More Strike Swans: Historical and Film Connections

Happy Seventh Day of Christmas for those of you keeping score at home! Of course, even if you don’t have a fun set of seasonal glasses as we do at my house (one for each day of Christmas), you probably remember that the seventh Image result for what do the seven swans a swimming refer today is the one with seven swans a-swimming.  In the spirit of the day’s iconic birds, we’ll continue our look at one of the most interesting themes of Lethal White and explore its connection to an obscure historic event that has turned up in a recent film. Join me after the jump to talk about swans and to see what on earth Robert the Bruce has to do with Cormoran Strike (a surprising little bit, actually). [Read more…]

Crimes of Grindelwald: Shakespeare!

Image result for crimes of grindelwaldBack in the summer, as we were speculating on the then-forthcoming new Fantastic Beasts film, I pondered the possibilities that loomed for our next installment in the magizooilogical adventures of Newt Scamander and his associates, especially as those possibilities connected to Shakespeare’s textbook comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Now, after seeing the film and taking a week to process my thoughts, I’m delighted to kick around some of the ways in which the film fulfilled and challenged the Shakespearean conventions I hoped to see taking center stage in this segment of the five-film series: Alchemy, Character Pair-ups, and the use of Humors and Elements. All of these are central to many of Shakespeare’s plays, including the romp through the fairy-haunted forests of Athens, and are crucial to the latest adventures from the Wizarding World. Join me after the jump as we take a look at each of these factors, in reverse order this time, to see how the link between these two performance-focused texts helps us understand where our story is heading. [Read more…]

Claws out Review of Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel’s Wolverine, by Suzana E. Flores

Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel’s Wolverine by [Flores, Suzana E.]It’s no secret that most superheroes, whether in comics, on the screen, or both, are fairly complicated folks, psychologically speaking. Part of what draws us to these complex, bizarre people is that behind the masks, under the capes, and sans the superpowers, they are at least as confused as the rest of us. Some of them are even more troubled than others, and Marvel’s X-Men probably include more people with mental health issues than the average behavioral health ward (in high school, I learned the definition of the word “angst” not from language arts classes but from the students of Professor X).

We read about these characters, or watch their adventures in films and television shows, partly to help us understand ourselves better. In an effort to help us better understand one of Marvel’s most popular, as well as most troubled, heroes, Suzan E. Flores presents Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel’s Wolverine (McFarland, 2018). Clearly, Wolverine (or Logan, or any of his other pseudonyms) is a character worthy of psychoanalysis. Though it seems unlikely one would ever get the surly, isolated Wolverine on the couch (even with a bribe of whiskey. In fact, it is not difficult to imagine the comment and gesture such a suggestion would invite from him), Flores has made a valiant effort to help us better understand this fascinating figure and our corresponding fascination with him. Follow me after the break for my thoughts on this new book.

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Fairies and Wizards? A Midsummer Night’s Dream and What We Might Expect from The Crimes of Grindelwald

In my Muggle professor job, I love teaching some of the greats of literature. One of my favorites, for my own enjoyment and for sharing with my class, is Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream | William Shakespearemodel comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In addition to literary depth, symbolism, themes, and plenty of laughs, the Bard’s romp through the fairy-haunted forest also offers my students some great connections with other texts, including popular ones they enjoy, like J.K. Rowling’s stories of the Wizarding World. With the second film in the Fantastic Beasts series galloping into theaters this November, it’s a good time to check out some of the connections this story already shares with MND and to make some guesses about what we might see in The Crimes of Grindelwald that will echo the adventures of some really bad actors, two pairs of hapless lovers, and a few aristocrats, when the mortal world intersects with some quarrelling fey and their minions. Follow me after the jump for some thoughts and possible predictions! [Read more…]

Danger, Herman Melville! Much-Needed Literary Notes in the Lost in Space Re-boot

I’m always a little leery of re-boots of classics, particularly classic science fiction shows. I loved the cheesy old Image result for lost in space 2018Battlestar Galactica and was let down by the darker, modern interpretation, just for one example. However, I decided to give Netflix’s new take on Lost in Space a try, mainly because it looked good, and because I never cared much for the original, so I knew that it wouldn’t damage my youthful expectations. And, to be totally honest, I was just delighted by the fact that if the show becomes popular, most of my students may not look at me in bewilderment when I try to warn them off Wikipedia or Cliffnotes as sources for their essays by waving my arms and yelling, “Danger, Will Robinson!” So, I gave it a whirl. After just one episode, I am already intrigued, not just because the effects are awesome and the kids are charismatic (though really, kids, if your name is Will, and you are on a Netflix show, there is a really good chance that you will get lost someplace scary and that large chunks of the script will consist of family members yelling your name…). What excites me are the fantastic literary hints that tie this new series into some of the old texts that we love and discuss here. So fasten your safety belt, and join me after the jump to get lost in some literature! [Read more…]