“May you live in interesting times,” says an apocryphal Chinese curse. And for a Romanticist writing about Byron, boxing, and the celebrity culture of Regency England, the news that AI can now fake even more human creations is “interesting” indeed. Now AI has made a “song” by Drake and The Weeknd that neither artist authorized […]Read more
Hilary Mantel, 1952-2022: Monsters, mentors, inspirations.
This is the book – and this is the writer – to whom I owe everything. When did The Giant, O’Brien cross my path? Sometime around my transition from 20th c. MA to 21st c. Ph.D student, when I was devising scholarly research topics and writing and publishing short stories on the side and groping […]Read more
English Monsters and amazing students.
This January, students and I were supposed to be in London and Haworth and Whitby, tracking Frankenstein’s Creature and Dracula and Heathcliff and Mr. Hyde. Instead we were in a classroom on campus, a beloved old building with a sloping floor, a harmless ghost named Gertrude (according to student legend), and a whanging, banging monster […]Read more
Blake and Kae Tempest: Seeing “People’s Faces” with students (Nov. 28)
On Nov. 28, I’ll take part via Zoom in The Blake Society’s special event to celebrate the launch of its journal VALA’s new issue – which includes my short piece on teaching Blake’s “London” alongside current Blake Society president Kae Tempest’s spoken-word poem “People’s Faces” – over Zoom on Dec. 21, 2020. It was, and […]Read more
On Notebooks and Screens (from textbook-in-progress)
Excerpt from Ch. 2 of Advanced Fiction Writing: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology (forthcoming in 2023 from Bloomsbury Academic) Getting It Down: Writerly Self-Organizing, From Mind to Page “So long as I remain alive and well I shall continue to feel strongly about prose style, to love the surface of the earth, and to take […]Read more
Barking at the angel.
On the top floor of the Accademia in Florence, in an overlooked panel of a medieval altarpiece, is an image that’s easy to ignore: a shepherd’s dog, barking at the angel who’s suddenly appeared to rouse the obviously startled shepherds from their sleep. There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks […]Read more
Tinfoil Mary, “strong women,” and stays against confusion.
Left: The great writer. Right: Her tinfoil avatar. “I was hoping for a great memorial to Mary Wollstonecraft…this isn’t it.” – Historian Simon Schama I’m sure everyone involved meant well. I can’t wait to see how my next crop of “In Frankenstein’s Footsteps” study-abroad students will react to it [in a post-COVID J-term 2022 — […]Read more
Eldorado, Iowa in Decorahnews.com: Story below.
Thanks to Decorah News.com’s Ben Gardner (my former Paideia student!) for this lovely story about Eldorado, Iowa and how it came to be.Read more
Protection. Rebellion. Incarnation.
Easter Sunday, 2019. Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square. Extinction Rebellion and Brexit and Eucharist. Two hundred years on from Shelley’s “Mask of Anarchy” and Keats’ Odes. What if this is the site of Incarnation, here and now? parliament square easter sunday Carn, the root: meat, flesh. Incarnation: the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. […]Read more
Fighting the fight, right here.
“[We] never turn sentimental about something of real value — wilderness, wild animals, small towns, baseball, mountain music, our privacy — until the way we live and do business has pressed it to the edge of extinction. Then we administer affectionate last rites to everything we failed to love enough.” – Hal Crowther My boxing […]Read more