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Happy Birthday, Oscar Wilde!

By Adrienne Rivera. Oct 16, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Drama, Literature

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde was born on October 16, 1854 and today marks the 164th anniversary of his birth. The writer was schooled first in his native Dublin, then later at Oxford where he began to subscribe to the fledgling school of thought known as aestheticism, a philosophy he would adhere to for the rest of his life. He became a sort of aestheticism poster boy, writing in a variety of genres, from poetry and novels to plays and journalism. Wilde even spent some time lecturing in the United States on the subject as well as the tangentially-related topic of interior decorating, a turn which might seem odd at the outset but actually jives quite well with Wilde's notable, larger-than-life persona.

     
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Thomas Harris, Hannibal Lecter, and a Literary Legacy

By Kristin Masters. Sep 12, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror, Movie Tie-Ins, Book News, Drama

 "You must understand that when you are writing a novel, you are not making anything up. It's all there and you just need to find it." -Thomas Harris

Thomas Harris is one of the few authors whose novels have all been made into successful films. Born April 11, 1940 in Jackson, Tennessee, Harris grew up in the South. He went to Baylor University, where he majored in English. Throughout college, Harris worked as a reporter for the local paper. He covered the police beat, which undoubtedly stoked his own interest in crime and law enforcement. By 1968, Harris had made his way to New York City to work for Associated Press. He continued to work as a reporter until he began writing Black Sunday in 1974.

     
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Collecting Nobel Prize Winners: Seamus Heaney and George Bernard Shaw

By Brian Hoey. Mar 17, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners, Poetry, Drama

Despite being a country of fewer than 5 million people, Ireland boasts four Nobel Prize in Literature winners: W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Becket, and Seamus Heaney. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s the highest Literature Nobel Laureates per capita outside of St. Lucia, which counted the late poet Derek Walcott among its 150,000 or so residents, even without James Joyce (who was famously snubbed) to round out the list. (Sweden appears to be a close third, with 8 prizes and a population just under 10 million). In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ll be turning the attention to two of the Emerald Isle’s most gifted writers: George Bernard Shaw and Seamus Heaney.

     
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Waiting for Godot in Popular Culture

By Adrienne Rivera. Jan 5, 2018. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners, Drama

Nobel Prize winning poet, playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1906. He studied English, French, and Italian at Trinity College before accepting a position at Campbell College where he taught for some years and also developed a friendship with fellow Irish writer James Joyce. It was at this time that be published his first work, an essay discussing Joyce's body of work. But his most famous work is undoubtedly the play, Waiting for Godot. If you haven't seen it, chances are you've seen it referenced in some unique ways.

     
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Oyster Pirates and Spies: Writers with Questionable Day Jobs

By Brian Hoey. Dec 19, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Drama, Literature

There are two kinds of writers: those who keep their day jobs, and those who can’t get to the door quickly enough. For every William Carlos Williams (who was a practicing physician during his career as a poet) or T.S. Eliot (who, on some level, seemed to really love being a bank clerk), there’s a whole of host of writers like Kurt Vonnegut, whose time spent working as a used car salesman would be woven into what is perhaps his most despairing novel, Breakfast of Champions (1973), or Franz Kafka, who never made enough money in his lifetime to abandon his bureaucratic position (despite his and Max Brod’s various get-rich-quick schemes, like their dreamed-of series of European travel guides). In both categories, some writers certainly stand out for the, shall we way, unsavory nature of their day jobs.

     
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Norway's National Poet: Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

By Adrienne Rivera. Dec 8, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Nobel Prize Winners, Poetry, Drama

Poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson is considered one of the "Four Greats" of Norwegian writers. Besides writing the lyrics to the Norwegian national anthem, his peasant stories are renowned and well loved for their devotion to presenting the peasant class in a new light. Chief among his numerous honors is the Nobel Prize in Literature, which he was awarded in 1903. Interestingly, Bjørnson was one of the original Nobel Prize Committee members and was serving on the committee at the time he was given the award.

     
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When Books Go to Broadway

By Matt Reimann. Sep 12, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Drama

Broadway has always welcomed the country’s best playwrights. Everyone from Arthur Miller to Tennessee Williams to Lillian Hellman to August Wilson to Eugene O’Neill has been supported and sustained by the theatrical capital of America. Yet what is also interesting is Broadway’s tendency to adapt and stage something that started on the page. There have been failures (like the recent American Psycho musical) and smash successes (Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton). It has also provided many prose writers the chance to work in the dramatic form.

     
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The Lasting Legacy of Athol Fugard’s Dramatic Works

By Audrey Golden. May 6, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Drama, History

For most American readers, references to South African literature conjure the names of the country’s two Nobel Prize winners: Nadine Gordimer and J.M. Coetzee. While the essays and works of fiction by these Nobel laureates are enormously important for understanding the politics of and modes of resistance to apartheid in South Africa, we want to highlight the significance of another genre for you today. Born in 1932 in a remote region of South Africa to an Afrikaner father and English-speaking mother, Athol Fugard has become one of the more prominent names in South African theatre. He often co-wrote plays with Black South Africans during the heights of the apartheid regime, and the plays involved Black actors, as well. Given that co-authorship during apartheid meant that many of the Black South Africans who contributed equally to the plays could not be named as collaborators in print, it is perhaps more important than ever for us to acknowledge the collective work of Fugard’s playwriting.

     
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Arthur Miller: Writing During the Red Scare

By Claudia Adrien. Mar 3, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Drama, History

The Cold War was an era clouded by persistent paranoia, not only between the United States and the Soviet Union. When it came to its own citizens, the U.S. government was, in some cases, just as fearful as it was about foreign threats—especially when it came to the Hollywood crowd. Indeed, in October 1947, members of a congressional committee, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), began investigating members of the movie industry who they suspected were communist sympathizers. They banned the work of 325 screenwriters, actors, and directors*. Among those blacklisted were composer Aaron Copland, writers Dashiell Hammett, Lillian Hellman, and Dorothy Parker, playwright Arthur Miller, and actor and filmmaker Orson Welles.

     
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Charles Lamb vs. Bob Dylan: Rereading and Retelling Shakespeare

By Brian Hoey. Feb 10, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Drama, Children's Books

Controversial Nobel Prize in Literature winner Bob Dylan admitted to being flabbergasted when he learned of the honor that’s lately been bestowed on him—but at least he managed to compare himself to Shakespeare in the process. The comparison, though, was an interesting one, and one that takes up the question of how we should approach the Bard’s writing. Dylan’s assertion was that he has never thought about whether his songs are ‘literature’ and that Shakespeare probably would have been in the same boat regarding his plays. Dylan says, imagining Shakespeare’s thoughts leading up to the original production of Hamlet (1599), ““Are there enough good seats for my patrons?” “Where am I going to get a human skull?” I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question “Is this literature?””

     
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