Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Final Point 1: Audience, Audience, Audience

Macbeth, ed. Stephen Orgel (Pelican Shakespeare)

The Pelican edition is most certainly designed for a beginning reader of Shakespeare. Though it does incorporate material from the most recent scholarships of the play, the introductory material consists of three main parts: “The Theatrical World,” “The Texts of Shakespeare,” and an “Introduction.” The reader is given a basic context of the theaters, plays, and playwrights in Shakespeare’s time. It gives a basic biography of Shakespeare and highlights key points of interest in scholarship, which a person more familiar with Shakespeare would have a ready knowledge of. The footnotes are more accessible to a lighter study of the play and not so indepth that they would discourage those new to Shakespeare. Although this edition indicates an audience less knowledgeable of Shakespeare, it is not so basic that it would intended for students younger than high school perhaps. It seems that the intended audience would be high school English classes or beginning college courses of Shakespeare or English literature.

As You Like It, ed. Juliet Dusinberre (Arden Shakespeare, 3rd series)

The Arden Shakespeare edition goes much more in depth to the play and the context, indicating that its intended audience is one of a higher scholarship and understanding of Shakespeare. I couldn’t see this edition being used in anything less than an undergraduate course. The detailed introduction and appendices assume a knowledge of Shakespeare plays as well as history. It would be helpful for a graduate student or scholar of higher education in writing or research. It’s details about the history of productions and actors might also be helpful for directors or actors interested in a more comprehensive study of the play.

The Tempest, ed. Gerald Graff and James Phelan (Case Studies in Critical Controversy, 2nd ed)

This edition of the play, “A Case Study in Critical Controversy,” is direct in its intention towards an undergraduate audience. In the preface, the editors clearly state their purpose in “closing the gap between literary critical discourse and student discourse” in a humanities education. They include basic biography and context of the play as well as over twenty essays seeking to help place the reader in context of the play’s literary critical discourse. Their intent is to enable undergraduate students to be better equipped to enter into the literary discussion, perhaps aimed towards humanities students in general, not just those specifically interested or already studying Shakespeare.

Measure for Measure, ed. Ivo Kamps and Karen Raber (Texts and Contexts)

The Bedford Shakespeare Series edition of Measure for Measure aims to make the context of the play clear to undergraduate students by providing them with material written about the same time as Shakespeare’s play. The editors state that they expect the students reading to come to their own conclusions using the materials provided. The edition begins with a brief introduction (about 15 pages long), followed by the play. The play is then followed by a second part entitled “Cultural Contexts.” This “Part Two” is divided into 4 chapters: “Governance”; “Marriage, Sex, and Society”; “The Underworld”; and “Geography and Religion”. Each of these chapters begin with a critical overview and are followed by contextual material.      This edition seems effective in its claim towards helping students think about the text. There is a lot of information, but the way the book is organized would make it easy for a professor to assign, or a student to go to, the information they are interested in. It would provide a useful starting point for papers where research is required and overall seems an appropriate text for its undergraduate audience.

Richard III, ed. Thomas Cartelli (Norton Critical Edition)

The Norton Critical Edition of Richard III is essentially geared toward an undergraduate audience. The main purpose of this edition is to provide the reader with as wide a scholarly view of the play as possible, while still remembering that its readership is still in the education process and would probably not describe themselves as professional “Shakespeare scholars.” Things that a Shakespeare scholar might know, but that the average undergraduate student probably would not, are well taught and explained. With the vast number of scholarly essays and articles taking up more than half of the entire book, the Norton would probably not be appropriate for an average audience only interested in the play itself, but would successfully aid an undergraduate student with their learning, a paper, etc.

Our Focus
As undergraduate students seeking to develop a greater understanding and connection with Shakespeare, we want to focus on developing an edition thats more accessible and beneficial for an undergraduate audience. Having dealt with different editions and taken classes that teach Shakespeare’s works, we want to create a edition that we would like to use in a college course.

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