What is Concrete Poetry?

Augusto de Campos’s Lygia Fingers, a poem from 1953 for his wife-to-be, Lygia Azeredo, highlights the international tendencies of concrete poetry; it appeared in a portfolio of concrete poems by European and Brazilian artists issued by the German printer and publisher Hansjörg Mayer in 1964. From 13 visuelle Texte (Stuttgart: Edition H. Mayer, 1964). The[…]

Songs of Stone

Sculptural Group of a Seated Poet (possibly Orpheus) with Two Sirens, 350–300 B.C., Greek, made in Tarentum, South Italy. Terracotta with traces of polychromy. Sirens: 55 1/8 in. high. The J. Paul Getty Museum, 76.AD.11. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program Is the greatness of poetry behind us? Writer Gabriele Tinti shares[…]

Re-Animating a Murderer: The Corpse Experiment that Inspired Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Cartoon of a galvanized corpse from the Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division. 10.15.2016 George Forster was hanged at Newgate Prison on January 18, 1803 for murdering his wife and daughter.  After the execution, Forster’s (also spelled Foster in The Newgate Calendar) body was carried to a nearby house so that Giovanni Aldini (April[…]

Tellings and Texts: Dadupanthi Homiletics in North India

Dadupanthi Saints / Photo from University of Oxford By Dr. Monika Horstmann / 10.01.2015 Professor of Linguistics University of Heidelberg “The Example in Dadupanthi Homiletics,”[1], from Tellings and Texts: Music, Literature, and Performance in North India Introduction India is rife with preaching. There is no city, no village where there are not on generous display[…]

Did Sir Walter Scott Invent Scotland?

Portrait of Sir Walter Scott, novelist and poet Walter Scott’s phenomenally popular novels and poems created an image of Scotland as a land of sublime scenery and heroic chivalry. Why is it Scott’s version rather than any of the many other nineteenth-century literary representations of Scotland that has endured in the popular imagination?  Scott’s romanticised[…]

Shakespeare’s Astronomy

Portrait of William Shakespeare 1564-1616. Chromolithography after Hombres y Mujeres celebres 1877 / Barcelona Museum Lecture by Dr. Michael Rowan-Robinson, Museum of London / 11.30.2016 Emeritus Professor of Astronomy Gresham College ‘Shakespeare’s allusions to the planets are very often made astrologically.  In but few instances are they made from a purely astronomical point of view’[…]

The 19th-Century Genealogist Who Claimed George Washington was a Descendant of Odin

Replica of the Gokstad Viking ship complete with the Stars and Stripes proudly flying, featured at the World’s Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893 / Library of Congress A bizarre and fanciful piece of genealogical scholarship and what it tells us about identity in late 19th-century America. By Dr. Yvonne Seal / 02.08.2017 Assistant Professor[…]

Chaucer: Historical Context with Analysis of ‘The Canterbury Tales’

17th Century Portrait of Geoffrey Chaucer / National Portrait Gallery, London By Dr. Michael Delahoyde / 10.05.2012 Professor of English Washington State University Historical Context Introduction Most of us first encounter Chaucer near the beginning of senior year in high school. At the time I was issued my brick-red copy of Adventures in English Literature,[…]

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Frosty Notes from Roman Britain

Frosty temperatures at Vindolanda in winter 2014. / Photo by the Vindolanda Trust, Creative Commons By Dr. Peter Kruschwitz / 05.08.2014 From The Petrified Muse Professor of Classics Fellow of the Pontifical Academy for Latin (Pontificia Academia Latinitatis) University of Reading An inscription which has long fired my imagination is a fragmentary piece from Habitancum/Risingham[…]

How Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ Can Inspire Those Who Fear Trump’s America

A Soviet-era stamp depicts a scene from Leo Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace.’ / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Ani Kokobobo / 08.22.2016 Assistant Professor of Russian Literature University of Kansas As a professor of Russian literature, I couldn’t help but notice that comedian Aziz Ansari was inadvertently channeling novelist Leo Tolstoy when he claimed that “change[…]

Bhakti Women and Poetry

BrightStar By Dr. Dorothy Jakobsh Professor of Religious Studies University of Waterloo, Canada What is today known as the Bhakti Movement had its genesis in the South of India in the 6th century CE. It is characterized by the writings of its poet-saints, many of whom were female, that extolled passionate devotional love for the[…]

Defoe and the Distance to Utopia

Detail from the film Robinson Crusoe (1902) by Georges Méliès / Wikimedia Commons In the wake of recent political shifts and the dystopian flavour they carry for many, J.H. Pearl looks to the works of Daniel Defoe and the lessons they can teach us about bringing utopia home. By Dr. Jason H. Pearl / 01.25.2017[…]

Robert Browning: A Brief Biography

By Dr. James Sexton Lecturer in English Literature Specialist in Modern, Renaissance, and Utopian/Dystopian Literatures Camosun College Robert Browning was born on May 7, 1812, in Camberwell, England. His mother was an accomplished pianist and a devout evangelical Christian. His father worked as a bank clerk and was also an artist, scholar, antiquarian, and collector of[…]

Areopagitica: Milton’s Stance on Censorship and Licensing

Bust of John Milton / National Portrait Gallery, London Lecture by Dr. John Rogers / 10.01.2007 Professor of English Yale University Introduction: Areopagitica From cover page of Areopagitica / Wikimedia Commons With Areopagitica, we find ourselves in the middle of the English Revolution, sometimes called the Puritan Revolution. It’s in this period that Milton increasingly[…]

Akbar’s “Jesus” and Marlowe’s “Tamburlaine”: Strange Parallels of Early Modern Sacredness

Mughal Emperor Akbar / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. A. Azfar Moin Associate Professor of Religious Studies University of Texas, Austin 3:2013-2014 Abstract This essay explores a strange parallel in the way that sovereignty was imagined in early modern South Asia and Europe. At the end of the sixteenth century, when the Mughal emperor Akbar embraced[…]

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: A Brief Biography

By Dr. James Sexton Lecturer in English Literature Specialist in Modern, Renaissance, and Utopian/Dystopian literatures Camosun College Born in 1806 at Coxhoe Hall, Durham, England, Elizabeth Barrett was an English poet influenced by the Romantic movement. The oldest of 12 children, Elizabeth was the first in her family born in England in over 200 years. For[…]

Epic Hero as Cyborg: An Experiment in Interpreting Pre-Modern Heroic Narrative

By Dr. Rodger Wilkie Associate Professor of English St. Thomas University Volume 2:2012 Abstract The epic hero is a cyborg. This apparently anachronistic claim agrees both with contemporary definitions of “cyborg” and with the construction of heroes in pre-modern epic. The paper offers a test case in Cethern Mac Fintain, a minor character in the[…]

The Origins of ‘A Christmas Carol’ (with Video)

Professor John Sutherland considers how Dickens’s A Christmas Carol engages with Victorian attitudes towards poverty, labour and the Christmas spirit. By Dr. John Sutherland / 03.14.2014 Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature University College London Prince Albert – the newly installed husband of Queen Victoria – is popularly associated with institutionalising the British[…]

Don’t Ride that Frog, Mouse!

(image from a manuscript [Colmar Bibliothèque municipale, 0409 (493)] of the translation into Latin by Carlo Marsuppini (1399–1453) of a classical Greek parodic epic, the Batrachomyomachia, The Battle of the Frogs and Rats. In this particular case, the frog drowns his passenger (who, in Chapman’s translation, “Cried Peepe, and perish’d”) because he’s frightened by a water snake.[…]