Shakespeare by the Sword!

Denison Seminars
August 12, 2015

Peter Grandbois, Associate Professor of English and Cheryl McFarren, Associate Professor of Theatre teamed up to teach a Denison Seminar called “Shakespeare by the Sword” in Fall 2014 and will repeat it in Fall 2015.

Denison Seminars are courses for sophomores and juniors that are interdisciplinary, extradisciplinary, or integrative and that transcend traditional departmental, programmatic, and/or divisional boundaries. These classes require no prerequisites and have no other structural limitations. They are designed to excite you and encourage you to think differently and broadly about a set of topics. Denison Seminars are often taught by a team of faculty allowing you to experience multiple viewpoints and approaches.

The first iteration, last fall, was an experience unlike anything either the teachers or the students had ever done. Where else do you get to combine such disparate activities as fencing, acting, and studying Shakespeare? There are so many unique things about the course. We approached Shakespeare through both the mind and the body. We got to act. We learned the fundamentals of stage combat and choreographed our own fights. We studied scenes and discussed directorial choices. We even did line by line textual analyses. The unique approach to Shakespeare makes the Bard more accessible, and more fun.

Because no one came to a class proficient in all three varied disciplines it meant that everyone had to step out of their comfort zone at some point in the class—usually many points! Last year’s “Shakespeare by the Sword” wasn’t just another academic course it was a journey we’ll never forget; one that embodied the liberal arts and learning at its best.

The group went to Ontario Canada to attend the Stratford Shakespeare Festival for several days and thoroughly enjoyed a number of excellent performances.

“Team teaching is the single most rewarding experience I’ve had at Denison. When you team teach you embody so much of what we say makes for active, engaged students: interdisciplinarity, mentorship, community. I can’t think of anything that says “liberal arts” louder than that,” said Peter Grandbois.

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