Watching ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ with 18,000 teenagers was one of the most profound theater experiences of my career

The arts are vital to our lives as humans. And if one entered the cavernous arena suspecting that 18,000 teenagers might view this as class-trip goof-around time, those suspicions evaporated with the extinguishing of the house lights. The students from Queens and Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island laughed with the actors playing the young narrators: Nina Grollman as Scout, Nick Robinson as Jem, Taylor Trensch as Dill. There…

Daughter Carolyn plays Cherry in Prime Stage’s production of The Outsiders (Mar 6-15)

My daughter Carolyn plays Cherry in Prime Stage’s production of The Outsiders (Mar 6-15). Because Prime Stage works to incorporate the curriculum of local schools, each production contains a student matinee performance, allowing the students to connect more deeply to their school readings through theater. Prime Stage also seeks to bring each work of literature to life authentically. To that end, The Outsiders was cast age-appropriately, with each actor being…

My students seem increasingly confused by the difference between journal title vs. article title

Sometimes students will submit bibliography entries that repeat both titles — either the journal or the article.  I assume they are using an online citation generator and I assume they’re not bothering to check its output.  What I had previously thought of as a random careless error now seems evidence of a paradigm shift. I’ve been teaching on the assumption that students are more familiar with the concept of a…

Pen Pals (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 15)

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation after a 20-year break. A new-to-me “Data Hears a Who” character story, featuring a multi-layered philosophical jam session in Picard’s quarters, a substantial B-plot for Wesley, and some tacked-on science-fictiony frippery for the groundlings. I started watching the show late at night, and lost interest when Wesley was steeling himself in the hallway before addressing the geological survey team he had assembled. When I…

On the Hatred of Literature

Going back to Plato—perhaps the first hater of literature on record—philosophers and religious authorities have attacked art for the same reasons our professors taught us to deconstruct and distrust it: because it is unpredictable, unreasonable and often inconsistent with their preferred politics or morality. It was also a lesson that was destined, in the years that followed, to seep off campus. Even as New Historicism fell out of fashion in…