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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Haresign

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t."– William Shakespeare

It has been 10 years since I read Hamlet with my high school AP Literature class. Last night I was cleaning out my collection of books when I came across my intensely notated copy of Hamlet. I have to give major props to my high school Lit teacher Ms. H who played such an integral role in developing my skills as a writer (and teaching me the word integral). I am sure many of my peers would say the same as they have gone onto successful careers in journalism with some impressive companies such as the New York Times and NPR.

This afternoon I found my little sister's friend sitting at our kitchen table with a school copy of Hamlet in front of her- I laughed and ran to grab my copy to share with her so she could benefit from the hours of ink, post-its, tears, and spilled water bottles that my friends and I poured into (and onto) our notated copies of Shakespeare's masterpiece. While in the process of sharing that with her I thought I would share with you a portrait project that was inspired by the intensity of that time in our lives. During the month or so that we 12th graders were studying Hamlet we could be found wandering the halls passing off our books to our peers to share and compare notes and to commiserate (with pride) over the all-nighters we had been pulling to accomplish our reading comprehension questions (that we often failed to submit by the 12am deadline). Our teacher held us to what felt like impossibly high standards that ultimately challenged us to grow deeply as readers and writers. Through the process we felt pride in the growth we were achieving knowing there would be so much to show from it alongside the color coded tabs.

At the same time we were studying soliloquies in Lit we were also studying studio lighting in photography. So I thought I would pull these photos out of the vault to share a short series titled "Though this be madness, yet there is method in ‘t." staring my dear friend Hunter whose notations were impeccably color coded and organized.


The digital quality of the photos is not what it once was as I no longer have the original copies and they have been uploaded and downloaded to many different sites over the decade since I graduated high school. I am thankful for these photos where I was able to develop the skills for indoor portraits with use of studio lighting. I am also of course thankful for the friends who I will forever think of when I think about Hamlet and for the hard work that our teacher poured into our lessons and the patience she had for our learning and growth. Our classroom was arranged with all of the desks facing the center where our teacher would often sit in a student desk to complete the circle and allow conversation to flow easily. Student seats were never more than three deep in a column. This type of classroom layout is excellent for teachers who want to lead Socratic seminar style discussions in a way that is inclusive and accessible to all in the room. Excellent for the study and discussion of literature. Did you read Hamlet in High School ? What are your classroom memories of this masterpiece?

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