In this the 400th year since William Shakespeare’s death, there is still reluctance among many secondary school students to accept Shakespeare as an author who speaks to them and their dilemmas. In part this derives from the misguided notion that Shakespeare’s language is historically remote, too difficult, even inaccessible. Thus the rich market of Shakespeare translations from his English to contemporary English, with No Fear Shakespeare leading the way. But Shakespeare is not difficult if we understand his work as he intended it, as theatre not narrative. If we listen to Shakespeare rather than reading him, if we attend to the human scenarios he presents rather the hunting for meaning, theses, and essay topics, if we recognize the everydayness rather than pursuing the remote, then Shakespeare is as contemporary in 2016 as he was in 1616.
Professor Stephen Brown
Stephen Brown has been a 3M National Teaching Fellow and an Honorary Fellow of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education since 1997. He holds a BA and an MA from the University of Windsor, and a BA and a PhD from Queen’s University, as well as having done postdoctoral work at Yale University. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and has been a visiting professor at the Centre for the History of the Book and the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. In 2013, he was Ormiston Roy Fellow in Scottish Studies at the University of South Carolina. He has been a member of the English Literature Department at Trent University in Peterborough since 1985, often teaching in Oshawa, and was the Master of Champlain College at Trent from 1993 until 2009. He has published widely in the field of print culture and literacy, receiving a Besterman McColvin Award and a Michael Von Poser Society Edinburgh.
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