There is a thing in literature, theme X.

I’m very happy that several students in my “World Drama” class chose to write about The Merchant of Venice in their latest paper. Almost as many also write about Nine. And several chose to write about both. The assignment asked students to make an intertextual argument — that is, I asked them to write an argument that draws on two different literary works. I got a lot of Paragraph 1:…

Some fairy tales may be 6000 years old

Fairy tales are transmitted through language, and the shoots and branches of the Indo-European language tree are well-defined, so the scientists could trace a tale’s history back up the tree—and thus back in time. If both Slavic languages and Celtic languages had a version of Jack and the Beanstalk (and the analysis revealed they might), for example, chances are the story can be traced back to the “last common ancestor.”…

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“The Nightmare of Prince Prezelsky”

Leigh, Peter, Carolyn and I had fun recording “The Nightmare of Prince Prezelsky” for WAOB Audio Theatre’s “All for One Stories.” (Peter plays the prince, Carolyn narrates, and my wife and I are among the servants. The full 9-minute story is online.) Prince Prezelsky needs to fight a dragon to keep his kingdom safe. But he doesn’t want to! Find out how his servants convince him to take on the…

York Corpus Christi Play Simulator Screencast (PSim 2.1; D.G. Jerz)

Another digital artifact lives. The York Corpus Christi Pageant Simulator was my first serious accomplishment in digital humanities. After I learned all the medieval drama content from a class with Andrea Johnston at the University of Toronto, I made the computer program as part of a humanities computing course with Willard McCarthy in 1994, and published a poster paper and an updated version over the next few years. This simulation…

America’s Shakespeare

Shakespeare continues to be the most performed playwright in the United States, but his appeal has a global extension, and it has long been so. Sublimity has ever called to sublimity. The great modern nations boast great writers who depict and define the national life and character: Victor Hugo for the French, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for the Germans, Leo Tolstoy the Russians, Herman Melville and Mark Twain the Americans,…