Top Ten Tuesday: My Syllabus if I Taught ‘Shakespeare Modernizations’

toptentuesdayI’m very excited about this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) because it is a topic I’ve thought about a lot: what would be on my syllabus if I was a teacher. For years now I’ve told myself that if I ever taught a college class, it would be about Shakespeare adaptations because I love seeing those parallels between centuries-old plays and modern films (and now webseries!).

I’ve seen most of these modernizations, but I added a couple of new-to-me films because they really intrigued me. Ideally, if I was really teaching this class, we would read the play and then watch a modern adaptation of it.

Top Ten Adaptations on My Syllabus if I Taught ‘Shakespeare Modernizations’

The Lion KingThe Lion King (Hamlet) – The first Shakespeare adaptation I ever saw (also the first movie I ever saw in theaters)! The Lion King is a happy ending retelling of Hamlet, my favorite Shakespearean play, so I would definitely be including it. It would probably be the first assignment :)

10 Things I Hate About You10 Things I Hate About You (The Taming of the Shrew) – A 90s classic. I adore this retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. When I first heard it was a Shakespeare adaptation I went and read the play on my own and began comparing the two. I really enjoyed how they kept Kat fiesty throughout the entire movie.

She's The ManShe’s the Man (Twelfth Night) – The red lettering on the movie poster describes this movie perfectly. I love that the original confusion and pandemonium of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is maintained in this modern film retelling. Plus I think Amanda Bynes is perfect for this role.

muchadofilmMuch Ado About Nothing – I’ve talked about how much I loved this adaptation before, so it would definitely be on my syllabus! One thing we would discuss is how it’s modernized even though the script is word-for-word Shakespeare (with the exception of one word). This is also my favorite Shakespearean comedy!

nmtdNothing Much To Do (Much Ado About Nothing) – In the past few years, “literary inspired webseries” have become very popular and pronounced. The first one I ever watched was The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice where Lizzie is a communications grad student and Mr. Darcy is a young CEO of a media enterprise. Nothing Much To Do is a New Zealand based webseries that follows the lives of a group of high schoolers, namely Beatrice and Benedick who loathe each other. The first series was phenomenal, and for season 2 they are using the same characters to adapt Love’s Labour Lost, which I have not read yet but probably would before teaching this class :)

Romeo + JulietRomeo + Juliet – I would have to include Romeo and Juliet on the list, especially since there are so many different adaptations of it. The “forbidden love” theme alone has been repeated countless times. This 90s version of the play is one of my favorite adaptations, however, probably because it makes me as emotional as the play does. Plus it’s fun to study it as a film in itself.

MacbethShakespeaRe-told: Macbeth – Even though Macbeth is my least favorite Shakespearean work (that I’ve read), I would have to talk about it, because it is a great play (I just despise the main characters). About 10 years ago, the BBC released four Shakespeare adaptations in a series called ShakespeaRe-told. I’ve only seen the Macbeth adaptation and I remember it being gruesome (mostly because of “Macbeth’s” profession as a chef.

A Thousand AcresA Thousand Acres novel/film (King Lear) – The first of four adaptations on this mock-syllabus that I haven’t actually seen yet. King Lear was so incredibly sad to me that I’ve only read it once, but the story-line has always stuck with me so I would like to read/see A Thousand Acres one day. Side note: I realized while preparing this post that the relationships between King Lear and his daughters/his daughters with one another is mildly portrayed in Jane Austen’s Persuasion, with Anne Elliot representing Cordelia. That would also be fun to discuss!

The Black AdderThe Black Adder (MacbethRichard III, and Henry V) – I just discovered this TV series when I was researching for this post, but it has Rowan Atkinson and it received high reviews, so I think it would be an interesting addition to the syllabus.

OO (Othello) – Another film I haven’t yet seen! Othello is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies that has me face-palming over the characters’ blindness and stupidity instead of feeling sympathy for them. But it has plenty of good themes that I’m sure are relayed into this film as well. Plus, I love Julia Stiles :)

Alternative:

The Forbidden PlanetThe Forbidden Planet (The Tempest) – This movie just sounds so fun. A 1950s sci-fi version of The Tempest (another play I haven’t read yet). Maybe I would assign this as extra credit or something?

Do you know of any other Shakespeare adaptations I should add to this mock syllabus? Let me know! I love discussing The Bard and his endeavoring inspiration.

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Top Ten Tuesday Rewind: Literary Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In

toptentuesdayThe actual topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by the lovely ladies of The Broke and the Bookish Blog) is “Top Ten Things on My Bookish Bucketlist”, but I opted to choose a past topic instead: “Top Ten Worlds I’d Never Want To Live In”. This was actually a rather difficult post for me to write, because all of these worlds listed here are dark, gorey, and hopeless. But to cheer myself up I added a little surprise at the end ;)

Top Ten Literary Worlds I’d Never Want to Live In

panem

Panem (from The Hunger Games trilogy): 

For anyone who has read the books or seen the movies, this is a pretty obvious choice. In the futuristic dystopian world of Panem, children ages 11-18 are entered into a lottery each year, a lottery that chooses 12 boys and 12 girls who will be forced to fight to the death in a harsh arena. Only one child survives.
Besides the annual “Hunger Games”, there are also strict rules that the citizens have to live by day-to-day. Each district has its own “Peacekeepers” to terrorize and taunt the citizens into submission. When I first read these novels I was constantly on the edge; there was no “down time”. I was always feeling anxious and scared for everyone (so much so that I had a nightmare wherein Peeta and Katniss were being physically threatened by a pack of 20 Careers. This is how I knew I needed to read something happier…like Jane Austen. Now there’s a literary world I’d love to inhabit!). I love that the author, Suzanne Collins, was able to make me feel this way, but I love even more that I do not have to feel this way in real life! No Panem for me!

lordofthefliesThe Deserted Island (from The Lord of the Flies):

What a fascinating book, but what a messed up world. If this pig on a stick image doesn’t bother you, maybe you should imagine it talking to you while flies swarm disgustingly around its dead head. Yeah, this novel gave me the creeps in many ways, but the pig head could arguably be the least disturbing part for me. The group of savage boys was much scarier, especially after they started killing off the younger ones.
Technically, this deserted island isn’t some fantasy world, but a means by which to draw out the savagery that inhabits all of us. Scary thought, isn’t it?

oneflewoverthecuckoosnestThe Mental Hospital (from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

Unlike most of the other novels listed in this post, I did not enjoy reading (or watching) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It doesn’t help that it features Jack Nicholson (great actor, but there’s a reason he usually plays creepy roles), but I read the book first and I didn’t enjoy it either. I usually stay away from novels and movies involving mental heath issues as they don’t tend to sit well with me.
The scariest character in this “world” is the tyrannical Nurse Ratched (I mean, with that name you can’t be expecting someone like Princess Buttercup). Instead of trying to cure her patients’ illness, she uses them to maintain her power. She even tries to convince the non-insane protagonist that he is insane. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s obvious that it’s not a happy one (or else this novel wouldn’t be on my list).

wonderlandWonderland (from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

This magical world is most likely someplace that a lot of bookworms would love to visit. Not me. I recently read this novel for the first time, and I was greatly disappointed. I’ve always enjoyed the films, even though they are very bizarre, but the book drove me insane. Obviously Wonderland is a confusing place, but I was literally getting headaches from trying to follow along with Alice’s adventures. I don’t even want to imagine what that place would be like if it actually existed.

mostdangerousgameThe Jungle (from The Most Dangerous Game)

I guess this is technically a gothic short story? I’m not sure, but I did like reading it, despite the fact that the story follows a man who is unknowingly invited to another man’s private island so that he can be hunted. Not the happiest of tales, but–spoilers–it ends well. Still not the type of place I’d ever want to live in.

1984Airstrip One (from Nineteen Eighty-Four)

This is one of the first dystopian novels I ever read (I believe the very first one was The Giver), and this genre has definitely become one of my favorites despite the fact that I would never want to live in any of the dystopian worlds, like the setting of Nineteen Eighty-Four. Here free-thinking, individualism, and a sense of personality are forbidden as we are dominated by Big Brother. Obviously there are real places in this world that mirror this fictitious place, but I’ll let the conspiracy theorists argue about the extent to which it exists.

macbethAny place featured in Shakespeare’s tragedies (mainly the supernatural world of Macbeth)

Hamlet is not only my favorite Shakespearean work, it is also my favorite play, but between the ghosts and the insanity, it’s hard to find anything positive about the Prince of Denmark’s world. And Macbeth’s world is even worse. If it’s not the witches that tempt him with visions of power and success, it’s his wife, Lady Macbeth, who is essentially responsible for most of the deaths in the play.
And then there’s Romeo & Juliet, also known as the saddest story ever. I love Shakespearean tragedies (except Macbeth…I’d be fine never reading it again), but I’d never want to live in one, even as a minor character who is fortunate enough to stay alive.

waroftheworldsEarth under alien attack (from The War of the Worlds)

I’ve actually never read this novel (it is on my TBD list for this year, though!), but I’ve seen the Tom Cruise movie and that was enough to know I’d never want to experience a bloodthirsty alien attack. I highly doubt I’d survive something like that, and even if I did it still wouldn’t be enjoyable.

pillarsoftheearthKingsbridge (from The Pillars of the Earth)

I haven’t read this novel, but I did watch the miniseries and it was enough to convince me that I would not enjoy the book. Medieval England was not a happy place for anyone, not even for those in power, and certainly not for women. Despite the fact that I don’t enjoy this type of literature and that I’m extremely grateful that I don’t live in a medieval society, I actually do like one thing related to The Pillars of the Earth: it board game based on the sequel, World Without End. It is probably my favorite strategy game, ironically because you actually feel like you’re playing for your life. I know, I’m such a contradiction.

westerosWesteros (from A Song of Ice and Fire series)

Normally these lists aren’t actually in order, but in this case I can say that, without hesitation, I would rather live anywhere than Westeros. I tried reading this series after the Game of Thrones series became hugely popular, but I seriously regret every buying the books. So many graphic images and unforgettable horrors, especially involving women. I can’t fathom why anyone, if they could visit any fictitious world, would pick Westeros. And with that being said…

To cheer myself up, because it wasn’t pleasant coming up with this list, I am ending this post by sharing the one literary world I’d love to visit above all others:

avonleaAvonlea, Prince Edward Island (from the Anne of Green Gables series)

*sigh* Sometimes, I think I’d like to live in Edwardian eastern Canada permanently, and pretend to be imaginative Anne Shirley and take long walks down dirt roads and have picnics outside with my best friends every single weekend. The only competition with Anne Shirley’s world would be a Jane Austen world, but Anne, as a woman, has so many more opportunities at living an independent life and I think it would be too hard to have to rely on marriage in order to survive. Wow, I didn’t think this post would become so feminist before I wrote it ;)

So what are some fictional worlds you would never want to live in? Or, if you’re like me and would rather think about happy thoughts, if you could live in one book world, which one would it be?