Prior Texts Resource Archive

The Tempest in Wisconsin

The Tempest in Wisconsin connected over 90 teachers and 1500 students throughout the state in the study of William Shakespeare’s last and perhaps most enigmatic play. Participants joined worldwide celebrations of Shakespeare’s 400-year legacy, which at UW-Madison included an exhibit of Shakespeare’s original First Folio, arguably the most treasured book to date. Over the course of the 2017-2018 academic year, program participants explored how The Tempest anticipates contemporary debates around colonialism, imperialism, racism, indigeneity, gender, and disability. First performed in 1611, The Tempest takes place on a remote island where exiled sorcerer Prospero seeks redemption for himself and his daughter Miranda by orchestrating several encounters between human and supernatural, native and foreign, noble and treacherous characters. The play offers a reflection on literary creation itself, with Prospero figured as an “author” within the play. It also features some of Shakespeare’s most unforgettable and complex characters: the spirit Ariel, the Algerian witch Sycorax, and her deformed and enslaved son Caliban—an anagram of “cannibal." As they read the play and explored its hundreds of adaptations (including sci-fi movies, prison dramas, and classic opera, and a novelistic adaptation by Margaret Atwood called Hag-Seed), students and educators engaged with the histories and legacies of transatlantic travel, conquest and slavery in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Teachers participating in the program attended two educator colloquia on October 5th and February 2nd, featuring talks by campus experts, workshopping activities and discussions, and cultural and curricular presentations. Our participating educators and students joined UW-Madison faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, Center staff and members of the public for the Great World Texts in Wisconsin's Annual Student Conference on Monday, April 3, 2017. Click HERE for the conference program.

Teaching Resources: click HERE for the 2016-2017 "Teaching The Tempest in Wisconsin" guide and supporting materials.

The Tempest in Wisconsin was an initiative of the Center for the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, supported by the A. W. Mellon Foundation; the Evjue Foundation; UW-Madison Libraries; the Department of English; the Anonymous Fund of the College of Letters & Science; the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction; American Family Insurance, and the Promega Corporation.

2016-2017 Annual Student Conference Keynote Address: Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian and award-winning author who grew up in northern Ontario and Quebec, and in Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master’s degree from Radcliffe College. She is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her novels include The Blind Assassin, winner of the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; and The Handmaid’s Tale, which was recently adapted as a TV series with MGM and Hulu.

Atwood met with high school students from across the state at the Great World Texts in Wisconsin program's Annual Student Conference, where they discussed Hag-Seed—her adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. She also delivered a public lecture as part of the Center for the Humanities’ “Humanities Without Boundaries” speaker series.

2016-2017 Program Participants

Over 90 educators at 26 high schools around the state participated in The Tempest in Wisconsin program. 



Lead Teacher

Bay Port HS Green Bay Janelle Bailey
Big Foot HS Walworth Suzanne Floody
Brookfield Central HS Brookfield Patrick Perez
Chippewa Falls Senior HS Chippewa Falls     Molly Barnes
Clark Street Community School Middleton Bryn Orum
Clinton HS Clinton Kim Bindl
Cochrane-Fountain City School  Fountain City Terri Karsten
Community HS Milwaukee Jayme Timmons
EAGLE School of Madison Madison Jenn Sauer
Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah HS Elkhart Lake Lei Lund
Green Bay East HS Green Bay Susan Carlson
Hartford Union HS Hartford Katie Herrmann
IDEAS Academy Sheboygan Addie Degenhardt
James Madison Ac. Campus Milwaukee Kelly Patschull
Laconia HS Rosendale Danielle Olejniczak
Lake Mills HS Lake Mills Brenda Morris
Lodi HS Lodi Carrie Kerska
Madison Country Day School Middleton Evelyn Lasky
Madison East HS Madison Amy Isensee
Milwaukee HS of the Arts Milwaukee Krista Claypool
New Horizons Charter School Milwaukee Renee Glembin
Oshkosh North HS Oshkosh Jason Cummings
Oshkosh West HS Oshkosh Brian Phelps
Osseo-Fairchild HS Osseo Denise Beasley
Rock University HS Janesville Erin Jensen
St. Francis Xavier HS Appleton Lynn Zetzman