Links for the weekend

9th December 2012

I am indebted to Stuart Ian Burns (@feelinglistless) and his estimable Hamlet Weblog for pointing out that – remarkably – BBC Worldwide has made available in full on YouTube seven plays from The BBC Television Shakespeare. Made between 1978 and 1985, the 37 plays in this series are often dismissed as under-cast and under-rehearsed studio-bound turkeys. A number of them, however, are far richer than that – and almost all have points of interest. I am going to write further about the plays and this initiative from Worldwide, but these are links to the productions online now (and you have to put up with four or five adverts in each stream): As You Like ItThe TempestHamlet (above), MacbethJulius CaesarThe Merchant of Venice and Othello. Across the jump are many more links from the past week, one about Shakespeare, some concerning television and many to do with neither (with H/Ts to @UCLAFTVArchive, @TylerGreenDC@KeyframeDaily and @emmafgreen).

• How we read: Andrew Martin for the Financial Times is good on recent books about reading and writing in electronic times…

What should we call reading?: … while at Flow TV Mara Mills tackles the same subject with more rigour and a much greater sense of the physicality of reading.

• Does this writer deserve the prize?: in The New York Review of Books Perry Link provides the cultural and political background to the writings of Nobel laureate Mo Yan.

Germany in autumn, in style: David Bordwell visits Berlin and the Babelsberg film studios – and includes in his fascinating post some glorious images.

• Back to the drawing board – digital cinema and film history: more from David Bordwell, this time in the form of his constantly stimulating hour-long keynote for the Toronto International Film Festival…

December: an interesting collaboration for The New York Review of Books blog between film director Alexander Kluge, who supplies the text, and artist Gerhard Richter, who took the photos; their subject (of course) is German history.

The Man who Knew Too Much – in-house design at The Criterion Collection: a peek at the process by which one of the best DVD series in the world (the other is Masters of Cinema) comes up with their cover art.

Jonas Mekas – the man who inspired Andy Warhol to make films: a terrific profile of the great film diarist by Sean O’Hagan for the Observer.

• Milestone to the rescue (via restoration): at Fandor Dennis Doros of Milestone Films on ten American independent films in need of restoration.

BBC finishes Radio Times archive digitisation effort: hurrah! Leo Kelion reports for BBC News.

In the 1920s, shopper got punk’d by fake televisions: by Matt Novak on the Smithsonian’s PaleoFuture blog (with illustrations):

In the 1920s, the cutting edge gadget that advertisers most wanted to associate themselves with was television. But, since the technology was still in its infancy, they faked it. The August 1926 issue of Science and Invention magazine included two illustrations showing ways that businesses could create “fake” television demonstrations to lure customers inside their stores.

2 good 2 be 4gotten – an oral history of Freaks and Geeks: Judd Apatow, exec on Girls, has guest-edited an issue of Vanity Fair devoted to comedy, and available online is this engaging analysis of his failed but fondly-remembered television show from 1999.

‘I pretty much wanted to die’: Grantland features an extract from Alan Sepinwall’s The Revolution was Televised about the origins of Lost.

The Heiress: for The New Yorker, veteran media commentator Ken Auletta falls for the charms of Elizabeth Murdoch, and the piece is alternately cringe-making and eve-opening.

How Netflix wants to change television forever: a short Gigaom post by Janko Roettgers which sums up much about trends in television.

Cultural studies, TV studies & empathy: Ron Becker at Antenna suggests that academic television studies now might benefit from ‘helping students talk to each other about their experiences with media… [This] might require us to be sociologists, mediators, or even therapists as much as or more than cultural theorists and textual and industry analysts.’

• Joss Whedon, the Browncoats and Dr Horrible: a short web exclusive essay by Henry Jenkins about the intensity of fan support for the fantasies of the wonderful Mr Whedon.

• What is the social in social media?: theorist Geert Lovink is always worth reading, even if his prose is dense and his ideas demanding, and this new essay for e-flux is no exception.

• Questioning Clay Shirky: Aaron Brady at Inside Higher Ed continues the (important) discussions about the impact of developments in online education.

• Shakespeare and contemporary theory: online now are the first two podcasts in a new series of interviews by Neema Parvini, author of author of Shakespeare’s History Plays: Rethinking Historicism and Shakespeare and Contemporary Theory; not perhaps for the theory neophyte, but these are valuable interviews with Professors Jonathan Dollimore and Brian Boyd.

• “Bigger, louder, more everything”: Simon Schama blogs for the Royal Opera House (there’s classy for you) about Giacomo Meyerbeer and his ‘grand opera’ Robert le diable.

• Why arias in the multiplex fall flat: wrong-headed but nonetheless interesting argument by Alexaandra Coghlan for the Independent – ‘There’s an energy, a risk, to this nightly act of creation that is impossible to simulate.’

When homo sapiens hit upon the power of art: a strong Guardian piece by Robin McKie about the origins of visual art and a new exhibition at The British Museum.

Manfred Mohr – one and zero: Regine at we make money not art highlights a show at Carroll/Fletcher in London of ‘one of the first visual artists to explore the use of algorithms and computer programs to make independent abstract artworks’; go here for an essay about Mohr by Alistair Rider.

Interview with Garnet Hertz: a we make money not art profile (with some great video) of the contemporary artist who has made ‘robots controlled by cockroaches [and] video game systems that you can literally drive around’ as well as much else.

John Baldessari – In Still Life 2000-2010: conjure up your own Dutch still life with this very engaging interactive artwork.

Cabinets of curiosity – the web as wunderkammer: for the new online offering The Appendix (‘a new journal of narrative and experimental history’) Benjamin Breen looks thoughtfully at the similarities between early modern collections of astonishing objects and the strategies adopted by users of Pinterest and Tumblr.

Generous interfaces for scholarly sites: with some smart visuals, Dan Cohen blogs about how to make academia online more engaging.

Fairy Tales, early colour stencil films from Pathé: Kieron Tyler at The Arts Desk reviews a new DVD from BFI Publishing, from which a spell-binding extract is embedded here; the Guardian has another, perhaps even better, example from the disc.


  1. Gail says:

    What a wonderfully eclectic and interesting list! I’ve bookmarked this entry, and will look forward to savouring the contents of each link through the coming week or so. Thank you, John 🙂

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