When sophomore UC Merced English major Serena Johnson was assigned a creative project for her Advanced Shakespeare class in Spring 2020, she knew immediately what she wanted to do. The result, "7 Rings (Hamlet Remix)" is a brilliant tribute that fans of Ariana and the Bard will love in equal measure.
In Serena's words, "This project takes two of my favorite things (Shakespeare and music) and turns them into a retelling of Hamlet's tragedy. My goal with this was that each time you listen or watch, you see or hear something different - something that happens each time you read a Shakespeare play. You'll get to see Hamlet, Claudius, and Ophelia tell their sides of the story while jamming out to a #1 hit. I hope you enjoy it!"
Indeed, the brilliance of Serena's lyrics (many of which quote Shakespeare's play), and the multiple expressions we see for each of these three characters rewards repeated viewings! The lyrics are printed below the video.
In the fall, for Medeival and Renaisance Literature and Culture, she rewrote and sang "Stuck with U" from the perspective of Adama and Eve from Paradise Lost.
Creative projects are a feature of many English classes at UC Merced, and allow students to explore texts in more personal and often deeper ways. They often produce stellar results. Mahealani Larosa's Hamlet blog is another brilliant example from the same class this spring, as is Jose Ramirez's Diary of King Lear. Students often perform in classes, too. With the COVID-19 outbreak, that became difficult, but students like Alex Luna (performing as Hamlet on a deserted campus) took to the ditigal realm for their performances.
And, Andrew Perez's brilliant new short film, Jordan III, responds to George Herbert's poetry with modern urgency.
This project takes two of my favorite things (Shakespeare and music) and turns them into a retelling of Hamlet's tragedy.
--Serena Johnson, '22