Monthly Archives: October 2011

Shakespeare Passages for Halloween

Shakespeare has memorable passages about ghosts that are appropriate for Halloween.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Come Holy Spirit, Come Heavenly Newt

In “Not Like a Dove” Mary Pratt reconceptualizes the Holy Spirit in a number of startling ways. Her goal, according to guest blogger Sue Schmidt, is to bring us closer to Godhead.

Posted in Pratt (Mary) | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

The Film Is the Fraud, Not Shakespeare

The new film “Anonymous” claims that Shakespeare was a fraud. The only fraud is the film itself.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Mold Causing Problems? Bring in a Ship

Our students, displaced by mold, are being housed in a cruise ship. A campus production of “As You Like It” may have given administrators the idea.

Posted in Dahl (Roald), Melville (Herman), Porter (Katherine Anne), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Jane Austen’s Musings on Memory

The minds translates the helter-skelter of events into tidy narratives, often to the detriment of what really happened. Fanny Price in “Mansfield Park” muses on this phenomenon.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Proust (Marcel) | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Tollbooth to a Liberal Arts Education

Adam Gopnik argues that Norton Juster’s “The Phantom Tollbooth” is a manifesto for the liberal arts.

Posted in Juster (Norton( | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

For a Mold Attack, Read Dickinson

Our College has closed down two dorms after a mold attack. Among the many remedies has been an Emily Dickinson poem.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Come, My Light, My Feast, My Strength

In “The Call,” George Herbert opens himself to God’s love with a confidence not found in many of his poems.

Posted in Herbert (George) | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Can Humanitarians Stop Violence?

The Oscar-winning film “In a Better World” explores how to respond to the world’s violence in an authentic and uncompromising way.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Letting the Bears Loose in Zanesville

Sometimes art holds a mirror up to life, sometimes life imitates art. Wednesday’s story of exotic animals on the rampage in Zanesville, Ohio had me thinking we were in the middle of the John Irving novel Letting the Bears Loose. The story, in case you missed it, involved the owner of an exotic animal preserve […]

Posted in Irving (John) | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

No Man Is an Island (Not Even Revis)

New York Jet Darrelle Revis may be single man island who can shut down any receiver who comes near, but ultimately he must acknowledge, like John Donne, that no man is an island.

Posted in Donne (John) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

An Austen Dinner for the Ages

On Sunday my Jane Austen First Year Seminar students came to my housefor a meal that we took out of the “Jane Austen Cookbook.” The meal took two days to prepare and four people to serve.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

My Memories of a Mountain Writer

May Justus, an Appalachian author who wrote children’s books and poetry, has a great poem about windy weather. Recalling it recently brought back other memories of this remarkable woman.

Posted in Justus (May) | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

May a Path of Moonlight Bring You Home

John O’Donohue’s “Bennacht (Blessing)” tells us that if we live in the world mindfully, the world will sustain us through the dark times.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Feeling the Fission of a Hollywood Star

Judy Grahn sees our Hollywood stars as modern day Helen of Troys and explores their power over us.

Posted in Grahn (Judy) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Austen Teaches Moral Compromise 101

The example of Edmund Bertram in Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park” helps us understand the less-than-ideal choices our leaders sometimes make as they negotiate a compromised world.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Jane Austen and “Occupy Wall Street”

In “Mansfield Park” Jane Austen calls out the irresponsible wealthy in ways that the Occupy Wall Street protests would approve.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The Black Dragon Scales of Grief

Nobel laureate Thomas Tranströmer’s poem “After a Death” accurately captures how it feels to lose someone you love.

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Tranströmer (Thomas) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Using Austen to Understand Racism

African American blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates uses Jane Austen’s villainous Fanny Dashwood to penetrate the mindset of American racists.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Coming into the Peace of Wild Things

Wendell Barry’s “Peace of Wild Things” provides a vision that can help counteract what Thomas Merton identifies as the most common form of innate violence: the rush and pressure of modern life.

Posted in Berry (Wendell) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is America Selling Its Soul?

The 1941 film “The Devil and Daniel Webster” is unsettling by how relevant to our current day economic crisis is its story of America selling its soul.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quixote’s Battle for Imagination

In a short poem about about Sancho Panza and one of the windmills, Scott Bates describes Don Quixote’s sidekick as common sense reality robbing life of imagination.

Posted in Bates (Scott), Cervantes (Miguel de) | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Myth of Slaves as Faithful Companions

A visiting lecture on “Slaves as Loyal Confederates” reminded me of the complex relationships between black and white as they are explored by Twain and Stowe.

Posted in Twain (Mark) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Does a True Arab Do Now?

In “Blood,” Naomi Shihab Nye grieves the massacres of Lebanese Palestinians in a poem that calls out for us to see each other as individuals and not as racial Others.

Posted in Nye (Naomi Shihab) | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Novels and Baseball Fans, Fixated on Time

As I watched the amazing day of baseball last Wednesday, I found myself thinking (being the literature nerd that I am) that the English novel was invented to do justice to reality when it got this dramatic and complex.

Posted in Defoe (Daniel), Dickens (Charles), Fielding (Henry), Sterne (Lawrence) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Out of Darkness, Sanctified into Being

Rashani’s poem captures the miracle of Yom Kippur by describing the unbroken arising out of brokenness.

Posted in Rashani | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!
  • Twitter Authentication data is incomplete