The Story and Labors of Hercules

The Tower of Hercules overview / Wikimedia Commons One of the most popular of Greek heroes, Hercules (“Herakles”) was celebrated in stories, sculptures, paintings, and even in the geography of the ancient world. Perseus Project Classics Department Tufts University The Life and Times of Hercules Stories about the gods, called myths, were made up thousands[…]

Revisiting the Question of Etymology and Essence

By Dr. Gregory Nagy / 03.13.2015 Francis Jones Professor of Classical Greek Literature Professor of Comparative Literature Director of the Center for Hellenic Studies Harvard University Classical Inquiries Center for Hellenic Studies Helen and Menelaus on a vase / Louvre Museum, Paris When I say etymology here, I mean the procedure of reconstructing a form[…]

A Lesson from Phaedrus: Savoring the Moment

The Old Drunkard, Hellenistic Sculpture, Late 3rd century BCE / Glyptothek, Munich By Dr. Peter Kruschwitz / 08.14.2015 From The Petrified Muse Professor of Classics Fellow of the Pontifical Academy for Latin (Pontificia Academia Latinitatis) University of Reading The Roman fabulist Phaedrus opens the third book of his Fabulae with the following piece (Phaedr. 3.1,[…]

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[…]