Friday, February 08, 2013

Feeling Smart (Without Being Smart)

I browsed a bookstore tonight (one that sells new books, which I haven't done in a long time). In the "Drama" section there was a new series of Shakespeare plays. I am used to the two major series being Folger and Arden, but now there is a major new series, "No Fear Shakespeare." It promises a translation of Shakespeare into "Modern English" (the language in which Shakespeare actually wrote). It is side-by-side with the text, like some editions of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (not the edition I used in college, however, which was entirely in Middle English).

The reason Shakespeare is part of a modern education is to expand students' language. The star-crossed lovers trope has been done more engagingly than Romeo and Juliet; it is still assigned because of the linguistic knowledge it imparts and the cultural continuity that comes from 400 years of reading the exact same work. This edition throws in the towel on the language fight, but allows the students to still appear as if they are reading Shakespeare. It is the semblance of intelligence without the threat of any actual intelligence.

However, this has given my blog a new semi-regular feature I will be debuting soon: WL SHKSPR 4 DA MDRN READR.

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