Combating Shakespearean shrinkage – Shakespeare & Beyond

The worst reaction to Shakespeare’s complicated language, it seems to me, is thinking that it should be hard for an audience to understand. This will only cause Shakespeare shrinkage to expand, creating entire productions that are difficult to understand, not just occasional moments, and alienating audiences who have been disappointed too many times. Shakespeare should never be a chore: It’s some of the greatest music ever written serving some of the greatest characters ever created, and we should ensure that every syllable crackles with intensity and specificity. Otherwise, they’re just “words, words, words,” …with little meaning and few compelling reasons to watch. —CombatingAustin Tichenor

Shakespeare portrait said to be only one made in his lifetime on sale for £10m

A portrait said to be the only signed and dated image of William Shakespeare created during his lifetime has gone on sale for more than £10m and is being displayed in London. The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, is offering the piece for sale by private treaty without an auction. It is the work of Robert Peake, court painter to King James I, and is signed and dated 1608. The artwork went on display on Wednesday at Grosvenor House hotel in west London. Prior to 1975, the picture hung in the library of a stately home in the north of England, once…

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

In June, 2002, I was blogging about… a female autistic scholars lament, Dr. Seuss, Orthodox Christianity and coding, Shakespeare, and weblogs after 9/11

In June, 2002, I was blogging about A female autistic scholar’s lament The origins of Horton Hears a Who A NatGeo article on the media-saturated life of Iowa college students The function of “er” in speech A Pravda article on parallels between Orthodox Christianity and computer programming Dr. Toast’s Amazing World of Toast (I really miss the Internet that contained such marvels.) The world has changed, but Shakespeare asked questions that are still worth asking.  How innocent we are were. In 2002 we were blogging about “A Writer’s Perspective on an Emerging Medium,” by which was meant electronic text. A…

Behind the art: The Westmoreland’s ‘Death of Elaine’ beloved of staff and visitors

I always slow down and spend some time with this painting when I visit my local art museum. This scene from the Arthurian legends has been out of exhibition for a while and will be back with a new frame Oct 16. A scene of mourning at Camelot, the castle of the legendary King Arthur, is depicted in Thomas Hovenden’s 1882 oil painting, “Death of Elaine.” The king and his queen, Guinevere, along with knights, ladies-in-waiting and servants, are gathered around a bed holding the body of the young noblewoman, Elaine. —Shirley McMarlin, Tribune-Review

The Enduring Allure of Choose Your Own Adventure Books

I didn’t realize how involved the children of divorced dads Packard and Montgomery were in the creation of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” gamebooks. (The children of divorced dad Will Crowther were one motivation for, and were early playtesters for, Crowther’s original Colossal Cave Adventure; the history of parser text adventure games and branching path gamebooks overlap in time and theme.) You were a girl who wanted to choose your own adventures. Which is to say, you were a girl who never had adventures. You always followed the rules. But, when you ate an entire sleeve of graham crackers and…

The Miller of the Dee; by James Baldwin; read by Dennis Jerz

I showed up at the recording studio for about two hours over the summer; the creative team had three or four different scripts for me to record. We had a grand time knocking them out, one after the other. But this particular script included the stage direction “he sings.” There were lyrics, but no score. Not that seeing written notes would have helped me much… I’ve been fortunate to be coached by and work alongside many talented artists, in school, as a church cantor, and in local theater; and the only thing I can say I’ve really learned is how…

Reading fiction early in life is associated with a more complex worldview, study finds

This study relied in part on the repondents’ self-reporting of what they read as children, but it was a complex study that approached the core issue from multiple angles. The researchers note that an “association” is not a “cause” — yet the correlation is still worth reflecting on: Those people who did not read fiction in early life have a fundamentally different worldview than those who did. Research has demonstrated that people who read more fiction tend to have better perspective-taking abilities. Now, new research published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin has found that reading more fiction early in life is…

August Wilson House officially opens in Pittsburgh’s Hill District

The August Wilson House officially opened over the weekend in a tearful and emotional ceremony, bringing over 500 residents, celebrities, officials, and local Black leaders to Pittsburgh’s Hill District. The Bedford Avenue childhood home of Hill District native August Wilson, one of the greatest playwrights in history, was unveiled as a new community arts center, with a goal of connecting Black artists across the city. “I want to thank the community because he is yours and you are his,” said award-winning actor Denzel Washington, who returned to Pittsburgh for the event after taking part in a community ground blessing of…

Crossover (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 23) Kira and Bashir visit the Mirror Universe

Rewatching ST:DS9 Bashir thinks he’s bonding with Kira in a runabout as he namedrops and mansplains cheerfully about meditation and music, and asks her to call him “Julian.” Most of this happens in a single two-person take, and it’s delightfully cringeworthy to watch. A problem with the engines and an unusually rough return trip through the wormhole lead us to empty space where DS9 should be. A Klingon boarding party beams onto the runabout. Surprisingly, they apologize when they see Kira. We then visit an alternate version of Terak Nor, where Klingons supply the brute force, Garak is second in…

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Can AI write good novels?

I expect that this is probably the year I’ll need to consider how my profession will change if students start relying on AI writing software. Like many people in my social media feed, this summer I’ve been playing a bit with AI image software, and thinking about how all the photographers and artists whose work is being sampled and remixed, without compensation or credit, to supply a commodity that serves someone else’s needs. “Julia was twenty-six years old… and she worked, as he had guessed, on the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department. She enjoyed her work, which consisted chiefly…

The Wire (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 22) While examining an ill Garak, Bashir discovers a mysterious implant

Rewatching ST:DS9 While sparring with Bashir over literature, Garak gets unusually cranky and headachy, but insists he’s fine.  Bashir pays a house call to Dax’s quarters, where he treats a plant that’s languishing because it’s away from its natural environment (an apt metaphor for Garak’s situation). This bit not only delivers exposition as Bashir talks to Dax about his arms-length friendship with the mysterious Garak, but also neatly establishes something that we take for granted some 30 years later — that Bashir can diagnose and treat an alien plant he’s never seen before, because he has access to a good…

Carolyn performed as Ariel yesterday in the New Renaissance Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Carolyn performed as Ariel yesterday in the New Renaissance Theatre Company’s production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.   The performers use an “unrehearsed” technique, where they are reading from scrolls that contain their lines and the cues they have to listen for. She’s put together scrolls for several different tracks (each track typically consisting of a main role and, when that main character is off stage, several random servant / supporting characters).   She doesn’t find out until the day of a show which track she’s doing that day.   Each run will probably feature a different configuration of cast members,…

Internet Explorer cheated its way to the top, and I won’t miss it

I started teaching myself HTML in earnest after I attended a crowded presentation at the Modern Language Association in the early 90s. Midway through his demonstration of what a mouse was, the speaker asked a crowd of hundreds who had used a graphical web browser (everyone raised their hands), and who had used the Internet in their teaching and research (everyone raised their hands), and who had coded a web page (I saw just three hands… one of which was mine). The most important thing I took away from that presentation was that I could have been standing up there…