Introduction to IVANHOE: Trial Run



The IVANHOE Game: An Introduction

1. Select a perspective / personality to take on as a persona, a mask. That is, pretend to be a feminist, a Marxist, or another kind of literary critic. You decide who you will pretend to be: _____________________________________________________________________

2. Tell everyone in your group what persona you have selected. Then decide together which passage to select from those offered below that you would like to use for the game.

3. Together as a group read through ONE of the following passages:

a) from William Wordsworth’s poetic manifesto, his 1802 Preface to Lyrical Ballads (originally published in 1798 as just a book of poems, in 1800 with a Preface, and in 1802 with this revised preface):

Taking up the subject, then, upon general grounds, I ask what is meant by the word Poet? What is a Poet? To whom does he address himself? And what language is to be expected from him? He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endued with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and passions as manifested in the goings-on of the Universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them. (Richey and Robinson, 399)

b) or Joanna Baillie’s dramatic manifesto, her Introductory Discourse to her three-volume collection of plays known as Plays on the Passions (1798):

The Drama improves us by the knowledge we acquire of our own minds, from the natural desire we have to look into the thoughts, and observe the behaviour of others. Tragedy brings to our view men placed in those elevated situations, exposed to those great trials, and engaged in those extraordinary transactions, in which few of us are called upon to act. As examples applicable to ourselves, therefore, they can but feebly affect us; it is only from the enlargement of our ideas in regard to human nature, from that admiration of virtue, and abhorrence of vice which they excite, that we can expect to be improved by them. But if they are not represented to us as real and natural characters, the lessons we are taught from their conduct and their sentiments will be no more to us than those which we receive from the pages of the poet or the moralist.

[T]he task which I have mentioned as peculiarly belonging to tragedy, unveiling the human mind under the dominion of those strong and fixed passions, which seemingly unprovoked by outward circumstances, will from small beginnings brood within the breast, till all the better dispositions, all the fair gifts of nature are borne down before them, her poets in general have entirely neglected, and even her first and greatest have but imperfectly attempted. They have made use of the passions to mark their several characters, and animate their scenes, rather than to open to our view the nature and portraitures of those great disturbers of the human breast, with whom we are all, more or less, called upon to contend.

4. Select a word from your passage and change it to another word: the change should reflect your perspective (as feminist, Marxist, DuBoisian, etc.)

Word(s) to Change: Change it/them to:

5. Go around in a circle with the members of your group, each taking a turn. Each person will change a word. When it is your turn, choose one from your list, a word that someone else has not already changed.

6. Challenge someone (or be challenged) if the change made does not seem to really reflect the persona, the personality a player is pretending to have. The group will decide whether the challenge is successful or not. If someone successfully challenges your move, you are out of the game.

7. Players drop out of the game if

a) they are successfully challenged, or
b) they cannot think of any words to change.

The last person left in the game wins.

Full title: Joanna Baillie, A Series of Plays: in which it is attempted to delineate the stronger passions of the mind, each passion being the subject of a tragedy and a comedy.