Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Camille D.G. Mustachio's 'Language of Dr. Who' makes linguistics fun

Jason Barr, an English instructor at Blue Ridge Community College, wore a  “Run DLK” t-shirt to breakfast at a Virginia Community College System Chancellor’s Developmental Education Institute event.
Everyone looked at Barr blankly except for Camille D.G. Mustachio, an English instructor at Germanna Community College who happens to be a huge "Dr. Who" fan
Camille D. G. Mustachio
Camille D. G. Mustachio
She cracked up.
The shirt put a hip hop, Run DMC twist on Dr. Who’s arch enemy the cyborg Dalek race--an inside joke for ardent fans of the longest-running science fiction show on television.
The pair hit it off and began exchanging messages via email and Facebook about a possible project related to "Dr. Who."
They pitched the idea for a book to Scarecrow Press in Maryland and it was accepted.
Then they sent out a call for essays and the response was “overwhelming—fantastic in a way.”
The result is Barr and Mustachio's new book, “The Language of Dr. Who: From Shakespeare to Alien Tongues,” on sale now at
Every incarnation of Dr. Who’s 11 “regenerations” and all 50 years of the show are covered. The book targets an audience of science fiction scholars and serious fans of the show seeking new perspectives.
According to the book description, it presents essays that: “explore how written and spoken language have been used to define the Doctor’s ever-changing identities, shape his relationships with his many companions, and give him power over his enemies—even the implacable Daleks.”
The book deals with the shows use of fairy tales, myths, nursery rhymes and Shakespeare, among other things. “Contributors consider how the Doctor’s companions speak with him through graffiti, how the Doctor himself uses postmodern linguistics to communicate with alien species, and how language both unites and divides fans of classic ‘Who’ and new ‘Who’ as they try to converse with each other,” according to the description.
Why does "Dr. Who," a story about the powerful lone survivor of an advanced civilization traveling the universe, have such staying power?
“It’s a fun story of adventure,” Mustachio said, ushering “the audience through space and time,” that’s capable of bridging the gap between generations.
“My kids and I have favorite episodes,” she said, adding that she and her husband have their own favorite episodes dating back to when they were children.
“ 'Dr. Who' is timeless,” Mustachio said, but added, “from a feminist standpoint, I like seeing how the companions have evolved over the years.”
She said there was a learning curve in working on the book that “put me back in the position of what my English 111 students are going through… I had a moment of vulnerability my students have when they bring papers into a workshop.”
Mustachio said that while she loves Shakespeare, “sometimes it’s difficult to connect with students with dead writers as opposed to [characters] they can tune into… I would love to see "Dr. Who" used in the classroom. That would be beyond fun.”

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