Tag Archives: Shakespeare’s Birthday

Shakespeare’s Birthday Resolutions: 2016 edition!

Happy birthday, Shakespeare!

I know, I know, April 23 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, but “Happy Deathday!” doesn’t have the same ring to it. Yet, I’ve found that so much of Shakespeare’s drama locates facing death and seizing the day as two sides of the same coin. My 30th birthday falls on Shakespeare’s milestone birth/deathday, but far from lamenting the passing of another year, I’d like to look back and see how I carpe’d the heck out of the diem!

What I’ve been up to:

  • I’ve been working my Shakespeare-loving butt off writing my PhD and getting it published, chapter by painstaking chapter, in academic journals. This means doing the research, editing it until my supervisor is happy with it, submitting it to journals for publication, and being told that it’s not good enough: try again. It takes a thick skin to cope with kind of criticism, but that’s the nature of my profession. I try to remember that the acknowledgements page of every academic’s book includes expressions of thanks to all of the people who told the author that her writing wasn’t good enough. Those people took the time to read her research, and give thoughtful suggestions about how to improve its delivery. I got to see two of my articles in print this year, and one more got accepted for publication (stay tuned!), so I’m feeling full of pride, but am also humbled by the recognition of how much time and effort it takes in order to reach these academic milestones.11254572_10101260373454101_9089250841420443084_n
  • Research can be a solitary activity. I put my ideas in conversation with those of other literary critics from the comfort of my quiet apartment (or louder Starbucks), but it is a rare pleasure to share these exceptionally niche conversations in person. Since Shakespeare’s last birthday, I had the chance to do some really fun conferencing. I gave a paper on compassion (and the lack thereof) in The Merchant of Venice while getting to visit one of my favourite cities in the world: Amsterdam. Houseboats, stroopwaffles, and the company of fellow early modernists? Yes, please! I also proposed and moderated a panel at a conference in my hometown of Toronto. Instead of offering my own paper, I used the panel as an opportunity to reach out and hear how my peers are bringing their own unique perspectives to our shared research interests.
  • I am an unashamed Anglophile. I am always contriving ways to return to England, and this past summer, my mother and I travelled to London to see Benedict Cumberbatch play Hamlet. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, made all the more special by the fact that I got to see it twice!
  • I am also a self-professed “Cumberbitch” (or, as my more genteel mother says, “Cumberbunny”), and was interviewed by The Guardian about our journey to bow at the dual altar of Shakespeare and Celebrity. Erin and Mom at hamlet
  • While I haven’t been updating this blog as much as I always intend to, I did dip my toe into the “Digital” side of the Digital Humanities by participating in a workshop of the basics of TEI, Text Encoding Initiative. It was a cool way to map out or annotate information, and I’m always looking for opportunities to get more involved with DH in the future!
  • I’ve also used the “Digital” to meet many humanists this year. As a researcher for the TRaCE Project, I’ve been conducting Skype interviews with English Literature PhD grads in order to reflect on the changing value of the English PhD and how people put their PhDs to use. Some stories are scary, some stories scream success, but overall, I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to soak up the guidance of these people who have braved academia and lived to tell the tale.


What’s next for me? Shakespeare’s birthday resolutions ’16:

  • It’s time to finish that PhD! Spoken as someone who works on her dissertation five days a week every week, I can tell you: it can take 6 full years to complete a PhD. That’s just how long it takes to create this extended, meaningful, original piece of work.
  • Once I’m finished my PhD and on the job market, I might finally have the time to watch (and blog about!) all those Shakespeare films that I’ve missed in the past few years. Of particular interest, my beloved Benedict Cumberbatch playing Richard III in the BBC’s Hollow Crown See the trailer here! the-hollow-crown
  • I want to go to England again, of course! Although I’m probably going to complete my PhD before achieving my dream to attend BritGrad, I’ve got my sights on this awesome conference organized by Shakespeare’s Globe: “Cultures of Mortality: Death on the Shakespearean Stage”. It’s sure to be killer!
  • I’m actively investing myself in finding an academic job where I can continue doing what I love: researching and teaching Shakespeare, and mentoring the bright young students who give meaning to all of my heard work. I work my butt off, and I’m ready to get paid for it!



So let’s raise a glass!

…or two, or three, or in my case, four, as I celebrate Shakespeare’s life and my birthday on the second night of Passover! How will you be celebrating?





Filed under Current Events, Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Birthday Resolutions: 2014 Edition!

With mirth and laughter, let old wrinkles come.

images-2Happy birthday, Mr. Shakespeare! Also, happy birthday to me! Today I turn 28, but the milestone birthday goes to the Bard himself, who turns 450! Every year on our shared birthday, I like to reflect back on the amazing ways that I’ve experienced Shakespeare over the course of the year, and my goals as a Bardolator (unabashed Shakespeare lover) for the coming year. Take a look back at my Shakespeare’s Birthday Resolutions from 2012 and 2013 – I can’t believe how quickly time flies!


Up till now

The past year’s shakespeareance (I had to – just once) most dear to me is my trip to England. There, I presented my research alongside my peers, and I got to go on a mini tour to visit some of my favorite people in London, Oxford, and Cambridge. I feel so lucky to be able to gallivant around England for a few weeks every year or two; however broke I am afterwards, I still think of it as one of the top perks of being a scholar. I love being able to work from where I want, when I want, be it in the promised land of Shakespeare himself, or working away at my desk with a sleeping cat next to me for moral support. Both are part of the lifestyle that I’ve come to savour over the past year.

Some of National Theatre Live's best offerings!

Some of National Theatre Live’s best offerings!

As ever, I cannot express the extent of my appreciation for the technology and arts funding that brings the best of England’s theatre live to my local cinema. This year, I got to see Rory Kinnear’s Olivier-winning turn as Iago in Othello; Tom Hiddleston’s Coriolanus, which was just as sexy as I’d hoped; and Kenneth Branagh’s outstanding Macbeth, which I am over the moon to be seeing in New York this coming June!

Professionally, I am always striving to strike a balance between working hard and having fun. This year, the fates aligned when my Victorian ecocritic boyfriend got assigned to TA Shakespeare with me; to have a boyfriend who can quote Shakespeare is pretty much all I’ve ever wanted…and far be it from me to stop our students from calling us the Brad and Angelina of the English department 😉

Thanks for the Bardie, Shakespeare Standard!

Thanks for the Bardie, Shakespeare Standard!

But enough of the lovey-dovey stuff! This year, I’ve been working to keep on top of my blogging while doing my research, which isn’t always easy but is nonetheless immensely rewarding. This morning, I found out that I won two Bardie awards on behalf of The Shakespeare Standard, where I discuss my grad school experiences in the Secret Diary of a PhD Candidate. Winning the award is such an honour, and reminds me that it’s worth it to keep writing because there are people out there who will keep reading! I thank you! I continue to strive to make your blogging experience better, which is why I’ve finally done away with the dusty bardolator23.wordpress.com domain and have finally locked down TheBardolator.com. Stay tuned for some exciting updates over the course of this year, too; as I get closer to the job market, I want to make this place shine!

And finally, the dissertation: I’m proud and relieved to have made some substantial progress on my dissertation research this year. After years of grappling with The Merchant of Venice (relationship status: it’s complicated.), it finally hit me that it is the beast that I was meant to tackle in my dissertation. I’ll be presenting the first nugget of that research at a symposium at the University of Toronto this weekend: wish me luck!


What’s to come

This past year, I’ve been building up my teaching skills by taking a course on teaching and learning in higher education. Teaching at the university level doesn’t require a Bachelor of Education, but the methods I learned in the course have already proved indispensable for my marking, and I can’t wait to see how they influence my teaching. In September, I will be teaching my own course. This is an experience that has been no less than five years in the making, and I can’t be more excited about it. Word docs with creative ideas abound!

Got an idea for my Shakespeare course hashtag? Leave it in the comments below!

Got an idea for my Shakespeare course hashtag? Leave it in the comments below!

But as much as teaching is a time to pass on my knowledge, it’s still very much a time for me to grow. In the past, I’ve been known to ride what I would call the “textual high horse” – I’ve argued that Shakespeare must first and foremost be understood through reading the text, and then only afterwards should students watch the movies. While this is one of my ideals, I recognize that undergraduate study habits don’t always work that way. For my course, I will be screening each of the films and I really hope all students, whether they’ve had/made the time to read the text or not, come to these screenings and engage with the material in whichever ways they can. I want to make these screenings a party- popcorn potlucks! I’ll know that it works if the students develop a course hashtag. I’ll be sure that it works if the students turn that hashtag into t-shirts – fingers crossed!

On the vein of performance, my goals for this coming year are, as always, to immerse myself in more Shakespeare! I’m particularly excited for what’s to come in Shakespeare performance this year. Much to my joy, the Stratford Festival is fulfilling one of my dreams: to stage more than one production of the same Shakespeare play to show the variety of interpretations that can spin out of one major dramaturgical difference. This year, they’re staging two productions of Midsummer Night’s Dream!

Benedict is primed for performance!

Benedict is primed for performance!

There is one production, though, that I’m more excited about than any other, excited enough to book another trip across the pond for it. What’s that? Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet at the Barbican, August 2015! It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve read or seen that play: I can’t wait to see how Olivier award-winning director Lyndsey Turner will spin it! Will Benedict act like Sherlock, or Kahn, or think outside of the box? We’ll have to wait and see! So what’s the plan till then? My plan is to use that trip as my brass ring, the goal that pushes me to finish my dissertation and then take a much-needed vacation!

And with that, let’s celebrate! Happy birthday, Mr. Shakespeare! To another 450 years!


Filed under Current Events, National Theatre Live, Shakespeare, Stratford Festival

Happy Birthday to Shakespeare…and me!

Another year older, and hopefully a little bit wiser! In honour of my shared birthday with the Bard, I’d like to produce a second annual “Shakespeare’s Birthday Resolution” list, in which I make a game plan with all the ways I can work towards becoming a more active Shakespeare enthusiast, aka, Bardolator!

But first things first: let’s have a look at which of last year’s resolutions I can cross off my list!

  • I was able to audit a super interesting summer course on Shakespeare and Early Modern Print Culture, where I got to learn with a slushie in my hand and no stress of deadlines.
  • I got to visit the wonderful Stratford Festival, where I saw a touching production of Cymbeline, as well as Much Ado About Nothing, starring one of my Festival favourites, Ben Carlson.
  • Me and Alan Cumming after Macbeth!

    Me and Alan Cumming after Macbeth!

    Traveling a bit further, I had a veritable Shakespearegasm seeing Alan Cumming’s exceptional one-man production of Macbeth. I couldn’t understand how it could be done, but Cumming makes it work, bringing the gender issues of the text to life in a dynamic (demonic?) way. The production has since transferred to Broadway; if you’re in the city sometime before June 30, it’s a must-see!

  • While I did not get the chance to custom-make Shakespearean Wall decals, I did finally get the posters up in my Shakespeare shrine…I mean, home office!
Paul Gross as Hamlet, 2000

Paul Gross as Hamlet (2000)

  •     Likewise, I did not write a groundbreaking essay on the Shakespeare references in the Hunger Games trilogy (the avox Lavinia being the “speechless complainer” whose voice begs to be heard), nor did I get to see Benedict Cumberbatch perform something Shakesperean, but my fingers are still crossed for him to blow minds as a deep-voiced Richard III. A worthwhile consolation was meeting my Canadian Shakespeare idol, Paul Gross, who signed my copy of Hamlet and hinted at an eventual return to the Stratford Festival stage.

Despite all the ambition, my proudest accomplishment of this year was surviving: I took the tremendous weight of grief and trauma that I experienced over my father’s illness and death, and used my research as a tool to help me overcome it. Having to leave school for a short while and deal with what was far too much “real life”, I threw myself into my work upon my return. My research took on the flavour of blessed escape, rather than the thing to procrastinate away from, and from this experience, I’m proud to have published my very first  article (in the Shakespeare Institute’s spankin’ new Shakespeare Institute Review), which deals with loss in Twelfth Night.

Joss Whedon's Much Ado (2012)

Joss Whedon’s Much Ado (2012)

The cherry to top off my year, inspiring me towards another year of Shakespearean awesomeness, was the Shakespeare Association of America meeting in Toronto. There, I got to work on some much needed professionalization and networking, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that in the years to come, I can meet the scholars (with whom I’m intimate friends, insofar as they’re names on the well-worn books in my personal library!) without letting my mouth hang open, and blurting out the painfully terribly rookie words: “Wow! You’re a big deal!” The conference also hosted a special advance screening of Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated Much Ado. Most of all, I helped bring the conference hashtag, #ShakeAss13, to life by dancing my tail off at the annual Malone Society Dance. There, I got to boogy down with the great David Bevington (the first Shakespeare scholar to edit the entirety of Shakespeare’s corpus…to say nothing of his immensely valuable editorial work on many other early modern playwrights), and even experienced my first Shakespeare conga line!

My most ambitious goal from last year was to attend BritGrad, one of the most exciting events for grad students of Shakespeare, as the biggest English Shakespeare scholars often come out to offer sage words. I didn’t make it, but have found a couple of ways to make up for it:

  • One, is that British Shakespeare Scholar extraordinaire Stanley Wells will come to me, leaving his island to visit the Stratford Festival in August.
  • Before that, though, I am finally returning to England, to attend a conference on Reading and Health in Early Modern England, where I’ll be showcasing some new dissertation work!
  • I’ll also be mixing some business and pleasure by visiting some dear friends living in London, Oxford and Stratford-Upon-Avon. At the latter, I hope to celebrate Gregory Doran’s first year as Royal Shakespeare Company Artistic Director, and resolve to plant myself at the “Dirty Duck” Pub until I meet him and his partner, my favourite English Shakespearean actor, Sir Antony Sher.

So what do I resolve to do this coming year? More Shakespeare!

Computer-generated image of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, opening in 2014

Computer-generated image of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, opening in 2014

  • Before even leaving to England, I’m already planning my next trip! I’d really like to get to BritGrad before I graduate, and I am also just too excited to visit the brand-new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, which is a replica of the type of indoor playhouse at which King Lear and Cymbeline would have been performed. This year, they’re showing some of the best non-Shakespearean drama, including John Webster’s Duchess of Malfi and Francis Beaumont’s Knight of the Burning Pestle.
  • I’d also like to continue my annual pilgrimage to the Stratford Festival. Aside from hearing Stanley Wells speak, I’m also hoping to see Measure for Measure, featuring Stephen Ouimette and Geraint Wyn Davies, who played alongside Paul Gross in Slings and Arrows.
  • As a blogger, I’d like to revamp the site. A new, easier-to-pronounce nickname (that doesn’t include the oh-so-90’s number afterwards!), a new look. If you have any suggestions, or any free design services to offer, inquire within!
  • I’m also hoping to get back blogging with more frequency. I recently posted about the BBC’s Hollow Crown series, and I plan to watch and blog about the rest! Ditto goes for finally posting my review of Whedon’s Much Ado!
  • As a scholar, I’ve just got to keep working! I want to finish a dissertation chapter, start another one, and have something to publish on the go, but I realize that these are “marathon efforts.” They require longer spans of time and exertion, so I’ve got my thinking cap on and my Starbucks card fully loaded, so I’m ready to tackle the Shakespearean New Year with my best foot forward!

Shakespeare2To Shakespeare, and everyone celebrating, Cheers!


Filed under Current Events