Understanding Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical DocumentsBook - 1998
This lively gathering of materials about Shakespeare's Julius Caesar will enrich students' understanding of the historical context of the play and encourage interpretations of its cultural meaning. Shakespeare's Julius Caesar reflects perennial cultural concerns about order and freedom, particularly as they clash in the figures of Caesar and Brutus. This innovative experiment in Shakespeare literacy features a wide variety of materials--from a modernized text of Plutarch's lives of Caesar and Brutus set on facing pages for easy comparison, to historical and contemporary parodies, to a rap version of the play. Most of the materials presented here are available in no other printed form. Study questions, project ideas, and bibliographies provide additional sources for examining the cultural and historical context of the play.
Following a literary interpretation of the play, Derrick presents a wide variety of materials, including: a modernized version of Plutarch's lives of Caesar and Brutus, set side-by-side to aid in the comparison of their characters; dramatic sequels to the play in the Elizabethan theater; a comparison of Julius Caesar to the Lincoln assassination, with reprints of 19th-century newspaper accounts, John Wilkes Booth's obsessions about Brutus, and the desperate notes he left after the assassination; excerpts from popular culture, including a rap version of the play that is perfect for student performances, parodies from Mad Magazine , James Baldwin's little-known appeal to African American consciousness, Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare, and John Housman's reflections on making the film version that starred Marlon Brando; popular allusions to the play and its verse from the 18th century to the present; and a chapter on teaching the play that includes commentary by noted teachers and a parallel layout of a rendering in Basic English alongside Shakespeare's edited play.