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Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’s sonnets’

By Folger Education

 

In February, when the Folger launched its exciting new website, we posted our first set of revamped teaching modules, which include assessment ideas, writing prompts and technology tools (where appropriate), and connections to the Common Core Anchor Standards for English. Just this week, we posted another round of great teaching modules: this time, on Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Shakespeare's Sonnets, Folger Edition (Image: Folger Library)

Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Folger Edition (Image: Folger Library)

 

If you’re thinking about teaching the sonnets next school year—or maybe even this summer—check out these lessons below, which spring from the work of Dr. Louisa Newlin and Gigi Bradford with the Folger’s “Shakespeare’s Sisters” program, a semester-long seminar on poetry for local high school students. Try these out with your students and let us know how they go!

 

  1. Easing into Shakespeare with a Modern Sonnet
  2. Petrarch, Father of the Sonnet
  3. Close Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets
  4. The English Sonnet: Michael Drayton
  5. Sonnet Performances: Shakespeare’s Sonnets as Scripts

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By Kevin Costa

Illustration opposite Sonnet XII by Henry Ospovat. (Folger Shakespeare Library)

Illustration opposite Sonnet XII by Henry Ospovat. (Folger Shakespeare Library)

Shakespeare’s Sonnets are fantastic for so many reasons. Peter O’Toole, in an interview on NPR a few years ago, said, “They’re my life companion. They’re at the side of my bed. They travel with me. I pick them up, and I read them all the time. I find them endlessly informing, endlessly beautiful, endlessly – they say, they hit the spot so many times on so many things.”

He’s right. I find myself turning to the Sonnets in times when I’m looking for a companion who seems to understand me before I myself do — and, let’s be honest: isn’t that why we love literature in the first place?

When I with my students, I like to emphasize how “companionable,” to borrow a word from Yeats, poetry can be. The greatest lyric poetry feels like that friend you turn to who just “gets” you. There is no judgement but only unconditional love from a poem. I start there.

Years ago, I remember watching Trevor Nunn working with David Suchet on what would later become the series, Playing Shakespeare. Nunn asked Suchet to perform Sonnet 138 as if it were Suchet’s part of the dialogue in an imagined scenario. I was riveted. Understanding Shakespeare for the stage was the object there, but I have found this approach to be a superb way of achieving all the objectives of close reading in and English classroom. Laurence Perrine would approve!

With lyric poetry, we often feel that a person is right there speaking to us or, at least, to another person. A poem, in other words, gives us a character. And this is where you might begin, too. Let us look at Sonnet 18.

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