Ned Gallagher in Havana.

Ned Gallagher:
What I’m Up To


Last Gasp of Summer 2023

“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”



New Adventures

As I write this, the new school year is on the cusp of ramping up. There are opening faculty meetings the next few days, just as student leaders and fall athletes are returning to campus. Next week classes begin and we will be off and running. Many years into my career, these annual rites are still exciting.



St. John's College Graduate Institute logo

I am embarking on a new academic journey this fall, having been admitted into the Graduate Institute at St. John’s College. This is a Great Books program, one that dovetails nicely with the works I regularly teach and with the material I’ve been studying at the University of Chicago and Stanford the last few years. I’ll be able to do this program mostly remotely, with occasional visits to the Annapolis and Santa Fe campuses. I spent a few enjoyable days in Maryland this past week for Convocation, orientation, some social activities, as well as my first two seminars. I now have a slew of books on my “active” shelf this fall, so there won’t be much time for pleasure reading the next few months!



53 Hillhouse Way

In July I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my move into a brand new house after many years living in dormitory apartments. In the intervening months, I’ve spent a lot of time (and money) on furnishings, such that finally this place feels very much like home. It's nice to have enough space to entertain and even to host people overnight. The major projects left at this point are a forthcoming expansion of the back patio and finishing clearing out the garage and consolidating storage in the basement.



Got to see this Caravaggio masterpiece, Judith Beheading Holofernes, while I was in Minneapolis last month; the painting was on loan from Rome. Any opportunity to see in person the work of my favorite painter is well worth it. Based on a story from The Book of Judith—which in Caravaggio’s day was included by the Church in the Old Testament, but has since been dropped—this depiction is sort of an early salvo in the “Me Too” movement!



The first week in August I arose by 5 a.m. each day to study Homer in a program offered by the Department of Classics at University College London. I connected over Zoom, but the five-hour time zone difference meant a very early start to the day. I routinely finished all my classes before lunch, though.

I am about to re-engage The Iliad again over the next few weeks, as a student, and as a teacher with my senior English class. I have read this work in courses I’ve taken at Williams, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, UCL, and now at St. John’s College. I’ve taught the epic a bunch of times and also have read it for pleasure on my own in the summertime. For something that has been around for so long, it never gets old!



Earlier this month I traveled in Europe for a week. I stayed with friends in Barcelona, then took the TGV train to Paris, then onward to Guernsey in the Channel Islands, before wrapping up in London (where I was able to see Mark Rylance in a play). It was a relatively brief trip, but it felt like the first REAL travel I have done since onset of the pandemic. If all goes well in the coming months, I am on track to join the Century Club—visiting at least one hundred countries—before the start of 2024.



I just finished a distance learning course at Stanford on French New Wave Cinema, which is an artisitic movement I knew very little about beforehand. Earlier in the summer, for my 1970s cinema mini-course, I screened Speilberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The film features François Truffaut as an actor, and I learned that many of the leading filmmakers of today actually were first introduced to New Wave films because of TruffautI’s appearance in that movie.



On the cinematic front, I picked up a few more Criterion Collection Blu-ray boxed sets at bargain prices this summer:

  • Godzilla: Shōwa-Era Films [pictured above]
  • Dietrich and Von Sternberg in Hollywood
  • Internal Affairs Trilogy
  • Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
  • Pasolini 101

Given my reading load the next few months, it’s pretty unlikely I will get to dig into these before mid-December.



What I’m Reading

Working On Now:

  • David Grann, The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny, and Murder
  • Jeffrey Toobin, Homegrown: Timothy McVeigh and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism
  • Tiago Forte, Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential

Recently Finished:

  • Moshin Hamid, Exit West
  • James Rollins, Tides of Fire: A Sigma Force Novel
  • James R. Barrett, The Irish Way: Becoming American in the Multiethnic City
  • Johann Hari, Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention—and How to Think Deeply Again
  • Franz Kafka, The Trial
  • Martin Eidelberg et al., The Eames Lounge Chair: An Icon of Modern Design
  • Alan Taylor, American Republics: A Continental History of the United States, 1783–1850
  • Samuel R. Delaney, Nova
  • John Barton, The Word: How We Translate the Bible―and Why It Matters
  • Robert Plunket, My Search for Warren Harding
  • Christopher Pizzino, Arresting Development: Comics at the Boundaries of Literature
  • Samantha Barbas, Actual Malice: Civil Rights and Freedom of the Press in New York Times v. Sullivan
  • Rick Rubin, The Creative Act: A Way of Being
  • Ryan Britt, Phasers on Stun!: How the Making (and Remaking) of Star Trek Changed the World
  • Garry Wills, The Kennedy Imprisonment
  • Merve Emre, The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway

On Deck:

  • Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Iliad
  • Benny Morris, 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War
  • Bill Bishop, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of the Like-Minded is Tearing Us Apart
  • Michael Neiberg, The Blood of Free Men: The Liberation of Paris, 1944

For Courses I’m Taking This Fall:

  • Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas
  • Virginia Woolf, The Years
  • John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
  • Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
  • The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
  • Ulysses S. Grant, Memoirs and Selected Letters
  • Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage
  • Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
  • Homer, The lliad
  • Homer, The Odyssey
  • Aeschylus, Agamemnon
  • Aeschylus, The Libation Bearers
  • Aeschylus, The Eumenides
  • Sophocles, Oedipus the King
  • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus
  • Sophocles, Antigone
  • Euripides, Medea
  • Euripides, The Bacchae
  • Geoffrey Chaucer, Canterbury Tales [in Middle English!]
  • William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part One
  • William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part Two
  • lyric poetry by Sydney, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Wordsworth, Keats, Hopkins, Yeats, and others
  • Bart Ehrman, Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament
  • The Gospels
  • Xenophon, Conversations of Socrates
  • Plato, Complete Dialogues
  • Aristotle, Politics
  • Epictetus, The Manual
  • [whew!]

For Courses I’m Teaching This Fall:

  • Aimee Nezhukumatathil, World of Wonders
  • Gilgamesh
  • Homer, The Iliad
  • The Hebrew Bible: Books of Genesis and Job
  • lyric poetry by Sappho
  • Aeschylus, Agamemnon
  • Aeschylus, The Eumenides
  • Sophocles, Oedipus the King
  • Sophocles, Antigone
  • Platonic dialogues: “Crito” and the Allegory of the Cave
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther
  • English Romantic Poetry: An Anthology
  • Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
  • The Federalist Papers



What I’m Watching


  • coverage of U.S. Open tennis on ESPN
  • Foundation, season 2 (Apple TV+)
  • Only Murders in the Building, season 3 (Hulu)
  • Ahsoka (Disney+)
  • Invincible, season 2 (Amazon Prime)
  • Invasion, season 2 (Apple TV+)
  • Reservation Dogs, season 3 (Hulu)

Recently Finished—Television:

  • Invasion, season 1 (Apple TV+)
  • Full Circle (Max)
  • Fisk, season 1 (Netflix)
  • The Crowded Room (Apple TV+)
  • McEnroe’s Places (ESPN+)
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty, season 2 (Netflix)

On Deck—Television:

  • The Wheel of Time, season 2 (Amazon Prime)
  • Loki, season 2 (Disney+)
  • Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?, season 1 (BritBox)

Recently Finished—Films:

  • Gran Turismo (d. Neill Blomkamp, 2023)
  • La Collectionneuse (d. Éric Rohmer, 1967)
  • The Bakery Girl of Monceau (d. Éric Rohmer, 1963)
  • Blue Beetle (d. Ángel Manuel Soto, 2023)
  • Free Enterprise (d. Robert Meyer Burnett, 1998)
  • Jojo Rabbit (d. Taika Waititi, 2019)
  • Breathless (d. Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)
  • Antoine and Colette (d. François Truffaut, 1962)
  • Jules and Jim (d. François Truffaut, 1962)
  • The 400 Blows (d. François Truffaut, 1959)
  • Theater Camp (d. Molly Gordon & Nick Lieberman, 2023)
  • Superpowered: The DC Story (d. Leslie Iwerks & Mark A. Catalena, 2023)
  • The Cousins (d. Claude Chabrol, 1959)
  • Fool’s Mate (d. Jacques Rivette, 1956)
  • Barbie (d. Greta Gerwig, 2023)
  • Oppenheimer (d. Christopher Nolan, 2023)
  • Past Lives (d. Celine Song, 2023)
  • Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning, Part One (d. Christopher McQuarrie, 2023)
  • Wham! (d. Chris Smith, 2023)
  • 1776 (d. Peter H. Hunt, 1972)
  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (d. James Mangold, 2023)
  • Asteroid City (d. Wes Anderson, 2023)
  • No Hard Feelings (d. Gene Stupnitsky, 2023)



What I’m Listening To


  • The Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D. (Energy Never Dies)
  • R.E.M., Out of Time [25th Anniversary Edition]


  • The Colin McEnroe Show
  • Fresh Air

Audiobooks/Radio Dramas:

  • Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology



What I’ve Been Attending

  • Convocation, St. John’s College, Annapolis, MD, August
  • Dr. Semmelweis, London’s West End, August
  • Much Ado About Nothing, American Shakespeare Company, Staunton, VA, August
  • Taming of the Shrew, American Shakespeare Company, Staunton, VA, August
  • Measure For Measure, American Shakespeare Company, Staunton, VA, August
  • Into The Woods, Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, July
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, July



Where I’m Traveling

Recent Trips:

  • Annapolis, Maryland to open the St. John’s College school year as a newly enrolled graduate student, August
  • hanging out with a couple of 2013 alums after landing at JFK, Brooklyn, August
  • a quick European swing: Barcelona, Paris, Channel Islands, and London, August
  • Charlottesville and Staunton, Virginia—primarily to see a trio of Shakespeare productions, August
  • boat excursion on the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound with friends, July
  • cultural getaway weekend in Minneapolis, July
  • day trip to Amenia, New York, with my mom to see family at the end of June

Upcoming Trips:

  • Miami Beach in October for fall long weekend break



What I’m Learning

  • reading Chaucer in Middle English



What I’m Looking Forward To

  • cross country running season
  • fall in New England



Thanks to Derek Sivers for his concept of the /now page.
Revised: 28 August 2023