The final exam for this class will be in two parts, Part I (detailed below) is a take-home exam that will count for 2/3 of your grade on the exam. Part II will be taken in class on Tuesday, May 13th, at 12:30 and will count for 1/3 of your final exam grade. Part I of your exam is due at this time. Part II will involve translating a passage of Shakespearean language into contemporary English idiom.
1. The take-home portion of this exam is open-book, open-note. You may also use any of the class notes from the Scribes project in writing your responses, as well as your textbook for the course.
2. You may not, however, use any other outside sources (aside from the materials linked below). You also may not work collaboratively with ANYONE in writing your exam–classmates, partners, pets, no one!
3. Please do not write on a topic that you covered in a blog post or for your final essay. It is okay to write on the same play, just not a similar topic.
Your response should be roughly 2-3 typed, double-spaced pages. You may write on any play from our syllabus, but please observe guideline #3 above and avoid topics that you have already covered in a blog post or in your final essay. You should cite any sources you use and include a list of Works Cited.
Part I (Take-home): Select ONE of these three articles and write a response to using the guidelines provided.
1. Reading Shakespeare with Computers In this article the author analyzes the plays of Shakespeare using statistics generated by computer program that “reads” texts as data. In your response to this article, evaluate whether you think this is an effective way of reading Shakespeare’s plays. Can a machine really teach us about the works of Shakespeare? Defend your position with evidence from one of our plays. If you are interested in doing this kind of work on your own and playing around with a text analysis computer program, Voyant-tools.org provides an easy to use tool for this kind of analysis (you may include your own research using this tool if you’d like).
2. Shakespeare and the Common Core According to the Common Core Standards, the guidelines for public education in forty-four states, English language curricula in high schools should include:
…certain critical types of content for all students, including classic myths and stories from around the world, foundational U.S. documents, seminal works of American literature, and the writings of Shakespeare. (core standards.org)
Shakespeare is the only British writer included on this list. Yet, in this opinion piece, one writer argues that we need less Shakespeare, or at least should translate Shakespeare into forms that are easier to read. Write a response to this opinion piece that argues for or against the importance of Shakespeare in school curricula. Does Shakespeare still have a place in high school education? What should be the purposes of reading his works for students in the twenty-first century? Defend your position with evidence and analysis from one of our plays.
3. Traces of Shakespeare. Two booksellers in New York recently discovered what they claim to be Shakespeare’s dictionary, complete with annotations that they believe are Shakespeare’s handwriting. This article summarizes their findings, as well as some of the responses scholars have offered to their claims. Imagine, for the sake of argument, that this dictionary was in fact revealed to belong to Shakespeare. What would this object teach us about his plays? More generally, do you believe an author’s biography should be used to interpret and understand his or her works? Be sure you use specific examples from at least one of Shakespeare’s plays to defend your position.