Last (Graded) Week: My Few Months In Review

Generally, no blog-having adult cares to hear the feverish rantings of a college freshman, raving about Shakespeare all SJW’d. I chose to write that way anyway because I was asked to choose something I was passionate about, something I could talk about, something I thought should be covered. Attached to this choice was the understanding that I wasn’t going to get hits. I wasn’t going to get followers. Again: college freshman, raving, diversity in Shakespeare. Not thrilling for 99% of the populace.

Well, I wasn’t wrong. (For anyone actually dedicated to my Shakespeare musings, sorry, but this is a quick statistics recap that has nothing to do with character or plot choices. You might want to roam elsewhere on this blog.) My views never got over 30, and more depressingly (well, I’m not that disappointed, but I guess), my visitors never got over 15. I can guarantee you that’s just from me obsessively checking my own blog to make sure that images appeared normally, or that I didn’t leave out a word or anything.


By far my most popular week was the week of February 27th, with 28 views among 12 visitors. That Friday, March 3rd, I posted one of my favorite posts, examining Puck and Oberon’s relationship, and relating it to how it was presented in Dominic Dromgoole’s production and how it stands up as plot-relevant. This is the only post I’ve put on Facebook. This is where I’m friends with my high school English teachers and, well, my mom, so it figures that my posts would get more traction there, but at the same time, I often don’t like sharing my work there unless I’m certain it will be received well, and… I just don’t know. I’m not always the proudest of these pieces, having wished I could have articulated my thoughts better, and I don’t exactly need my right-wing cousins to criticize my decisions to focus on racial minorities. (“Well, why couldn’t a white person play Cassius?” I can hear their voices in my head.) So while Facebook could have made my blog more successful (in a way), I don’t regret choosing to promote solely on Twitter.

More on that: even though my big March 3rd spike was from Facebook referrals, because I promoted most consistently on Twitter, that’s where I got the most referrals cumulatively (38 total instead of Facebook’s 12.) After that, the referrals came mostly from my university’s online class resource page, where I submit these posts to be graded by my TA. (I see you, Andrea, hello!)

Surprisingly, one of my most popular posts, the one after which I actually started getting followers, was my slideshow showcase of my “saint’s relics” (thank you Deidre), or my Shakespeare knick-knacks collection. Whether this was because Deidre interacted with my Twitter promotion and some of her clan came ambling over or because people are genuinely more interested in my possessions than my ideas, I still don’t know.

So yeah, not a lot of traffic. But in a way, it was still just as fun and just as helpful. I know now some of the social media impacts on content promotion. I’ve fleshed out a writing style when it comes to blogging and I know how I like to approach promotion now. Most of all, this forced me to continually think about Shakespeare in a creative way–it really made me immerse myself in his work again, and inspired me to keep going in my truly, truly nerdy hobby. These plays are hundreds and hundreds of years old and I can still connect with them. That’s the magic of this blog. I’m not too concerned about the numbers.


More About The Blogger: My Collection

I’ve touched on this before, but since my first exposure to Romeo and Juliet, I’ve amassed something of a reputation among my peers as being a bit of a Shakespeare freak. To that end, this makes giving me gifts easy: just find something with my buddy Will on it. In the past, this has been packages of bandaids, stickers, and a couple of limericks (it’s always the best to get gifts written from the heart!). So when I’m asked the small-talky question of if I collect things, I have an additional answer: flower crowns (lame like me), art postcards, and Shakespeare paraphernalia.

Now, only some of my collection has been given to me by others. Much of it –my beloved Midsummer DVD, my editions of certain plays– I bought myself, but I still very much consider it part of my collection. And of course, the items have different levels of usefulness. My Will action figure, for example, does little more than stand smugly in front of my books, but I love him regardless, while I use my quote mugs on a near-daily basis, including right now, as I write this. (How does “quintessence of dust” sound for an insult? Got that one right off the mug.) As a rule, I try to have more practical objects than not, but Lord, I can’t resist all temptation.

I understand that this post contains no character propositions, no analysis, no socio-political insights. But every once in a while it’s just fun (and kind of helpful to the community, I delude myself into thinking) to share little personal trinkets like this. In addition, I know some people may be considering getting some Shakespeare tidbits for themselves; this way, I can give you my thoughts on what I have, at least.

So, the following images are of I would say 90% of my collection.

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Shakespeare action figure can be bought here. Folger editions can be bought here.

dreadpiratemama AKA Shakespeare Mom

A little different blog this week; in belated honor of International Women’s Day, let’s lift up another lady in the Shakespeare blog community.

I started the Shakespeare, Remixed project with, to be frank, no expectation of being noticed. I’m just a tiny student Shakespeare blog in a sea of much more learned scholars, ranting about character approaches I think would be cool. But early on in this Shakespeare experiment, I noticed a stranger like one of my promotional tweets –@dreadpiratemama– and when I investigated (because who would possibly care besides my friends?) I was satisfied beyond expectation.

Deidre Brill is a mom and writer living in north California who also is taking on a Shakespeare-related task: relating his works to present day. Not too dissimilar from my own goal! This includes such wonders as comparing Henry VIII to Donald Trump:


–which makes the histories more palatable, particularly for someone like me who finds them intimidating as all get-out. Deidre also includes “recaps” of the plays before offering her analysis and real-life application, which is always helpful, even if you’re already familiar with the play.

Speaking of real-life application: that may be my favorite element of her blog. I –and many others–have always contended that Shakespeare endures because the themes are relatable and vital and human. Deidre makes that concrete. Reading her “Thoughts and Themes” segments of each post makes me want to point at the screen emphatically and shout, “SEE? See what I mean?” Particularly because the themes she finds in, say, Hamlet are so different than the ones I do–it’s a testament to how widely applicable these works are, how timeless.

I think what clicks with me about Deidre and her blog is that it contains that charming element that I’ve come across before, particularly in high school English teachers, a je ne sais quois that reminds me of looking across a desk, wide-eyed, at a woman more advanced in life than myself, who has learned more than I have, who understands more than I do, who is giving me insights into all that knowledge for free. It’s for this reason that in my head, Deidre is labeled “Shakespeare Mom.”

I’ll leave you with a link to dreadpiratemama, Deidre’s blog, a deliciously thorough post on Hamlet, and this clip of Deidre reading Sonnet #55.

Why We Need Modernized Shakespeare: An Introduction

Well met, sweet reader!

My name is Hannah Wisterman. I’m currently a student, studying mass communication with some English on the side. I’m also a long-time fan of the theatre, with a particular fondness for Shakespeare. How do those things come together? Well, it should come as no surprise that the storylines, tropes, and language that Shakespeare immortalized are now used all over mass media, both directly and indirectly. Doubtful? There’s been two films made of Romeo and Juliet with big-name actors in the past 20 years, and a film of Macbeth with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard was released just a year or so ago, not to mention the films that borrow storylines (For example, She’s The Man, 10 Things I Hate About You). Clearly Shakespeare isn’t as antiquated as one might think.

As the Bard’s legacy continues propelling into the modern era, I think it’s important that we continue re-evaluating how to interpret and present it. Shakespeare’s home theatre, the Globe, has done a great job of that from an acting and directing standpoint, and theatres everywhere have reimagined settings, characters, and contexts to keep Shakespeare’s work relevant. Through this blog, I’d like to pick up on some of their examples and hone in on possible new approaches to Shakespeare’s work, from LGBT subtexts to race-cognizant productions and more. It is often said that the beauty of Shakespeare’s work is its enduring and universal relatability; in a vibrantly diverse society, we should explore how to make that true.

From my own experience as a woman, reading and watching Shakespeare is simultaneously thrilling and disappointing. As much as I love the stories, traditionally-produced Shakespeare is starved for positive female representation—not to mention PoC and disabled characters. For a long time, I thought this was just a limitation of the style, until, when teaching Julius Caesar, a teacher had me read Cassius’s lines in class. In a flash, I realized that modern Shakespearean casting can be not only gender-blind, but gender-inclusive. Suddenly, Shakespeare felt much more dynamic, much more alive. That epiphany and subsequent excitement is why I want to write this and share it: so that readers, actors, directors, designers, and plain old fans of Shakespeare can breathe new life into classic work.

A portion of my Shakespeare mini-library. These are some of the resources to which I will refer.
A portion of my Shakespeare mini-library. These are some of the resources to which I will refer.

On this journey of revitalizing and reimagining the Bard, I will propose new readings of works, analyze nontraditional approaches set forth by others, look critically at characters’ relationships and roles—anything that feels relevant. I welcome idea proposals! This as much learning as it is sharing, for me, so I will be referring to a few resources, both my own copies and online.

My expertise is, regrettably, limited, so I of course won’t be covering Shakespeare’s entire body of work; most likely, there will be a handful of plays I return to regularly. (Just so everyone’s expectations are clear.)

This is a challenging undertaking, but one for which I’m excited. Let the show begin!

Follow the author on Twitter (@wisterfairy) for updates and musings.