Nerd of the Month: May 2016

Meet Michael Vaclav, Shakespearean monologue expert, Great Books Eagle Scout, Amherst Lead PA, and our final Nerd of the Month before camp!


Michael at his recent graduation from the University of Notre Dame.

Name: Michael Vaclav

Life Status: I am currently attending the University of Notre Dame, which is located in scenic South Bend, Indiana. I will be continuing my education at Notre Dame as a grad student this fall, but this semester my favorite class was Joyce, Beckett, and the Irish Voice.  It was a comprehensive look at the works of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett and how a distinctly Irish voice comes through their writing.  I loved the class so much because my professor is one of the premier Beckett performers in the world and he brings an incredible passion for and knowledge of the pieces we read.  Unrelated, but a fun fact, he has also been featured in several movies and television shows, including Braveheart and Game of Thrones.

Relationship to Great Books:  I have been with the Amherst program as a PA for the last two summers, and this year I will be Lead PA for the Intermediate Program.

Nerdy fun fact: If I were at Hogwarts, my house would be Slytherin.  Not many people think this is a good thing, but I embrace it.

Nerdiest attribute: Breaking into random Shakespeare quotes or spontaneously reenacting scenes from Broadway shows like Les Miserables

Favorite book: The Lord of the Rings (specifically The Silmarillion)

Currently reading:  Most of my current reading is tied up in school related assignments, so I’ll suffice it to say the Complete Works of Shakespeare, Ulysses, Molloy, Waiting for Godot, a few works on Christology, some works on the philosophy of film, and the MLA Handbook

Which nerd in history would you most like to have a late brunch with?: I’m not sure if this is equivalent, but I would love to get a pint with J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis at The Eagle and Child in Oxford…


I would love to get a late brunch with Neil DeGrasse Tyson.  Super technical Physics isn’t my strongest subject, but I love the ideas behind astrophysics, and I feel that he could explain everything to me in a comprehensible and fun way that would make for excellent brunch conversation.


Julius Michael Caesar, teaching his Shakespearean monologues Literature Elective.

Which author would you want to write your story?: I would love for Alexandre Dumas to write my life story, because I feel that he would pay attention to all the smallest details in my life that lead me to where I am today.  I would love to read the story of my life through that lens.

Can the movie ever be better than the book?: Yes. Mary Poppins. Case closed.

Do you prefer hardcover books or paperback, and why?: I love reading a paperback, because I feel there is less pressure to keep them pristine.  However, when I collect a book I love with the intention of keeping it forever, I always go for a hardcover.  There is just something so magical and timeless about a hardcover book.  It is inexplicable for me, but I feel that a hardcover lends a certain amount of authority to a book and the story within.

Who would your Lord of the Rings spirit character be? Bilbo, because he just goes along, does his thing, and lives his life as best he can.  When he is out of his comfort zone, he makes the best of it, and he never shrinks from a task that is asked of him.


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