Saturday, August 30, 2008


I think I'm going to like the Shakespeare class. It's practically a study of my family roots: Britain, Ireland, Wales and Germany. OK. Heinz 57. But the point is, the history of England has everything to do with Shakespeare's writings and where my family roots are, what made my ancestors become what they became, do what they did.

I apologize. That has nothing much to do with me writing a novel, does it? Well, OK. I went to the first class session. The class meets once a week for 2-1/2 hours. We watched a video about Henry VIII and the Tudors. We went online and looked up a few terms: deus ex machina, peripetia, anagnorisis and hamartia. Hm. Interesting terms. I won't give them away. My mom had a saying, "When you have to do it yourself you remember it longer." So, go look up the terms and come back.

THEN, we looked up Aristotle's The Poetics. The three unities of tragedy, according to Aristotle, teacher of Alexander the Great, were 1.) action: no digression; no subplot; one unified action; 2.) time: 24-hour period; 3.) place: one location. OK. We got that. "Shakespeare broke all the rules," Dr. Erritouni advised us.

He asked us if we'd read any Shakespeare. Well, I am an English major and I hated to admit that I haven't read much of Shakespeare. In high school we studied Julius Caesar. About 15 years ago I watched the production of The Taming of the Shrew at Kent State Salem and reviewed it. That's about it. Though, it's not that I never tried.

In about sixth grade the Weekly Reader (children's newspaper from my era) featured a story about Macbeth. I went directly to the library, do not pass go, do not collect $200, just directly to the library! And I asked Ginny where to find it. "You are too young to read Macbeth." "But my dad said it's OK for me to read it." "Sorry," Ginny said, "but no. You are too young and we can't lend it to you." So I moved on to other things. And Shakespeare wasn't one of them.

So, then, on Friday night, I broke out my Complete Works of William Shakespeare and began to read Richard III. And I actually understood what I was reading. And I actually could envision the scene taking place, the emotions. And I was amazed!

The study of Shakespeare involves study of the history of the times, so I don't know the point of the reading just yet. But you can follow my lead and come Friday--if I'm really motivated, Thursday night--I will share what I learn.

Writing involves reading, studying, learning things we never were aware of before. And taking what we've learned and putting it into practice in our writing. For instance, in the African-American Literature class we are reading The Souls of Black Folk at this time. It was written by W.E.B. Du Bois. Is it just me or could the things I've read so far have been said by women--white, of color, or any other variety of women? Could the same things be said for what is happening to the Middle Class today? Can understanding these things make my skills stronger as I write my thesis: a novel?

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