Professor Carol Chillington RutterJob title: Professor of English, Director of the CAPITAL Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning
Organisation: University of Warwick
Email: C Chillington Rutter
National Teaching Fellow 2010
Why does university teaching matter so much to Carol Rutter? ‘Because,’ she says, ‘it mattered so much to the teachers who taught me.’ A Renaissance theatre historian and specialist in Shakespeare performance studies, she sees herself as heir to a great tradition, passed down from academics who combined world-class research and writing on Shakespeare with inspirational teaching.
Carol aims to fulfil the promise inscribed in CAPITAL’s name: bringing creativity and performance into teaching and learning. Her vision is to re-imagine Shakespeare teaching for the 21st century, which means she teaches Shakespeare ‘without chairs’. She’s traded her classroom for a white-box studio space where conventional teacher/student hierarchies are erased, replaced by the idea of a creative ensemble prepared to take intellectual and physical risks. Using rehearsal techniques – collaborating, inventing, negotiating, playing, doing word-by-word textual analysis, and discovering the creative value of failure – Carol and her students engage with Shakespeare by, as one student puts it, ‘making the work happen’. She extends this across the university by leading a pedagogic research team that develops and delivers ‘Open-space Learning’, reaching students in Chemistry, Philosophy, Medicine, Law, and Business.
Some of Carol’s most exciting work enables students to work with theatre practitioners from Cheek by Jowl, Northern Broadsides, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. It provides a space for actors, directors and designers to explore their own creative process – like Lenny Henry, work-shopping Othello – and access Carol as ‘a live Shakespeare data-base’. Interested in new learning technologies, she has created the ‘Re-Performing Performance’ archive, which captures performance digitally, re-animating it in a ‘Live Archive’ for research, teaching, and learning.
Carol’s methodology takes students far beyond Shakespeare. Whatever they go on to do, she’s equipping them with skills transferable to their own future ‘performances’.