A few folks emailed me in the past couple of weeks asking for more information around my Black Mirror-themed composition course, so I thought I’d post a few revisions and tweaks I’m working on as I prepare for the next iteration of this class. I focused on Get Out in the fall, but will come back to Black Mirror in both Composition I and our Liberal Arts capstone in the spring. I’ll post in the next week or so on the capstone class.
In case you are looking for additional resources on Black Mirror — both scholarly articles and/or reflections on teaching — I’d suggest you also check out the special issue of Supernatural Studies (4.2) devoted to Black Mirror that I edited.… Read more
There might not be a more (terrifyingly) apt moment to talk about Dixon’s 1905 play, which provided the basis for D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation. There’s a legend surrounding a presidential endorsement of the film: after the viewing of the movie, President Wilson supposedly declared that it was “like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” And, of course, the Ku Klux Klan endorsed the person being sworn into the office of the presidency today. There has been a lot of talk about how we cannot – must not – normalize white supremacy: but the KKK has been normalized – even romanticized – in popular culture since its founding in the Reconstruction period – and Dixon’s play is certainly an instance of this.… Read more
I went a-conferencing this past weekend, to the American Society for Theatre Research in Minneapolis (#astr16). I was invited to speak at a career session called Beyond the Journal: Social Media, Blogs, and Podcasts, with scholars Brian Herrera , as moderator and general theatre/social media/digital writing expert, and Pannill Camp, who spoke about the important and exciting On TAP podcast. It was pretty awesome to somehow get invited to this party (if a 7:30 am Sunday session can be considered a party. Indulge me.). Many thanks to the Career Sessions organizers for the invitation, should they ever stumble across this post.… Read more
Hello again, intrepid fans of bad plays! This week, I’m looking at a professional melodrama set during the war: William Haworth’s The Ensign (1892).
To my knowledge, the copy I got from the Sherman Collection at Southern Illinois University might be the only extant copy of the play. But it seems that a lot of unpublished typescripts are squirreled away in odd places/papers, or haven’t been catalogued, or the finding aids aren’t digital/online, so I could be wrong on this front (please contact me if you know of any other copies out there!).
Anyways, actor/playwright/director William Haworth chose a rather unexpected location for the start of his play (at least, unexpected compared to many other popular Civil War melodramas).… Read more
Welcome to the Bad Play Friday series!
Each week, I will share some quick thoughts on a late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century US play. This series is really a way of keeping me honest as I work through my monograph on Civil War memories; because it is monograph-related, the play will somehow touch upon the war, slavery, or Reconstruction. I’ll be revisiting some plays I’ve already read/written about, but many will be texts I just recently acquired, thanks to a generous PSC-CUNY grant. The grant sent me to the Sherman Theatre archive, part of the Morris Library Special Collections at Southern Illinois University this past February.… Read more
The house was packed a week ago today, when physicist Michio Kaku visited LaGuardia. He came at the invitation of the NEH-funded faculty seminar at LaGuardia – Technology, Self, and Society. Students were engaged by his presentation, and there were long lines up the aisles of the auditorium to ask him questions (equally long were the lines for selfies and book-signings afterwards). This event was clearly a conversation starter, and Dr. Kaku gave our school community a lot to think (and talk) about. It was an important visit.
However. At one point during his talk, Dr. Kaku referred to a future where “perfect capitalism” exists – where consumers can custom order any item (his example was clothing) to be tailor-fit to their digitally stored body measurements.… Read more
Yeah, I’m headed off to southern Illinois tomorrow for an archive trip. I’m staying at the Best Western Saluki Inn. There’s no wifi in the rooms. It’s right next to a Buffalo Wild Wings. Where does Indy go? Peru. Nepal. India. Egypt. Hangs in castles and temples. Crashes in beautiful hotels in Venice. My most exciting research trip to date? Gettysburg, so I could sweat my ass off during an incredibly humid July while watching a bunch of men run around in wool costumes and play with fake guns.… Read more
Faculty are given a lot of latitude when developing our sections for the liberal arts capstone class at LaGuardia, Humanism, Science, and Technology. The original impetus for this class was that I really, really wanted an excuse to teach the Battlestar Galactica reboot; that, and the theme dovetails with the NEH faculty seminar I was part of last year and will join again this coming year, Technology, Self, and Society. It pains me to say this, but BSG did not make the final cut: there were so many other excellent sci-fi films/shows suggested by colleagues and friends that more directly engaged with the debates surrounding technology and artificial intelligence.… Read more
As I mentioned here recently, my composition students will be preparing two rounds of podcasts this semester. They are recording their first podcasts tomorrow, and – based on some of the ideas they were bouncing around in class yesterday – I’m looking forward to the results. Several colleagues expressed interest in the assignment, so I thought I’d quickly create a repository for the methods/materials I’m using. Fair warning: this is all still very much in development.… Read more
Amateur performance comes up an awful lot in my research these days: the Grand Army of the Republic productions put on by veterans and locals for charity throughout the late-nineteenth century, the efforts of Charles Sager touring the Midwest and staging his spectacle/pageant The Negro in the late 1890s, and – in more recent developments – the work done by Civil War reenactors. I’ve been thinking more about amateur performance as I’ve prepared for the Mid-America Theatre Conference in Cleveland (where I’m presenting later today). For my MATC paper, I attempt to set up a framework for analyzing performance and consumption at the Gettysburg Sesquicentennial.… Read more