Approaches to Teaching Shakespeare Using Non-traditional Texts

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association
contact email: 

Approaches to Teaching Shakespeare Using Non-traditional Texts

This session will look at how teachers can incorporate Shakespeare parodies (i.e. Royal Shakespeare Company’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged) and/or spoofs of the Bard’s plays and/or life (i.e. Broadway’s Something Rotten) into the classroom. How are teachers balancing traditional textual approaches to Shakespeare and incorporating modern reinterpretations as supplementary or primary sources in the classroom? Who is considering works like off-Broadway’s Drunk Shakespeare, and how it can be a tool for discussing performance techniques (actors in the show are classically trained Shakespeare performers) or literary interpretation (what tactics are employed to tell the story when one cast member is inebriated)? How can teachers use alternate interpretations and bring it back to a more traditional reading of the work? Another example could be taking Something Rotten’s song “Will Power,” which presents Shakespeare as a rock star of his time performing his “greatest hits.” It could be used as a launching pad to discuss Shakespeare’s popularity at the time and critique of the selections sampled (primarily the sonnets and Romeo and Juliet). For students who are tentative about learning about Shakespeare, there is the song “God I Hate Shakespeare” as a primer on the negative assumptions and the critical doubt regarding whether Shakespeare actually wrote all his own work (i.e. those who believe Marlowe and Johnson were possibly the true authors). Who is using The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged’s choice of turning the retelling of Othello into a rap as an entry point into race? Mike Bartlett’s recent show King Charles III, a play billed as a “a future history play” could also be considered as a companion to any one of the history plays for its emulation of the tragedy structure and balance of critical/laudatory presentation of the royal family.

The conference is through the Northeast Modern Language Association and will take place March 23-26, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.

Submissions are due: September 30, 2016

NeMLA uses a user-based system to process abstract submissions. Interested scholars should submit 250 word abstracts to Lindsay Bryde through the NeMLA website using the link below:

For questions about the new submission system, you can contact NeMLA web support here:

Questions specific to the panel can be sent to