Daniel Leong: Notes Reflection

As a result of being a quick thinker, a visual learner, and generally forgetful person, I much prefer electronic note taking when watching films, but find colored pens to be invaluable when analyzing text. I also find it beneficial to assume that everything done in a film or text is entirely intentional and, as though I were interviewing the director/author, I often ask myself: “What does this mean, and why is this way?”

This kind of thinking does limit my ability to take notes on film somewhat, as there is simply too much information about music, lighting, angles and shots for me to question and write about while viewing. For this reason, I often choose to focus primarily on choices pertaining to music and lighting as (Owing to my background in orchestra and video advertising) they are the simplest for me to understand. In terms of what I actually write down, I find that because of my forgetful but thorough nature it’s often in my best interest to write down words or phrases that help me remember what I was thinking at the time of viewing, rather than writing down exactly what I’m thinking. For example, with regards to music, while viewing the Crispin’s Day speech of Branagh’s Henry V I might write something along the lines of:

  • High diss shots +tymp = fear (Odds–)
  • Henry! low chord+add inst. + cresc chords=hope(Voice++)

As opposed to writing out:

  • The director chose dissonant shots from the high strings coupled with the steady tympani beat to indicate grim prospects for Henry’s soldiers.
  • When King Henry appears, the music switches from shots to major chords from the low strings. Their crescendo, coupled with the addition of many more instruments is matched by the volume of Henry’s voice and gives a hopeful, inspiring tone to the rest of his speech.

The fault in this method of note taking is that it is entirely dependent on my ability to recall what I was thinking. That being said, I find that though I’m occasionally unable to recollect my initial thought process, taking these kinds of notes gives me the opportunity to pay closer attention to the structure of scenes/sequences as a whole and how the elements I focus on (Music and lighting) fit into the larger picture. I know I’ve taken good notes when I look at them at home and remember instantly what I was seeing and why I thought what I thought.


Of course, no such problem of forgetting exists with text, as I can read and re-read to my heart’s content. With regards to note-taking, I often prefer to reformat and print out my own versions of passages so as to have ample room for annotation using colored pens. I’ve tried highlighters in the past, however, since I ask myself both “What does this mean?” and also “Why is it this way?” when reading, I find colored pens to be better for allowing me to precisely articulate my thoughts on specific words or phrases.

As a result of this method of thinking, I primarily look for meaning in specific diction, word connotations, and consonance/assonance as I find that the choice of words and how they sound are often the building blocks for the larger meanings of passages. Using the same example of the Crispin’s Day speech, I would underline every word pertaining to the idea of fellowship or brotherhood in blue, circle every example of alliteration in orange, every repetition of “Crispin” or “Crispian” in green, every word pertaining to ideas of battle in red and every word pertaining to ideas of remembrance in purple. Any thoughts I have regarding any of these themes I could then write down in their respective color and immediately connect them tangibly to the text. Having a general understanding of a particular play’s themes as a whole then enables me to quickly categorize and assign meanings to the specific use of these words/literary devices.

This does mean, of course, that I sometimes miss out on literary devices such as allusion, foreshadowing, metaphor, personification, etc. However, if the themes of the overall play are consistent throughout, I hardly think that a thorough analysis of diction will cause me to miss out on significant meaning coming from another literary device when considering plays as a whole.

Overall, my strategy of note taking hasn’t evolved much with respect to text since high school, however, the film-focus of this course has allowed for significant development in my note-taking for film.

Adetola Adedipe: Notes Reflection

When one says “Shakespeare” things that go through the mind include: sophistication and difficulty. Like anything, practice makes perfect and reading play-text is no different. If one annotates enough it almost becomes second nature. At first, reading Shakespeare text was challenging. However, doing a Shakespeare play every year in high school helped a lot with interpretation. It was seen that the more notes you had on your play then the better that person will do. Taking drama throughout high school I was also exposed to the emotions, thoughts and subtext behind Shakespearean writing from an actor’s perspective. Eventually reading play text and writing down notes became something that I was used to and something I had to do to be successful in representing a character or writing a literary essay.

I think my techniques in play-text interpretation and film watching are almost similar in the sense that they are both Shakespeare and the mindset I put myself in is the same: “It’s all English.”  When I realise that then it doesn’t become as scary. Firstly: read, read, read. It may be tedious but if I don’t read I won’t really know what I’m working with. It may look like absolute gibberish but that’s what footnotes and google are for. I try to see a summary of the scene and then I’d put the lines in context and try modernist the language. One doesn’t necessary need to know the depth of every word but to get a general idea is a good place to begin.

In film, it’s a bit different because one doesn’t necessarily have the text in front of them and most of the time the film won’t follow the original script word for word. Again – it’s just English, it’s a movie. Listen and interpret, look at body language- actions and reactions. It’s also part of linking their behavior with their words and get the general idea of what is going on. Seeing another person’s interpretation of the film makes it more of an experience and takes less work. The difference here between text and film is: in a text you have to imagine it yourself but because you don’t understand the words, it’s harder to interpret- which isn’t the case in a film.

If I can get my hands on the movie I like to go scene by scene and ask: What happened? Why did it happen? Who did it happen to? How are these people linked?  As soon as I can find these things out and put it into context it’s pretty much smooth sailing from there. i also like to makes character webs, analyzing each characters personality, role in the play/film and relationship with the other characters. this helps with things  like following plot.

Being a writer of poetry I also know the importance of symbols, tone, atmosphere and poetic devices (metaphors, alliteration, rhyme, rhythm, themes etc.) and how they are used in the text and why its effective or not. I ask myself: Why use this word? Why compare her to a summers day? What do Juliet and a summer’s day have in common? And come to the conclusion that Romeo thinks she beautiful, warm (and other great things about summer) and that’s about it.

I don’t’ have a specific learning style, both observing (seeing and hearing) and writing are needed in order for me to learn anything. Whether the writing be through pen on paper in the margins of the play, typing pop-up notes on the text, putting the note in a different colour in-between the script lines on a screen or writing down questions while watching a film, it all sinks in. But I do know that I always go back to the text. Even with film, the director’s choices when it comes to music, tone and camera angles all affect the lines being said and how they will be processed in our minds and be brought forward in the form of emotion and expression the audience.

My annotations tend to be more accurate than not. The best way to learn that is to discuss it- discussion is irreplaceable important when it come to Shakespeare because somebody may see something you don’t or vice versa. But usually when a few people have the same idea then my interpretation is usually more or less correct. Also a way to gauge correctness is when I could follow my notes along with my annotations and it lines up with what’s happening in the play and it’s not confusing or random. Another way is to try explaining it to another person and they come to understand the play better.

I’ve never experienced not understanding a play after going through it a few times in depth so I would say my annotations are usually accurate especially because I have no fear when it comes to Shakespeare.

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, http://www.folgerdigitaltexts.org/download/pdf/Rom.pdf, Accessed 14 Nov. 2016.