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Charlotte Observer: Why Study Shakespeare? Cynthia Lewis Responds

Cynthia LewisIn a recent piece for the Charlotte Observer, Charles A. Dana Professor of English Cynthia Lewis responds to a June op/ed in the Washington Post in which Dana Dusbiber, a high school English teacher, claims Shakespeare has no place in the modern classroom despite inclusion of the Bard's works in the Common Core standards.

Lewis has taught various courses on Shakespeare at Davidson and asserts that in-depth study of his works not only enriches students' vocabulary, reading and writing skills, but also develops young writers' ears for language. Such study also speaks directly to the Common Core standard that students learn to wrestle with "complex literary and informational texts," Lewis writes.

Beyond the technical skills honed through study of Shakespeare's works, his enduring relevance and inspiration for creatives across genres and over centuries is something that cannot be ignored, Lewis writes. Historically authors have paid him homage in their own works, and "he's a felt presence in a broad spectrum of contemporary works," she says. She attributes this largely to his accurate, perceptive and empathetic depiction of human beings across race and gender lines.

The questions that arise in studying Shakespeare's works and the debates/analysis those questions spark "builds strong minds," Lewis writes, which is, at the end of the day, the job of any teacher.

Read Lewis' piece in the Observer