Michael Ullyot: Act 4, Scene 7

[Cross-posted from my home blog.]

For my English 311 course this term, I’ve been watching Kenneth Branagh’s 1996 full-text of Hamlet while I read the play in Robert Miola’s Norton edition.

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That edition includes an excerpt (176-82) from Kenneth Branagh’s introduction to the play, in which he describes the full text as offering more contextual richness than typically abridged performance versions: the background story of Polonius and his agent Reynaldo, and the plotting scene between Claudius and Laertes that sets the stage for his climactic duel with the prince.

The latter is an intense, whispered, conspiratorial conversation in which the grief-stricken Laertes (Michael Maloney) delivers the line “Thus didst thou” (4.7.55) as “Thus diest thou” — through gritted teeth, and with steely resolve. And when Claudius (Derek Jacobi) ruminates on their backup plan to kill Hamlet, it’s his upraised glass that makes him think of the poisoned chalice (4.7.155-61).

In short, this scene in the film made me appreciate how choices of text, of setting, of props, and of performance can influence my interpretation of a line like this one.

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Hello World!

This is my first post on the English 311 blog, just to check a few features of this theme like where the tags show up — and what happens when you set a Featured Image. I see it appears above the title of this post on the home page, but not in the post itself.

This is not a very exciting post, but from these humble beginnings great things will emerge.

Here are two embedded images, which I had to manually set to the ‘Large’ size so they look this big:

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If (?) you’re still reading this, here’s an interesting behind-the-scenes fact for you. The pictures featured in this post are of the room in Social Sciences where we were originally going to teach this course, but I’m delighted to say that we’ve moved into the beautiful brand-new Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning — or more specifically, the Forum.