Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Our Vision: Educated Accessibility

Work: Macbeth
Audience: High School Seniors/College Freshman


1. Being as our edition will be oriented towards high school senior/college freshmen, the footnotes in our edition will largely be intended for the clarification of archaic or out-of-usage terms. The etymology is not our concern, but rather the meaning; for example we will assume that our audience has a basic knowledge of the Greek and Roman pantheons and will not waste footnote space on explaining that Venus is the goddess of love and that anything that appears in conjunction with her is likely to denote such a subject. We will explicate such terms as one would not commonly see today, such a “caitiff” or “puissance”, or terms that have changed in their meaning since the first printing or have different meanings within the text. The aim is to create an edition that does not overwhelm the reader with footnotes, but still provides clarification necessary to the greater enjoyment and comprehension of the text.

2. Because our audience is just getting introduced to Macbeth as high school seniors/college freshmen, we have decided to focus any “extra” materials on the text itself. We want these materials to help the reader better understand and comprehend the plot, characters, and themes in the play. We do not want our extra materials to be overly complex or to veer off into subjects that our readers would find confusing or irrelevant. So, while an essay on the character of Macbeth would be totally appropriate, an essay on the different ways Macbeth has been staged (with reviews of several actors who have played Macbeth) would not be. We want our edition to be friendly to new readers and to give readers enough information to become interested, but not overwhelmed.

3. People in our intended audience often go to websites such as Sparknotes for help with reading Shakespeare. We want our edition to be like a sophisticated Sparknotes: an academic edition that students can read to understand Shakespeare at a basic, but still intelligent, level. We want to use our edition to explain plot, characters, themes, symbols, motifs, etc. These are the main things that we believe our audience will be able to and want to understand this early in their Shakespeare knowledge. Our edition will be a sort of Sparknotes that students can reference in a formal academic paper.

4. All three of the above points are there for one main reason: accessibility. Accessibility is our main goal for this edition. While reading editions intended for more experienced audiences in this class, we realized that many editions had things that even we, as English majors, had trouble understanding or felt were unnecessary. However, other editions seemed as though they were written for people far, far below our level. We want create an edition for the middle point in Shakespeare knowledge. We want this edition to be something that people can pick up and read with no fear; an edition that students can use to more easily learn a lot about a Shakespeare play.

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