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Half of my students have never read Hamlet. (I told them not to get too attached to any of the characters.)

We focused just on Act I today — the opening scene on the battlement, the initial court scene that introduces Claudius and Gertrude, the domestic scene where Ophelia gets mansplaining first from her brother then from her father, and Hamlet’s encounter with the ghost. After the slow opening acts in A Comedy of Errors, The Merchant of Venice and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the students were surprised at how much…

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British Politician begins reciting colonial-era Kipling poem in in Myanmar temple

After the UK ambassador cut off his recitation of a pro-colonial Kipling poem in a Maynmar temple, UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson said, “No? Good stuff.” The foreign secretary has been accused of “incredible insensitivity” after it emerged he recited part of a colonial-era Rudyard Kipling poem in front of local dignitaries while on an official visit to Myanmar in January. Boris Johnson was inside the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site…

Teaching the First Amendment Freedoms

In an opening lecture, I briefly listed the five freedoms Americans are guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Then I moved on. I quizzed them the next week, and they didn’t do too well. They did a little better when I surprised them with a follow-up quiz. After that, it looks like they got the message. Every student correctly listed press, speech, assembly and…

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Who cares about hyphens, commas and capital letters? You should.

You’re a busy editor, fighting a deadline. Two submissions arrive in your email. One is brilliant but full of grammatical errors and style inconsistencies. You’d have to spend an hour fixing it up. Another submission is just okay, but it’s ready to go. Which would you publish? I often encounter students who’ve been told all their lives they are good writers, but who struggle with the details of MLA Style…