The Shakespeare Fellowship, which is dedicated to promoting Shakespearean scholarship in public education, has given Jamie Spence of Santa Monica an award for her essay entitled “Shakespeare and the Education of Women.”
Spence studied Shakespeare with Andrew Taylor at the Concord School.
The Fellowship’s annual essay contest is designed to encourage secondary school students to reexamine Shakespeare’s life as reflected in his works. The topic, “Who was Shakespeare and why does it matter?” has inspired hundreds of students from around the world to submit interpretative essays of the playwright’s life and work.
Drawing from the plays and the work of other 16th century writers, including Christine de Pizan (author of The City of Ladies in 1521), Spence stated her thesis in the opening passage of her essay: “If Renaissance writers sought to accurately portray humanistic ideals and construct true-to-life portraits using words, then the women of Shakespeare’s plays embody the apex of this intention. Shakespearean dramas often attribute cunning intellect, calculated control and enigmatic beauty to his female protagonists. In modern reflection, they are revealed as forerunners of contemporary women who aptly proved their ability to rival men in wit and intellect. Rarely powerless or ambivalent, Shakespeare’s women often drove plots in which they served as the contrivers of the plays central focus. Undoubtedly, the frequently disputed author must have been someone who held education in the highest esteem; he clearly believed the powers thereof could be used for iniquity or self-betterment. As will be shown, Shakespeare depicts the genius of which women are capable as well of the unspeakable evil in which some of literature’s most recognizable females indulged.”The Shakespeare Fellowship, a non-profit educational foundation, was established in October, 2001. Its goals include bringing the Shakespeare authorship debate to a world-wide audience via the Internet.