Student presentations, when they go right, bring so many blessings into my life, beyond even the obvious one of relieving me of 15 minutes of class time to plan. The greatest of these blessings come in the form of sublime YouTube videos, previously unknown to me.
The highlight of last year's presentations? A little something called "Strindberg and Helium":
This year? Well, this year my accidental syllabus genius* led me to teach the medieval morality play Everyman on Mardi Gras (message: earthly delights - oh, I beg your pardon - Earthly Delights will not avail thee! Death comes to us all!) and Doctor Faustus in the midst of Lent (message: intellectual delights will not avail thee! Death comes to us all, even those with tenure! For verily God grants neither tenure nor promotion to those who despair.). And what touch of sublimity did today's student presentation impart to my Intro to Drama class?
Two words: Lego. Everyman.
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Other literary and theatrical tidbits that are striking my fancy this week?
For the first time, the work of a female playwright will be performed at Shakespeare's Globe. This is great news, of course, and the play has a subject that particularly fascinates me (the 18th C asylum of Bedlam, where society used to flock to see the spectacle of the mad on evenings when the theatres seemed too tame). But shouldn't this have happened already? I mean, the modern Globe has been in operation since 1997, and it has been producing new works alongside Renaissance ones ever since. Hmm.
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The book editors at the Washington Post recommend books to read while bundled up against Snowmageddon. Notice how many of them take place in Atlantic Canada. And then notice how few of the "summer" reads they discuss take place here.
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Flashlightworthy, a blog devoted to short lists of recommendations on specialized topics, recommends both the Best YA titles of 2009 and (in honor of Valentine's Day, which I prefer to call Stoppardian Mathematician Day) the Best Young Adult Romances.
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NBA players are bibliophiles too! The single sentence from this delightful article that most fills my heart with glee?
Miami's Dwyane Wade isn't afraid to admit that one of his favorite books was Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," which he first read as a student at Marquette.'
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A rarely discussed benefit of eBooks? They strip away the public aspect of reading by one more layer, eliminating the intellectual declaration that is the book cover. Instead, people can just read what they like, without worrying about the readerly persona they are presenting.
Now, I prefer a paper book every time, I have to say, but I do enjoy reading romance in eBook format. Why? Because I can't bear romance covers. I know that for many they are part of the delight of the genre, but the fewer abs and pecs and heavingly ahistorical flouncy dresses that are on display while I read my romances, the happier this reader is.
Also, what a delight it is to use my eReader's comments feature to carry on a continuous dialogue with the characters of the novel. Take my recent reading of Anne Stuart's Black Ice:
He couldn't be sorry he told her - if he died, he'd regret that he'd held that back from her.
Sycorax Pine's marginalia:
Nope. You'd be dead.
Righto. Back to Mt. TBR and Mt. Grademore - the twin peaks of my personal Alps.**
*Ah, accidental syllabus genius. Really, it is the only true syllabus genius. Previous known instances include unintentionally assigning Martin Luther King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and Frederick Douglass's "What to the Slave of the Fourth of July?" for discussion on the day Barack Obama was elected, or fortuitously choosing to cover elegy and memorial on Canadian Remembrance Day before I even knew that such a holiday existed.
** I will leave the David Lynch fans among you to determine which is the White Lodge and which is the Black... or whether, perhaps (can it be?), they are both... oh no!