[LMB] OT: Shakespeare in schools

John Lennard john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Wed Apr 28 13:24:22 BST 2010

Tel makes a good point about popular redactions of Shax in cartoons &c.. I
could add the *Moonlighting* episode redacting *Taming of the Shrew*, the
*Hamlet* vignette in *Last Action Hero* and so on. But part of the problem
is that if you don't already know Shax and the play in question, what do
these versions really convey? I don't deny that some dissemination happens
like that, maybe a lot - but I've had students who have seen *Kiss Me, Kate*
and/or *Ten Things I Hate About You* without realising or even suspecting
that both adapt *Taming of the Shrew*. I don't think many people who enjoy
*Forbidden Planet* clock it as *The Tempest*, and while those seeing or
reading *A Thousand Acres* more probably know there's a connection with
*King Lear*, that datum may mean very little. Certainly subtler points go
AWOL - the fact that the schoolteacher introducing *Hamlet* in *Last Action
Hero* was played by Olivier's widow, frex : a jest by the director that very
few viewers clock.

i'm also not suprised, among various comments, that small, rural schools do
well by Shakespeare ; it's more often the big, urban ones in poorer areas
that can find little place for older lit., which progressive educators call
an irrelevance. And I think I'd be willing to bet that knowledge of Shax has
become statistically less common over recent decades, though it might well
depend on what exactly one tried to measure.

John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)
General editor, Humanities-E-Books Genre Fiction Sightlines and Monographs

Ralph Thompson, View from Mount Diablo: An Annotated Edition

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