Third years began their unit on Shakespeare this week with an introduction to Shakespeare’s first published poem, “Venus and Adonis” which is an Elizabethan version of the ancient mythic tale of Venus, the goddess of love, attempting to persuade the beautiful young man Adonis to make love to her. His refusal and then his untimely death lead Venus to prophecy that Love will never run smoothly on Earth. The poem, in its language, its imagery, its meaning is exotic, sumptuous and profound. This production of the poem brought the issues of the poem right into our modern world and demonstrated how at its core its ideas are still relevant to our questions about the nature and experience of love. Uniquely this production had two Venuses on stage (Melissa Gray & Susan Prior) attempting to seduce the the audience who were caste as an Adonis, reluctant and unwilling to respond to Venus’s sensuous demands.
Here are three of the group of third years who made it to the Saturday matinee performance: R.R. L.S. and J.V.G. J. performed the role of Pyramus (from Midsummer Night’s Dream) two years ago, when he was part of the Mission Australia Clemente program. Now he is fast-tracking his arts degree with this third year literature unit: congratulations John!
For more interesting information about this poem take a look at this u-tube offering:
Second years were plunged deep into Romanticism this week and had a glimpse of the world of Coleridge and Wordsworth through the film Pandaemonium which captures the youthful exuberance and inexperience of the young Romantics. It is worth thinking about the extent to which the dreams of these Romantics translate easily into the kind of dreams that young people have about their lives today: is an alternative life-style, an escape from the hypocrisies of government a valid path to take in these times??
The film has some exquisite readings of some of the great Romantic poems such as “Frost at Midnight” in which the young Coleridge expresses his awe at the mystery and majesty of creation, holding his young baby son up against the frost forming itself on the window pane. These poems have a very modern feel to them in the immediacy of their language and the directness of the emotions expressed.
First years were “inducted” into Literature and seemed not too overwhelmed by the experience (!@#$%^#&???). It is always great to welcome a crowd of new young students into these grand “hallowed halls” of learning, only to suggest to them that literature is all about bringing down-to-earth reality into their lives. This is where Robyn Williams’s role as Keating in “Dead Poets’ Society” is such a fabulous way to set the tone for literature at ACU for the next three years. Keating dares to challenge all conventional, stuffy and outdated hierarchies of learning. He dares to induct students into the arcana of discovering the depths of their own feelings, of their own deepest questions about the nature and purpose of existence…. that is in fact where literature can and does take us if we are open to it…….
If you have not yet finished your LiveJournal entries for week one…. and even if you have… I would love to hear some more responses to the way that Keating taught literature, and what you think about the value of this approach….. Great to have you all on board.