The Scottish Referendum And a 17th-century Braveheart

By Vimala C. Pasupathi

For a Hofstra professor currently teaching English 60, “Constructing British Literature,” Thursday’s vote on a referendum on Scottish Independence from the United Kingdom is an exciting event that reinforces many of the points I make for my (usually) American students about the status of “The United Kingdom” and its relationship to “Britain”––in particular, it reminds us that these are political designations as much as geographical ones, and that these terms we use in class to describe geographical regions are not stable terms. The Referendum also helps make clear that the shifting relationships we see in our investigation of literature from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland in the period the course covers (rather improbably, about 800 to 1798) continue to shift even now.

As a scholar who has studied the relationship between Scotland and England for more than a decade in my research, I find the news about the Referendum interesting for reasons that extend beyond the classroom. Over the past ten years, I’ve written about Anglo-Scottish relations in a variety of contexts, though primarily my interests center on how they are represented in 16th- and 17th century works composed for dramatic performance. For instance, examining plays like Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1605) and 1 Henry IV (1596) and Henry V (1599), I’ve noted that the playwright’s Scotsmen are almost exclusively soldiers, and that Shakespeare identifies these men as powerful martialists with changeable loyalties––an instability rooted in Scotland’s military traditions and in what English writers saw as a mercenary culture that could not be trusted. I’ve also written about an amateur playwright, parliamentarian, and horse-racing enthusiast, John Newdigate, who removed the character of a Scottish jockey from one of his plays as tension between the English and the Scots mounted in the 1630s over Charles I’s imposition of an Anglican prayerbook in the Scottish church. The two versions of Newdigate’s play that we’ve found show that even a private citizen might feel pressure to censor himself in creating entertainment for his friends and family, excising from the later version of the play all references to “the North” as well as the joking jockey with a distinct Northern or Scottish dialect.

Valiant Scot Titlepage

Taken by Vimala C. Pasupathi at the Folger Shakespeare Library, STC 24910 Copy 2.

I’ve also written about another play called The Valiant Scot (composed in the 1620s), which features the Scottish “freedom fighter” William Wallace and depicts his rebellion against the English monarch who took the throne in 12th Century Scotland by way of military force. This play, a seventeenth-century analog to the American film Braveheart, takes up the issue of union and broken alliances in explicit fashion, encouraging audiences to consider the political status of both countries from its very first scene. In its opening, we see English noblemen boast about their new status as “rulers over Scotland” (1.1.2-3); one observes, “they are a Nation / Haughty and full of spleen, and must be manag’d /With straighter reins and rougher bitts.” (1.1.6-10).

Another disagrees; “I find them easie, tractable and mild,” he asserts, and insists that “Authority may with a slender twine / Hold in the strongest head” (1.1.11-17)  Continue reading


Byron in Georgia: Julia Markus at the International Byron Conference

photograph of Tblisi at sunset

“Tbilisi sunset-6” by Vladimer Shioshvili – Flickr: Tbilisi sunset. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

The trip from Connecticut  to the Fortieth International Byron Conference held in Tbilisi, Georgia this June was  complicated enough as to make me admire Lord Byron  for having gotten there by horse two centuries previously.  As I found out at the crowded opening ceremony,   Byron only dreamed of getting to Georgia—2 lines in one poem,  1 line in another.

Painting of Lord Byron

«Lord Byron in Albanian dress» de Thomas Phillips – Desconocido. Disponible bajo la licencia Public domain vía Wikimedia Commons –

As the present Lord Byron said in his opening remarks that evening,  the tv cameras and media following his every word,   Byron’s “DNA” was finally  making this trip in the poet’s  honor.  Both he and his cousin the  Earl of Lytton  attended and participated in the week-long  Byron conference..  The hospitality of the Georgians was unending.   I spoke the second morning, as on the first day we were offered  a trip to the country that ended  with an enormous out -door feast including dancing under the stars to Georgian music, Greek music, and finally rock and roll!   We didn’t roll back to our Tbilisi  hotel till one that morning.  Still, there was Lord Lytton,  Lady Byron’s direct descendant,  in the first row,  bright and early that next morning,  to hear me discuss  Sir Walter Scott’s awe of  Lady Byron  whose ill-fated one -year marriage  to Lord Byron  had  ended in scandal.   A reinterpretation of that marriage and Lord Byron’s  angry reaction to it in his poetry will be part of my   biography of  “Lady Byron After Love”  (W.W. Norton in Fall, 2015).

The entire  week in the Republic of Georgia was a most moving  and varied experience.  One day we all visited Gori   where Stalin was born and toured the controversial Stalin museum which many Georgians object to and others point out as part of their heritage–Stalin remains, after all,–  Georgian.

Photlo of monumnet enclosing Stalin's birthplace

“Stalin birth house” by Nenad Bumbic – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –

That evening the municipality of Gori offered all eighty of us a magnificent feast. In the middle of  the eating and drinking and toasting,  the head of the municipality brought the news that Georgia had just signed a trade agreement with the  European Union.  The explosion of joy was incredible, even though we were far from  the fireworks and concerts that spontaneously erupted in Tbilisi.   The desire of the Georgians to be part of the West  overwhelms one.   Lord Byron wished to fight for Greek independence  two centuries ago.  In Georgia today, the poet  remains  the symbolic  champion of  political liberty.  In that sense,  Georgia shares the poet’s dream.

Julia Markus

“Thence shall I stray through Beauty’s native clime,
Where Kaff is clad in rocks, and crowned with snows sublime.” –Byron, “English Bards, And Scotch Reviewers”

Find more information about Professor Markus and “Lady Byron After Love” at JuliaMarkusWrites.

Democratic Republic of Georgia map.jpg
Democratic Republic of Georgia map“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Elena Ferrante at The Center for Fiction

Notes from Martha





Layout 6

On Tuesday, September 16 the Italian novelist, Elena Ferrante, will be discussed at the The Center for Fiction in mid-town Manhattan. The panel will consist of the novelists Roxana Robinson and Stacey D’Erasmo and Ferrante’s exceptional translator, Ann Goldstein who is also an editor at The New Yorker. Ferrante is one of my favorite novelists. A friend introduced me to her work in late spring of this year and I have been devouring her ever since. I started with My Brilliant Friend, the first in the Neapolitan Novels. The second is The Story of a New Name; the third is Those Who Leave  and Those Who Stay which has just been published by Europa Editions. The forth will be published next year. While awaiting the latest in the quartet I read Ferrante’s earlier books and they stunned me as well. I am late to…

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Scott Harshbarger on Literature, Science and Torino

photo of Turin street corner

Turin Street

The bi-annual conference on the Empirical Study of Literature, sponsored by IGEL, met this summer for five days in Turin, Italy, a city of grand piazzas, beautiful porticoes, and friendly people. Although the Shroud of Turin was kept under wraps, a wealth of research and ideas having to do with aspects of literature amenable to scientific investigation was very much on display.

Photo of Turin Audience

Audience at Turin Conference Presentation

Ranging from reports of original research – “Does reading canonical literary fiction improve theory of mind in adolescents?” – to quantitative analysis of literary reception – “Frankenstein is alive and kicking”—to theoretical issues “What does ‘empirical’ mean for semiotics?” more than a hundred presenters considered how the scientific method could be applied to literary production, transmission, and reception. My paper, “Replotting the Narrative Self,” presented an interpretation of Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” based on empirically supported psychological links between developmental issues (Hawthorne spent 12 years in his mother’s attic following college) and certain narrative types (Brown enacts a “contamination narrative” typical of many of Hawthorne’s most memorable characters).

The conference was lively, with a preponderance of younger scholars. Although the scientific method will never dominate literary study, fairly recent attempts to explore common points of interest and methodology between science and the humanities – if this conference is any indication – has already yielded exciting results. Like the Shroud itself, literary art will continue to compel investigation –scientific and otherwise.

Dr. Scott Harshbarger

For more information about IGEL, go to:

Photograph of Porticos

Turin Portico


Photo of Positive & Negative Images of Face in Shroud

Positive and Negative Images of the Shroud from


Student-Run Hofstra English Society Welcomes New Majors for Fall 2014

HES Logo

Hofstra English Society Logo

Dear Incoming English Major,

I would like to begin by welcoming you to Hofstra, as well as commend you for choosing to major in English! My name is Alie Coolidge and I wanted to let you know a little bit about award-winning, student-run Hofstra English Society.

The Hofstra English Society (HES) was founded last year by a group of English majors who realized that we really only got to discuss literature, writing, and publishing in the classroom setting, and wanted to explore our passions for the many facets of English outside of the lecture hall. Little did we know that just a semester later HES would be chosen as Best New Academic Club!

Photo of Award

Best New Academic Club Award

HES has three main components: Literature, Creative Writing, and Publishing. This mirrors the English Department’s breakdowns of the English major. Generally, the whole club convenes for our general meeting and then breaks off into groups, though members are not restricted to a single component and can move between the three. The literature group reads and discusses novels and short stories that have been chosen ahead of time by club members. The creative writing group conducts writing workshops for poetry, prose, essays, and plays. Members sign up ahead of time for a slot to workshop during the meeting. We find that getting peer feedback by others who are passionate about writing is valuable to improve writing or develop it as a career.

Finally, the publishing component of HES publishes Hofstra’s only literary/ arts magazine FONT. Members of HES function as an editorial department (editor in chief, managing editor, production editor, assistant editors, etc.). FONT submissions are open to the entire Hofstra undergrad and graduate communities and we accept poetry, prose, and visual art. FONT was completely rebooted last semester and we successfully published and gave out every single copy in a matter of days. Read it at


Spring 2014 Font Cover

I hope that you will join the English Society this fall semester! We are very excited about the various showcases, workshops, readings, panels, and new issue of FONT—and that’s just the fall!

I can’t wait to meet you in September!


Alie Coolidge
President, Hofstra English Society

Gillibrand Internship Opportunity



I would like to take this time to bring to your attention an opportunity for all undergraduate and graduate students interested in interning for the office of United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Melville Long Island office. At this time, the link for the Fall 2014 Internship Program has been removed from our website. Despite this removal, I would like to urge you to please continue or start having students reach out to me via email or at the below phone number. I admit students on a rolling basis, and although ideally most students start at the end of August, we do admit many within September and at alternate starting times. As a Fall intern, students will  have the opportunity to support staff at outreach and advocacy events, participate in meetings with key community leaders and organizations as well as advocate on behalf of Long Islanders. Students in the past have received credit for their internship. Please suggest past or present students via email, with their contact information. Students may also contact me directly via email. Upon contacting me, students will be asked to submit a resume, a statement indicating why they would like to intern for Senator Gillibrand, their fall availability as well as a reference.


If you have any questions pertaining to the internship program, please do not hesitate to call or email me.


Thank you for your time,



Melanie Sinesi | Regional Assistant

Office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand


Great Writers, Great Readings Announces 2014-15 Lineup

All Great Writers, Great Readings events are free and open to the public. The events for 2014-2015 take place at the Leo A. Guthart Cultural Center Theater, Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library, First Floor, South Campus

For more information, please call (516) 463-5410 or visit

Jeffrey K. Eugenides
Monday, November 10, 2014, 7 p.m.

Jeffrey K. Eugenides is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer. His works include The Virgin Suicides, which was adapted into a feature film directed by Sofia Coppola; Middlesex, for which he received the Pulitzer; and The Marriage Plot, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He teaches creative writing at Princeton University.
photo © Gaspar Tringale

Belinda McKeon
Wednesday, December 3, 2014, 11:15 a.m.

Belinda McKeon received acclaim for her 2011 debut novel, Solace, which was named a Kirkus Outstanding Debut and Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, as well as winner of the Sunday Independent Best Newcomer Award. Her writing has been published in journals including The Paris Review, The Guardian and The Dublin Review, and she has also covered the arts for The Irish Times for more than 10 years.
photo © Hiroki Kobayashi
D.T. Max
Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 11:15 a.m.

D.T. Max is a graduate of Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. His new book, Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace, was released by Viking Penguin on August 30, 2012 and was a New York Times bestseller. He is also the author of The Family That Couldn’t Sleep: A Medical Mystery.
photo © Curt Richter

Quiara Alegría Hudes
Wednesday, March 18, 2015, 11:15 a.m.

Quiara Alegría Hudes wrote the book for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical In the Heights and is most recently the author of The Elliot Trilogy, three standalone plays that trace the coming of age of a bright, charismatic, and haunted young man who escapes “el barrio” in Philadelphia, becomes a Marine, and in the aftermath of his service in Iraq must find his way to adulthood. Each play explores a different kind of music — Bach, Coltrane, and Puerto Rican folk music — to structure its narrative. Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue premiered at Page 73 Productions in 2006 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. Water by the Spoonful premiered at Hartford Stage Company in 2011 and won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The Happiest Song Plays Last premiered at the Goodman Theatre in 2013. The plays have been produced around the country and internationally, including at Off-Broadway’s Second Stage Theatre.

Elizabeth Spires
Wednesday, April 22, 2015, 7 p.m.

Elizabeth Spires is a critically acclaimed poet and children’s book author. She won a 1996 Whiting Award for her volume Worldling. Her children’s books include With One White Wing and Riddle Road: Puzzles in Poems and Pictures, which offer children a chance to guess at rhyming riddles, using the illustrations and the snatches of poetry as clues. The Mouse of Amherst is perhaps Spires’s best known children’s book. The brief but beguiling tale is narrated by Emmaline, a mouse who has taken up residence behind the wall in Emily Dickinson’s room.

Internship Opportunity at Literary Agency

Liza Dawson Associates, a full-service literary agency based in New York City, represents a wide range of fiction and non-fiction (see our website for details). We are looking for interns during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Duties include reading and evaluating unsolicited submissions and writing reader’s reports. Interns will also be invited to author events and other networking opportunities.

Length of Internship: September – December
January – May
June – August
Requirements: Juniors, seniors, and beyond of any major are encouraged to apply. Candidates should be articulate with a high level of interest in the publishing field. Strong written and verbal communication skills are necessary.
Location: New York, NY
Application Due Date: Accepting applications for all semesters.
Payment: Unpaid, and we are seeking approximately 12hrs/week
How To Apply For This Internship: Please send your cover letter in the body of the email along with your resume and writing sample (no more than 5 pages long) in a word document to Your cover letter should include a short description of what you like to read in books, magazines, and blogs and what you like to watch on tv. In the subject line of the email, please put “Internship”.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Dr. Joseph McLaren Reflects upon Maya Angelou’s Career:

Maya Angelou, iconic African American writer and spokesperson, passed away on May 28, 2014, at the age of 86. Having been the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University, Angelou was a towering figure in the world of letters and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her rise to literary fame followed the publication of the first of her many autobiographical works, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), with the urging of James Baldwin and echoing lines from the verse of black poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. Angelou was also a poet of great achievement, and students of African American literature are often drawn especially to her 1978 poem “Still I Rise,” which embodies her life’s work in its representation of women’s empowerment, racial justice, anti-oppression, and historical accuracy. Born Marguerite Ann Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Angelou overcame the difficulties of racism and impoverishment in the rural South of Arkansas–as in her poem “My Arkansas”–to achieve a career as a dancer and stage performer in the 1950s, having toured internationally in Porgy and Bess. A civil rights activist, she established friendships with both Martin Luther King, Jr, and Malcolm X. We should also remember her internationalism during the 1960s when African Americans looked to Africa when the continent was in its primary phase of decolonization. In All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986), her recollection of her sojourn in Ghana is a primary source for understanding the motives for expatriation and returning to the “motherland.” She also epitomizes the importance of reading as a way to discover one’s own personal and literary voice. In many ways, it is her voice as heard from numerous podiums over the course of her extensive career that places her in the tradition of Sojourner Truth. Who can forget Angelou’s elegant poem “On the Pulse of Morning” delivered at the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton? As in lines from “Still I Rise,” Angelou brought us all the “gifts” of her “ancestors.”