11 October 2008

Shakespeare and Education (Shakespeare in Popular Culture)

In viewing the YouTube video Comic Relief - Catherine Tate & David Tennant during a Linguistics class, I realized that William Shakespeare is embedded within every aspect of the modern-day education. The video epitomizes the “Shakespeare omnipresence in our modern culture.” The sixteenth and seventeenth century poet and playwright engulf the educational criteria from England to American to the Middle East. Shakespeare is a world wide phenomenon with a timeless flare. The British sitcom points to this phenomenon and timeless flare. Initially, a substitute professor enters the room. He asks the class to turn to a Shakespearean sonnet. A female student interrupts the progression of class by questioning his ability to teach the class; he is of Scottish descent. Furthermore, she insults Shakespeare and states he is “pointless, repetitious and dull.” At this moment, the English teacher loses his composure and vehemently defends Shakespeare as a genius. Moreover, he insults the student and insinuates that she is not intelligent. Then, the student loses her composure and recites the sonnet in its entirety, thus reclaiming her credibility as a person to be reckoned with on the manner of Shakespeare. Shakespeare symbolizes excellence. It was presented in a comical way, but the sitcom epitomizes the ideals of Shakespeare within our culture. The sitcom is indicative of the very comical way in which Shakespeare addressed issues within his culture. There is a dialogue exchanged between two people, going back and forth, with twisted and manipulated language. In the end, one force is overcome by the other and resolution is achieved. To piggy back on the sitcom, the Scottish teacher is able to teach the Elizabethan poetry because it was a part of “his” education as well; it is not just a component of a British education. He defends Shakespeare instead of defending his own heritage. Even after the matter of the female student has been resolved, the English teacher recites a few lines of Shakespeare as well. The unstated message is clear; Shakespeare belongs to everyone. Also, the sitcom highlights the level of penetration that Shakespeare has achieved within the modern day education. Most people are able to remember Shakespeare being taught, in some fashion, in elementary school. None would deny that they can remember every grade level, after elementary school, addressing some piece of Shakespeare. In order to obtain a college degree, despite your major, you are exposed to Shakespeare. Shakespeare is all around us, but he is especially predominating within our modern day educational system. In essence, William Shakespeare has been and seemingly will be a continual presence in a variety of cultures. The way he uses language is intriguing and attracts all cultures for its sheer creativity. The plots are still compelling today because they are timeless. William Shakespeare has made an indelible mark on popular culture, but he is most loved with the field of educational excellence. Please see links column for the YouTube video. It is located under Shakespeare and Popular Culture.

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