Twelfth Night Teacher Guide

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, or What You Will, the story of a brother and sister, is an interesting blend of the sadness, romance, farcical comedy, gentle sarcasm, and irony. This guide to the play provides an act-by-act summary and activities to use while teaching the play in your classroom.
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Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

The following activities should help students get into the mood for the play by looking at the plays they enjoy on television and in movies. Since the play was meant to be seen, not read and studied, looking at it as the script for a TV romantic comedy and trying to figure out how it might be adapted to TV will probably make sense to many students. So, adapting it - and that could mean cutting out some of the slower moving scenes - is an approach that can involve and intrigue students in a creative way.

These activities should also prepare students to make connections between the various sources of humor in Twelfth Night, the light romantic humor and the more sarcastic humor, and the television shows they laugh at every day. The activities also might help them look at their world, if not critically, at least more objectively.

1. Ask students to take notes on an episode of their favorite TV comedy, marking especially places where they - and their friends, if they were watching it in company - laughed a lot. In class in small groups, ask them to make a list of especially funny parts and then try to figure out why they were laughing. Have the groups share the funniest episodes and the reasons why they thought they were funny. Look at the results and ask, "So what makes something funny?" As there is surely no one right answer, anything from the sentimental to the cruel should be allowed to stand. One question that should be explored is, "Can you care about people you're laughing at?"

2. Ask students, "What causes people to fall in love?" Suggest that they think about people they know, characters in TV programs, movies, and stories as well as their own experiences - if they want to include the personal - and try to write down at least three different reasons why people fall in love. Then have them make a list of the reasons for falling in love and put the most frequently mentioned each on a sheet of paper and post the sheets around the room. Next ask the students individually to put a number on how long it took in each of the cases for the people involved to fall in love and put those numbers on the sheet under the appropriate cause. Then ask, "How long does it take to fall in love?" Again, there's no right answer, of course.

At this point, give students copies of the Duke's first commentary on love - "If music be the food of love, play on," etc. (p. 3), perhaps written out as an essay rather than laid out on the page as a poem, and ask them what they think of it as something someone wrote when asked about LOVE. Corny? Well, that may not be too far from the reactions of some members of the audience and who knows what the Bard meant it to be.

3. If students can handle the question, ask them to consider why people make fun of other people? Have some examples - the comic strips are a good source as are incidents you've heard in school or that have happened to friends - in hand. Then ask them to write a scene in which someone makes fun of someone else in an especially nasty way. Share the results. Then ask them to consider the emotions of the person on the receiving end and ask, "When is it OK to make fun of someone else?" and "How far is it OK to go?"

4. If these activities are too analytic for the students who are about to study Twelfth Night, follow up Activity One by playing in class one of the funny episodes identified by a number of students and asking them, "Well, what did you think? Was it funny? If you thought so, why?"

5. Twelfth Night follows a fairly conventional pattern in effect for drama in Shakespeare's time and for several centuries thereafter. It has five acts and a number of scenes in each act. The characters are introduced at the beginning of the play, and the comic action begins. Through the next couple of acts the comic action becomes more involved (similar to the rising action of a tragedy), and then in the last act all the mess that has been created earlier is suddenly worked out. There are also commentaries by an observer (here Feste), misunderstandings that led to conflict, and so forth. Again, students can prepare themselves for dealing with these conventions by looking at the romantic comedies they watch on TV or in the movies. And, again, the conventions of plays like Twelfth Night are remarkably similar to the conventions of those TV programs and movies. To prepare students for reading the play, a look at how TV sitcoms are structured can give them a pattern that will be familiar to follow.

6. The text of the play contains a "Cast of Characters," as do most popular TV programs and movies. A discussion of each of the characters with a limited amount of information about each provided in contemporary terms by the teacher may be helpful. For example, the Duke of Illira is a really rich guy who wants to fall in love and has picked a woman who doesn't care for him or want to fall in love with anyone. So, who might play the part? The eventual cast (or casts) of actors from the popular media might be blown up to poster size and mounted on a board for future reference. Changes in casting aren't unusual in TV or the movies, and they certainly should be made as the producers (students) move through the production.

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

The activities suggested during the reading of the play are intended to be carried out as preliminary to decisions about how the play might be dealt with as a modern movie or TV romantic comedy. Therefore, for example, students who are speaking lines from the play or carrying out the actions of characters should see what they are doing as if deciding what's being said and done and how it fits into the idea of a modern counterpart, rather than trying to become trained Shakespearean actors.

1. Consider the title. What can Twelfth Night mean? Many, perhaps most, students won't know about the Feast of the Epiphany, but they certainly will have heard the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Knowing that twelfth night is the last of the days of the song probably won't help them much, so they'll have to be told that in earlier times twelfth night was a time of wild celebration. Comparing it to Mardi Gras should help.

The subtitle What You Will has provoked much speculation. Ask students to consider when they might say, "What you will." One possible meaning is similar to the currently popular "whatever," which seems to mean "I don't care" or "it doesn't matter," that is, a kind of dismissal.

Scholars have suggested that it is tied to the concept of the will as in willpower, willful, willing, etc. Ask students to look for as many words as possible that contain the prefix "will." From their list, ask them to think about the various meanings of "will" and hold those meanings in mind as they read the play.

2. As is suggested in a number of the works in the Bibliography, a play is a play; that is, a play is meant to be performed, its words meant to be spoken, not read silently. Gibson, in his excellent book Teaching Shakespeare, points out, "Shakespeare was essentially a man of theatre who intended his words to be spoken and acted out on stage. It is in that context of dramatic realization that the plays are most appropriately understood and experienced. The consequence for teaching is clear: treat the plays as plays, for imaginative enactment in all kinds of ways" (p. xii). Consequently, producing the play should be the goal of the class activities. Students should consider each scene in terms of how it should be spoken and what physical actions should accompany it. To determine how the lines should be delivered, students should consider what tones and actions they might use if they were saying a modern version of the words: loud, quiet, angry, loving, upset, shocked, etc. They should attempt to use those same intonations when reading Shakespeare's lines. These activities can be done in pairs or small groups. Students should never be asked to read passages that they have not had the opportunity to prepare.

3. Expecting students both to speak lines and carry out the physical actions that go with them is often to expect too much. One technique that has been successful in producing a play is to give each role to two students, one to speak the lines and the other to perform the actions of the character. Scenes that would work well for this approach might be:

Act I: scene iii, scene iv, scene v
Act II: scene iii, scene v
Act III: scene iv
Act V: scene i.

4. The events of the play, while not earth-shattering or tragic, are fairly complex. Directors of TV programs and movies have chronologies that track the action of what they are directing. One group of students might be asked to serve as recorders of the action. As the play progresses, they are responsible for recording what has happened - somewhat as the Overview earlier in the guide has done. At the start of each day's rehearsal, they review the action of the previous day, as they might for the cast and support staff for a TV show. Then the next act/scene is rehearsed.

5. Characters are very important in all drama, and the characters of Twelfth Night make the play by their foolish actions, the love they feel for each other, their romantic dreams, and their relations to each other. One way a director can track the episodes of the play is to assign one or more staff members to teams to record what a single character said and did and a description of that character's mood, feelings, relations to other characters. These reports can be shared with the entire class each day as they would be with the cast and support staff of a production.

6. The names of the characters in the play carry a great deal of meaning. Students can consider the following question: What would you think of a person named like these?

Sir Toby Belch - perhaps vulgar, disgusting
Sir Andrew Aguecheek - after looking up "ague" perhaps weak, sickly, twitchy
Malvolio - with a bit of help with "volio" perhaps someone who wishes evil or finds evil because he wishes to
Feste - perhaps festive, causing a festival, lively and ready for a party

Then students can look for similarly suitable names for the other characters: Sebastian = Braveheart, or Olivia = Aloofisha. They can surely find better examples. Then they can examine names in the TV programs they've been using as reference points and see if any of the names fit the characters in the same way.

7. To help students visualize the characters, once they have been introduced by the end of Act I, they can look for magazine pictures that seem close to representing each of the characters as they see them. The collection of pictures of each character can be gathered together and secured to large sheets of paper. As the reading of the play and consideration of similar modern drama continues, students can refer to the pictures to help them see the characters as if they were in a TV comedy.

8. Although individual in many ways, the characters in Twelfth Night are also stock characters. As students observe more about each character in action, they might try to categorize the characters by reference to characters of the same type in modern plays. Sir Toby, for example, fits into the category of a slapstick character; the Duke, a lovesick dolt. Examining how modern versions of these character types are portrayed will, of course, help both in staging the play and in considering what modern version it might be like.

9. Shakespeare's language, though wonderful, is a problem for modern young readers. As a part of the production of a TV show or movie, a task force can be assigned the responsibility of watching for words and expressions that might not be familiar to the audience. A group of students - especially those interested in language - can be assigned the role of "Language Watchdogs" to catch such words and expressions, decide how crucial the understanding of them is to the audience, and suggest alternatives. The task force might also propose replacements, and the class can decide which replacements would still work in the overall language of the play.

10.There are several scenes in the play that are crucial to understanding and appreciation:

Act I, scene iv - Viola revels that she, pretending to be a he, has fallen in love with Duke Orsino.
Act I, scene v - Countess Olivia reveals that she has fallen in love with Cesario, really Viola.
Act II, scene iii - The conspirators plan revenge on Malvolio after he reprimands them.
Act II, scene v - Malvolio finds the forged letter and is taken in by it.
Act III, scene iv - Malvolio makes a fool of himself before Olivia; Sir Andrew starts his duel; and Viola/Cesario, seen as Sebastian, refuses to return money to the sea captain, thus giving Viola hope that her brother lives.
Act IV, scene iii - Olivia marries Sebastian, thinking he is Cesario/Viola
Act V - The deceptions are discovered and the plot resolved.

Students can identify the scenes they think are crucial and discuss why and what would have happened if that scene had never taken place. Since there are no "right" answers, the discussion can, at any time, be left on hold until the end of the play and then revisited.


Once students have finished reading, acting, and discussing the play to its concluding scene, they can look back at what has happened, as they might when leaving a movie theater. In some cases, a "So what did you think?" may be enough. The following activities, however, are designed to help them think about characters and plot, and especially comedy and romantic love.

1. This guide has given an act-by-act, scene-by-scene overview of the play. With all the complexities of plot and character, summarizing Twelfth Night isn't easy. Students can pretend that they've just seen it as a TV program or movie and a friend asks, "What was it about?" They can write what they would say - record it - without using acts and scenes since movies and TV rarely resort to such divisions. Then they can exchange papers with another student, each student trying to play the role of the friend who made the mistake of asking, "What's it about?"

2. Many people in the play are in love with almost none of that love being returned until the end of the play. Students can look back at each of those relationships and ask:

  • Was he really in love with her or did he just think he was?
  • How did he feel when he learned that she didn't love him?
  • How did she feel knowing he loved her but she didn't love him? And especially when she loved someone else who didn't love her?
(To keep the questions as simple as possible, the guide uses only one pronoun where "he/she" fits most of the references in the questions. Some of these questions will apply to more than one character and not all will apply to every character. Answering them, however, does force students to consider - perhaps reconsider - the different aspects of romantic love displayed in the play.)

3. Since the approach suggested in this guide is to treat the play as an Elizabethan TV comedy, students can reflect on the various events of the play and create a plan to present it in a year or less as a TV series. What would the fall premier be? Would it start the way Shakespeare started his play? What would happen in each half-hour episode? What would the season finale be?

4. Students can look back at the TV series and movies they considered before reading the play and look for ways that Twelfth Night resembles one or more than one. They previously considered what makes a TV episode funny; now they can use the results of that consideration when discussing what makes Twelfth Night funny or at least, what funny elements are included.

5. Working from a list of the significant characters, students can select the one they would like to play in a production of Twelfth Night and explain why by referring to events involving the character and the words the character speaks. As an alternative, they might choose the character they wouldn't want to have to play.

6. Students can vote for the silliest, wisest, meanest, and most likable character in the play (much like class yearbooks have Class Clown, Cutest Couple, etc.) and then discuss why they selected each, referring to specific actions and dialogue of the characters.

7. The character of Malvolio fascinates both scholars and actors. They argue that he is the perfect "pompous prig" and a character meant to be seen as getting what he deserves. They see Shakespeare as having created a character we can despise because of his undeserved high opinion of himself, be angry with for his domineering behavior toward others, and gain satisfaction from when the plot works to reveal all that is wrong with him. Others, however, have seen him as a sympathetic character, especially at the end of the play, when they believe he displays dignity in a very humiliating situation. Actors have often played him that way.

Students can look closely at what Shakespeare has Malvolio do and say and try to come to their own conclusions. A useful source is the Adams and Gould book Into Shakespeare, listed in the Bibliography, as is Coursen's Teaching Shakespeare with Film and Television: A Guide, which, in Chapter 7 focuses on Act IV, scene 2, in which Malvolio is locked in darkness because he is thought to be mad.

8. Some scenes in the play are filled with action related to the development of the plot (Act III, Scene iv, for example), and other scenes seem less so (Act IV, Scene ii, for example). Some scenes merely introduce one important character (Act II, Scene 1, for example). Students can review Shakespeare's approach to including introduction of characters, direct action, revelation of a fact important to the play, etc., and consider other ways in which he might have accomplished the same purpose.

9. Many of the events of the play are difficult to impossible to believe could actually happen. Indeed, the term "willing suspension of disbelief" applies to what one must do to enjoy this play. Students can examine what they do when faced with stories, TV programs, or movies that intentionally include things that almost surely could never happen by considering the following:

Sometimes writers or movie directors present situations and characters that you are supposed to understand are unbelievable, yet with which you are supposed to go along for the fun or some other reason. How do you recognize when this is what is expected of you? When do you know that the writer or movie director thinks you will believe in something that only a dummy would? What is the difference?

10. Shakespeare wrote a number of other comedies, of course; a few students might like to read one or more of them. Especially interesting after a study of Twelfth Night are Much Ado about Nothing, The Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It.

11. There is much information, commentary, and other material about Shakespeare and his works on the Internet. Students can form teams to explore different sources on the web related to Shakespeare and look for material that presents ideas about the relationship of his works to modern beliefs, culture, and entertainment. Carol Schuetz's book Shakespeare Goes Online is a good starting place.

12. Peggy O'Brien's Teaching Shakespeare (pp. 46-50), provides an interesting plan for studying characterization in Twelfth Night. She poses questions such as "Is [Malvolio] the only character in love with himself?" and devotes considerable attention to the importance of masks, real and figurative, to the play.

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Going beyond the conclusion of a work of literature allows for speculation and creativity that requires an understanding of what happened in the work, the characters as they were at the end, and how the characters changed during the work. Doing so is also a natural part of reading literature and responding to it. Readers typically ask themselves the simple sounding question, "I wonder what happens next," as do people leaving a playhouse or movie theater.

1. Continuing the idea of the play being the script for a season of a TV sitcom, students can develop the second season using many of the same characters, introducing new ones, following up on the final episode (act V of the play).

2. Each student can select a character as he or she is at the end of the play and, using the situation existing then, speculate on what would happen the next day, the next week, or the next year in that person's life. Of course, one cannot do that without a pretty good understanding of who the character is and what the situation surrounding him or her is at the end of the play. Who is Olivia now that she is married to Sebastian? What kind of revenge will Malvolio seek and on whom? Will Malvolio gain insights into himself from his humiliation?

3. The English language is filled with expressions that are brief quotations from the works of Shakespeare. Many, perhaps most of us, don't recognize them as coming from his plays and poems. Book titles, such as Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, taken from Shakespeare's works are especially numerous. Twelfth Night contains several such phrases and proverbs, such as "cakes and ale," "if music be the food of love, play on," and the several times repeated, "some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust [or "thrown," as the Clown says at the end] upon them." The latter, used for comedy in the play, is often quoted as a serious and insightful view of human achievement.

Students interested in language and language history can go beyond this play to research expressions that come from Shakespeare, reviewing both where in his works they appear, what they mean in context, and how they are used today.

4. Twelfth Night is written in a version of the English language now 400 years old and by a poet-playwright drawing on an extraordinarily large and varied vocabulary reflecting common usage, legalisms, terms from medicine and warfare, and words and phrases from nearly every other aspect of Elizabethan life, culture, and society. It is no wonder that most modern readers and those attending performances of Shakespeare's plays struggle with the play's language. Likewise, conventions of drama employed by Shakespeare, the structure of the theaters in which his plays were performed, and many other factors keep the play from being as approachable as we would like it to be for students.

Students who have studied Twelfth Night can extend both their understanding of the language of Shakespeare and the conventions, characters, and events of the play by attempting to rewrite the play using today's language, society, and humor. Individual students can rewrite one act or several scenes from several acts, or a group of students can attempt a collaborative effort to rework the entire play. Those who have complained during class, "Why couldn't he just say it in ordinary English?" can be challenged to put it into "ordinary English" within contemporary society.

5. Comic love relationships are a common theme of many TV programs, movies, and contemporary literature, including works for young adults. Students can look at today's media for events and characters that seem a lot like those in Twelfth Night and prepare analyses of the similarities and differences of those characters.

6. Some students might develop an interest in the theater of Shakespeare's time. They can research how plays were delivered to the people of England at that time and compare that delivery system to today's multimedia delivery of drama.

7. Other students might wonder about comedy in Elizabethan times and want to look at other comedies by Shakespeare and by other authors of the time. They can try to determine what was funny then, what is funny now, and whether Elizabethan and contemporary theater have anything in common.

Shakespeare's Twelfth Night

Critical Examinations of the Play

Billington, Michael. Approaches to Twelfth Night. London: Nick Hern, 1990. Gives the reader a look at production histories of the play by including interviews with a number of directors.

Bloom, Harold, ed.. William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987. Bloom states in his introduction that "This book gathers together a representative selection of what I judge to be the best modern criticism upon Shakespeare's Twelfth Night." The essays range from a Marxist reading to a look at the role of music in the play.

Cookson, Linda, and Bryan Loughery, eds. Twelfth Night. London: Longman, 1990. An interesting look at how the play might be produced.

Coursen, H. R. Teaching Shakespeare with Film and Television: A Guide. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1997. This book is a key work for the approach suggested by this guide: the play as a TV program. Although it doesn't overtly suggest that a play like Twelfth Night be seen as a TV comedy, it looks carefully at films and TV productions of Shakespeare's plays as well as adaptations. Chapter 7 focuses on the scene in Twelfth Night in which Malvolio is confined because he is thought to be mad.

Draper, John W. The Twelfth Night of Shakespeare's Audience. New York: Octagon Books, 1975. Draper's book contains chapters on the significant characters as well as on plot, characterization, setting, style, and theme, as well as background material.

Folger Library. Shakespeare Set Free III: Teaching Twelfth Night and Othello. New York: Washington Square Press, 1995. The Folger Library has long made the case for teaching Shakespeare's plays as lively, contemporary works that can speak to audiences of all ages. This volume looks at the two plays from that perspective.

Hotson, Leslie. The First Night of Twelfth Night. New York: Macmillan, 1954. Using documents from the time, Hotson weaves a story leading up to and explaining the setting for the first production of the play.

King, Walter N., ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Twelfth Night. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1968. Divided into two sections, "Interpretations" and "Viewpoints," the articles cover topics from the mistakes made by the characters in the play to how those errors influence the themes and plots of the play.

Leech, Clifford. Twelfth Night and Shakespearean Comedy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1968. In three lectures celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, Leech traces the sources of the play, the play itself, and what followed in Shakespeare's writing, particularly his writing of comedies.

Palmer, D. J. ed. Shakespeare: Twelfth Night. London: Macmillan, 1972. This collection contains comments, some very brief and some slightly longer, on Twelfth Night from writers such as Samuel Johnson, Charles Lamb, and John Masefield. It also contains essays on the play, many of which also appear in the Walter King volume listed above.

Wells, Stanley. Twelfth Night: Critical Essays. New York: Garland, 1986. This is a collection of essays on Twelfth Night by Shakespearean scholars and by literary luminaries such as Max Beerbohm and Virginia Woolf.

Williams, Porter, Jr. "Mistakes in Twelfth Night and Their Resolution" in Palmer, D. J., ed., Shakespeare: Twelfth Night. London: Macmillan, 1972, pp. 170-187. Williams analyzes the mistakes made by the characters in the play both as devices to provoke laughter and also as revealing much about the characters themselves.

Winter, William. Shakespeare on the Stage, second series. New York: Benjamin Bloom, 1969. In his classic work on Shakespeare's plays, Winter begins his analyses with a detailed look at Twelfth Night.

Teaching the Plays of Shakespeare

Adams, Richard, ed. Teaching Shakespeare: Essays on Approaches to Shakespeare in Schools and Colleges. London: Robert Royce Limited, 1985. This collection of essays covers topics such as how to approach Shakespeare, staging a play, and publications that will be useful to the teacher.

Adams, Richard, and Gerald Gould. Into Shakespeare: An Introduction to Shakespeare through Drama. London: Ward Lock Educational, 1977. Taking a particular approach to each of a number of Shakespeare's plays, Adams and Gould illustrate how a production might deal with twelve of the plays. Twelfth Night (pp. 14-27) is approached through what the authors call the theme of "a pompous ass," that is, the treatment of Malvolio. Both the illustrations and the detailed look at rehearsing for a production that focuses on the episodes in the play that deal with Malvolio make this book essential for the teaching of the play as a play.

Davis, James. "'Pluck Out the Heart of the Mystery': How to Bring Shakespeare to the Boondocks, and Other Places," in James E. Davis, editor. Teaching Shakespeare. Focus: Teaching English in Southeastern Ohio. Athens, Ohio: The Southeastern Ohio Council of Teachers of English, May, 1976, pp. 2-6. Davis looks at ways to bring Shakespeare to students, especially through approaches to the playwright's language.

Davis, James E., editor. Teaching Shakespeare. Focus: Teaching English in Southeastern Ohio. Athens, Ohio: The Southeastern Ohio Council of Teachers of English, May, 1976. This issue of Focus contains a number of essays by teachers discussing how they have approached the teaching of Shakespeare's plays.

Davis, James E. and Ronald E. Salomone. Teaching Shakespeare Today: Practical Approaches and Productive Strategies. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1993. Davis and Salomone have collected a number of essays that provide background on Shakespeare's works, ways of using performance to approach the plays, and resources that are available to the teacher of the works such as films, recordings, and hypertext.

Davis, Ken. Rehearsing the Audience: Ways to Develop Student Perceptions of Theatre. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1988.

Edens, Walter, et al, eds. Teaching Shakespeare. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977. Although aimed at the teaching of Shakespeare's plays at the college level, the 14 essays in this volume provide insights into both the problems of and ways to succeed in teaching the plays. The essays are divided into five sections: "Descriptions and Prescriptions," "Shakespeare and the English Curriculum," "The Course in Shakespeare: Genre and Canon," "Exemplary Approaches to Particular Plays," and "Seeing and Hearing the Play."

Evans, Bertrand. Teaching Shakespeare in the High School. New York: Macmillan, 1966. Although over 30 years old, this text takes a thoughtful look at how to engage students with the works of the Bard. Twelfth Night is explored briefly in chapter eleven.

Gibson, Rex. Teaching Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Gibson looks at the teaching of Shakespeare's play from multiple perspectives, from "Why Teach Shakespeare?" through language, character, story, and for younger readers. There is considerable emphasis on producing the plays. Twelfth Night is considered frequently throughout the book.

Leach, Susan. Shakespeare in the Classroom: What's the Matter. Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1992. Based in part on the Shakespeare in the Schools Project, this look at teaching Shakespeare's works is designed, as the introduction says, to bring "Shakespeare to life for the present, to release it from a kind of embalmment that has often afflicted it in the past."

O'Brien, Peggy. "Shakespeare Is for Everyone," Teaching Theatre, vol. 5, no. 1, pp. 10-12. O'Brien examines the status of teaching Shakespeare in schools and, taking the Folger Library's approach that Shakespeare can be for all readers, suggests how teachers can bring students and the Bard together.

O'Brien, Peggy. Teaching Shakespeare. London: Edward Arnold, 1982. After a look at how Shakespeare is usually approached in schools, O'Brien examines the principles governing the Folger's program, including the belief that every student can enjoy the plays and that performance by students is the most effective approach. Twelfth Night is considered in chapters three and four.

Robinson, Randal. Unlocking Shakespeare's Language: Help for the Teacher and Student. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English and the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills, 1989. After a review of the problems that Shakespeare's language presents today's readers, Robinson provides detailed activities and materials to help students cope with that language.

Rygiel, Mary Ann. Shakespeare among Schoolchildren. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1992. Using four of the tragedies most often included in school literature programs, Rygiel discusses the background of the plays, the language of Shakespeare, and approaching the plays with students, including those of color.

Salomone, Ronald Ernesto. Teaching Shakespeare II. Focus: Teaching English in Southeastern Ohio. Athens, OH: The Southeastern Ohio Council of Teachers of English, Fall 1985. In a follow-up to the popular earlier issue, Focus again looks at how teachers can approach Shakespeare's plays with their students. Essays cover topics ranging from "Shakespeare Anxiety" to "Teaching Shakespeare to General Education Students."

Salomone, Ronald E. and James E. Davis, eds. Teaching Shakespeare into the Twenty-First Century. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1997. In a series of articles by teachers, the editors present successful ways of approaching Shakespeare. Particularly helpful are suggestions for the use of videos and computers to bring the plays to life for today's students.

Schuetz, Carol L. Shakespeare Goes Online: Web Resources for Teaching Shakespeare. ERIC No. ED420068, 1998. An annotated bibliography, this resource lists over sixty sources in five sections including one related to teaching Shakespeare and one dealing with specific plays.

Wade, Barrie, and John Sheppard. "How Teachers Teach Shakespeare," Educational Review, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 21-28. Wade and Sheppard report on a survey they did of teachers in sec- ondary schools in Britain concerning teaching approaches to Shakespeare's play. The most frequently used is what they call "traditional approaches"; the least widely used were performance of the plays and listening to recordings or viewing videos of the plays.


Robert Small is Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Radford University in Southwest Virginia. He has served as chair of NCTE's Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) and as co-editor of its journal, The ALAN Review, as well as NCTE's division on teacher education, the Conference on English Education. He also chaired the IRA Special Interest Group on Young Adult Literature (SIGNAL) and the IRA President's Advisory Committee on Intellectual Freedom and is the author of a number of articles dealing with young adult literature and its place in the English Language Arts Curriculum.


Arthea (Charlie) J. S. Reed, Ph.D. is a former president of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE (ALAN). She is the author of three books in the fields of literature and teaching: Reaching Adolescents: The Young Adult Book and the School, Comics to Classics: A Guide to Books for Teens and Preteens, and Presenting Harry Mazer. In addition, she is the author or co-author of numerous books in the fields of foundations of education and teaching methods. She was editor of The ALAN Review for six years and has co-edited the Signet Classic teacher's guide series since 1988.

In May 1996, Dr. Reed retired after 17 years as a professor of education and six years as chairperson of education at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. After nearly 30 years in teaching at the elementary, secondary, and college/university level, she is now pursuing a new career in education as Executive Director of Development and Education for Northwestern Mutual Life in Asheville, N.C. Dr. Reed and her husband Don live with their two dogs and a cat on a mountaintop in Fairview, N.C.

W. Geiger (Guy) Ellis, Professor Emeritus, University of Georgia, received his A.B. and M.Ed. degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his Ed.D. from the University of Virginia. For most of his career, Guy has been active in teaching adolescent literature, having introduced the first courses on the subject at both the University of Virginia and the University of Georgia. He developed and edited The ALAN Review from 1978 to 1984, changing its focus from a newsletter to a referred journal. His research has had heavy emphasis on the content of literature instruction.

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