English 4

March 19-23

Weekly calendar







Today. In-class essay, A Doll's House.

Tonight. Familiarize yourself with Shakespeare's language by reading this document (link here); then read Othello 1.1. (That's Act 1, scene 1 for the uninitiated.)
Use the scene-by-scene summary (link here). Act 1 is exposition. Whom do we meet? What are they like? What are their relationships? What do they want? What conflicts are introduced? Read dramatically.
     Don't worry about understanding everything the characters say. Drama matters more.

We will be using the RSC production from 2015 in class (link here). You can rent it from Digital Theater (link here), which might be a good idea. You'll be writing your semester final exam essay on Othello, and you could use the production for that essay.

You will be keeping a journal, too. Questions are here (link here). Respond to numbered questions for 1.1. I'll be checking your responses for quiz grades. You will always be required to respond to numbered questions.









Today. Final exam essay. Othello 1.1.

Tonight. Read Othello 1.2-1.3.272, end of Othello's speech. Use the scene-by-scene summary (link here) and in your journal, respond to the numbered questions on the reading guide (link here). Read dramatically.

     I cannot recommend enough that you rent The RSC's 2015 production (link here). One sees a play.

Ongoing. Sunday, March 25. Peergrade 3-19-18, A Doll's House essay due by 22:00. The door for peergrading closes at 22:00, never to re-open.









Today. Othello 1.2-1.3.272, end of Othello's speech.

Final essay/exam assignment posted. Read it through and begin choosing a topic. Choosing now, lets you read the rest of the play with some serious intention, lets your focus your note-taking, evidence-gathering, thinking.

Tonight. Read Othello 1.3.272-end of 1.3/Act 1. Use the scene-by-scene summary (link here) and in your notebook, take notes, reflect, collect quotations and thinking about your final exam essay. Read dramatically.

Ongoing. Sunday, March 25. Peergrade 3-19-18, A Doll's House essay due by 22:00. The door for peergrading closes at 22:00, never to re-open.









Today. Othello 1.3.272-end of 1.3/Act 1.

Tonight. Make a list of scenes you especially want to see tomorrow? Why those scenes?

Ongoing. Sunday, March 25. Peergrade 3-19-18, A Doll's House essay due by 22:00. The door for peergrading closes at 22:00, never to re-open.









Today. Screening day, Othello Act 1.

Tonight. If you have not done so already, set up a notebook for your reading/study of Othello. Place your final essay topic/s atop each page. Indicate Act and scene in the usual way: Act.scene.line/s: e.g. 1.3.45-67.

Organize that notebook in some sensible way, such as the one I showed you in class: three columns: 1 for plot and insights into the scene; 1 for quotations; 1 for your immediate thoughts/notes about those quotations. You might for instance write "Another example of Othello's fancy vocab"; or "Iago's continuing use of religious diction, showing his profane intellect"; or "Othello's syntax is changing to indicate his passion."

Watch the video Shakespeare's language, exploring a soliloquy, posted in the middle column; learn what a soliloquy is and what the actor uses to help him understand and perform a speech; then read Iago's soliloquy at the end of Act 1. Apply those techniques to Iago's speech to see how it might be performed and how performance enhances meaning. What do we learn about Iago in the speech? Why have Iago soliloquize here to end the Act?

     Looking back on Act 1. Prepare responses to these questions:

1) What conflicts has the play introduced in Act 1, external ones and internal-to-character ones. Think Iago and Othello. Find exact moments/evidence to define your views.

2) What is Othello's relationship to Desdemona. Why does he love her? How much does he love her? Find exact language to define your views.

Ongoing. Sunday, March 25. Peergrade 3-19-18, A Doll's House essay due by 22:00. The door for peergrading closes at 22:00, never to re-open.

reading links


Scene-by-scene summary
Othello, introduction from RSC
Notebook questions from Cambridge
Shakespeare's language from RSC
Selections from The Prince
Selections from The Book of The Courtier
Playing Othello, Hugh Quarshie



Othello, a racist play?



Shakespeare's language
shared lines



by William Hazlitt

pxWilliamHazlittselfportrait11 "It has been said that tragedy purifies the affections by terror and pity. That is, it substitutes imaginary sympathy for mere selfishness. It gives us a high and permanent interest, beyond ourselves, in humanity as such. It raises the great, the remote, and the possible to an equality with the real, the little and the near. It makes man a partaker with his kind. It subdues and softens the stubbornness of his will. It teaches him that there are and have been others like himself, by showing him as in a glass what they have felt, thought, and done. It opens the chambers of the human heart. It leaves nothing indifferent to us that can affect our common nature. It excites our sensibility by exhibiting the passions wound up to the utmost pitch by the power of imagination or the temptation of circumstances; and corrects their fatal excesses in ourselves by pointing to the greater extent of sufferings and of crimes to which they have led others. Tragedy creates a balance of the affections. It makes us thoughtful spectators in the lists of life. It is the refiner of the species; a discipline of humanity. The habitual study of poetry and works of imagination is one chief part of a well-grounded education. A taste for liberal art is necessary to complete the character of a gentleman, Science alone is hard and mechanical. It exercises the understanding upon things out of ourselves, while it leaves the affections unemployed, or engrossed with our own immediate, narrow interests.—OTHELLO furnishes an illustration of these remarks. It excites our sympathy in an extraordinary degree. The moral it conveys has a closer application to the concerns of human life than that of any other of Shakespeare's plays. 'It comes directly home to the bosoms and business of men.'"



An Actor's 10 key questions


1. Who am I?
2. Where am I?
3. When is it?
4. Where have I just come from?
5. What do I want?
6. Why do I want it?
7. Why do I want it now?
8. What will happen if I don't get it now?
9. How will I get what I want by doing what?
10. What must I overcome? (full article here)

Assignments due
read them in full



Monday, March 19. In-class essay on a Doll's House. You will upload your essay to 3-19-18, A Doll's House: 100-point essay at the end of class. You may bring to class one sheet containing a thesis and an outline.  

     Essay topics here (link here).

     Review the comments on you first essay on A Doll's House.

     Choose a way to focus your thinking, then write a few hundred words defining and developing your view, making ample reference to the text and working from evidence (wfe). Do more with evidence.
     Continue improving your ability to write engaging opening and closing ¶s (See Trimble, Writing with Style.).
     Follow your line of thinking, continuing to break from the 5-¶ model, using ¶ hooks to transition from topic topic/¶ to ¶.

Peergrade will remain open for submission until 3-19-18, 22:00, when the door for submission will close and lock.


Sunday, March 25. Peergrade 3-19-18, A Doll's House essay due by 22:00. The door for peergrading closes and locks at 22:00.


Tuesday, March 27 by 8:00. Responses to peergrade feedback, including a final comment.


Friday, April 27. Final essay/exam. See details here.



Extra- extra-credit


Choose a small section of Othello, no longer than three minutes in performance. Perform it for the class, complete with blocking. Let the classroom be your stage.



Writing documents

Grading notes
Essay editing marks, with explanations
LBH sentences crafting packet
LBH punctuation packet
Comma usage quick guide
Essay rubric, technical
Essay rubric, conceptual
Asking good questions
MLA style center




Shakespeare's language
prose and verse



Shakespeare's language
iambic pentameter



Shakespeare's language
exploring a soliloquy