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Shakespeare Folio Lesson Plan

Shakespeare Folio Lesson Plan

The primary goal of this exercise is to introduce students to the language of Shakespeare’s day in order to make it more familiar and less intimidating.  In order to accomplish this, students will examine the preface and title page of each Shakespeare Folio, 1,2,3,4.  Examination of each folio will reveal the English language in a state of transition.

Shakespeare Folio Workshop Session

Participants will learn how to compare the materiality of multiple Shakespeare Folios in order to trace publishing, language, and cultural changes.

Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Articulate the importance of image in the Folios
  • Describe changes in English lexicology evident in the Folios
  • Describe how the changes in the Folios’ frontispieces reflect changes in Shakespeare’s cultural significance.
  • Students and instructor will:
  • Examine the preface and title page of each Shakespeare Folio, 1,2,3,4 in order to reveal the dynamic and transitory nature of the English language. Students will examine spelling, capitalization, punctuation, fonts, letters and letterforms
  • Explore the language of Shakespeare’s day by 1) reading aloud the preface “To the Reader” written by Ben Jonson, 2) examining the conventions of 17th century language, spelling, letter forms, and punctuation 3) interpreting the content of the text.
  • Discuss the interconnection and the significance between Jonson’s preface and the portrait of Shakespeare directly opposite on the title page
  • Discuss 17th c. print culture, including 1) how books are made, bound and sold, 2) the process of getting a book in print in the 17th c., 3) significance of edition, 4) readers’ education and social class.
  • Discuss marketing: what elements of the book reveal marketing efforts and how these change over time, i.e. the addition of plays, commentaries, etc.
  • Discuss the “making” of Shakespeare – as portrayed in these two pages over the course of the four folios – how Shakespeare transitions from simply a popular playwright to iconic author.