to develop counter-arguments. A good debater must anticipate what his/her oponent will say and be ready to counter any arguments offered. It will be important to have some idea what you think the other team will say. If you can attack their arguments before they make them, it will only make your case stronger.
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I don't agree with bullgator's point about language.  I think that it is valid to say that Shakespeare's language is too difficult.  It's unreasonable to ask students to wade through archaic language for no good reason.  In a way, the language simply gets in the way of the ideas that are supposed to be the major reason for studying Shakespeare.

I think that you could also say that studying Shakespeare perpetuates the idea that literature is good simply because it is old.  You could argue that there are any number of more modern authors who explore the human condition just as effectively and in more accessible ways.

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While I would never be convinced to not teach ANY Shakespeare, I guess you could argue that 300 years ago there was less literature in the world, and certainly few to none compared to the quality and complexity of Shakespeare, but in the now 400 years since his writing, there are many other excellent authors who are worthy of educational study. It isn't even a matter of saying that more modern authors are better, just that they are worthy of a portion of the available time in one's education.

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At last! A Shakespeare question I can contribute to! :D

I am not a fan. I find his works to be obvious, overwritten, and boring. I understand that he originated most of the story structures, plots, and archetypes that we use and love today, but I feel that recent authors have covered the same ground in much better ways. I think you can come to understand Story through many other writers far easier and with more enjoyment than with Shakespeare. Consider the works of Isaac Asimov, who wrote or edited more than FIVE HUNDRED books in his lifetime, covering almost every possible topic and aspect of human life. His landmark Foundation series echoed the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, and is considered a seminal work both in Science Fiction and in literature as a whole. Asimov never allowed Style to obscure Substance; the clarity of his work is second-to-none.

There are many, many other authors whose works I would read long before I'd worry about Shakespeare. Besides, everything that could ever be said about his work has been said, often, for hundreds of years. At this point, continued discussion does nothing but aggravate high school students.

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I honestly wouldn't discuss things like racism or sexism, as they are a bit ahistorical. I would ask how relevant he is to students' experiences. At a time when teachers frankly have to try to keep students engaged, focusing on Shakespeare to the exclusion of more modern works (some of which aren't all that easy to understand, either) could be counterproductive. This is not my opinion, but it's where I'd go if I had to argue against teaching Shakespeare.

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It sounds like a great idea for a debate, but I can't think of too many good reasons to stop studying the greatest writer who ever lived. I suppose you could argue that the language is too difficult for today's students to understand, but I suppose that would also be counterproductive to your argument. Good luck--your group has the tougher side to prove.

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