Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Teaching Resources
• Teaching Modules
Teaching Modules Archive

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

M.C. Bard: Hip Hop and Shakespeare

Teachers' Rating:
  27 ratings

Secondary School Shakespeare Festival

June 2006
Jacqueline Lawton and Emily Schuster, Folger Shakespeare Library

Plays/Scenes Covered

This lesson covers passages from a variety of Shakespeare's plays.

What's On for Today and Why

Shakespeare's works and today’s hip hop songs use a variety of literary devices to explore universal themes. Both art forms use the language of their times and are meant to be enjoyed in performance.


In this lesson, students will compare lyrics from hip hop songs with monologues from Shakespeare’s plays, and perform both for the class.


Note: This lesson contains some mature subject matter. Please review all handouts before sharing them with your students.


This lesson will take three to four class periods.

What You Need

Folger editions of your chosen play

Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts

Paper (perhaps card stock)

Common Themes Handout
Monologues Handout 1
Monologues Handout 2
Performance Handout
What To Do

1. Read the following quotation to your class (from Alexander, Robert and Harry Justin Elam.The Fire This Time: African American Plays for the 21st Century (introduction). New York: Theatre Communications Group, 2004):


"With its celebration of language, meter, poetic strictures, verbal play and display, [hip hop] hearkens back to earlier traditions of oral expression in African-American culture... and even to classical theatrical conventions and the productive wordplay of William Shakespeare.”


Ask your students: How do you define poetry? Drawing on what you know about hip hop and about Shakespeare, do you agree that both are forms of poetry? Why or why not?


2. If you would like to do a warm-up using lines from hip hop songs and Shakespeare to create found poetry, follow this link .


3. Next, students will examine common themes in hip hop songs and Shakespeare's plays, in order to familiarize themselves with the poetry of both. Cut out the individual passages on the Common Themes handout (attached below) and distribute them to the students. The passages are paired by theme. Have students stand in two lines, lining up the Shakespeare verses on one side and the hip hop lyrics on the other. Have the students with paired passages face each other. Once they are comfortable, instruct the students to perform the passages one at a time.


4. Then ask your students: Are the themes of these passages really all that similar? If not, how are they different? What literary devices did the poets use? (Examples include metaphor, simile, alliteration, hyperbole, imagery, rhythm, rhyme, point of view, personification, repetition, etc.)


5. Next, divide the students into groups of four. Give each group one of the two attached Monologue handouts. Each handout has a selection from a hip hop song, paired with a monologue from one of Shakespeare’s plays.


6. Let the students choose two students to perform, one to direct, and one to act as the scribe, taking notes on the discussion and later presenting the group’s experience to the class.


7. Have students prepare both passages for performance, addressing the questions on the Performance handout (attached below). Remind students to identify and utilize rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, and other literary devices to enhance their performances.


8. Have the students perform their monologues for the class. After each performance, have the scribe present a summary of the group’s experience. Remind students to be active and attentive listeners during all of the presentations.


9. After all of the presentations are complete, have each student answer the following questions in a journal: What is the author’s purpose in each of your passages? How do race, gender, and position in society affect the speakers' points of view? What literary devices did the poets use to make their points? Has your definition of poetry changed since beginning this lesson? How would you define poetry now?

How Did It Go?
Were students able to connect the themes of William Shakespeare's text to the themes that hip hop artists are writing about today? Did students identify literary elements in both the Shakespeare text and the hip hop artists' lyrics?  Were students able to recognize hip hop lyrics as poetry? Did students understand Shakespeare's language more fully by the end of the lesson?

If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.

Login or register to post comments.

110 CommentsOldest | Newest

restaurants in Formby It is evident from this article that the author who published this article has a pretty good brain. I think that this author needs a bit more applause than he usually gets. I seriously believe in you, sir!
jack December 19, 2014 12:11 PM

Our mission is to make both sides satisfied with the final product. We believe no other company on the market can offer a better solution to make that happen. Try now and decide for yourself! Visit my page writing essays help
jenny December 19, 2014 3:39 AM

I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work.You are truly a good writer. write me an essay
Vanesa December 18, 2014 5:08 AM

Hello, i am glad to read the whole content of this blog and am very excited and happy to say that the webmaster has done a very good job here to put all the information content and information at one place. Bandar Bola
jenefee December 16, 2014 9:54 PM

Agen Sbobet Hello, i am glad to read the whole content of this blog and am very excited and happy to say that the webmaster has done a very good job here to put all the information content and information at one place. Geby
jenefee December 16, 2014 9:46 PM

NJ LIMOUSINE I've been absent for a while, but now I remember why I used to love this website. Thanks, I'll try and check back more frequently. How frequently you update your site? eeddagd
jack December 16, 2014 2:28 AM

Nice information, valuable and excellent design, as share good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and inspiration, both of which I need, thanks to offer such a helpful information here Kenmore cooktop repair
Erina December 15, 2014 11:41 PM

Cara Menyembuhkan Kutil Kelamin Cara Mengatasi Kutil Kelamin
warta December 15, 2014 5:45 PM

Cara Mengobati Kutil Kelamin Obat Kutil Kelamin Untuk Wanita Obat Kutil Kelamin Untuk Pria
warta December 15, 2014 5:43 PM

FREE LIMOUSINE QUOTES Thanks Fiona – good point. For most of us, orienting our lives towards love is a huge change. However, once it takes hold, the economic problems usually fade into the background. I’ll reflect on that for t
jack December 14, 2014 12:14 PM

View More
  Common Core State Standards

There are no standards associated with this Lesson Plan.
How To

Note to Mozilla Firefox Users:

If the PDF documents are freezing, please try the following fix:
Go to Tools. Under Options click the Applications icon. Under Content Type, find Adobe Acrobat Document. Select Use Adobe Reader. If the option already says Use Adobe Reader, try changing the option to Use Adobe Acrobat.

Related Items

Flocabulary: Hip Hop in the Classroom

Poetics of Hip Hop lesson plan, Kennedy Center

Bookmark and Share   
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623