Monday, April 18, 2011

Finals and what comes after

Here at BYU, we are firmly in the middle of Finals week.  I'm not too worried, mine aren't that bad, except for the fact that I had one scheduled at 7:00 am this morning.  but I was done by 8:30, so it's not all bad.  And I only have two other finals, the rest of my classes just had us turn in papers on the last day of classes that counted as our finals.   I have a take-home German linguistics final, that should actually be fun (I told you I was a nerd!), and my final for this class for which I created this blog: Shakespeare.

As the professor explains, this final will be very different from anything I've ever done before.  It will be sort of a group discussion of what we have learned and experienced this year.  We will discuss our individual learning plans and how we have met the learning outcomes of the course.  It seems like we'll also have a chance to discuss the progress and the product of other blogs in the class.

I am excited for this,  I am looking forward to an opportunity to expand the conversation and the discussion about Shakespeare and my interests in Hamlet and Germany.  This has been a very interesting class, exploring the future of academia, by creating research blogs that can connect with scholars and students across the world. This social learning has been fascinating to observe, as students become friends and help each other with research and ideas via comments in class and on the blog.

I have long been amazed at the concept of Knowledge Management and Knowledge Centered Support, which are usually applied only to businesses or IT departments.  The basic idea is that knowledge is an asset and needs to be managed and used in order to be a benefit for the company.  Knowledge is key, and access to knowledge should be easier and better.  I am a big believer in Collective Knowledge and Open Source, especially Open Source Education (thus the title of this blog), where knowledge is free and freely shared with anyone who wants it.  For me, it all comes down to this: I don't know everything, you don't know everything, but if we add what you know to what I know, and add that to what everybody else knows, then collectively we do know everything.

And so, with Shakespeare, these ideas, for me, have meant that I have documented my thought process and my findings, my research and my ideas for anyone who cares.  This blog exists and will continue to exist, and I will add to it when I have new things to say pertaining to Shakespeare, teaching, Germany or Hamlet.  I have welcomed the comments made on this blog, and I have made comments on other blogs.  I have collected and cited sources, both traditionally academic sources as well as web resources.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"I am not what I am": A Self Evaluation of this blog

The semester is almost over and it has really been a wonderful opportunity to explore the works of Shakespeare through this research blog.  It started out very generally, with just a few posts about my thoughts as I read several plays, but then it really took off as I developed my focus of studying how Shakespeare has been accepted, appropriated, and interpreted by the Germans.
And now is the time when I step back and reflect and discuss what I have learned, following the guidelines set forth by my professor.

  • Posts
    • Quantity--  Over the past 3.5 months I have 55 posts, of which 15 are tagged about Germany and 18 are tagged about Hamlet.  I believe that's quite a focus, that's quite a few posts devoted to my theme.
    • Content -- I have tried to do a variety of posts, with some being textual analysis, others being about productions and performances, and others being about secondary sources regarding Hamlet and Germany.
    • Format -- I have used titles that help introduce what each post is about, and I have used the jump break to break up my longer posts.  But I am most proud of my tags, this has helped me review what I have talked about and find older posts again when I wanted to reference them.
  • Research
    • Thematic Focus-- My theme as I started out was just looking at how Shakespeare has been treated in Germany, but as I did my research and wrote about it I found that Germans are particularly fond of Hamlet. So, I began to focus on how Hamlet has been interpreted and adapted throughout its history in Germany.
    • Thesis & Cohesion--My hub post, wherein I argue that Hamlet is now more German than English, links back to several of my older posts where I argue my point.
    • Sources -- As I detail in my Sources and Other Links pages I have read books and articles as well as visited websites devoted to the study of Shakespeare in Germany.
  • Personal & Social
    • Author identity -- I believe I have allowed my identity to come through on this blog, I mean, if it weren't for my identity and my love of all things German I would never have developed the focus that I have.
    • Documentation of Process-- I have a few posts where I describe not only what I have learned but which resources I gleaned my information from.
    • Interactions-- I will admit, I haven't done a lot of interaction with others in the class, but that is mostly because my focus is so narrow that others are not talking about the same subjects.  I have appreciated the comments I have received and I have enjoyed reading the blogs of other members if the class. 
  • Design
    • Appropriate to Theme -- I didn't put a whole lot of thought into the design, I just used one of the default themes, but I like the simplicity of it, putting focus on the content of the blog itself.
    • Side content -- I really like the tag cloud that I have in my sidebar, and I have used it a lot to find older posts of mine about certain topics, which is particularly helpful when doing a post like this and I want to link back.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sein oder Nicht Sein: German Hamlet Audio

As I have been dealing with Germany's handling of Hamlet and as part of that I have found online an audio recording of that most famous speech, Act 3, Scene 1 "To be or not to be", "Sein oder nicht sein". 
Here is the sound clip:

And for those of you who would like to follow along at home, here is the text.  The audio doesn't follow this text exactly, there are a couple lines that are a little different from this text and I think he's got a newer translation, but this is close enough.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blog Review: Christopher Welcker

Christopher Welcker: Thine Own Adventure
  • Posts
    • Quantity - It is hard to tell, the posts are not linked together in any way.  I would suggest linking to previous posts that relate to the same topic, or at the very least using labels that could be used to find all posts on similar subjects.
    • Content - Most of the posts are long, lot of research has been done, a lot of explanatory posts.  Media is used, but mostly just simple clipart that are only somewhat related to the text of the post.
    • Format - Titles are good indication of what each post is about.  There is good use of the jump break, splitting up the long posts.  Tags or labels need to be used.  This will help with the overall organization, and help readers find other related posts.
  • Research
    • Thematic Focus - The focus seems to be about Shakespeare's life and how much we actually know about the man, and how that knowledge affects a reading of the plays, or how we can learn about Shakespeare by reading what he has written.
    • Thesis & Cohesion - The thesis seems to have developed well over time
    • Sources - I like the Works Cited page, there are some good scholarly sources there
  • Personal & Social
    • Author identity - There is no About Me on the blog, no author information
    • Documentation of Process - There are a few posts about movies and documentaries that he has seen and what he has learned.  
    • Interactions - He does have a post describing an email to and response from a scholar
  • Design
    • Appropriate to Theme - The design looks good enough for this purpose.  
    • Side content - Blog archive is useful, but I would also suggest adding tags or labels to the blog posts and then adding a tag cloud to the side to help readers find posts baed around certain subjects.  
It's a good blog, but a little hard to tell the overall focus or the general theme.  Each posts needs links back to previous posts that deal with the same subject, labels and tags would definitely be helpful, as well.   

Monday, April 4, 2011

MST3K does Hamlet, a German version

I found a gem on Netflix the other day.  Mystery Science Theatre 3000 did a parody of Hamlet, but not just any Hamleta German version from the 1960's made for television.  It was obviously dubbed into English, but you can still see some directorial choices, like costume and set.
Aside from the hilarious jokes made of the show (like, "Hey, that line's from Hamlet!"), the movie was fun to watch.  Even my wife, who is not usually into Shakespeare, or German films, enjoyed it.  Here are a few of my thoughts as I watched.

The "too, too solid flesh" speech done as voiceover while the coronation party are departing, then becoming spoken when they are all gone.  This leads the audience to believe that Hamlet is constantly in his head, talking to himself, thinking too much.

There is a minimalist set, it looks like it was leftover from a stage production.  That was probably intentional, as they were probably trying to imitate a successful theatre production.

When the ghost speaks to Hamlet, we do not see the ghost, we hear him, but the camera is focused on Hamlet's face the whole time.  Interesting, does this imply that the ghost is merely in Hamlet's mind?  

The scene that Ophelia tells her father about, that Hamlet came to her ("As I was sewing in my closet....") they actually show.  A little creepy, actually.  Hamlet wanders in, shirt undone, hair all frizzled, and wide-eyed and stares at Ophelia, then slowly backs out of the room, which causes Ophelia to run off and find her father. There are no lines, no speech, just Hamlet staring at Ophelia, then walking away.

The "To be or not to be" speech starts out with Hamlet standing behind a wall, or a doorway, or a stairway (it's a black and white film and filmed with a lot of dark shadows so a lot of detail in the set are hard to make out).  Still, for the first half of the speech Hamlet's face is mostly blocked, you can't see his mouth, only his eyes.  Strange.

Ophelia, mad Ophelia, does not sing.  She just smiles and says her lines with a goofy grin.  Doesn't really look that mad, except that she's handing out weeds and calling it different flower names.

It was a fun film, mostly because of the commentary that MST3K provides, but I found it interesting looking at the elements of the German production.  I would recommend this movie to anyone looking for a good Shakespearean laugh!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hamlet ist Deutsch: My Conclusions to Studying Hamlet in German

As I have studied Shakespeare in Germany over the last few months I have come to one conclusion that I would like to posit as a thesis for this research blog:
William Shakespeare's Hamlet has become and is now more German than English, because of the way that in which the German people have adopted and interpreted the play and incorporated it into their culture.

From the very beginning Hamlet has been a favorite play in Germany, there is a German translation that dates back to 1710, though there are accounts of the play being performed in Germany within five years of Shakespeare's death.

In the 1800's,Shakespeare, and Hamlet especially, were well loved and talked about by the great German thinkers and writers, like Goether, and Schiller.  In fact, now Shakespeare is considered their equal in German eyes, and they refer to the three great Klassiker Goethe, Schiller, and Shakespeare

In 1844, the German poet Ferdinand Freiligrath wrote a poem entitled Hamlet, where we wrote that Germany is Hamlet. I have translated this and done some interpretation, that indicates that Germany is Hamlet because, at least in the 1800's, it was full of great thinkers and philosophers, but few men of action.  At that time there was no German state, but several German kingdoms.  Freiligrath seems to mean with his poem that Germany should stop being so concerned with thinking and hesitating, like Hamlet was, and should start acting, or they would end up like Hamlet, stabbed and killed.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hamlet is German

In looking at how Germany has appropriated the play Hamlet, as I have discussed before, I decided to look at current productions of Hamlet in Germany. 

I found the Shakespeare Festival at the Globe Neuss.  (Yes, the Germans have built a replica of the Globe on an old racetrack, and they hold a Shakespeare Festival every summer.) They have done productions of Hamlet in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 and it's on the schedule for 2011.  The program for this summer's festival shows that there are no less than 4 different productions of Hamlet!  One by the Globe Touring Company from London (performed in English), and one by the Bremer Shakespeare Company (from Bremen, performed in German), Kupenga Kwa Hamlet, which is a shortened Hamlet done by two Zimbabwen actors (performed in English), and Hamlet (from the East) performed by the Yohangza Theatre Company from Korea (performed in Korean).  There is also a lecture/discussion Shakespeare - A German writer, which will discuss Shakespeare's influence on German culture with "bilingual readings from Shakespeare and German poets from Goethe till present day."  All of this in four weeks! In addition to Comedy of Errors done in French and English, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, Troilus and Cressida all in German, Richard III in English, and Macbeth done by a Swedish choir!  Who wants to pay for me to fly to Germany????

Hamlet is very much alive in Germany today.  It has had a long, rich history.  And, although it was technically written in English by an Englishman, Hamlet is very much German now.  There is something about German culture and history that has drawn them to this play, more than any other, so much that they write poems about it, do postmodernist theatrical adaptations of it, and continue to perform it regularly.  Lines from the play may have slipped into the vernacular in English speaking countries across the world, but the play itself has wormed its way into the heart of the German people.