Who Is Shakespeare For?

I Asked My Students to Take the Bard Off His Pedestal—It Let Us Reconsider His Place in Our World

“What do we do with Shakespeare?” “Who is Shakespeare for?” “What would it look like to reject Shakespeare?”

These were questions I put at the center of the Pop Culture Shakespeare class I taught in the summer of 2020, and which I’ll return to this fall. Four hundred and sixty years after the Bard’s birth (nearly to the day, we like to imagine), people have answered these questions many times over. But working with my students taught me that one powerful way to understand Shakespeare today is as a transmedia narrative—a …

What the Wonkapocalypse Can Teach Us

An Immersive Experience Gone Wrong Shows Us the Perennial Emptiness of Carefully Curated Escapes from Reality

Last month, an “immersive” Willy Wonka event took over my news feed.

Normally, I’d keep scrolling.

Promoters market these voguish multisensory experiences—which are supposed to literally immerse you in an environment through …

Welcome Back, Mermaidcore

For a Century, a Collective Love of Tails and Fins Has Helped Women Transgress on Land and Sea

Shell-adorned bikini tops. Fishtail skirts. Starfish accessories. Seafoam green eyeshadow. Expect to see all of this and more riding the waves of Disney’s latest live-action blockbuster, The Little Mermaid.

In other …

Pet Voice Isn’t All About the LOLZ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Pet Voice Isn’t All About the LOLZ

The Communication Tactic Dates Back Centuries. But the Act of Anthropomorphizing Our Furry Friends Has Become More Insidious in the Digital Age

Whether you love or hate people speaking as their pets, using cutesy terms like “pupperinos” and “heckin’ good bois,” or sharing grammatically incorrect cat speak memes, the concept of a …

My Year of Sitcoms

It’s Easy to Be Seduced by the Rosy Glow of These Syndicated Fictions—But They Channel a Reality That Never Really Existed

It didn’t start out intentionally. A little 30 Rock to help me get out of bed in the morning. Some New Girl with dinner. A nightcap of Frasier (as others …

Every Era’s Vampires Require New Blood | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Every Era’s Vampires Require New Blood

A Queer, Multiracial Adaptation of Anne Rice’s Seminal Novel Follows a 200-Year-Old Tradition

For all the puffy shirts, brooding glances, and implicit queerness of Interview with the Vampire, the blockbuster 1976 novel by the late Anne Rice that became the 1994 cult classic …