Quantum’s King Lear at Carrie Blast Furnace

The girl and I were thrilled to catch Quantum Theatre’s outdoor production of King Lear. The smell of a storm in the air, gusting wind, piped-in industrial sounds (metallic groans and rumbles) and the knowledge that the only reason we were able to get tickets was this was a special add-on performance to make up for a show that was rained out over the weekend all added to the tension…

The Journey That Changed Geoffrey Chaucer’s Life

His status as a deputy on a mission from the king of England would make it easy for him to gain favor and gifts from the Visconti. When they sent messengers to Richard II at the end of the year, Richard presented the envoys with the generous gift of 200 marks in gold and two silver-gilt cups. This kind of largesse was the norm. Moreover, the Visconti, somewhat surprisingly, were…

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The Ongoing Obsession with Shakespeare’s True Identity

I’ve never been all too keen on Shakespeare authorship conspiracy theories, and I find students often get distracted by their belief that the default way to get the “right answer” about literature is to look for connections between the author’s life and the author’s work. For example, I was disinterested in “Shakespeare in Love” because it depicted Will’s creative genius as if it were held hostage to events in his…

4 Lessons From Moving a Face-to-Face Course Online

This fall, I’ve been asked to teach a Shakespeare class online. Here’s what Kevin Gannon wrote in The Chronicle of Higher Education about moving an established course to cyberspace. As I looked at the class — an upper-level U.S. history seminar — and began to think about how I would teach it online, my heart sank. How was I going to preserve what I thought was most essential — the…