My #AugustWilson #Steampunk Nightmare

Today is my last official day teaching a compressed winter term “Special Topics in American Literature” course devoted to August Wilson’s Century Cycle. Last night I had a dream that Wilson wrote an eleventh play that I didn’t know about; or that I somehow missed covering one of his plays.  In my dream, I was shuffling through my stack of books, trying to put them in order, so that I…

Gem of the Ocean (August Wilson’s Century Cycle, 1 of 10)

August Wilson’s Century Cycle > Spoiler-free scene breakdown. Premiere: 2003 Setting: Aunt Ester’s parlor, 1839 Wylie, Pittsburgh. 1904. Prologue (late at night) Troubled Citizen Barlow arrives, seeking Aunt Ester. Eli (handyman and “gatekeeper”) tells him to come back Tuesday. Citizen tries to push past him; they tussle, upsetting a lamp. Ester picks up Citizen’s hat and hands it to him, gently telling him to come back Tuesday. Act I.1 (next…

My J-Term course on August Wilson doesn’t actually start until tomorrow, but the first assignments are already coming in. Sixteen weekdays to cover Wilson’s 10-play Century Cycle.

We’ll cover all 10 plays, but each student will only be responsible for reading an overlapping list of six plays. The movie adaptation of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom opens on Netflix this weekend, and we’ll be covering that play on Monday.

Responding to Literature at the College Level

A new handout, based on the opening lecture I give in every literature class. I’m trying to uncouple this chunk of content, which never changes, from the “intro to the course” lecture, which is topic-specific. Your high school teachers probably praised you for summarizing what you read and perhaps relating it to your own life in an engaging way. But your college professors will probably ask you to do a…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In December 2000, I was blogging about typeface snobbery, freedom in video game spaces, the first email message, and T.S. Eliot’s anti-semitism

In December 2000, I was blogging about Typeface snobbery (The Onion) Videogames as gendered play spaces (Henry Jenkins) Who wouldn’t want to trade in the confinement of your room for the immersion promised by today’s video games? …. Perhaps, my son finds in his video games what I found in the woods behind the school, on my bike whizzing down the hills of the suburban back streets, or settled into…

Motivation Amid Crisis (Autotrophic Bat)

As part of an independent study project, a graduating Seton Hill student wrote a blog about self-publishing her original collection of fairy-tale adaptations. She’s a double-major in creative writing and graphic design, and she freely adapted each story and illustrated each one in a different style. (She’ll be self-publishing her anthology soon, and I’ll certainly post about it.) Here is a reflection she wrote on staying motivated during the pandemic:…

Final grades are due tomorrow. My Fall 2020 is almost over. I survived.

Final grades are due tomorrow. My only unmarked assignments are just a handful of final projects with some components I couldn’t evaluate, mostly for some technical reason. It’s been a pretty rough semester, but I’m glad I started prepping for it in July, rethinking and reorganizing and rebuilding lesson plans and assignment sequences with a Covid-necessitated hybrid classroom in mind. Spending a lot of time rethinking the mechanics of my…

R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) Artistic Prosperity 2020
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R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) Full Play (via Zoom)

All 3 acts and the epilogue to R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) are now available on YouTube. I’ve loved this quirky play for almost 30 years. I’m thrilled that I got the chance to play Alquist, a humble builder who witnesses the Robot rebellion and its surprising aftermath. (I also designed the set backdrops in Blender 3D.) A story about a robot uprising is cliche now, but this Czech play coined…

When is the phrase “when asked about…” part of good news writing? Rarely.

A new graphic for an existing handout, which I touched up a bit. When is the phrase “when asked about…” part of good news writing? Rarely. A journalist who uses the phrase “when asked about” (or a similar phrase) is carefully telling the reader, “I’m bending over backwards to make sure you don’t think I’m giving you the wrong idea about this quote, which could be misinterpreted.” Students who are…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In October, 2000, I was blogging about bobbed hair, Woolf, a CFP for interactive fiction scholarship, the hyphen in e-mail, and a book with glow-in-the-dark pages

In October 2000, I was blogging about The F. Scott Fitzgerald Short story “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” (background; full text) A biography of Virginia Woolf The precarious status of English as a global language A call for papers for a special issue of Text Technology devoted to interactive fiction (I have a copy on my shelf now) Wired News picks “e-mail” over “email.” (AP Style is currently email.) A book with…

Daughter is in 2 theatrical productions opening this weekend

The daughter plays Laertes in Seton Hill’s free, live Zoom production of Hamlet (with a film noir theme) which opens tonight at 8. (The first half will be performed tonight and next Friday; the next half will be performed Saturday and next Saturday.) Free tickets to Seton Hill’s livestreaming video production of Hamlet Through the magic of recorded audio (not live), the daughter is also part of PICT Classic Theatre’s…

R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) Artistic Prosperity Trailer

We rehearsed and recorded a Zoom recording of RUR during the lockdown. I really enjoyed being able to do theater while so much of the rest of society was shut down. Here’s a “human interest” promo (which also includes actors who played Robots). Stay tuned for news about seeing the full production. Artistic Prosperity -RUR Human Interest Reel from Artistic Prosperity on Vimeo.

Death Comes for the Microbot — Flash Fiction by Aimee Picchi

Bee walked on six spindly legs to the spot where Spider had stopped moving. Bee, whose job was to record the doings of the lab, had been across the room, but its video feed had captured the moment. The tiny arachnid-shaped bot had been monitoring the bio-nanobot colonies when it teetered and fell, alone. “Can you fix Spider, Dr. Nesbeth?” Bee asked. “Death Comes for the Microbot” is a flash…