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Title: The lived experience of teaching Shakespeare
Author: Evans, Maria J.
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis explores the lived experience of teaching Shakespeare within English in England’s secondary schools. Using hermeneutic phenomenology as methodology it examines teaching practices in the Shakespeare classroom in terms of influences and variations. Both literature and data suggest three core categories of influence are at play: socio-political, professional and personal contexts. Throughout this research I argue that it is only through analysing all three, and the complex interrelationships between them, that we can begin to understand practice and variations in that practice. Through between one and three semi-structured interviews with nine English teachers, followed by thematic data analysis, I attempted to identify influences that were significant, whether shared or different. Furthermore, I considered both presence and absence of experience, since this emerged within the data as a key consideration. I ultimately concluded that whilst socio-political contexts, through curriculum and assessment, undoubtedly impact on the experience of Shakespeare, they do not of themselves explain the variations in practice reported within the literature and my data. The teaching of Shakespeare is deeply influenced by three further characteristics. Firstly, local cultures appear to have a significant impact on Shakespeare, both in terms of cultural attitudes towards education, and the nature of school cultures and leadership. Secondly, the importance of experiences of high quality training may come as no surprise; however, what is noteworthy is the extent to which absence has such a detrimental effect on experiences of teaching Shakespeare, as illustrated within the data. Finally, and perhaps most noteworthy, highly individualised, frequently random, often (inevitably) subjective personal identities, philosophies and life histories significantly influence how English teachers experience the teaching of Shakespeare. Collectively, the presence or absence of supportive cultures, training and personal experiences and preferences, appear to account for most variations in practice, prompting important considerations for individual teachers, school leaders, training providers and policy makers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council ; Royal Shakespeare Company
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature