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10 May 2015 @ 01:15 pm
From David Oakes:

And according to the Globe's Twitter account, they filmed this, so I really, really hope it shows up on the Globe Player or somewhere accessible. One of the things I have genuinely wanted in life but have not yet managed is to see an actual boy play women's parts in early modern drama; after all, a chapter of my undergrad thesis was on boy actresses!
22 April 2015 @ 12:22 am
I was searching for information about Tudor petticoats on the internet (like you do), and happened upon the fact that Mary Shelley wrote a novel about Perkin Warbeck.

How did I not know this before?

It is apparently available on Project Gutenberg Australia:
20 April 2015 @ 07:09 pm
…You know, I am less and less convinced by the "Shakespeare must have meant 'Innogen' and not 'Imogen' in Cymbeline" argument every time I read anything written by Simon Forman. Today is the day in 1611 on which he recorded seeing the play, so someone on Twitter linked to his account. I guess we now have to start calling Banquo "Bancko," Macduff "Mack Dove," and Macbeth the "King of Codon" instead of the thane of Cawdor? I mean, Simon Forman said so.
11 April 2015 @ 02:04 pm
A PBS commercial for Nova (for next week's episode, called "The Great Math Mystery") just asked, "Is math an invention, or a discovery?" and my brain so does not understand how to wrap itself around how you would even begin to answer that question.

Of course, I am someone who took an extraordinarily long time to understand that 2+3 was the same as 3+2 as a child, and would break out in, I don't know, panic itching when my mother made me do timed math practice sheets at the kitchen table, in addition to being really spatially challenged - those puzzles where you had to figure out which set of six identical squares would fold up to make a cube? Bane of my existence - so this is not especially surprising. It sounds like an interesting episode, but I am not sure that even Nova would be able to explain this to me in a way that would let me get anything out of it. :)
05 April 2015 @ 10:14 pm
I am entirely too amused by the fact that in the credit sequence for Wolf Hall, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Harry Lloyd got a title card all to themselves, seeing as they were both in "Human Nature/Family of Blood."
04 April 2015 @ 09:54 pm
Someone on the internet mentioned that "The Eleventh Hour" was five years ago today, and now I am all sad and nostalgic. :( I loved Eleven and my Ponds (River, too) so very much, and while I know that it wasn't to everyone's taste, I miss that fairy-tale quality that seasons 5 and 6 had, with their girls being brave in the darkness of the forest, and people being separated from their loved ones by dislocations in time - but finding them again, too, because they never stop looking and loving even when they can't quite remember… Without any particular reason, I was worried that Moffat Who without Eleven would become (as I put it right before seeing any of S8) colder, and flintier, and less full of joy. What's odd is that even though I had no particular reason to worry about this - no spoilers or interviews or anything like that - I wound up being right.

Ironically, given how much I loved "The Eleventh Hour" right away and how much real and proverbial ink I spilled over Eleven, Amy and the gang over the course of their run, I wrote almost nothing about it on my first viewing - just this lonely little sentence from April 4, 2010: I've only been watching for fifteen minutes, and Amy Pond has already broken my heart once.

I have a pretty full account of my feelings about S5 in real time, because by the second episode, "The Beast Below," I was already in full meta mode. But I've only ever written about this first episode in little dribs and drabs here and there, on the way to something else - a post about Amy's abandonment issues here, a disquisition on Eleven and his interactions with children there. I've never really sat down to write about this episode, and how joyful it was, how it felt like we were turning a corner away from the Last-of-the-Time-Lords angst of Ten and toward someone who could call yogurt "just stuff with bits in," like a child himself; how we were meeting a Doctor who could come to a child's rescue and take her seriously within moments of meeting her; how we were getting a new TARDIS that looked like inside of a mad inventor's shop and a girl who could fly off with the Doctor in her nightie like Wendy with Peter Pan. I've never written about how much I love the awkward gangliness of Matt Smith in this episode, the way he struggles against handcuffs or leans out of a hospital window like a spaniel straining against a leash; or how I fell in love with Karen Gillan's odd, airily furious delivery of "Twelve years, and four psychiatrists," or how she broke my heart all over again with the way she yelled at breaking point, "Why did you say five minutes?" I've never written about little Amelia eating ice cream off of the ice-cream scoop, or that first time Eleven tastes the name "Amelia Pond" on his tongue. Until now, I suppose.

It's always hard to talk about what this episode, and season 5 generally, means to me. Other people have much more dramatic stories about how the show has helped them through hard times, and fortunately that isn't the case for me. But "The Eleventh Hour" felt like getting reacquainted with the stories that had shaped me as a child, getting back in touch with that magic after feeling for a long time that I had to put that sort of thing behind me. It was a reminder that stories don't have to be Serious and Important in order to matter very deeply to someone, that a little girl getting her prayer to Santa answered could be moving and true. I'll always be grateful for that, for Amelia Pond and her Raggedy Man.
04 April 2015 @ 01:02 pm
Top ten historical forensic facial reconstructions

This includes the recent reconstruction of Richard III (the one with blond hair), and the reconstruction of Mary, Queen of Scots done from portraits, as well as a rather nice one of a woman from medieval Edinburgh.

Of particular interest here is the "Beachy Head Lady," described as "a sub-Saharan African living in Eastbourne during Roman times." As the article says, "Beachy Head Lady was assumed to be a third century European Roman until experts took a closer look."

And this is precisely why people who talk about "the historical record" as if it is fixed and objective - usually to complain about the inclusion of people of color in media that take place in the European past, because of that terrible specter, "political correctness" - are so frustrating. (Well, there are many reasons; this is one.) The historical record is determined by what is left out and what is assumed, just as by what is there. How many skeletons might there be like this one, but which are still keeping their secrets because historians and archaeologists never considered the possibility that they might have belonged to people of different races?

(With all the caveats necessary when one talks about "race" in other periods, of course.)

And here's a story on the Beachy Head Lady, from the same site:
29 March 2015 @ 12:43 pm
Has anyone seen the film The Invisible Woman, about Dickens' affair with Nelly Ternan? I finally watched it this weekend, and I can't figure out what I thought about it. It was sort of elliptical and impressionistic, which started to make me feel a bit prurient in my desire to have more things spelled out and pinned down, particularly between Dickens and Nelly, but also between Nelly and her schoolmaster husband (the story of her affair with Dickens is told in flashbacks). The ending felt slightly unearned to me; because I knew so little of how Nelly felt about her life in the present, I didn't know how to respond to the realization or decision she makes at the end...

I haven't read the Claire Tomalin biography. I'm not quite sure why I'm including this disclaimer, but I haven't.
How did I miss this announcement before now? I mean, this is basically the tutorial I taught a few years ago, even down to the "Will and Jane" title!,_Austen,_and_the_Cult_of_Celebrity

Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity

Will & Jane, one of the Exhibitions at the Folger is co-curated by Austen scholar Janine Barchas (University of Texas at Austin) and theater historian Kristina Straub (Carnegie Mellon University).

The upcoming Will & Jane exhibit explores the parallel afterlives of arguably the two most popular writers in the English language. As household names and literary celebrities, both Shakespeare and Austen are on a “first-name basis” with the reading public.

Since the year 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, just as 2017 will mark the bicentenary of the death of Austen, this exhibit is an opportunity to consider the rise of literary celebrity in terms of 200-year cycles. Does today’s Cult of Jane resemble the first exuberant wave of Bardolatry witnessed in the Georgic period?

The exhibit will zoom in on how Shakespeare was celebrated 200 years ago in order to compare public spectacles like Garrick’s Jubilee and Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery to today’s media celebrations such as BBC “bonnet dramas” made from Austen’s works. The aggressive merchandizing of Shakespeare begun in the eighteenth century also closely resembles the marketing of Austen memorabilia today.
26 March 2015 @ 12:43 pm
While I was browsing in the bookstore the other day, I came across a book in the Shakespeare section called Poor Tom. Since - as the tag says - Edgar is my very best favorite, I picked up the book, expecting it to be on vagrancy or something.

But it is apparently an entire book, by Simon Palfrey, about Edgar! Oh, my heart.

I managed not to buy it then and there…but I did check it out from the university library even though I have no time right now to read it, because what if someone else checked it out first?