Weber State Secures $160,000 NEH Grant to Enhance Shakespeare Instruction in High Schools

OGDEN, Utah – Making Shakespeare relevant to high schoolers is a challenge the dean of Weber State University's Telitha E. Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities will undertake with the aid of a $160,000 Summer Institute grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Dean Deborah Uman and Jennifer Flaherty, associate professor of English at Georgia College, will use the money to create a summer institute for high school English teachers, which focuses on integrating adaptations of Shakespeare for young adults into the classroom. The three-week institute, titled “Transforming Shakespeare’s Tragedies: Adaptation, Education and Diversity,” will invite 28 high school English teachers from around the nation to Weber State to study two plays commonly taught in high school: “Hamlet” and “Othello.” 

Teachers will come away with strategies for supplementing Shakespeare's plays with adaptations created for young people. These adaptations come in the form of films, books, graphic novels, video games and web series. The modern formats will aid students in understanding the plays.

 “The program is designed to make the study of Shakespeare more interesting for young people in high school and really open up the canon to help think about topics of race, gender and identity that have changed a lot in 400 years,” Uman said. “Shakespeare is for everyone. It doesn’t mean those plays are fixed in stone, but rather that everyone has the opportunity to think about Shakespeare, literature, the humanities and how the arts might play into their own choices and reflect on their own lives.”

The summer institute will begin with two virtual sessions in June, followed by in-person meetings on Weber State’s campus, July 10-26, 2022, with a final virtual meeting in late August.

“The program wouldn't exist without the grant,” Uman said. “It is designed to help high school English teachers have more tools for teaching Shakespeare in ways that really speak to their students. We will share ideas during the institute and create a public website to share our ideas, which we hope becomes a resource for teachers, certainly throughout the country and optimistically around the world.”  

This prestigious NEH award is highly competitive. Grants are given to top-rated proposals examined by independent reviewers. Grants are made to strengthen learning, facilitate research and provide access to educational resources. Since its formation in 1965, the NEH has awarded more than $5.6 billion in grants. 

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Deborah UmanDean of the Lindquist College of Arts and Humanities
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Jordan Wise, Marketing & Communications
801-626-7948 •