Nate Eastman
Associate Professor of English

Nate Eastman is a Shakespearean scholar, with an interest in exploring connections between the Bard’s works and other texts. He has taught several versions of a course called "Shakespeare's Afterlives," which reads modern novels, plays, and films (including such works as Star Wars, The Godfather and Death of a Salesman) against their Shakespearean ancestors. In addition to publishing regularly, Nate has collaborated with a colleague in theatre arts on a yearlong research project with students in preparation for a production of Othello.

Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 116

Phone
765-983-1507

E-mail
eastmna@earlham.edu

Office
307 Carpenter Hall

Office Hours
10:00-11:00, 3:00-4:00 MWF; 10:30-12:00 TR

Programs/Departments

  • English

Degrees

  • Ph.D., Lehigh University
  • M.A., Lehigh University
  • B.A., Bowling Green State University

Selected Courses:

I've taught several versions of a course called "Shakespeare's Afterlives," which reads modern novels, plays and films against their Shakespearean ancestors. Some of these relationships are simple: everybody knows that Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres is an adaptation of Lear. And so is Death of a Salesman.  But so are Star Wars and The Godfather.  Likewise, everybody knows that Aime Cesaire's _Tempest_ is an adaptation of Shakespeare's _Tempest_.  But so are Lev Grossman's Magicians and Neil Gaiman's Sandman.  And MacbethBreaking Bad.

I've also taught courses that focus on the evolution of different character types. For instance, Marlowe's Barabas (from Jew of Malta) becomes Shakespeare's Iago (from Othello), who becomes Milton's Satan (from Paradise Lost) and Shelly's Victor Frankenstein. And there's Victor Frankenstein DNA in characters ranging from Max Fischer (in Rushmore) to Joey Rosso (in Rolling Vengeance).

For first-year students especially, I've taught several versions of a course called "Monsters and Marvels" — basically, a research-intensive approach to superstition and pseudoscience that involves reading everything from 16th-century manuscripts to herbal supplement white papers.

I study relationships between texts — how, say, — Star Wars adapts Shakespeare's Hamlet and Shakespeare adapted Thomas Kyd's Hamlet, or how Arthur Miller adapted Shakespeare's King Lear (in Death of a Salesman), and Shakespeare adapted his King Lear from earlier stories by Monmouth and Holinshed. So most of my work involves Shakespeare at one end or the other.

Mickey White (from Theater Arts) and I taught a yearlong sequence of courses in which students helped produce Othello.  This meant dramaturgy — researching the history of the text, the culture in which Shakespeare wrote, and the history of the racial, political and religious conflicts that inform the play — in order to prepare aides for the actors, director and crew. It produced a good deal of rigorous, original research.

This sounds simple, but is actually a kind of complicated balancing act. On one hand, doing original research means being uncertain — seeing that the research can support several different and sometimes contradictory perspectives.

But it also means making the best decisions you can with the information you have, knowing that once you publish whatever you've found, you're both improving the world of scholarship on a topic and also leaving some important questions unanswered. In other words, you never get it right; you just get it better.

 

Books and Chapters

“Genre Traditions in Renaissance Literary Criticism.” Renaissance Literature Handbook. Ed. Rebecca Steinberger.  London:  Continuum, 2009.    

Economies of Famine. Saarbrucken: Verlag, 2009.    

Shakespeare and the Great Dearth. Saarbruecken: Verlag, 2008.

“Famine.” The Business of Food.  Eds. Ken Albala and Gary Allen. New York: Greenwood, 2008.    

“Skelton’s ‘Lullay, lullay,’” “Skelton’s ‘Womanhood, wanton,’” and “Fourteeners.”  Companion to Pre-1600 British Poetry.  Ed. Michelle M. Sauer.  New York: Facts on File, 2007.

“Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar” and “Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.” Eds. Tracy Caldwell, Robert Puchalik.  Albany:  Whitston/Great Neck Publishing, 2007.

Articles

“Famine, Adequation, and State Economies of Justice:  Eating the World’s Due in Shakespeare’s Sonnets.” Early Modern Literary Studies, (Forthcoming).

“After the Ph.D.”  The Drowner: Bethlehem: Lehigh University Press,  2010.

“Looking for Shakespeare.”  Bounce Magazine. Sydney: DCB Publications, February 2010.

“The Rumbling Belly Politic: Metaphorical Location and Metaphorical Government in Coriolanus.” Early Modern Literary Studies. 13.1 (Fall 2007)

“Our Institutions, Our Selves:  Rethinking Classroom Performance and Signification.” Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 28: 297-308 (2006).

Modern Language Association

Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies

Shakespeare Association of America

Renaissance Society of America

Our students, our faculty and our mission. Today, for instance, I've had conversations about: (a) Whether the Horsham dragon could plausibly have been a crocodile monitor (varanus salvadorii), (b) Experiments in which our students discovered that raptors (e.g. hawks, eagles, falcons) have extraordinary senses of smell, and the possible implications of this research for the study of corvids, (c) Ferromagnetism and spin-glass order, (d) The history of Roman, English, and American legislation concerning leveraged investment in real property, (e) Undocumented flags in the GNU C Compiler (GCC). And it's only 1:00 p.m.

That might sound like a lot of disconnected trivia, but every one of those conversations came about because there was a problem that either I (a, d, and e) or someone else (b and c) was trying to solve. And that's what our mission — lifelong learning — does to relationships among students and faculty.

That means more to me than just having the luxury of working at an interesting place with interesting people. Challenge is the adult version of fun. In the long run, the learning that comes with challenge is a big part of what makes things worth doing, and an essential part of being a fulfilled and happy human being.

Our students are interested in the whole world. And that means two things.

The first is that they're interesting. Being interesting comes from being interested — from being curious, from asking questions, and from cultivating the resourcefulness and ingenuity it takes to find answers.

The second is that they've already learned that real problems are complicated and not at all amenable to ideologically-driven or "one big idea" styles of thinking. Or that, to quote Linus Torvalds, "the only way that problems get solved in real life is with a lot of hard work on getting the details right. Not by some over-arching ideology that somehow magically makes things work."    This means that, as a rule, our students can collaborate extremely well, and are likewise well-prepared for consensus governance. They don't do polarizing debates. Instead, they work together and solve real problems. It's hard to express how rare and important that is.

I read (a lot) and write (a lot) — not just for academic presses, but also for popular websites and magazines. I also like community development projects, like working in the delegation that helped Richmond win the All-America City award, and helping develop the Richmond Shakespeare Festival.

I'm a sucker for home science and engineering projects. In the last month, for one reason or another, I've used water from a backyard lake to build a microbial fuel cell and generated a low-energy carbon plasmoid in the microwave.

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