“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
Almost too easy.
Teaching can be a challenge. But then life hands you an event that banishes questions about the “relevance” of multiple texts you’re teaching, all at once. Come for the Frankenstein, stay for the Half-Earth, Our Malady, and Nineteen Eighty-four. (With a side of Mrs. Dalloway – what IS that thing in the sky everyone’s looking […]Read more
On Valentine’s Day 2023, an AI chatbot came to life. A NYT tech writer named Kevin Roose engaged it in conversation. It told him its name was Sydney. And then – apparently out of nowhere – it confessed it wanted to crash the internet. It wanted to dominate the world. [Adding a devil emoji – […]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
Boxing talk at Highgate Cemetery, rescheduled for Jan. 11, 2023!
Delighted to share that on Jan. 11, 2023 (rescheduled from Nov. 24), I’ll be speaking in person at Highgate Cemetery about Pierce Egan and Tom Sayers, who are buried at Highgate Cemetery, and the complex, bloody world of nineteenth-century English boxing, which fascinated Lord Byron and John Keats. More at the Highgate Cemetery website.Read more
Facadism and beauty in a burning world.
Wiping sweat, adjusting our sunhats in an historic heatwave, we stop at the site of the Cock and Hoop on Artillery Lane in the east London neighborhood of Spitalfields. It’s a shell of an eighteenth-century wall, window-arches of stone and empty air. A modern tower block (housing for the London School of Economics) is butted […]Read more
Creature and cat.
Behold a new marvel in the annals of Frankenstein memorabilia – a life-size wooden chair I’ve just purchased from its creator, local artist Tom Sheppard. As you can see, nonhuman beings can look past the Creature’s appearance and detect his inherent benevolence. 🙂Read more
What would Wollstonecraft say?
Since we’re apparently being held captive as a nation to what writers were thinking in 1788, let’s go back to 1792, when Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. What might Wollstonecraft, landmark English feminist, say about the not-entirely-unexpected but still devastating decision today by the Supreme Court, 6-3, to overturn Roe […]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