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WILL THE REAL WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE PLEASE STAND UP




WILL THE REAL WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE PLEASE STAND UP
An Internet WebQuest on the Shakespearean Authorship Question

 

Introduction | The Task | The Process | Conclusion |



Introduction
Welcome members of the jury as you hear a case that has been debated for more than 200 years. Listen with great care as you hear about the man who claims to have written more than 30 plays and produced over 200 sonnets and poems. Listen further as evidence is supplied for contenders that also lay claim to the authorship debate.

Who really wrote William Shakespeare's plays and sonnets? The obvious answer to this question is the actor from Stratford-upon-Avon who goes by the name of William Shakespeare, or is it Shakspere like it appears on his baptism record and as a signature on his will?

The evidence for the other candidates all seem very persuasive until the next set of evidence is presented which seems to confound the problem. But with all of this information out on the table, conspiracy theorists just might be on to something. Sit back and sift through the evidence and see which authority offers the most conclusive proof in your estimation. In this way you will become more informed and able to formulate an opinion for your judge.


Task
WHO LAYS THE BEST CLAIM TO THE SHAKESPEAREAN AUTHORSHIP CONTROVERSY?


Process

In this WebQuest you will be working together with a group of students in class. Each group will answer the Task or Quest(ion). As a member of the group you will explore Webpages from people all over the world who care about the Shakespeare Authorship Problem. Because these are real Webpages we're tapping into, not things made just for schools, the reading level might challenge you. Feel free to use the online Webster dictionary or one in your classroom.

You'll begin with everyone in your group getting some background before dividing into roles where people on your team become experts on one part of the topic.  All questions must be answered.  Divide up the work load equitably.  Answer sheets must be turned in along with the final essay. 

Use the Internet information linked below to answer the basic questions of who? what? where? when? why? and how? Be creative in exploring the information so that you answer these questions as fully and insightfully as you can.

1. What is the Shakespeare authorship problem?

2. What literary, cultural, and political figures doubt that Shakespeare was the sole author of the work?

3. Make a chronological history of the doubts that surround the authorship of the Shakespearean canon.

4. Now do the same for the doubts surrounding the Stratfordian attribution.

5. Make a list of the six contenders for the authorship question. Then add to each as much significant evidence that is presented.


Phase 2 - Roles
INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Individuals or pairs from your larger WebQuest team will explore one of the roles below.

2. Read through the files linked to your group. If you print out the files, underline the passages that you feel are the most important. If you look at the files on the computer, copy sections you feel are important by dragging the mouse across the passage and copying / pasting it into a word processor or other writing software.

3. Note: Remember to write down or copy/paste the URL of the file you take the passage from so you can quickly go back to it if you need to to prove your point.

4. Be prepared to focus what you've learned into one main opinion that answers the Big Quest(ion) or Task based on what you have learned from the links for your role.

WHO WROTE SHAKESPEARE?:

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to WHO WROTE SHAKESPEARE?:

1. Find other candidates not already discovered in the background section and list why they should be considered as contenders.

2. What is the controversy that surrounds Shakespeare's bust and its inscription as it applies to Sir Francis Bacon?

3. What did Mark Twain have to say about the debate issue?

4. Why should the Marlowe spy theory be reviewed?

5. How has technology, most notably the computer, made its presence known in this controversy?

MARLOWE WROTE SHAKESPEARE:

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to MARLOWE WROTE SHAKESPEARE:

1. What association to Shakespeare is presented by the Marlowe Society that leads one to believe that Christopher Marlowe's death is associated with Shakespeare's writings?

2. What role did the British government play in Marlowe's death?

3. Was Marlowe really a heretic?

4. What similarities exist between Marlowe's writing and Shakespeare's writing?

DE VERE WROTE SHAKESPEARE:

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to DEVERE WROTE SHAKESPEARE:

1. Many authorities have made claims that De Vere more than anyone is most closely related to being the author of the Shakespearean collection. Why?

2. What are some of the coincidental connections between the Earl of Oxford and Shakespeare?

3. What problems exist between the authorship of the Shakespearean poems and plays?

4. What is the real story behind SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE?

SHAKESPEARE WROTE SHAKESPEARE:

Use the Internet information linked below to answer these questions specifically related to SHAKESPEARE WROTE SHAKESPEARE:

1. How is the spelling and pronunciation of Shakespeare's name imporatnt to investigate?

2. What are the Oxfordian claims that Shakespeare is responsible for everything he produced?

3. Why is it important to preserve the authorship status of William Shakespeare?

4. What is the most convincing evidence that leads us to believe that Shakespeare, did in fact, wrote Shakespeare?


Phase 3 - Reaching Consensus
You have all learned about a different part of Shakespeare Authorship Controversy. Now group members come back to the larger WebQuest team with expertise gained by searching from one perspective. You must all now answer the Task / Quest(ion) as a group. Each of you will bring a certain viewpoint to the answer: some of you will agree and others disagree. Use information, pictures, movies, facts, opinions, etc. from the Webpages you explored to convince your teammates that your viewpoint is important and should be part of your team's answer to the Task / Quest(ion). Your WebQuest team should write out an answer that everyone on the team can live with.


Conclusion
As a juror, what or who do you believe now? As you examined this case, there was much evidence produced for each of the candidates. The burden of proof lies with those trying to refute that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. Foreman of the jury: what is your verdict?  As a group produce a two-three page essay stating your position.  There must be a solid thesis with supporting evidence.  There must be a works cited page giving credit to the webpages used as evidence.