Ludacris channels Othello? Justin Timberlake in conversation with Desdemona? Bob Marley meets the characters of Twelfth Night? It all happened last week in my English classes, and students made it work.
I got the concept of mashed-up literature from Chris Shamburg, who has developed the idea and shared it with many teachers. Chris keeps his students at the center of every lesson, letting them be “simultaneous consumers and creators” of media and Shakespeare.
Here it is:
Students picked a character, theme, or a scene from one of the Shakespeare plays that they have been studying, and then they found a song from their own music library that had lyrics that related to the segment they chose.
On their blogs, students posted the lines that they selected from Shakespeare alongside the lyrics of the song that they were using. Then they mashed the two together. I found that:
- Students chose their own texts, both from Shakespeare and from pop culture — So they tended to pick things that resonated with them.
- Students demonstrated understanding of the excerpts of the play that they selected.
- It was fun.
Here are some links:
Desdemona meets replies by Rhiana (taking Othello’s point of view).
The more I do this kind of assignments with my students, the more I understand that the only way for students to understand engage with literature and language is to work with it themselves. In order to GET Shakespeare, students have to DO Shakespeare.