Julia Lupton has spent most of her academic career studying William Shakespeare. When she learned she was named a Chancellor’s Fellow earlier this quarter, she immediately knew how to spend the research stipend: by taking her first trip to England.
If it seems odd that a Shakespearean scholar hasn’t visited the bard’s home, Lupton has an excuse. She’s been busy.
“I’ve presented my research on Shakespeare in Venice. I’ve also been to Ireland and Germany, but my path never took me to England,” Lupton said. “Once I started teaching and had kids, it became harder to travel.”
Among her many projects is a children’s book she wrote with her twin sister and graphic designer Ellen Lupton, titled D.I.Y. Kids(Princeton Architectural Press). Aimed at creative children and parents, D.I.Y. is short for design-it-yourself and includes instructions for 80 graphics, toys, home and fashion projects children can complete.
Lupton tested out the projects on her own four kids: Hannah, 10, and 7-year-old triplets, Isabel, Lucy and Eliot. On Friday, Dec. 14, from 3-5 p.m., she will host a “Book Party” at the UCI Bookstore with presentations and design projects for young artists.
“I want kids to exit from mainstream consumer culture and learn techniques to leave their own mark on the world,” Lupton said.
In line with her renewed interest in design, Lupton recently helped to launch the UCI Design Alliance, an informal collection of faculty, staff and students interested in developing both literary and design skills.
“Right now there’s no design program. We all have computers and we know what a font is. But we don’t necessarily know much more, so I’m interested in improving design literacy,” Lupton said.
The professor of English and comparative literature has tackled other projects that have made an impact on the community. She was founding director of the Humanities Out There program, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. The program, a School of Humanities partnership with Santa Ana schools, aims to enhance critical thinking and writing skills by providing a challenging literacy curriculum. Though she’s no longer the director, over the past decade, 60 graduate students and more than 1,300 undergraduate tutors have provided instruction to about 3,000 middle and high school students. Lupton currently directs the Humanities Core Course, an introductory set of classes in which more than 1,200 freshmen enroll annually.
Lupton is working on a new book, Thinking With Shakespeare, which includes essays examining Shakespeare’s plays in relationship to social and political life. Juggling everything on her schedule has been hectic, but rewarding.
“It’s been a great year,” Lupton said.