Caesar Act 1 , Scenes 1 and 2 --Getting the Literal Meaning Down

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SWBAT paraphrase and objectively summarize Shakespeare's language by reading and commenting on Act 1, scenes 1 and 2 in Julius Caesar.

Big Idea

Before we launch into a rhetorical reading of Caesar and other texts, we will begin by getting familiar with Shakespeare's language

Entering the online text

5 minutes

Online Version.  We turn our attention to the play itself.  Students will be reading a free, online version on their chromebooks, and this is a first for me.  Already, I am curious how we will all scroll to the right place as there are no page or line numbers in the online text that we are using.  I am taking an experimental approach with this and for now plan them to copy and paste specific texts into a google "notes" page that they can then annotate in groups.  This will hopefully work well because we are not reading the entire play line-for-line but will be looking at key moments in the play in order to analyze the rhetorical flourishes of language used by characters in the play. 

Activating Prior Knowledge.  As we discuss the following questions, I will expect students to make comments in class with specific examples and thorough thinking (SL.9-10.1).  Look at this image of a charleton heston as antony (Marc Antony). Who do you think this is?  Why is he wearing a toga?  Why write about Rome and Greece back in Shakespeare's day?  How was this a part of the Renaissance in which he was writing?  What about today, do we see the influence of the Classical world on our society?  (RL.9-10.6).

Language.  What about reading Shakespeare?  What challenges does it pose to getting a basic summary of what's going on (RL.9-10.2)?  How have you done in the past with reading Shakespeare? 


Large Group: Reading Act 1, Scene 1

30 minutes


Reading Caesar, Act 1, scene 1 (1.1).  We will begin by reading the language of the opening scene because it is NOT about Caesar directly (at least on stage) or Brutus or Marc Antony.  In any case, I plan to read the text out loud with them in a large group, offering my own paraphrasing and then soliciting volunteers to identify familiar words and phrases so that we can build a paraphrase and objectively summarize using textual evidence together (RL.9-10.1 and RL.9-10.2).  This ability will be basic to getting the gist of the language and then allowing us a platform to build character inference (i.e. Why are Marillius and Flavius discouraging their revelry? What does it say about their characters? RL.9-10.3), thematic analysis (What types of loyalty do you see at work here?  RL.9-10.2) As well as some beginning work on the rhetorical choices evident in the speaker's choices (RI.9-10.6)--but most of that will come later.




5 minutes

At the close of class, I will ask students some processing questions in order to get some formative feedback about how the students are processing the literal level of the text.  I expect the students to respond with examples and specific ideas and evidence (SL.9-10.1):

- What do you think of re-acquainting yourself with Shakespeare's language?

- What do you think will happen next in the story? 

- What is a conspiracy theory? What is a conspiracy?  How might a group of conspirators be motivated to get involved in this story?