A Conversation with Joseph Candido
Joseph Candido is the Chair of the English Department and teaches a class dedicated to studying the works of Shakespeare. This year he’ll be a part of two faculty-led study abroad trips: a summer trip to London and a semester trip to Rome in the fall. Candido has helped lead the Theater in London trip for more than 15 years, for which students can still register until Feb. 1.
Q: How long have you been teaching at the UA?
A: I’ve been teaching at the university for 31 years.
Q: What has been your favorite teaching moment thus far?
A: It would be really impossible to pick one, but I would say almost any moment in my Shakespeare class when I’m teaching Richard II.
Q: How were you first introduced to Shakespeare?
A: I lived in Connecticut. I grew up in New Haven, Conn. and I lived near Stratford, Conn., which in those days had a Shakespeare theater. My mother used to take me to plays there all the time when I was a boy.
Q: What is your favorite play?
A: Richard II
Q: How do you think Shakespeare’s themes have held up over time?
A: Shakespeare’s themes have held up brilliantly over time. Shakespeare understands what it means to be a person, and people don’t change that much. He understands all sorts of people. He can understand a poor person as well as a rich person, a woman as well as a man, a child as well as an adult. He knows what it means to be human, and that can resonate with anyone at any time.
Q: Do you prefer Shakespeare’s sonnets or plays? (If plays: Comedies, Histories, or Tragedies?)
A: His sonnets are wonderful, but I prefer his plays. The history plays are my favorite.
Q: Since you are involved with the UA Theater in London summer trip, could you share with students why it is important?
A: First of all, it’s very important for students to understand another culture and to see what it’s like to experience life as other people live it. One of the things our students who go to London understand immediately is that people in England have different sorts of attitudes and values often from ours here in America, especially when it comes to the theater. The theater is as popular in England as movies are popular here. Also, our students encounter a lot more history there. The idea of living another culture for a while broadens them and gives them a greater sense of sophistication.
Q: What is your favorite part of the trip, and what do you think that students get out of it?
A: I honestly can’t pick one. I like everything we do. I love going to the theater; I love seeing the cathedrals; I love just walking around the town. I just love everything about it. I can’t say I have a favorite thing to do.
Q: This fall you’re going with the UA Rome Center Trip. What are you most excited about concerning the trip?
A: I haven’t been to Rome since I was 18 years old. I’m most excited simply about seeing the great old antiquities of Rome.
Q: If you had to choose one, which Shakespearean Character would you be? Why?
A: I think I’d be Hotspur in 1 Henry IV because he’s such an idealist, and he has some of the most beautiful poetry that Shakespeare ever wrote. He’s a character of pure idealism and very great emotionalism. He’s very passionate. He represents for Shakespeare the last gasp for the chivalric period. He has in him all the beauty of a culture in decline and all of the attraction to something that is old and distant and meaningful but is now giving way to something else. I find that very touching.