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Spartacus returns

OTTAWA—POPULAR STARZ PROGRAM, Spartacus, returns to TV sets later this month. The action-packed, antiquity-set show brings forth a new lead actor and more bloodshed in its third installment of the series.

Fans may be excited to see the return of the Roman drama, but Spartacus: Vengeance begins with a sombre note. This time around, Australian actor Andy McIntyre takes the lead in place of the late Andy Whitefield, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2010 and passed away  last September.

“It’s probably the saddest thing I’ve ever had to be part of,” said McIntyre to the Ottawa Citizen. “I think, in the beginning, I was able to tackle the role because I believed he would get better. He made this choice to leave the show and get better, and that was fantastic.”

The series picks up following Spartacus as a free man and leader of the slave rebellion, ready to seek revenge for the brutal murder of his wife. Fans can catch the return of Spartacus on Starz later this month.

—Sofia Hashi

Researching the male psyche 

 OTTAWA—MASCULINE STUDIES ARE becoming a popular subject within Canadian universities. Although the topic is still in its early stages, professors report more interest and potential research appearing in the field.

“Clearly it’s at a very nascent stage in its development, in the humanities and social sciences,” said Marc LaFrance, Concordia University professor in sociology, while speaking to the Ottawa Citizen.

The new subject is cropping up on campuses as an answer to women’s studies. The latter has been taught since the 1970s, focusing on female gender roles and sexuality in society, while male issues have been largely neglected. Masculine studies aim to not only examine the male identity and construct within society, but to see how masculinity is disempowering to men.

“[People are] either unwilling or unable to see men as fully human beings—people who can indeed be hurt, both individually and collectively,” said Paul Nathanson, McGill University professor in religious studies.

Researchers of the new study don’t want to ignite a gender war.

“There’s lots of anti-male stuff out there and anti-female stuff,” said Anthony Synnott, a sociologist. “A lot of people are badly hurt by men versus women. We should be noting the glory of female and male achievements.”

—Sofia Hashi

Ban on book sparks controversy

EDMONTON—TORONTO-BASED RABBI IMMANUEL Schochet is condemning Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s new book Kosher Jesus, declaring it heretical. Schochet insists on a permanent ban, having said in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, “It is forbidden for anyone to buy or read this book.”

Schochet’s anger stems from what he considers a misrepresentation and falsification of thematic messages in the book. Schochet, who is also a professor of philosophy at Toronto’s Humber College, believes the book blurs those lines between Christianity and Judaism, and inadvertently encourages those of the Jewish faith to favour the realms of Christianity.

While Boteach claims he is a proud follower of Schochet’s written work and public speeches, he emphatically defends the context of his book.

Boteach insists his book “goes back to the original gospel source materials to uncover the real story of Jesus prior to later Christian editors significantly modifying the story to accommodate the Romans.”

“My book, for those Jews who care to read it, will offer significant information to argue convincingly against my Christian attempt to evangelize Jews,” said Boteach.

—Kajahni Tharmarjan