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In a recent study, 71% of people aged 25-44 knew the quote “If only you knew the power of the dark side” came from Darth Vader, but only 10% knew that the Shakespeare quote “Now is the winter of our discontent” came from Richard III. I wish I could say I was surprised, but alas, I cannot. I think I’m allowed to ask this, as someone with two (useless) English degrees: is it really so wrong that people are more familiar with current cultural icons than with those that are considered to be classic and high brow? I’ve read everything Shakespeare ever wrote (or, rather, Edward deVere wrote, if you’re on that side of the “who really wrote it” debate), and honestly, a lot of it didn’t stick with me, especially the history plays. But, after seeing the first three Star Wars movies (episodes 4-6) 50+ times each, those well-crafted script lines have stuck. Come on, who doesn’t remember “Luke, I am your father” followed by the hilarious “Noooooooo!” ? But all that icky quote-unquote Modern English from Shakespeare goes in one ear and out the other. Sad, but true. Now, had I read Richard III or Henry IV 50+ times, perhaps those lines would have stayed in my nonabsorbent mind a little better. But, who wants to read those 50+ times? Oh well. My only hope is that Lucas’s recent travesties of film, AKA Episdoes 1 and 2, do not result with the next generation quoting Jar Jar endlessly… That would truly warrant a Luke-worthy “Noooooooo!”

“Vader vs. Shakespeare…..Fight!”

  1. Laura Hudson Says:

    You really think those english degrees are useless? Common, maybe, but useless? I use mine all the time in my job as a systems librarian. -Laura

  2. Courtney Says:

    Second most useless degree on Earth – right after philosphy, and right before history, which is my undergraduate. ;)

  3. Librarian in Black Says:

    Liberal Arts degrees (most of them) are useless in terms of the procurement of gainful employment, but I use the analytical and writing skills from my English degrees every day. Plus, I know a lot about literature, which helps when patrons want to banter about Audre Lord or DH Lawrence. And all the teaching I did (Freshman Comp) during my Master’s definitely helped develop my instructional skills. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t do it any differently. I just still wish that I could make a stable, solid living reading post-colonial lit and writing about it. Oh well…

  4. Courtney Says:

    Mmm, well, yes, don’t we all. You’d think that this day and age, a degree in Middle Eastern History would be on-call, wouldn’t you?

  5. Melinda Says:

    Yeah, but Shakespearean English was early modern english – so it’s less likely to be understood clearly/remembered as easily as today’s English…

    love your blog by the way – I’m starting at the beginning and working my way forward – it’ll be awhile since i’m only up to Feb 2004 :-P

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