Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow -- term moves along
(Image of Lady Macbeth borrowed from West Bay Opera site)
Week 10 of a 13-week term, and I feel as if I've turned the corner, as I always feel at this point. While I still have one last set of short essays to mark for two sections, and then the long research papers for all 4 (about 110 students), not to mention the final exams, the heavy lifting has passed from me to the students. Yes, it's harder and harder to get them engaged, poor tired, panicky creatures that they are now (the good news is that there are only four weeks left, they think, and then realize that that's the bad news as well!). But I've done my prep work, all my primary and secondary source reading, and even have a surprise or two up my sleeve to bring some energy back to the classroom.
I'm also really pleased with my two sections of English 115, which is our Writing for University or Composition and Rhetoric course. I've tried a few different tactics this term and the new approach has paid off -- I just handed back research paper proposals that were probably the best, collectively, that I've had any term yet, and that promise a very decent batch of final papers. So yesterday I brought in boxes of Timbits and we relaxed a bit and chatted about what was working for them and what wasn't and strategized a bit about how we'd all get through these next four weeks.
My two sections of Writing about Literature: Poetry/Drama went to see Macbeth yesterday afternoon. We don't study it very comprehensively, but they've had to read it, summarize the action, and choose sections to dramatize. I wouldn't have put it on the course list, as so many of them have studied it in high school, but since our Theatre Department was putting it on, and it's so important to see a play move from page to stage, I assigned it. Sitting with them yesterday to watch the production was great. Two of my students had key roles, and a favourite student from several years ago played a very convincing Macbeth. The performance was a bit too fast-paced for the words to be well-articulated (altho' some actors managed better than others), but the acting overall was effective. A great castle set, some fabulous costumes, a satisfactorily-ribald Porter (who, indeed, grabbing apparently random audience members to address and fondle managed to hit upon one of my colleagues, a Shakespearean, to call an equivocator). The witches were sexy and licentious with a comic edge, Banquo's ghost dripped a gory eyeball from his bloody face, and Macbeth's head had an uncanny resemblance to the actor who played that wickedly ambitious Scot. All in all, a worthwhile extension of my already-long day (although my poor dog didn't think so, having to wait an extra hour for company and dinner!)
And today, since I released this morning's class to allow for Macbeth-viewing, I have time to work quietly in my office with the door shut, perhaps even catching up on next term's courseware.
Just curious, when's the last time any of you read Macbeth? Any lines stick with you? I was delighted to find how much I enjoyed the play this time 'round and would recommend it as well worth the two or three hours it takes to read.
Oh, and if you're curious about what one wears to view Macbeth with one's students, I wore a mid-calf, box-pleated tweedy-grey wool skirt that I bought a few weeks ago from Gap, and that I love! With my black cavalry-style (knee-high) boots and a long drapey grey cardigan, and a funky large metallic artisan-made pendant, I felt just a bit Virginia Woolf-ish somehow.