Cover image for Understanding Shakespeare's Julius Caesar : a student casebook to issues, sources, and historical documents
Understanding Shakespeare's Julius Caesar : a student casebook to issues, sources, and historical documents
Derrick, Thomas J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xii, 241 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Reading Level:
1320 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR2808 .D47 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This lively gathering of materials about Shakespeare's Julius Caesar will enrich students' understanding of the historical context of the play and encourage interpretations of its cultural meaning. Shakespeare's Julius Caesar reflects perennial cultural concerns about order and freedom, particularly as they clash in the figures of Caesar and Brutus. This innovative experiment in Shakespeare literacy features a wide variety of materials--from a modernized text of Plutarch's lives of Caesar and Brutus set on facing pages for easy comparison, to historical and contemporary parodies, to a rap version of the play. Most of the materials presented here are available in no other printed form. Study questions, project ideas, and bibliographies provide additional sources for examining the cultural and historical context of the play.

Following a literary interpretation of the play, Derrick presents a wide variety of materials, including: a modernized version of Plutarch's lives of Caesar and Brutus, set side-by-side to aid in the comparison of their characters; dramatic sequels to the play in the Elizabethan theater; a comparison of Julius Caesar to the Lincoln assassination, with reprints of 19th-century newspaper accounts, John Wilkes Booth's obsessions about Brutus, and the desperate notes he left after the assassination; excerpts from popular culture, including a rap version of the play that is perfect for student performances, parodies from Mad Magazine , James Baldwin's little-known appeal to African American consciousness, Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare, and John Housman's reflections on making the film version that starred Marlon Brando; popular allusions to the play and its verse from the 18th century to the present; and a chapter on teaching the play that includes commentary by noted teachers and a parallel layout of a rendering in Basic English alongside Shakespeare's edited play.

Author Notes

THOMAS DERRICK is Associate Professor of English at Indiana State University, where he has taught composition, literary criticism, and English Renaissance literature for a dozen years. He has edited Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature and is author of Thomas Wilson's Arte of Rhetorique (1982). He is the recipient of his university's highest teaching award and codirected a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities on democratic education.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
1 Interpreting Julius Caesarp. 1
2 Caesar on the Elizabethan Stagep. 25
From Thomas Platter's Observations of London (1599)p. 30
From The Tragedy of Caesar and Pompey; Or Caesar's Revenge (1607)p. 34
3 Elizabethan Legaciesp. 43
From Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Life of Caesar and Life of Brutus (1579)p. 52
From Arthur Golding's translation of Caesar's Gallic Wars (1565)p. 83
From Sir Thomas Elyot's The Governour (1531)p. 89
From John Higgens' Mirrour for Magistrates (1587)p. 92
From Arthur Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses (1567)p. 99
From Jonathan Swift's "A Voyage to Laputa," Gulliver's Travels (1727)p. 100
4 Julius Caesar and the Lincoln Assassinationp. 107
From John Howard Payne's Brutus; Or The Fall of Tarquin (1819)p. 112
From "Winter Garden, Special Announcement" (Nov. 25, 1864)p. 118
From "Attempt to Burn the City" (Nov. 27, 1864)p. 120
From "The Attempted Incendiarism in the City--Failure of the Scheme" (Nov. 27, 1864)p. 121
From "Winter Garden--The Shakespere Benefit" (Nov. 26, 1864)p. 122
From "Public Amusements--New York Destined (Nov. 27, 1864)p. 123
From "Booth's Diary" (April 1864)p. 128
5 Teaching Julius Caesarp. 133
From Ann Thompson's "Does It Matter Which Edition You Use?" (1991)p. 139
From Maynard Mack's "Teaching Drama: Julius Caesar" (1960)p. 144
From A. P. Rossiter's Julius Caesar, A Basic English Expansion (1941)p. 161
6 Julius Caesar: Popular Culture and High Artp. 195
From John Houseman's "Filming Julius Caesar" (1953)p. 202
From James Baldwin's "Why I Stopped Hating Shakespeare" (1964)p. 212
From Mad Magazine's "Julius Caesar, Lesson 1" (1965)p. 216
From Mad Magazine's "Call Me Julius" (1971)p. 217
From Mad Magazine's "The Bard in Birdland" (1961)p. 218
From Frank Jacobs' "The Julius Caesar Rap" (1992)p. 222
From Julius Caesar, Travestie (c. 1861)p. 227
Indexp. 239