Instructors’ Teaching Experience

Although some instructors might shy away from teaching a Shakespearian comedy, I find that it actually works out quite well. I’ve taught Twelfth Night in both Interpretation of Literature and Literature and Sexualities several times. In truth, students are a bit reluctant at first (as they are with most Elizabethan dramas) but once they figure out that Twelfth Night is essentially about lust and alcohol (topics they love discussing), it usually goes quite well. Moreover, once they’re into the play, they usually bring up some of the larger questions regarding gender and sexuality entirely on their own. I usually show them clips from the Trevor Nunn film version— it’s well made and funny. They like it. Sometimes I also schedule it right after or before students have read Passing. It seems like a strange combination of texts, but thematically it works. Students pull out similarities in terms of identities, personas, sexual vs. racial passing, etc.

Classroom Strategies

Modern Translation Activity

An activity I like to use in which students “translate” Elizabethan language into “modern” slang. [Katie Gubbels]

Sonnet Activity

A great companion for Twelfth Night is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 20 (“master-mistress of my passion”). I use it to introduce students both to Shakespearean language (particularly his love of puns and double-language) and to the complicated constructions of sex and desire in the play. [Lindsey Row-Heyveld,]