Before I decided to go back to school I had been out for almost 10 years. Even after all that time September would still cast its spell on me. At the time of year where nature is filling the world with a riot of colours before it rests for the winter, I find it a time of new beginnings.
This year was especially weird because I graduated in June. A year and a half of Culinary school (Take my advice and try to avoid taking condensed programs!) finished and I found myself back to work full time and searching for…something. I wanted to learn something new.
I have a subscription to The Great Courses Plus which is basically the Netflix of university lectures. They have a wide range of topics from arts and science to history and statistics. One course in particular that made me want to subscribe was How to Read and Understand Shakespeare taught by Professor Marc C. Conner, Ph.D. After the first two lectures I was hooked and that snowballed into my current quest.
The task I’ve set for myself? Read, watch, and study The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
My goal originally was to simply read and watch the plays but after finishing the first one I was left unfulfilled. Would careful study of his works bring me to appreciate them more than I already did? The answer, after watching a lecture about the play I had just finished, was a resounding yes.
I have always listed William Shakespeare as one of my favourite authors. I remember in high school studying his plays were both my favourite and least favourite part of the English curriculum. Favourite because it provided me a new play to read, least because I was one of the few people in the class that felt this way.
My first years of high school we did The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dream is still one of my favourite plays to date, despite the awful experience I had in class with it. The Merchant of Venice came next, which was my least favourite of the plays I read in high school. Looking at the scholarly text now, I see that a lot of the issues surrounding it and particularly the character of Shylock weren’t touched upon. More on that when I get to the play. Hamlet restored my love of the Bard and then in my final year (Ontario high school went up to Grade 13, also known as OAC, in my time) King Lear. My final year was special because of the teacher. I had the privilege of being taught the play by a woman who had her doctorate in English, specializing in Shakespeare.
I left school fired up to know more, read more, and write more. And then…life happened. Life events and different priorities made the flames go dormant. Until I found that lecture series.
I am well aware of the arduous task I have set for myself. Not only will I be reading all 37 plays, reading scholarly essays and opinions, and watching productions of them in the hopes of gaining a better understanding; I will be writing about it on here as well. I’m using this as a way to keep accountable as I often find myself fired up to do something only to quickly move onto the next shiny. It’s also partly a notebook. A place to record my thoughts and progress through this journey.