Presentations on Shakespeare stuff
Below are descriptions of our short online presentations about various things in the Shakespearean texts (most are coming soon). Each one will help you see more into the plays and gain riches in understanding. Some are free and some are cheap, and all will be fun to peruse and learn from. Click a link to first go to a page telling you more about that presentation, including its length.
Every thing on earth has a place on the Great Chain of Being—it is higher up the chain than something else and lower than something else. Shakespeare uses this concept regularly to show disorder, and when there is disorder in the universe, there is disorder in society.
This significant concept also applies to humans, which leads right into the next presentation, using thee and thy versus you and your.
Why should you care? Shakespeare is quite specific in the difference between using thee when addressing people as opposed to using you. Knowing the difference helps you discern when various characters have underlying anger, arrogance, empathy, disdain, fondness, intimacy, and more.
First watch The Great Chain of Being presentation, because that philosophy fully impacts the use of thee and thou.
Shakespeare mentions the Wheel of Fortune in every play—where are you on it? We all ride on the Wheel of Fortune and it is spun by a blind woman, so sometimes you are on the top of the wheel and sometimes you are on the bottom. You never know where it will lead you next. But don't take it personally.
This is a simple and effective introduction to the thrill of Shakespeare's verse form. Learn how to use “iambic pentameter" in a sentence, sprinkle it into dinner conversation, recognize it on the page, and understand why it's important. When you're ready for more, take the full-on Iambic Pentameter presentation.
Often a problem in understanding Shakespeare is that there are words that we think we know so we don't look them up. This short little free presentation (about three minutes) shows you nine of those words. Click the link in the headline above to go straight to the presentation.
Valuable but Cheap! $5 presentations
The Humours are four bodily fluids: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, black bile. They affect Shakespearean characters—and you. An abundance of one humour or another changes your very personality and can make you act inappropriately. Have you ever wondered why Othello has an epileptic fit, or why Beatrice suddenly comes down with a cold, or why Katerina is not allowed to eat dry roasted beef with mustard?
Includes a self-diagnostic quiz to find out which humour you abound in and which characters you are most similar to. You'll also discover which foods to eat or not eat (according to humoural theory) to balance your humour.
Shakespeare uses rhetoric, or the art of persuasion, to makes you respond in a certain way. If you already thought Shakespeare was a great writer, then understanding more fully his use of the ancient art form of rhetoric to create a visceral response in the reader will put you in even greater awe.
If you yourself are a writer or a poet, we hope you are familiar with rhetoric! If not, let Shakespeare teach you a few things in this presentation.
Or why is the nightingale in the pomegranate tree? Shakespeare never uses a mythological name, event, holiday, name of a stone or weed or flower or tree or animal, nor even a cardinal direction or day of the week, without recognizing the underlying resonance of that image and how it weaves into and comments on the play. This presentation will point out a number of connections that make you say, “Aha!" Once you see how Shakespeare uses these sorts of images, you will start noticing them more and more often in the text.
Shakespeare uses iambic pentameter to tell you so much. The phrase “iambic pentameter" is a great thing to roll off your tongue, and it's even more fun to use it at a dinner party when you actually know what it means and how it works.
Includes a brief discussion of the difference between blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter) and prose that leads into the presentation, Verse and Prose.
Shakespeare uses blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter) and prose (regular writing in paragraphs) very specifically. It's not as simple as the oft-repeated idea that upper classes speak verse and the lower class speak prose. Discover the important messages Shakespeare tells you, the Reader, through the distinction.
Shakespeare uses several different forms of rhymed verse; the variations indicate different emotional levels. You'll gain a greater appreciation of those rhyming moments through this short presentation. It really is quite gratifying to notice the differences and talk about what they might signify.
This presentation explains the important differences between Shakespeare's stage and our own, showing a brief history of the English stage, why we have a “box office," the number of theaters that existed in that time, and what happened to theater when the Puritans took over England. You'll also learn about the fourth wall (that didn't exist), the conventions of soliloquies and asides, scenery in the language instead of on the stage, internal stage directions, and a number of conventions that you see in every play.