December 2012 Archives

Megan Burns Final Blog Entry

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We did it! I thought the presentation went well and I was proud of us as a group. I think we definitely ran into the problem of too much information that we didn't know how to properly communicate it all. I also feel like my part was not as integral as I might have hoped but that's ok, it may have been something of a tangent but I enjoyed the researching of it. I feel like it's hard to keep these presentations engaging and informative. Some of the ones that were interactive I didn't get any information from, and the ones that were informative I sometimes got bored and zoned out. I liked people's projects who could integrate their process into their presentation in a compelling way, and I just loved the Clinton story. I thought this was an incredibly useful experience in terms of learning how to do research and I will continue to use the skills I've acquired from this process.

Katie O'Neill Final Blog

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Well. That was fun. All the research we did, we finally got to present to the class. If nothing else, this project made me exponentially more interested in Elizabethan Theater. It also drowned me in the abundance of information that is out there about Christopher Marlowe. I think the biggest obstacle we overcame was narrowing our project down to one person, one theme, and one play.
During our presentation, I know that I got a little nervous and did not look at the audience enough (terrible public speaking, also weird as a theater major), but I was so focused on spewing out the information and coherently as I could because there was so much we had to get through. What I liked about other groups that we didn't do as much is that some other groups would have group members chime in while other groupers are speaking. I feel like that made it appear as more of a group project than 5 people talking consecutively about the same topic for 4 minutes.
We weren't able to fit all the information we prepared into 20 minutes, but we did a darn good job in my opinion. There is SO MUCH information surrounding Christopher Marlowe, Dr. Faustus, and Marlowe's religion. Fitting as much information as we did into 20 minutes and making it coherent was a feat in my opinion.
I love that the Roman Spectacle group did a performance as opposed to just a presentation. They also incorporated pop culture in a way that was engaging for the audience by putting in the movie clip. I don't think my group would have been able to do any sort of performance though, a presentation fit our project well.
I am happy and sad that it is over, I loved working with my group. We all had fun together and learned so much as a group. However, I am happy that we got to show all of our research to the class and get the project out there for all to see. In the future, I think either narrowing down the topics or helping us narrow down our topics would help a ton. either that or giving us more time to talk.

Suzi Gard's Final Entry

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Way to go, Team Marlowe. I feel pretty happy with our presentation today. We kept ourselves adequately time-organized and I felt our delivery was lively and engaging. We served up a hot stew of fascinating info on Christopher Marlowe, the Most Interesting Man in the World. I feel like the audience's interest may have been piqued by this peek at his mysterious life. I hope that after finals are over, they may take a look at this interesting figure in dramatic history. There is so much conjecture out there about his life! Because there was so much information to cover and so many ingredients in our stew, I worry our presentation may have appeared scattered. After the fact, I'm a tad concerned that our order of presenting may not have been the most traceable for the audience to follow.

As far as my own segment of the presentation goes, I feel quite content with myself for speaking clearly and without stumbling over my words, which is one thing that tends to cause me anxiety. I hit my main bullet marks and provided the basic information that the audience needed to understand my point in including so much information on Edmund Tilney and his position as the Master of Revels in relation to Christopher Marlowe. I wished that I had had more time to explain the details surrounding Tilney as the Master of Revels. I didin't expect time to fly the way that it did in our rehearsal and final presentation. I had prepared so much more information to better explain Marlowe's situation with Tilney, and I'm afraid I didn't include all of the details vocally since I ended up mostly disregarding my notecards during the presentation due to pressure of time constraints.

In retrospect, I feel like we may have just swamped our audience with too much information. There was so much available information on this time in history, on our chosen dramatist, and on his work. Also, so much of the information varied depending on which source one chose to read. JSTOR was packed with contrasting opinions, lenses, and accounts of the past that we felt we needed to acknowledge how vastly different peoples' responses to Marlowe were. This proved to be waaay too much to cover in twenty minutes.
I think our group may have benefitted by perhaps forming a more concise thesis before searching through sources to find supporting material. We reached a point in our research where everyone had great articles that we could all use to provide information, but after reading and collecting all our data, we needed to regroup and figure out how we were going to fit it all together. Because of this, we struggled over a thesis for awhile. So, lesson learned: when you have a subject that popular and is widely documented through numerous opinionated sources, it becomes even more important to narrow the scope to choose an extremely specific thesis.

Inversely, I felt the pre-1750s Russian Theatre group dealt with their overwhelming lack of available information quite gracefully. I liked seeing how transparent they were about their process of searching and their frustration in coming up short. They presented their "hole" well. However, from what they explained about their search, I don't feel that they fully exhausted their resources. I don't recall a mention of a trip to a physical library or perhaps the Russian Museum of Art here in Minneapolis. These may have provided a clue to point them in a more fruitful direction.

I totally dug the second group's perspective on Chicano Theatre as a resistance to colonialism from Cortes to Clinton. I thought it was quite poignant to tie the past to the present by including the clip of traditional indigenous ceremonial dances being performed as a public event and as an event on youtube. This act of holding onto their tradition is in and of itself a resistance to the influence of colonialism.

Okay, Roman Spectacle. I was delighted by how they captured the spirit of the spectacle by making the presentation itself a spectacle, and also in rousing the audience, asking them to participate as audiences would at gladiatorial events. It was fast-paced, energized, and a blur of confusing gore and instructions to delight in them. While their intention was fascinating, I feel that a deeper, more disturbing message about Roman Spectacle as a mechanism of mass control could have been unlocked and driven home if they had chosen to commit to their act sincerely, rather than "playing at" it for laughs. Also, I think that we could have benefited from having a working definition of what qualifies as "theatre" instead of just comparing Roman Spectacle to Greek Comedy/Tragedy to determine its validity.

To sum it all up, I'm happy with our group and the work that we pulled out at the end, yet because of our missteps I have learned a valuable lesson on the research process. I have a final research paper in my GWSS class, and honing my specific thesis on my topic will help me know exactly what I am looking for in my heavily documented search. There is another element of my GWSS research that is hardly documented by a peer reviewed source, and to learn from Russian Theatre, I know I can investigate the hole in the documentation.

Emily Kolb Final Blog Entry

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Okay, so that was fun. As a final reflection, the most stand out thing is everything we didn't do. All the things we didn't research, and didn't dig into. And of course that's it, there is so much more to be found and looked at. I was having a moment of regret recently regarding the project- I was thinking of other ways we could have looked at it that would have been more engaging, interesting, new information- but it was all stuff I came across so late in the process that it was a dead end (for this event). Like this Francis Spira guy- this archetype of despair in Elizabethan-era Europe, we could have done a fascinating presentation about him and how he relates to Marlowe or Faustus. Or we could have dug into the differences of the A and B texts (considering how much scholarly discussion there was about the differences, it's crazy how little they came up in our presentation.) OR we could've compared Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and Goethe's Faust to see what the contrasts of the two revealed about Marlowe's society. And that's just looking at this playwright and play! So of course those feelings are almost inevitable. What I kept coming across in the journey of this process was the need for reduction, simplification, trimming. It was hard. I feel like I said nothing in my four minutes but I know I have to be satisfied with the information we put across.

So that being said, considering what we did choose and then how we went about it- I wonder if our presentation was overwhelming. I think we may have benefitted by putting together the actual presentation in a more collaborative way. I think perhaps the through-line of the theme of our argument may have been lost, that each piece seemed its own entity and thereby the audience didn't really get the point. This was not helped by the fact that we struggled very much with the time-limit, especially in the final hour. There was no time for transitions, which may have helped to clarify and highlight the ways in which we did collaborate, that we were thinking along the same lines.
I thought each of our pieces of the presentation we great, I just wonder if the whole thing looked the way we intended it to, the way we discussed. Personally, for my bit, I was happy with it. I thought I did a fair job of reducing and cutting- though I wonder again if it mightnt've been overwhelming- too much information in too little time.

Now for the other groups, I thought this batch was awesome. But it's also kind of hard to compare what we did to the other groups, each focus was so different. I really really loved the Mexican theatre presentation and was super engaged because of how they framed the presentation- putting it in the lens of the Chicano movement, and then that fascinating stuff about the Clintons, and then comparing those events to the conquering of Mexico by Spain? Awesome, and very helpful to my comprehending what they were talking about. I don't know if I would have cared if they hadn't brought it to modern day, but now I genuinely want to look into their subject.

The Russian theatre one was very different from ours as well- we didn't have a hole in our research, we had the opposite. I did think it was great how they dealt with that problem. And I appreciated that they walked us through their struggles with the research. I wonder how we might have been able to reveal more of our obstacles in our presentation, because that too was helpful to understand the subject and how to learn about it.

And then the Roman spectacle presentation. I definitely appreciated that they did something different, their presentation was fun and funny. But I did find myself wanting more of the information that they gave in the conclusion of the presentation- what does spectacle mean? How is it theatre? How isn't it? But at the same time, if their job was to get me intrigued, they succeeded. I definitely want to look at their sources and get more of that information that they started to get into in the end. But again, it was nice to have something other than another lecture and they did get my gears going.

So there's that. Honestly, I learned a LOT working on this project, and a lot of the frustrations I had were that so much of what I learned is still in my brain. One of the best things its done for me is its gotten me to start using the online library- a resource I didn't touch last year. Now, when I'm curious about something- I'll turn to it instead of wikipedia. So that's nice. And I feel very much not done looking at this text. I think it's a fascinating work and I want to dig further. So all in all, I had a great time working on this project and definitely feel like I've grown a lot in the process.

So here we are at the conclusion of this project. It has been quite the journey getting here; I am astounded at how far we have come and how we actually pulled this one off. I learned a lot about presentations, group dynamics, and of course theatre history through this process and I am grateful that I was able to participate in such a spectacle of knowledge and awesomeness.

The other groups presentations were rather phenomenal. I quite enjoyed each and every one of them. They took bold risks and made excellent choices that made their presentations so great. For example, what I really liked about the Russian Theatre presentation was how they embraced their struggles and ran with it. I think this is a valuable life lesson that can carry over into more than just a class presentation. Sometimes, history can be a little foggy, but the fog is part of the rich tapestry that is the history (or lack thereof) of the world. It was really engaging to hear about their process of research. Perhaps this is something my group could have touched upon more, if only we had the time. I will probably peruse other groups' blogs over finals week to learn about the processes of research for the others and see how we were all alike and different. What struggles did they face? Did we face any similar struggles? I'll bet that we are not all that different.

I loved the Ancient Roman Spectacle presentation because it was most engaging. It was an excellent synthesis of factual, informative teaching and exciting demonstration. It worked really well. Theirs was the perfect topic for such a performance. I would have loved to have seen what that group could have done if they were given an entire two-hour class period! It makes me wonder what my group could have done had we more seriously considered taking an approach such as this. Performance ideas were tossed around, but a straight-up lecture was declared most likely most effective, so we ran with it.

I also loved the modern contextualization of the Aztec/Mexican group. It was fascinating to hear about ancient history as it relates to the modern day - and as it lives on in the modern world. The social commentary that was pointed out was very intriguing. Isn't it interesting how no matter how different cultures may be, they always share something in common? (Such as, a snarky sense of humor and mild malice.)

I sat in the front row during this, so I could hear everything just fine, but I was worried that some more soft spoken presenters may not have been audible in the back. This is one improvement that could have been made to the presentations. The Spectacle piece was almost too rowdy and repetitive when it came to the demonstrations that ran around the room, but at least they went too interesting instead of not interesting enough.

As for our group, I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of our hard work. We worked very well together and each person was on top of her game. I wish we could have flowed a bit more seamlessly together, and I wish we would have been able to create more unity between our topics. It seemed like we were a bunch of separate, yet related presentations placed into one. How could we have made our presentation more united, more one? If only we had more time to work on this and more time to make sure we were a flawless, seamless machine. I think it was so much panicking and researching and narrowing down information and getting stuff done in time that tripped us up. Imagine if we had weeks to create this and time enough to do a full class period...We could make quite the interesting presentation, I'm sure.

Other than that, though, we were within the time limit, we were engaging, and we were very informative.

My performance personally was good enough for me. I feel like my liveliness and engagement with the material was very good. Perhaps I could have spoken more clearly and cut some of the unnecessary nonsense, but I guess this is what comes of nerves. I would imagine that some audience members would think me unorganized and too spontaneous, so perhaps I could have made my preparation and hard work more evident. Otherwise, though, I am fully satisfied with my performance, as well as the group's as a whole. The Prezi presentation I made was eye-catching and exciting, so I feel like that definitely worked in our favor.

It was an interesting process. I wish we had had more time to share our research process and struggles with the class. We had so much information and so little time. Perhaps we could have cut more information, and yet...with a man so interesting as Marlowe, how could we possibly cut all the fascinating knowledge we have to share? We could have explained Doctor Faustus more, as well. Now I am beginning to ramble...

We worked excellently as a team through every step of the process. We came to agreements upon decisions as a group, with no voice being silenced. We all contributed an equal amount to the process and never once was any one of us late or unreliable as a group member. It truly was one of the better group project experiences of my life. We somehow managed to narrow an astoundingly huge plethora of fascinating information about Mr. Marlowe into a concise, pointed, and intelligent presentation.

I am very proud of what we have done.

Johnson, Francis R. Marlowe's Astronomy and Renaissance Skepticism.ELH , Vol. 13, No. 4 (Dec., 1946), pp. 241-254

This article dealt with the way that astronomy is portrayed in Dr. Faustus and how that compares to conventional ideas of astrology/astronomy of the time. It begins talking about what Marlowe himself would have been exposed to, and goes on to discuss the ways he differed from Ptolemy in his ideas. Then it talks about the ideas of Ricius and Fine, whom Marlowe would have gotten a lot of his ideas pertaining to the universe from.

Katie O'Neill Blog 4

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After seeing the presentations on Tuesday, I feel like the groups did better keeping track of time and not being as flustered in front of the class. Honestly, I feel so bad critiquing the presentations of other groups because at this point, I have no idea what is going to happen when I get up in front of the class. Karma could come back and bite me for saying all these critiques of other people. But, what I picked up from the group presentations Tuesday was this: don't fidget, don't keep looking at Will for time (its distracting), re-stating the argument is a good idea at the end, opening with a funny quote catches the audience's attention well, a brief synopsis of the play is always helpful, the diagrams were nice too, having a timer with you is a great idea, and if your play has cool-but-really-hard-to-pronounce-names, just try and pronounce them. It's awesome for the audience.
I was so interested in Bourgeois Drama. French history is incredibly interesting to me, so this is something that I definitely will look back into once I have more time. (finals..killer). This group talked about the period right before the french revolution and then dipped into the revolution a little bit, which I loved. They also put that awesome Brecht quote at the end.
Reading and listening to the pronunciations of the names in the Gryphius group was so awesome.

Campbell, Lily B. "Doctor Faustus: A Case of Conscience." Modern Language Association. 67.2 (1952): 219-239. JSTOR. Web.

Campbell suggests Doctor Faustus to be a sort of morality play warning against the sin of despair. She suggests that the audience doesn't Faust's sin as being obvious (in contrast to Goethe's interpretation of the legend, wherein Faust seduces a young maiden, Gretchen). Campbell suggests that Faust's sin is two-fold, with the later being of greater importance but needing the first. His first sin is selling his soul to the devil, this sin leads him to his second, but more dangerous sin, that of thinking he is beyond salvation: Despair. In this way, Faust exemplifies a kind of Rennaisance Humanism that centers around man instead of God, making man self-sufficient.

The author posits that we more background to see just how clear this theme of despair is. This understanding requires an understanding of justification by faith (that is, forgiveness for all sins by faith in God alone) as opposed to the Catholic doctrine which holds justification through works and avoiding grave sin. She suggests Marlowe's expression of the Faust legend as clearly analogous to a real-life case of conscience that theologians would have been discussing at the time, and Marlowe surely would have been taught about in his religious education: that of Francis Spira. Spira denounced his Protestant faith for fear of Catholic oppression. This denial brought about a struggle of conscience which is similar to Marlowe's Doctor Faustus', most interestingly in Spira exclaiming he could tolerate hell if he had some hope for its end, an exclamation echoed by Faustus. Spira became a sort of archetype of the man in despair at the time, and Marlowe would have known this. Campbell suggests that the similarities between Faustus and Spira are deliberate, and that this certainly suggests that Marlowe was writing a play expressing the consequences of despair.

Katie O'Neill Blog 3

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For our presentation, I am going to open with talking about Marlowe's life and his religious upbringing. We refer a lot to his turning away from his religion in the presentation so we figured it would make sense for somebody to mention what this religion was. Also, We shouldn't just dive right into analyzing Dr. Faustus without giving the class some background info on Marlowe. I am going to specifically mention his family's religion and how he went to primary school that emphasized the teachings of the church of England and then went to college on a scholarship from a member of the church. His life seemed entirely driven by religion until he wrote that letter to the privy council questioning the bible and religion as a whole. What made him change his mind/ways? Or was he always skeptical of religion and continued to learn about it to strengthen his arguments?

In regards to watching other's presentations, I found a lot of good ideas to use in our presentation. They are as follows: try not to look at note cards (it is distracting to the audience), my presentation needs pictures or engaging aspects (prezi), empty spaces with no talking are awkward for everyone, but also, when the whole group is trying to chime in, it gets awkward. Find the happy medium. When you stand in front of the class and look bored, we're bored. Be engaging. Use your hands when you talk. Don't give too much history without getting to the main point. TALK LOUDLY. While it is a good idea for the whole group to continually contribute, (I think this is so much more engaging, it's like watching a discussion rather than being lectured at) it will make you lose track of time very fast. Talking during a video worked once, but not the second time. If we're going to do that, watch video volume. Making the class read a slide out loud encourages audience interaction.

Megan Burns Entry #3

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Just a reflection on how I feel going into the presentation, and how the projects went so far. I feel like our group has a really strong argument, and strong research to back it up, it's now just a matter of synthesizing all of what we've done. I think one area where some of the projects suffered was to much information about things that didn't support the argument. A lot of groups didn't get to their argument until the last few minutes of the presentation and hopefully we will be able to keep our argument the focus of what we're doing. I feel good about the work our group's done, we just have to bring it all together now.

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