Assignment: Forum Discussion
Resource: Shakespeare’s King Lear and Texts and Contexts Chapter 8 on Feminist Criticism
Assignment Length: 1 initial post (200 words minimum) + 1 reply post to a peer (200 words minimum)
Due dates: There are 2 due dates for this assignment:
1st post: Week 6, Monday, July 20 by 11:55 pm
2nd post: Week 6, Wednesday, July 22 by 11:55 pm
Points: 20 (Coursework category)
Notes: In order to complete this assignment, you need to have first read and studied ALL of the instructional and lesson resources that I’ve placed in Unit 4, along with having read AND watched Act 1, Scene 1 from King Lear.
Please note that you will not be able to see other student posts until you submit your own first post.
Exchange ideas with your classmates as you shape and narrow your own thinking in preparation for the essay you’ll submit at the end of the unit. Do this by clicking the “Reply” button below after you’ve read the prompt questions at the end of this assignment description.
These discussion forums are a vital part of the course. It’s here that you really get to talk about and wrestle with the readings, and the work you do here will feed directly into your essay work as it will also indicate to me the level of your engagement in the course and your comprehension of the readings. Please keep in mind that the purpose of these forums is to give you an informal space to talk about the work. It is not meant to be a place to engage in close critique of your peers’ writing – that’s my job. Focus your discussion on questions related to the strength or weakness of the assigned works we’re all reading together for the unit, not each other’s writing.
You may use edited portions of your own posts in your essay at the end of the unit if you wish. I encourage you to think of these discussion forums as draft spaces in which you can rehearse early versions of ideas and arguments for your eventual essay work.
Remember that I don’t take part in these discussions directly, though you may assume I am an ever present silent participant nonetheless, reading, monitoring and evaluating every post to see that it meets the criteria outlined above and below. You will only see me step in occasionally to redirect a conversation if I see it moving outside the boundaries of the forum; otherwise, you’re encouraged to talk directly with each other and without my intervention just as you would be in a facilitated classroom discussion in a face-to-face class setting.
- You need to submit a minimum of 2 posts to get credit. Partial credit for partial work isn’t given in these forums. In order to get any points for the forum discussion, you must submit an original post AND a reply post.
- Late, under minimum length, insufficiently proofread, poorly developed or off topic posts will trigger 0 points for the entire forum as, again, partial credit for partial work isn’t given in these forums.
- You must be sure to use the text to support you in every post. Individual posts that do not directly page cite textual references at least once cannot receive credit – Each post you make must parenthetically cite paraphrased or quoted passages from the text for support at least once.
Special citation note:
When quoting passages from poetry or a verse play, this is how you handle the quote and the parenthetical citation:
If 1 to 4 lines of the play are quoted, use a forward slash ( / ) to indicate line breaks after each line, but keep the quoted material within the paragraph body in-line with the rest of your sentences.
If MORE than 4 lines of the play are quoted, set the lines outside the body of your paragraph in a block quote, making sure to reproduce the lines exactly as they appear on the page in the original. Tab in that block quote twice, single space it, and do not use quotation marks.
In parenthetical citations for poems and verse plays, do not include the author’s name (since you will have already noted his/her name elsewhere already in your discussion presumably, making the inclusion of the author’s name again redundant and unnecessary). Include only the act, scene, and line numbers (which you’ll usually find running along one or both margins of your text) separated by a hyphen. Do not insert spaces between the numbers for act, scene and lines.
So, a short in-text quotation and citation of three lines of verse from King Lear would look like this:
At the top of the second act, Shakespeare opens with a monologue by Edgar who is disguised as a beggar lamenting his situation: “I heard myself proclaimed, / And by the happy hollow of a tree / Escaped the hunt. No port is free, no place” (2.3.1-3).
* Please note: you are not required to answer all of these questions. Choose something from below – either a whole question or a part of one – that you feel capable of responding to. Use these questions as starting places to create your own substantive response that adheres to the critical focus and textual spirit of the discussion forum.
All students must examine and discuss the same scene (Act 1, Scene 1) from King Lear for this discussion forum.
* * *
Using Act 1, Scene 1 from King Lear as the focus of your critical examination, try out some of the theoretical principles you’ve learned from your parallel study of Feminist Criticism. Do you see a patriarchal order embedded or reestablished in the action of the scene, character dynamics, and dialogue?
If so, does that ideology help to further stereotype, distort, limit, release, ignore, repress, celebrate, etc. “authentic” female experience (as it’s constructed by a patriarchal ideology, that is)? Why might we choose to view Shakespeare’s characterizations of women in his play as either problematic or liberating, or both, or something else?
Do you see any of the sisters as falling into an archetypal “Mary” figure type (as discussed in Chapter 8 of Texts and Contexts) as one of the predominate roles typically designated for women in (Western) literature (i.e. the virgin saint-mother, the innocent paragon of virtue, the nurturer and defender of purity, etc.)?
Or perhaps instead you see some or all of them characterized by other characters in the play and depicted by Shakespeare as that alternate “Eve” archetype – the evil seductress, the conniving bitch, the manipulator, the reason for Man’s fall into temptation and animal desire, etc.?
Or do the sisters transgress those limiting and reductive stereotypes altogether, transformed by Shakespeare into differently empowered female characters that become much more “subversive” as character types, much more complex and not so easily defined by simple good/bad binary descriptions?
Look again at the vocabulary terms at the end of Chapter 8 in Texts and Contexts to help you with this discussion response. Reference lines and details from Act 1, Scene 1 to help you address these questions and be explicit and4 thorough in your answers.
In your response work, reference specific passages (through correctly page-cited direct quotes or paraphrases) to help you address these questions and illustrate your responses, and always be specific and thorough in your reasoning and argument.