professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

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Shakespeare meets his match

Here in Texas we are not celebrating the end of the school year. Instead we are in mourning over the newly proscribed ELA curriculum devised by the State Board of Ed and not by anyone remotely interested in literacy. The SBOE had been trying for a couple of years to dismantle the TEKS (Texas essential knowledge and skills). And now they have been successful. The emphasis in the new curriculum: spelling, grammar (taught in isolation and not part of the writing process), penmanship (not kidding here) and phonics. We truly will have a "Dumbest Generation" once this curriculum is in place.

So, will this adaptation of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE by graphic artist Gareth Hinds even matter? Probably not since the experts in literacy (that would be the dentist and the others on the SBOE) have also indicated (how kind of them) the stories and books they suggest teachers use to make sure our future students know about literature (and it is old dead white men, big time). But for those who still care or who do not teach in Texas, this GN version of Shakespeare breathes new life into the Old Bard and is sure to also breath some new controversy over Shylock the Jew who would exact his pound of flesh) and women masquerading as men. What it does nicely, though, is convey the central themes of the work along with the basic plot. It had been a while since I read this play and even longer since I saw a staging of it. It was like meeting an old friend after a long absence. I had forgotten some of the gems from this piece: about mercy, about the feelings we all share, and about the fleeting value of gold and silver.


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