My Favorite Class: Shakespeare I

Taryn poses outside the library.

Today we speak to Taryn Guettler, a senior English major with minors in Women and Gender Studies and Writing Arts and concentrations in Honors and Shakespeare Studies from Succasunna, NJ (Morris County). Taryn is an on-campus resident at Whitney Center

Taryn poses outside the Campbell Library.

What is your favorite class at Rowan?

My favorite class at Rowan is Honors Shakespeare I. The class is in the English department, and Dr. Claire Falck was my professor.

Tell us a little about what the class is.

Shakespeare I is a required course for all English majors. Throughout the semester, students study six of Shakespeare’s plays (my section read: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Othello,” “Julius Caesar,” “Hamlet,” “Twelfth Night” and “The Tempest”).

Shakespeare I focuses on some of the more well-known plays, while Shakespeare II (an elective course) features those that are less often studied. Class discussion in Shakespeare I often focused on key moments of the plays, different interpretations of scenes or dialogue, and the history surrounding each play. We also watched one full production of each play, some being very true to script while others took a more out-of-the-box approach, which added a new perspective to studying Shakespeare.

Taryn poses in front of the Campbell Library.

Share with us a few details on why this class was interesting.

One of the main reasons that this course was interesting for me was because it went beyond just reading Shakespeare’s plays. We were able to watch productions (including one live performance from Rowan’s Theatre department), which gave us an understanding of the impact of different interpretations of the script on the characters, themes, and play as a whole. We even were able to try our hands at acting out a scene ourselves for our final project; both groups chose scenes from the same play but portrayed them with very different tones and moods.

Another reason that this course was interesting was because of the small class size. There were only a handful of students in my section, which allowed us to get to know one another better, and made the final group project much easier and much more enjoyable. Plus the group being more close-knit encouraged more participation in our daily discussions.

Is there anything else that made this class impactful?

I enjoyed getting to read a mix of plays — some that I was familiar with and others that I was not. It demonstrated the range that can be found in Shakespeare’s works. I went on to add a concentration in Shakespeare Studies, which I think speaks for itself in showing how much the course impacted me.

Taryn poses in front of vines.

What makes this professor great?

Dr. Falck is clearly very passionate about the subject. When a professor can share their enjoyment of the course material, it makes the course feel much more engaging and interesting. I have been lucky to have many professors in the English department who really enjoy what they teach, and that enjoyment shows throughout the course. Dr. Falck also went beyond to provide additional enriching experiences for the course, like an acting workshop, that made this course stand out from others that I have taken.

How did this class help to support your academic or personal growth or your professional goals?

Honors Shakespeare I certainly improved my writing skills by pushing me to be more critical of my own work and expand my thinking. I would definitely say that I am a better writer for having taken this course, which has been a great benefit as I continue with my English major courses. It also helped me to develop my critical reading skills, which have been useful in other courses and I think will continue to be useful as I enter the professional field. The class also introduced me to a subject area that I might one day be interested in studying further.

Taryn poses in front of Campbell Library.

What are your professional goals?

Currently, my short-term professional goal is to begin working in the publishing industry and work towards becoming an editor, preferably for children’s and young adult books. I think the writing and reading skills Shakespeare I helped me to develop will be key in this field. In the long-term, I want to earn a master’s degree, which will likely lead me to encounter Shakespeare once again. In this case, Shakespeare I will have provided me with a strong base of knowledge that I can use in furthering my education.

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Story and photography by:
Rachel Rumsby, sophomore communication studies and public relations double major

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