Making Lemonade

These are weird times. We’re facing a global pandemic unlike anything any of us have seen before. We’re waiting for the worst and hoping for the best as the virus continues to spread throughout our communities. Most businesses are making people work from home. Bars and restaurants are closed. Baseball and other professional sports have cancelled or suspended their seasons.

And schools are closed, maybe for the rest of the year. Students, parents, and teachers are scrambling to figure out what this means. In the meantime, we’re all stuck at home for long stretches, and we’re spending even more time than usual watching streaming movies and television.

We’re also pulling together, while still practicing “social distancing,” and trying to help each other. I’ve been so grateful to see friends and neighbors stepping up and helping out our fellow “at risk” citizens and others who need extra help right now. We’ve all got to do what we can.

As a college English professor with years of teaching experience, a lot of it online, I want to offer my services to help high school juniors and seniors keep exercising their brains, practicing their writing skills, and using all that extra binge-watching productively.

So, I’ve started this Professor Chuck project to offer free media studies classes that students (and whole families) can do at home. I’m starting with two separate 5-week series to see how things go, one about “The Hero’s Quest” and one that I’m calling “Secret Shakespeare: Covert Classics, vol. 1.” For each series, I will provide the following:

  • A list of movies to watch (readily available via online streaming)
  • A brief video introduction to the film, giving you background info and suggesting things to notice in the movie
  • A list of “discussion questions” to spark your thinking
  • For the first 25 students to sign up, I will accept (and provide feedback on) your written answers to the questions
  • A post-movie wrap-up blog post that provides more of my own thoughts about the movie and shares with you what some of the other students have said

Sound fun? I hope so.

This is a work in progress, and I’m open to suggestions as we go along, but I hope you’ll consider joining me over the next couple months and beyond as we watch some movies together and explore these two major themes of “The Hero’s Quest” and how Shakespeare plays have inspired a number of recent films.

Stay home, live & learn. Be well!

Published by Chuck Caruso

writer of dark fiction (crime, horror & western noir), literary & textual scholar (american gothic, noir, po-co, sf), and cultural critic

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