Washburn English department makes way for Way

Andrew Shermoen

Washburn’s English department welcomed Geoffrey Way to its faculty this semester.

Specializing in Shakespeare and early modern literature, Way’s collegiate career began at Virginia Tech. Way is from Virginia; his family lived in the D.C. area, originally. Way spoke fondly of his time there, alluding to the Shenandoah Valley and Skyline Drive. At Virginia Tech, Way was a double major in history and English. During his time there, he had already decided to go to graduate school and he completed his goal at Clemson University in South Carolina. Finally, Way left the eastern shores for Arizona.

“I packed up my entire life and lived in the desert for eight years,” Way said. “I finished my PH.D. last year and met my wife during that time. It was a good choice, but definitely a jarring one.”

There is more to professor Way than just his performance in the classroom. “I was weird as a kid,” Way said. “I would go to the library and check out books on Greek mythology on my own.”

He believes that a desire to study literature always starts at a young age. A love of reading and stories is what sparked his lifelong interest. Way’s love of literature, Shakespeare in particular, can be seen by his career path, but Way merges his love of technology, video games, television, graphic novels and movies to explore how new mediums can help to examine Shakespeare in a new light.

Way’s doctoral dissertation reflected that idea. “My dissertation looked at how Shakespearean theaters and festivals use digital technologies to engage their audiences today,” Way said. “Streaming live performances, to even creating video games to engage new audiences in Shakespearean performance.”

Way quickly stated that many of the video games based on Shakespeare’s works are not very good. In particular, he stated a distaste with “The Globe Theatre’s” mediocre games. He still recognized this as an intriguing way to engage audiences with Shakespeare in unconventional, but popular, ways.

“We always see with Shakespeare and other notable authors, that people are constantly revisiting this work in different lenses. YouTube and different social medias offer new ways to approach how we might look at a play like Shakespeare’s,” Way said.

Way is an avid gamer and lamented that he has been unable to find time to play the new “Civilization 6.” He also discussed his interest in the upcoming game “Elsinore” which explores Shakespeare’s classic tragedy “Hamlet” through the style of a point-and-click adventure game. As a professor of English, specializing in Shakespeare, Way’s love for video games and their potential as an art form might shock students. Way sees games as an emerging media that is undergoing the same treatment that past media has endured.

“The same conversations we’ve had with media for centuries. When books started getting printed everyone was skeptical, because oral tradition was preferred. Things that we revisit are things that we begin to value over time.” Way said.

Way doesn’t shy away from emerging technologies; he embraces them with true gusto, which is unique for a professor in Way’s specific field. Way is so interested in the concept of new media that next semester he will be providing a class called “Shakespeare in Action.” The class will study multiple adaptations of classic Shakespeare plays including graphic novels, movies, television episodes and yes, games. Students will also be able to create their own adaptation of a Shakespearean story. 

Way is a unique professor. A man whose focus of love of ancient literature’s developed from his primitive years. His experience in these topics has effortlessly melded with his love of new technology and new media. A unique message he gave to skeptics is this; “Certain games have presented themselves as trying to do more than just entertain. If you think about it though, Shakespeare was an entertainer. We look at him now as a great author, but he started as an entertainer.”