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Good overview of the Bard's life
on August 29, 2009
I regularly teach my college's Introduction to Shakespeare class, and have found this to be a very good overview of the Bard's life and times. Micheal Wood's film on Shakespeare is also excellent, but that one is much too long to show in class. This A&E Bio, however, is the perfect length; coming in at about 50 minutes, it's ideal for showing towards the start of the semester. It includes good visuals and images, and includes short clips from several well-respected Shakespeare scholars.
I would also like to address the issue of Shakespeare's sexuality and his relationship with the Earl of Southampton, since several reviewers mention this in a dismissive way. I think that not introducing this aspect of Shakespeare's life to our students does them a great disservice. Literary scholars like Stephen Greenblatt (of Harvard University) and Stephen Orgel (of Stanford University) have done much research into the sexual norms of Shakespeare's life and period, and most gender and Renaissance studies scholars concur that Shakespeare was most likely bisexual, and that sexuality was understood differently during the Renaissance -- as more of a continuum. When we study sonnets like Sonnet 20 ("A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted / Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion"), I think that there is ample enough evidence that Shakespeare had a relationship with another male. To dismiss this or not address it in class reflects ignorance of the current state of literary scholarship, as well as homophobia.