Shakespeare 400 | I Brainstorm Ideas For My Final Project & Ask For Advice

Several people have requested that I write more about what I’m learning in college and since I haven’t published very many posts like that so far this summer, that’s what I’ll be doing today! At the moment I’m taking my last two courses of the summer – Basic Acting and Shakespeare 400. (So named because 2016 is the four hundredth anniversary of his death…)

Both classes are six weeks long and started last week, so I have about a month to figure out what I’m doing for my final project for the Shakespeare class. Acting class concludes with a final exam and a performance of a scene, but the final project for my Shakespeare class is wide-open in terms of possibilities and to be honest it’s kind of stressing me out. I HAVE TOO MANY IDEAS AND THE DEADLINE IS ONE MONTH AWAY. HELP.

One option for the final project involves writing a ten-to-eighteen-page research paper, which is… gah. There are definitely topics I’m interested in writing about, but at the same time? That’s sooooo looooong.

Today’s class gave me the idea to write a paper comparing Romeo and Juliet to Pericles, because we talked about how both plays bend genres by swinging wildly from tragedy to comedy and back again. I didn’t enjoy Romeo and Juliet much when I read it in high school, but the way we’ve been approaching it in this class led me to see it in a slightly different light, so this could be a fun paper option.

We visited the Iowa Women’s Archives in the main library’s special collections this morning, and that gave me even more ideas. I adore learning about local history. No matter the place, I’m interested – whether it be Iowa City, my hometown, et cetera. The big picture of history is cool, but I really love learning about more narrowly focused history and this morning I was intrigued by some old documents from the Iowa City women’s Shakespeare club. One of my professor’s past students put together an entire website about a women’s Shakespeare club from another Iowa town that was founded at the turn of the century, so it would be fun to repeat that but for this town.

Another thing that piqued my interest this morning was an edition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that a local English teacher had edited and heavily annotated for a group of students that had reading difficulties. Since we’re reading that play in this class as well, it could be fascinating to analyze the choices she made in adding and cutting material for this edition. I never ever EVER want to be a teacher, but I like learning about how people learn and so this would be an interesting project for me as well.

I also kind of want to do a project about his sonnets. Although we aren’t reading them in this class, my professor said it’s OK if we do our final project on them – the only problem is that I’ve read, like, maybe ten. He did say that it would definitely be a big project and that anyone who wants to tackle it needs to be realistic about what they’re getting into, so… yeah.

Mostly I’m just really intrigued by the sonnets? I’ve always wanted to sit down and read them all but right now I should probably talk myself out of doing this particular project because I need to keep up with all of my other coursework for this class, in addition to my acting class. STILL. Apparently there are scholarly debates as to whether the sonnets follow a loose plot? I didn’t know about that until yesterday but now I want to read them and see what I think, then write a paper about it. Or I could compare the sonnets addressed to the Fair Youth to the ones for the Dark Lady because BI SHAKESPEARE HECK YEAH.

…but even as I think about how exciting either of those projects would be, I know that I would be getting myself in over my head. Probably. UGH. I REALLY REALLY WANNA WRITE ABOUT THE SONNETS BUT REALISTICALLY I KNOW THAT I WILL PROBABLY RUN OUT OF MOTIVATION FOR SUCH A LARGE PROJECT.

There is also the option to perform a scene from one of the five plays we’re studying – PericlesRomeo and JulietA Midsummer Night’s DreamHamlet, and Othello – and film it, then write a five-page paper about it.

That would go hand in hand FANTASTICALLY well with my acting class, but on the other hand? The scenes I would be interested in performing involve, like, at least six people. I’m not sure if I want to wrangle that many classmates and/or friends to put on a mini production with me. Sure, the length of the paper is far shorter, but managing so many other people could prove exhausting and precisely the opposite of what this tiny introvert needs.

For what it’s worth though, here are the passages I’m considering: Act II, Scene I of Midsummer; Act IV, Scene IV of Romeo, or something from Othello – not yet sure exactly what, though, and I may not end up performing something from it at all.

Pericles , while interesting, didn’t interest me sufficiently to perform a scene from it, and out of the two plays I have yet to read – Othello and Hamlet – only the plot of the former really interests me enough to consider performing something from it. I’m not really sure where to start looking for a good scene in Othello, though, because I’m only familiar with the plot and not the dialogue. I can’t wait until we read it in class, either, because it’s the very last play we read.

I love Midsummer, and the scene I have in mind is a great one with the fairies. As for Romeo, remember how I said I didn’t particularly care for it until this class? Well, since we’ve been viewing it in a different light, my professor brought up how he’d like to see someone perform Act IVC, Scene IV in a manner that goes from tragedy to comedy, because the nurse is a comic figure and so are the musicians in that scene – he said they actually remind him a lot of the clownish fairies in Midsummer, and I definitely agree.

Right now, the main thing I’m struggling with in terms of any of those three plays is that I don’t want too many people to be involved because that will be way too hectic. I know it will. I suppose I could recruit just two or three other people, and have them double up roles in addition to taking two on myself, but… I don’t know.

So there you have it. Writing this post didn’t help me quite as much as I had hoped it would, because I wanted to have decided on something by the end of it, and I didn’t. I do feel that it helped me a little, though, because I finally have all my ideas written down in one place along with the reasons as to why each project interests me. If you have any suggestions, or would like to second one of my ideas as being a particularly good one, feel free to let me know!



About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
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4 Responses to Shakespeare 400 | I Brainstorm Ideas For My Final Project & Ask For Advice

  1. Mom says:

    Based on (1) you don’t want to have to deal with 3-6 people for a performance, and (2) your time constraints, I think analyzing the teacher’s edition of A Midsummer’s Night Dream is a viable option. Do you think you’d have enough analyses for a full paper?

  2. Miriam Joy says:

    I mean… you know how I feel about Hamlet, so anything about Shakespeare is going to result in me singing “To Be Or Not To Be” from Hamlet! The Musical. Which I’m not sure is helpful, but it’s glorious, so I’ll do it anyway. Hamlet is my procrastinating depressed introspective baby (aka “I identify way too much with him and that’s probably bad”).

  3. Heather says:

    Wow, that is so many options! I don’t know nearly enough about Shakespeare to really have any ideas on where you could go, but it sounds good that you have at least a starting place. Good luck with your project!

  4. Pingback: 20 Things I Did In 2016 That I’d Never Done Before | Musings From Neville's Navel

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