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…

PAC-MAN: The Untold Story of How We Really Played the Game

A fascinating study of the thinginess of a video game. Put in your quarter, hit the one-player button and grab the joystick. All you have to do is move Pac-Man through a series of tight cornered mazes, trying to eat all the dots and fruit on screen while also trying to out-maneuver a group of ghosts who will kill you as soon as they touch you. If you eat one of…

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Wonderfully Detailed Tribute to 1970s British TV Show Space: 1999

“A middle aged geek” puts it well: “Utter nonsense, yes, but very well-made nonsense.” The incredibly detailed miniature effects and feature film production design of Moonbase Alpha make the original Star Trek’s balsa wood & cardboard sets look like a fifth grade play. While the story of ‘unknown magnetic radiation’ causing crewmen at the base to go mad is never really resolved (some genuinely sloppy writing), it doesn’t really matter; the stage…