Shakespeare on Eclipses

Prepping for tomorrow’s first meeting of my Shakespeare class. In 1598, during Shakespeare’s lifetime, England experienced a total solar eclipse, with the path of totality tracking from Cornwall in the southwest up to Aberdeen in Scotland. As we in the twenty-first century prepare for the Great American Eclipse on Aug 21, let’s look at three of the ways Shakespeare used eclipses in his plays and poems: 1. An eclipse as an ill…

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College Instructors Don’t Require Enough Writing

I was surprised a few years ago to learn during a curriculum design meeting that I was the only faculty member in the room to require a 20-page paper. When I took a 300-level Shakespeare course as an undergraduate, we read one play a week and were expected to write a 10-page research paper every other week. So when I started teaching a 300-level Shakespeare, I thought I was going…

On Immigration, Poetry Isn’t Policy, but Poetry Matters, by David French, National Review

The conservative National Review offers an interesting take on what happens when a reporter relies on poetry to make a point. During a White House press conference yesterday, CNN Reporter Jim Acosta prefaced a question by reading “The New Colossus,” then asked White House aide Stephen Miller how he could support a policy that goes against the poem. Miller noted (correctly) that the poem was not originally part of the…

Beatrix Potter-pinching and Žižekian swipes: the strange world of book thefts

We caught a gent last Christmas with £400-worth of stolen books in his trousers and elsewhere. We grabbed all of the bags back, but he returned about half an hour later to reclaim a half-bottle of whisky and his dream journal, which had been at the bottom of one of the bags of stolen books. As we showed him the door he told us: “I hope you’ll consider this in…