Armitage magister?

Explain it to me, baby! Lucas North (Richard Armitage) briefs Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) and U.K. government representatives on the financial goals of Alexis Meynell in Spooks 8.5. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Guess what, gang? Time for a short break from the recent unrelenting bleakness of Servetus’s Weltanschauung. It is the weekend, after all, and we do have to go back to work tomorrow. Actually, I guess the Australians are already headed in that direction since our tomorrow is their today. Anyway, speaking of Australians, Mezz remarked the other day that “Richard Armitage playing ‘I want you'” was one of his best moments.

I was going to answer, “yeah, he could really give classes on that.”

Then I thought, what if I he did? Give classes, I mean? So instead of a response, Mezz, you get this slightly disjointed post, which you inspired (the post, not the disjointedness. That’s all my fault).

Background: In the U.S., university instructors in regular positions are asked on a specific schedule which courses they will offer in subsequent semesters, with most universities planning approximately a year in advance in order to coordinate effectively between student enrollment, facilitation of timely completion of degree plans, instructor availability, and optimal facilities exploitation. (Universities diverge wildly in their capacity to balance these things. I saw it done most effectively at the (public) Universidad de Guadalajara, where I studied briefly in the late 1980s and the plan was so elegant that many buildings were in use almost around the clock. I don’t know what it’s like now, though, and even then students were striking to protest lacking educational resources.) It’s hard to generalize about course planning; I’ve worked on five campuses and seen a variety of procedures but by no means all of them. On some campuses, most people teach so-called “service courses” and have little chance to determine course topics. On others, the instructor decides almost entirely what s/he wishes to teach. Other factors play roles in these decisions, too, such as faculty seniority. Incidentally: more than 50 percent of positions in university instruction in the U.S. are now temporary, and those faculty are usually told what they will teach, hired on that basis, and sometimes even told what materials they will be required to use.

The first thing I usually consider when asked about what I will teach is how I can best combine my knowledge areas with what will “make,” or generate the necessary number of enrollments for a course to meet. (This number varies by campus and type of course; on my current campus it’s five undergraduates at the upper division level, for instance, while on my last it was ten, but it’s different for survey or graduate classes.) Making this decision effectively usually involves creative titling. “Social History of Women in Early Modern Europe,” for instance, garners less attention than “Witches, Whores, Wives: Women, 1400-1800.” (The next time you find yourself inclined to snort at a list of course offerings, keep in mind that in the humanities, where degree plans have more electives, we title classes in order to attract students unfamiliar with course subjects or unwilling to read course descriptions. In an atmosphere where student credit hours determine position renewal, advertising is everything.)

Thinking about how I deal with this matter made me wonder what Armitage would teach if he were engaged in instruction at LAMDA, of which he is an alum. I tried to get an idea of what specific classes are offered there, but couldn’t figure it out beyond the short courses offered. Here’s a description of what’s covered in their various courses these days (click on specific degree plans for closer information — Mulubinba will be relieved to see that they are explicitly covering Alexander Technique). I also wondered, frankly, if Mr. Armitage would be a good teacher, because doing something well is not always an indication that one will instruct effectively. When taking classes on a skill as opposed to a body of knowledge, one wants the instructor to be an effective practitioner, but that’s just the first piece. My buddy the professor barista, who taught cinematography (he hung up his professor shoes, by the way, and moved to California just as I was driving home, in order to focus on practice), told me that he thought that the real problem in arts classes is avoiding instructors who are essentially idiot savants — people so naturally gifted that they’ve never thought about how they do it, so they can’t break down the process to explain it to would-be, learning practitioners. People like that don’t need instruction; they know things intuitively. (Most people find themselves somewhere between completely naturally talented or completely lacking; if this weren’t true, there’d be no point in instruction, period.) In light of his remark, I thought it interesting that one of the LAMDA course descriptions explains that much of the first year of one degree plan focuses on “developing instinct and intuition.” I loved that description, but wondered how they manage that, as it’s one of the most necessary qualities for success, and hardest things to teach, in any field.

So, if he could teach anything he wanted, but had to title it creatively to ensure enrollments, what would Richard Armitage teach?

I have no idea. If I were teaching at LAMDA, I’d want to teach “History of Performance Practice of Passion Plays” or something useless like that. I tend to see him as teaching more practical than theoretical courses.ย  But here are some ideas of mine for things he could teach, with visual illustrations for inclusion in the course catalog.

(I have to say, though, I’m pretty sure they’d have him teach the entire sequence on smoldering.)

Potential Richard Armitage course offerings:

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Intro to Action Heroism I: Bruising as Characterization

Ian Macalwain (Richard Armitage) down on the rugby field in Ultimate Force 2.2. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Intro to Action Heroism II: De-Complexifying Intellect and Emotion for a Satisfyingly Motivating Look of Righteous Horror

John Porter (Richard Armitage) looks down at the dead refugees in Strike Back 1.4. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Intermediate Action Heroism: Historic Weapons and When to Keep them Sheathed

Richard Armitage as Epiphanes in Cleopatra. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Intermediate Action Heroism II: Making Off-Label Uses of Contemporary Artillery Convincing

John Porter (Richard Armitage) prepares to use his malfunctioning automatic rifle as a club in Strike Back 1.2. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Praxis Lab: Psychology of Action Heroism — Techniques for Overcoming Water Fear

Lee (Richard Armitage) undresses in preparation for teaching water aerobics in Cold Feet 5.1. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Desire in an Age before Electricity: Introduction to Smoldering in Historical Drama

Mr. Thornton (Richard Armitage) encounters Margaret (Daniela Denby-Ashe) at the Thorntons’ dinner party in episode 2 of North & South. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Intermediate Smoldering: Theory and Practice of Unrequited Desire

In one of the most painful Armitage moments on record, John Standring (Richard Armitage) informs Carol (Sarah Smart) that he didn’t realize she fancied him, too, in episode 1 of Sparkhouse. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Advanced Smoldering: Crazy Woman as Plot Element

Lucas North (Richard Armitage) tells Sarah Caulfield (Genevieve O’Reilly) that he has to cancel their plans in Spooks 8.4. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Graduate Research Seminar in Smoldering: Homicide as Reflection of Desire, or Way to Kill Your Love Interest Gleefully without Alienating Most of the Audience

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) reacts to Marian (Lucy Griffiths) after she informs she loves Robin, in Robin Hood 2.13. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Mnemonic Techniques I: Mastering Medical Terminology for Medical Drama

Richard Armitage as Dr. Alex Track in The Golden Hour, 1.1. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Never Work with Children or Animals I: Throwing Kids around to Avoid Child Abuse Charges

Heinz Kruger (Richard Armitage) threatens a child in order to get Captain America to back off, in Captain America: The First Avenger. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Never Work with Children or Animals II: Projecting Sex Appeal while Navigating the Shoals of the Equestrian Dilemma

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) rides out to meet the forces arrayed against Nottingham in Robin Hood 2.10. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Doctoral Seminar in Epistemology for Actors: Advanced Techniques for Encountering and Surmounting Severe Script Improbabilities

John Bateman (Richard Armitage) grimacing at the demands of Vaughn Edwards (Iaian Glen), or Richard Armitage’s instinctive reaction to just how implausible this script was, in Spooks 9.6. You pick. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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Please add your own course titles and illustrative caps (you can put cut and paste a URL) in the comments! As an incentive, if you like, I’ll write course descriptions for the best course titles next week.

~ by Servetus on June 3, 2012.

42 Responses to “Armitage magister?”

  1. Ha ha ha. I loved the last one with the grimacing John Bateman (and your description). It really is amazing the different looks RA can create — every character looks and moves differently. Nice.

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    • Yeah. Maybe a course on suppressing character-typical body language in different roles. Although the lips thing is the reminder that it’s Richard Armitage. Maybe we should send him to lip control school.

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  2. This is great! Of course, I think his smouldering is without parallel and he certainly should teach that. I’m in need of a nap so I can’t provide my own ideas right now. Brain too fuzzy on top of the strawberry colada. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  3. *Wonders where I can sign up for all the smoldering courses* ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Suggested course:

    Praxis Lab: Effective costume removal techniques on camera

    http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spooks8/album/Episode4/slides/ep4_073.html

    I couldn’t find a screen cap of the moment after this one which is what I really wanted ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. He absolutely would have to teach something relating to movement. He’s so physical when he acts (that backward somersault in the prison fight scene in SB never fails to amaze me) and he does it so well. Is it an influence of his previous dance background, or just a natural ability? Don’t know, but I’ll bet he’d enjoy teaching others how to use their bodies like he does (wait, that came out sounding vaguely sexual! I really didn’t mean it that way)

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    • I would think it would be hard to say, if you’d been dancing since you were four, whether you were naturally gifted or had learned to do it well. It’s thatn 10,000 hours thing. I’ll think about a movement course title.

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  5. Professor S – Did you forget to mention the ‘Techniques in Kissing’ pre-requisite coursework that is required before enrolling in any of the ‘Smoldering / Desire Studies’ classes??

    Obviously, Armitage would need to give some sort of oral exam to ensure that students are properly qualified for the challenging material … I mean, you wouldn’t throw students into organic chemistry without introductory basics – why should it be different for a major in ‘Smoldering / Desire Studies’? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • someone on Twitter suggested that one ๐Ÿ™‚

      I kind of think a class like that would have a “consent of instructor required” barrier on registration so that he could ensure that only really qualified people entered the class. I’d love a tryout!

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  6. Glad to be of service, professor!
    LOL! LOVE the course titles! I’d sign up for the smouldering one, not to learn how to smoulder myself, of course, but for the sheer pleasure of watching Richard’s demonstration. I’d probably fail it, and have to sign up all over again… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  7. Wow, that’s a full course load. I could sure take 15 hours of that! Is he offering summer courses?

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    • I think this would have to be a year load (and even then it would be a lot). Some of the things are prerequisites. You can’t be an advanced smolderer until you’ve passed the earlier smoldering classes with flying colors.

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  8. I think first of all the students should visit the class: How to concentrate on learning matter if the teacher is Richard Armitage *lol*

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  9. A course title: “Techniques for making an auburn coloured aspirant, with very large nose, into a credible screen leading man…” (And babe magnet.) Thank you for NOT fixing the nose, Mr. A. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?

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    • I’m trying to figure out what the content of this course would be beyond “don’t have plastic surgery.”

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  10. Graduate Research Seminar in Smoldering: Homicide as Reflection of Desire, or Way to Kill Your Love Interest Gleefully without Alienating Most of the Audience…..

    LOL. You know I would be the one to sign up for this one and then be booted out of my women’s studies group! But to be killed by RA over and over and over again. lol…

    For this course load, I would go back to school.

    Great post.

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  11. This is brilliant,dear Professor! ๐Ÿ˜€
    ROTFLOL! Fitzg!..great title!
    “all you need is…hair-dye..la.la.la.la.la”(He seems to say(sing);)

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    • I actually asked myself for awhile why he didn’t turn to the hair dye sooner — since he looks so striking with dark hair, even if it isn’t my favorite look.

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      • I wonder if it goes back to the whole not liking to fuss about his looks thing. I do look at photos of him from Spooks with that cool blue lighting, and he has a positively otherworldly beauty with those azure eyes, alabaster skin and dark hair. I do like the roses in his cheeks his natural hair color gives him. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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        • yeah, the way he dressed in public until fairly recently, the cheap haircuts, etc., poorly fitting clothes, all suggested a sort of “all boy,” leave me alone with the primping and fussing already, quality of his persoanlity. It seems, though, like someone at his agents’ would have suggested since the dark hair really contributed to his visual appeal for most viewers.

          I prefer his natural coloring, because on the whole I find the natural look more attractive and I don’t need to be bowled over by otherworldly beauty every second, but I certainly agree that with the black hair he becomes another kind of striking.

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          • I have always been attracted to redheads, so when I saw that his natural coloring was more of a reddish hue, I thought unhuh..no wonder I was attracted to him. It also made it easier to visualize him as John of Guant which is the role I would most like to see him play.

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            • John of Gaunt=indeed.

              It’s a sort of theme of a lot of early entries on this blog that i love brown-haired, brown-eyed men. So the brown has always been great from my perspective.

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  12. @servetus. You are so right. I don’t think things through, before rattling off. Sort of instinctive, not analytical, my brain. I think it was something to do with cosmetic surgery not being a great option. Might have liked to have had my piggy nose lengthened a bit, though. Maybe a wee aquiline slope inserted? (Audrey Hepburn) But, on reflection, I think it is more to do with not much admiring cookie cutter cute looks. (Leaving the actors to your imaginations. Not nice to name them,)Individualism, some bit of distinctive appearance, works for me. Including large? noses.Nose envy ๐Ÿ˜€

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  13. How about this one: How to Smirk Like Elvis.

    We can’t forget the smirk. There’s actually a lot of smirking and smoldering in this video, not to mention my favorite view of his backside in leather.

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  14. […] the summer, I was joking / musing about classes Richard Armitage could teach. Tonight I’m in a horrible mood because I haven’t written much for three days — […]

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  15. […] (Here are some courses that I think Richard Armitage could teach.) […]

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  16. […] rules — as the reminder of everything I wanted, everything I want, the big motivator. The professor barista was back in town today; he was premiering his production company’s first film and now […]

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