I was completely surprised when I found out about this special issue of The Hare, as well as very honored and humbled. To read such detailed and positive accounts of one’s teaching is a once-in-a-lifetime-dream experience for any professor, and I am deeply grateful that I get to hear such thoughtful reflections while I am still around to bask in them!
Of course, these reflections overstate the case, and often give me credit I don’t really deserve. The people who are entitled to the credit for all of the wonderful learning that takes place at Winedale are the students themselves, students like Carra Martinez and the others who contributed their memories to these various pieces. For more than twenty years under my direction, and another thirty under that of Doc Ayres, students have been making a remarkable commitment to explore Shakespeare at Winedale in a detailed, determined, and demanding way, a commitment “costing not less than everything” (as Doc likes to quote from Eliot’s Four Quartets). To all of them, I say thank you. I want to acknowledge Doc Ayres’ incredible gift to all of us in creating this program, and to thank him for giving me the opportunity to learn and grow at Winedale both as a student and teacher. I was so fortunate as an undergrad to have teachers like Doc and Paul Woodruff to nurture my love of Shakespeare and drama. I also want to remember Gareth Morgan, whose Sunday Shakespeare play-readings were a crucial part of my Shakespearean education in those days.
I would like to thank Casey Caldwell and Matt Davies, part of a line a brilliant assistants I have had over my years at Winedale: I should also mention Natasha Diot, Susan Gayle Todd, Dan Keegan, Bob Jones, Linden Kueck, Sonia Desai, Bronwyn Barnwell and David Higbee Williams. Each of them brought unique gifts and dedication to the program. And finally, the person who has contributed the most to Shakespeare at Winedale during the years of my direction has been my wife Laurel Loehlin, “Lady Winedale”, whose unpaid labor for the program has really made it a home and a family for generations of students.
It does matter, I think, that it is Shakespeare at Winedale. While there are myriad possibilities for intensive collaborative learning experiences centered on a variety of subjects and projects, I believe that the richness and breadth of Shakespeare’s body of work are what makes the program seem endlessly rewarding, at least to me. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity, for over two decades, to explore these texts with wonderful students. I look forward to continuing to do so for as long as possible. I am grateful for the words, the work, and the wonderful people I have met along the way.