A Curious Incident — About two weeks ago I received an email from Provost Joan Lorden regarding one of the plays sponsored by the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. As she explained to me in her email, the Blumenthal had arranged to bring a touring production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to Charlotte, and they were looking for moderators to lead a discussion of the play after each performance. The Provost asked if I would be willing to serve as one of the moderators, and I said yes.
This past Sunday evening I went to the play and then led the group discussion after the performance. Afterwards, I reflected on the various ways that this experience related to my personal and professional life. This play is based on a young-adult novel by Mark Haddon, and both the novel and the play are told from the perspective of a fifteen-year-old boy who has Asperger’s Syndrome.
My father had Asperger’s Syndrome, so much of the play resonates with my memories of my father. Like the central character in the play, my father was brilliant in terms of certain academic subjects, but he had a great deal of trouble relating to people on an emotional basis. In a way, I had a sense that this play was as much about my father’s troubled adolescence as it was about the experiences of the central character.
Experiencing this play also tied directly to my work as a children’s literature professor. In fact, I directed Victoria White’s honors thesis last semester on the value of teaching the novel to high school students. I was very pleased to see Victoria and another of our English honors students show up for the discussion after the performance. Having two of our honors students participating in this discussion underscored for me the many ways in which our teaching and our community service interrelate.
Finally, this play, more so than the novel, relates to my longstanding research interest in narrative play. At a key moment in the play, the central character works out his plans for a trip to London through the use of play objects, such as a train set and toy buildings. For this character, manipulating these play objects helps him build a personal narrative that gives his life direction and meaning.
In the various roles that we play within the university, we tend to separate our personal life, our teaching, our community service , and our scholarship. However, as my recent experience at the theater demonstrates, all of these aspects of our lives all come into play with one another. As Shakespeare once said, the play’s the thing.
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of our department. Here is the latest news:
Boyd Davis recently gave plenary presentation titled “English for Specific Purposes in Technology-Based Healthcare and Training” at the 2017 International Symposium on English Professional Communication and Instructional Technology, which took place at the National Kaohsiung University of Applied Sciences.
Upcoming Events and Deadlines— Here is information about upcoming events.
Feb. 22 — Alan Rauch will will give a presentation titled “Fantastic Beasts and Why You Find Them” on February 22, 2017, at 4:00 pm in the Halton Reading Room in the Atkins Library. For more information on his talk, please click on the following link: https://library.uncc.edu/FantasticBeastsEvent
Feb. 24 — The English Department meeting will take place on February 24 from 11:00 to 12:30 in the English Department Conference Room.
Feb. 24 — Jennifer Munroe will give a faculty talk titled “Shakespeare, Ecofeminism, and the Power of the Not-Yet Known” on February 24 from 1:00 to 2:00 in the English Department Conference Room.
Feb. 24 — The Children’s Literature Graduate Organization (CLGO) is sponsoring a day-long conference of social issues in children’s and young adult literature on February 24from 10:00 to 3:00 in Cone 268.
Quirky Quiz Question — In The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the central character is investigating a crime. What is the crime that he is investigating?
Last week’s answer: Quicksilver
Evan Peters, the star of American Animals, played the role of a mutant in two recent X-Men movies. Does anybody know the name of the character whom he played in these two films?