Playing Editor: Inviting Students Behind the Text
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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This commentary feature considers the advantages of using textual criticism to teach Shakespeare and using Shakespeare to teach textual criticism, at both the undergraduate and graduate level. First I discuss how to do this in practical terms, by suggesting some specific, concrete activities that bring an editorial approach into the classroom: interactive ‘editorial exercises’ that involve micro to macro textual problems. Then I discuss what is to be gained by teaching textual criticism through Shakespeare. Students can be profoundly transformed into critical thinkers and critical readers in four ways: 1) Healthy skepticism: i.e. undermining trust in editions, editors—and authority; 2) Healthy optimism: i.e. building a feeling of critical community; 3) Defamiliarizing the text and unsettling reading practices; 4) Combining a relish for puzzles, clues, data, detective work with the love of reading. In general this piece aims to be both a practical and philosophical consideration of the intersection of editing, Shakespeare, and teaching.