Shakespeare in the Original Pronunciation

Paul Meier, a theater professor at the University of Kansas, had his students this semester stage the first-ever American rendition of a Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in its original pronunciation.

According to The History Blog, there have only been “three other productions of original pronunciation (OP) Shakespeare before this one, 2 at The Globe theater in London, and 1 at Cambridge in the 1950s.”

The students worked with David Crystal, a linguist and the author of Pronouncing Shakespeare: The Globe Experiment. Crystal worked on a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Globe Theater in London.

You can listen to audio from the Globe performance and watch some video from the student production at KU.

Community College Poetry Project

Poet Laureate Kay Ryan announced the Community College Poetry Project, a national poetry project that embraces community colleges through an online poetry page "Poetry for the Mind's Joy" and a poetry-writing contest. (video at the Library of Congress site)

The project, in conjunction with the Community College Humanities Association, also designates April 1 as National Poetry Day on Community College Campuses.

Kay Ryan attended community college at Antelope Valley College in California and, until recently, taught remedial English for more than 30 years at community colleges around her home in Marin County.

"I simply want to celebrate the fact that right near your home, year in and year out, a community college is quietly—and with very little financial encouragement—saving lives and minds," said Ryan. "I can’t think of a more efficient, hopeful or egalitarian machine, with the possible exception of the bicycle."

Ryan added, "It is at a community college that a student can progress all the way from learning to read to learning to read poetry. That is, she can get the basic tools she must have to advance in the world and then go on and use them for the mind’s joy. This is a progression that improves both the student and her community every step
of the way."

Universal Authorship

Nearly universal literacy is a defining characteristic of today’s modern civilization. Nearly universal authorship will shape tomorrow's.

Nearly everyone reads. Soon, nearly everyone will publish.

Before 1455, books were handwritten, and it took a scribe a year to produce a Bible. Today, it takes only a minute to send a tweet or update a blog.

Rates of authorship are increasing by historic orders of magnitude.

Nearly universal authorship, like universal literacy before it, stands to reshape society by hastening the flow of information and making individuals more influential.
These are thoughts that come from both a research report and analysis from Seed magazine's "A Writing Revolution."  I discovered it on blogs like one by The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan whose post reposted the chart below:

chart via SEED

In that Seed article, they say:
By 2000, there were 1 million book authors per year. One million authors is a lot, but they are only a tiny fraction, 0.01 percent, of the nearly 7 billion people on Earth. Since 1400, book authorship has grown nearly tenfold in each century. Currently, authorship, including books and new media, is growing nearly tenfold each year. That’s 100 times faster. Authors, once a select minority, will soon be a majority.
What does it mean to be a "published author" in this digital world they are describing?
In our analysis, we considered an author’s text “published” if 100 or more people read it. (Reaching 100 people may seem inconsequential, but new-media messages are often re-broadcast by recipients, and then by their recipients, and so on. In this way, a message can “go viral,” reaching millions.)
Do I agree with their analysis? Yes and No. Like Nick Carbone, I question the leap in their example of United Airlines refusing to reimburse a musician for damaging his guitar, and that customer subsequently posting a song online called "United Breaks Guitars” as being the reason that "United’s stock dropped 10 percent."

This blogger also is not totally convinced. Maybe someone needs to examine their sources and methodology.

But, in general, I am with Seed on the idea of a radically changing authorship model that gives a much larger number of people the means to become published authors and actually have a readership that lends some authority to their writing.

National Day On Writing Is Today

Writing is a daily practice for millions of Americans, but few notice how integral writing has become to daily life in the 21st century.  To draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in, and help make writers from all walks of life aware of their craft, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) created a National Day on Writing. On October 8 the Senate passed a resolution declaring October 20, 2009, the National Day on Writing. 

Today, a gallery of submitted works will be opened up for everyone to view a wide variety of pieces.  Groups will also be celebrating the day across the country.

Young people today write more than any generation before them

Yeah, I figured that title might get your attention (or the attention of a search query). Young people today write more than any generation before them. Not something you hear from educators much these days.

Kids today can't write. Right? I think that has been said a lot over the years and over the centuries. The culprit the past 50 years has probably been technology. Movies, TV, videogames, the Internet. Twitter tweets, Facebook status posts, blogs, PowerPoint bullets, text messages.

Not according to Andrea Lunsford, professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University. She organized the Stanford Study of Writing to look at college students' prose.

The study looked at about 15,000 student writing samples - in-class writing, formal essays, journal entries, emails, blog posts, and chat sessions.

And what did she find?   "I think we're in the midst of a literacy revolution the likes of which we haven't seen since Greek civilization."

Technology is reviving writing, not killing it. How? Literacy in new directions.

One thing she found was that young people today write more than early generations because they do all that socializing online and most of that involves writing text. Of all the writing that the Stanford students did, a stunning 38 percent of it took place out of the classroom?life writing, as Lunsford calls it.

Okay, she hasn't convinced you.

How about this? Pre-Internet, the claim is that most writing that occurred was because of a school assignment or as part of a job. The Stanford Study students were very adept at kairos.
kairos: The opportune occasion for speech. The term kairos has a rich and varied history, but generally refers to the way a given context for communication both calls for and constrains one's speech. Thus, sensitive to kairos, a speaker or writer takes into account the contingencies of a given place and time, and considers the opportunities within this specific context for words to be effective and appropriate to that moment. As such, this concept is tightly linked to considerations of audience (the most significant variable in a communicative context) and to decorum (the principle of apt speech).
Do you agree? Are your students good at assessing audience and adapting their tone and technique to best get their point across? Clive Thompson writing for Wired agrees with the study.
We think of writing as either good or bad. What today's young people know is that knowing who you're writing for and why you're writing might be the most crucial factor of all.
Check out the study at Then you can post your comments here. Or email Professor Lunsford.