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…

Trump Briefly Glanced at Eclipse without Protective Glasses

Donald Trump’s persona as a man who doesn’t like to be told what to do feeds into the spread of this image of him staring directly at the eclipse without protective glasses. I’ve seen it portrayed as if an aide warned Trump not to do it, and then he immediately did it anyway, on impulse. Naturally I investigated. Recalling the still photo taken of Trump appearing to ignore his own…

NASA: No, The Eclipse Won’t Blind Pets

I once heard a fellow grad student say Galileo went blind because the the Church tortured him, I said no, he went blind because he looked at the sun through a telescope. Turns out both stories are myths. Galileo did go partially blind from cataract and glaucoma in his 70s. “Galileo was well aware of the dangers of direct solar observations and seems to have predominantly used the projection technique…

People with autism spectrum disorder avoid eye contact because it causes anxiety

My culture has taught me that eye contact is a sign of respect and empathy. As a teacher, I value eye contact because it’s a way students can assure me they are paying attention. (Lack of eye contact is also useful feedback; when I see too many students smiling vacantly while staring at something they are holding under the table, I know I need to shift my teaching tactics.) Today…

Predatory Journals Hit By ‘Star Wars’ Sting

I’ve been contacted by editors who would just love for me to publish in international relations journals (I’m trained as an American literature specialist), or write a textbook on pretty much any topic I suggest. I’ve also seen my own web pages reproduced word-for-word, except for the removal of my name, in books other people have listed on their academic resumes. It’s very frustrating for students who find what appears…

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Poetry Stimulates the Brain’s Reward-Anticipation Arousal Near Ends of Stanzas

I fixed the NY Mag’s clickbaity title, “This is what happens to your brain when you read poetry.” In fact the original study was about what happens when you listen to a recitation, not what happens when you read. While people “get chills” when they listen to music or watch movies, their brains seem to respond uniquely to poetry, anticipating an emotional rush as they near the end of a…