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June 24, 2016

Shakespeare beginnings on campus

To help commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, the Folger Shakespeare Library is sending a First Folio on a tour of the country. From June 20 through July 30, 2016, the Cleveland Public Library will be the host site in Ohio. To join in this celebration we wanted to touch on Shakespeare in the classroom and on stage at CWRU.

For much of the 19th century the classical curriculum was taught and required of all students. In the late 19th century electives began to be offered.

On 2/29/1892, as reported in the College for Women faculty minutes, a committee was appointed to consider forming a lectureship on Shakespeare. On 5/3 the “Committee on Lectureship on Shakespeare reported that arrangement had been made with Professor Lounsbury to deliver 8 lectures.” A week later, the WRU Board of Trustees Executive Committee approved the appointment of “Professor Thomas R. Lounsbury of Yale Scientific as lecturer on Shakespeare at a salary of $500.” These lectures were given in the Spring 1893 semester.

The first course in Shakespeare at the College for Women was taught in the 1893-1894 academic year. Here is the description from the Catalogue:

“Shakspere. Four plays selected for their illustration of different stages in the development of Shaksperian art, and as a basis for textual criticism. The prescribed work will include the Rolfe edition of the plays, the Shakspere Primer (Dowden), Shakspere’s Versification (Browne), and collateral reading from Shakspere: His Mind and Art (Dowden), and Shakspere as a Dramatic Artist (Moulton).” The class was taught by Mr. C. W. Ayer.

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Lemuel S. Potwin

The first Shakespeare class at Adelbert College was taught in 1895-1896 by Lemuel Potwin. However, according to the 1892-1893 annual report by Potwin, a class was held (1892-1893) studying English poets from Chaucer to Tennyson. During the second half of the year a class of six seniors and juniors “read the whole of Shakespeare, one play being discussed on each day of recitation. Points of discussion were: The characteristics of the different periods of the poet’s work. A comparison with some earlier dramas, and the merits of select passages.” There was also held a class in the Elizabethan Dramatists. A graduate of Yale, Potwin was professor of Latin at Western Reserve College and Adelbert College (1871-1892), professor of English Language and Literature, Adelbert College (1892-1906) and professor emeritus (1906-1907).

In the library’s catalog of 1849 there was a Shakespeare book listed but no title given. It was book 604 on shelf 62. In the 1851 catalog the listing was for Shakspeare William, Dramatic Works.

Coming: Shakespeare performances on campus

Posted by hxy2 at June 24, 2016 09:05 PM

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