Jordin Cummings: Notes Reflection

In order to properly evaluate my annotation practices when reading a play text, I decided to do what I did for my close reading paper but with Act IV Scene I of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

In comparison to the start of the semester my note taking skills have greatly evolved. I am no longer afraid to write little notes anywhere in the book. On the other-hand, larger notes still belong on sticky pads! I have greatly expanded my knowledge of various poetic terms and elements and that has made it easier to really breakdown the text. In only 128 lines of play text I was able to identify the blank verse and iambic pentameter rhythm along with multiple structural, linguistic and semantic terms.


Annotating Play Text 

My note taking process is very methodical and almost always follows the same routine in regards to an assignment.

  • Step One: Write out the basics. What is the assignment? What are the texts? What is the question?
  • Step Two: Have you read the text? No? Read it.
  • Step Three: What are your general thoughts on the text?
  • Step Four: Close read the text in relation to the question. Annotated. Highlight things to be defined.
  • Step Five: Expand your annotated notes; what are your thoughts now? Write out definitions.

After all of that my notes are very comprehensive. I know they are successful because when I go to complete an assignment everything is clearly laid out for me. If I effectively teach the material back to someone or try to explain my discovered concept I also know I have absorbed what I took down. In comparison to my practices for a play text, my annotation skills when I watch a film are not as formulated.

To properly evaluate my annotation practices for a film I chose the 2013 Carlei Romeo & Juliet as I have never seen it before. I chose to focus on a specific section, what would be Act IV Scene I in the play text. I chose this portion of the movie because the first thing I would do when annotating a film on Shakespeare would be to read the text first so I can get a sense of where I am at in the real story. This was especially helpful as this version of Romeo and Juliet cuts the whole interaction with Paris. After reading the text I would watch the movie. Just watch; no annotating. I want to be able to just watch without searching in the same way I would read a text to get a feel for it first.

After reading the text and watching the film I would make notes on the basics of the film. What did I watch? How is it different from the text? Then I can try watching it again with more attention to detail. The unfortunate thing with annotating a film is that the film moves at a continuous pace whereas annotating does not. I find myself pausing an going back just so I can catch something and write it down. Annotating a film definitely takes a lot longer!


Annotating Film

In almost 5 minutes of film and one scene I was able to closely review and really get a feel for the directors take on this play. I found the best way to identify key elements Carlei used in his film was to pause when I saw something of interest, take note of the time, and then make a simple note to clue me into what I had found. I know this way of annotating a film works for me because if I needed to explain the film to someone I would have seen it many times in close detail. I also know this way works because if I needed to further expand my notes or write a paper on the film I would have detailed annotations with timestamps for quick reference. It would be very easy to apply terms such as Samuel Crowl’s in Shakespeare and Film to the ideas I’d found.

Although my practices of annotation have greatly evolved in regards to both film and play text, I have realized through this reflection that I definitely prefer to annotate a text!


Works Cited

Crowl, Samuel. Shakespeare and Film. Norton, 2007.

Romeo & Juliet. Directed by Carlo Carlei, performances by Hailee Steinfield and Paul Giamatti, D Films, 2013, 1:15:20-1:19:52.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Folger Digital Texts, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine, Folger Shakespeare Library, pp. 92-96,, Accessed 14 Nov. 2016.


Kirsten Cordingley: Notes Reflection

When annotating a play-text, we are able to focus on a specific line, phrase, or word before heading to the next, while when taking notes for a film, we are writing about a moment that is already passing. That is, unless we choose to frequently pause the movie. In this way, note taking for texts and movies requires a break amidst the action, but I personally find that annotating texts is less jarring than pausing films to take notes.

While watching films for this class, I start with a focus on the characters. Since films interpret Shakespeare’s text differently, often the actors and actresses will not portray a Shakespearean character as I imagined them when reading the text. I will often open up a different tab on my laptop with the cast list, so that I know who’s who in the film, which is especially helpful if I’m not very familiar with the text. As the plot unfolds, I will make character charts to show how people relate to each other. For example, drawing arrows and hearts to indicate who is in love and who is related.


I note differences in the film in relation to the text, and often have the play opened, whether in book form or online, while watching. Considering what the director changes or highlights helps to understand the message or moments they try to emphasize. For example, in Throne of Blood there is only one witch character, rather than the three Weird Sisters that are in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. However, while I do take note of Shakespeare’s text when watching films adapted from his plays, I also stay aware that these films are fullsizerender-2an independent and unique creation. I pay attention to camera angles, editing, music, and acting. While doing my film review, I made notes along the way regarding anything that stuck out to me regarding these elements. For example, I took note of the music and animation choices used with the character Prospero in Taymor’s The Tempest.

When annotating play-texts, I find it helpful to summarize the footnotes in the margins beside the word or lines it applies to. This way I can reread the lines without having to look down at the footnotes. I underline things that stand out to me as important, and put question marks beside things that I don’t fully understand, often to bring them up to a classmate or professor later on. I also put a star beside passages or lines if I believe them to be significant in meaning, or applicable to a particular argument or analysis I am forming in an assignment or essay. I add notes in the margins to summarize events or explain things like symbolism. If I am close reading a passage for a paper, I will go through the passage after having read it a few times already and count the syllables in each line to see whether there is any significance in the line length. For example, in my close reading paper of the Chorus that opens Act 4 in Henry V, I noticed that Shakespeare strays from iambic pentameter in a particular line, which helped me to note his emphasis on a certain point. Similarly, I will go through and look at the ends of each line for any sort of rhyming, because often words are rhymed to point the readers attention to a particular detail.


The main problem I have when watching a film or reading a text for class is getting too engrossed in the story and forgetting to annotate or make notes. In this case, to ensure that I am successful with helping myself with assignments, or future exams, I have to go back and slowly read or watch while annotating. I heavily connect how well I comprehend the text or movie to how successful my annotating and note taking were. If I have a well-formed discussion about the movie or play, or write a well-formed paper, then I know I have succeeded in taking concise and helpful notes. Whereas, if I feel I did not understand the text or movie, or have trouble picking out any meaning, I know I have to go back and annotate and note take more, paying attention to things that I didn’t the first time.