Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Brave New World of Twitterature

Depending on your point of view, literature reduced to tweets is either comic or horrifying.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Flaubert (Gustave), Forster (E.M.), Kafka (Franz), Milton (John), Proust (Marcel), Salinger (J. D.), Steinbeck (John) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mitt’s Favorite Book: Sci Fi Nostalgia

Mitt Romney’s favorite novel, “Battleship Earth,” is a throwback to an America that no longer exists.

Posted in Hubbard (Ron) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Author PTSD Led to Billy Pilgrim, Holden

It can be argued that “Slaughterhouse Five” and “Catcher in the Rye” were both shaped by their authors suffering from PTSD.

Posted in Salinger (J. D.), Vonnegut (Kurt) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Memorializing Our Lost Innocence

Wilfred Owen’s “Strange Meeting” is not only about the soldiers who have died but how their death taints the living.

Posted in Owen (Wilfred) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Pentecost, When All Heaven Breaks Loose

Ken Sehested’s Pentecost poem says we have become acclimated to a culture of war and calls for us to break loose.

Posted in Sehested (Ken) | 1 Comment

America’s Avian Maestro, the Mockingbird

Tom Robbins and Scott Bates regard the mockingbird as an emblem for the consummate artist.

Posted in Bates (Scott), Lee (Harper), Robbins (Tom) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Have We Becomes Pottersville?

Using “It’s a Wonderful Life” as a lens through which to view the J. P. Morgan recent financial disaster shows what America has lost in today’s banks.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Lit Explains Romney’s Off-Putting Laugh

Lewis Carroll, Kundera, and Dostoevsky help us understand why Mitt Romney’s laugh makes us nervous.

Posted in Carroll (Lewis), Dostoevsky (Fyodor), Kundera (Milan) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Parents, Kids, Schools & Banned Books

Parents pressure schools to ban books because they want to protect their children. Their children want the books because they have a different set of needs.

Posted in Blume (Judy), Chbosky (Stephen), Rowling (J. K.), Salinger (J. D.) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Stephen King: Tax Me, Save America

A version of Stephen King’s vision to raise taxes on millionaires (including himself) can be found in those of his novels where individuals collectively battle social fragmentation.

Posted in King (Stephen) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Lit Theory that Affirms Readers

The students in my “Theories of the Reader ” course found the theorists we read affirming.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sin = Separation from Creation

Seeing sin more as human separateness from creation than as disobeying God may be a more powerful way to teach the concept to today’s students.

Posted in Marlowe (Christopher), Milton (John) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

On Kobe and Aging

Sherman Alexie wonders what will go through Kobe Bryant’s mind when he finds himself dominated by a younger player. This past week, we saw it happen.

Posted in Alexie (Sherman) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

In Praise of an Anti-Gun Western

The 1939 film “Destry Rides Again” takes a surprisingly strong stand against guns.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s Love Affair with “Waste Land”

Obama’s youthful love letters see him moving seamlessly between great ideas and sexual desire.

Posted in Eliot (T.S.) | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

A Villanelle for Graduating Seniors

During our commencement ceremonies this past Saturday, my creative writing colleague Karen Anderson was asked to read an appropriate poem. (Previous posts on Karen’s poetry have appeared here and here.) Karen chose a villanelle by Theodore Roethke and then, in a very nice touch, explained how the poem’s intricate form as well as its content […]

Posted in Roethke (Theodore) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Bulimic Sees Herself in Milton’s Satan

One of my students who suffers from bulimia finds her condition mirrored in Satan’s rebellion against God.

Posted in Milton (John) | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Rape of John Lauber’s Locks

The high school incident where Romney forcibly cut a classmate’s hair is less “Lord of the Flies” and more “Rape of the Lock.”

Posted in Golding (William), Pope (Alexander) | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

They Are All Gone into the World of Light

In “Ascension Hymn,” Henry Vaughan laments that he can catch only glimpses of God’s glory.

Posted in Vaughan (Henry) | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Sendak and Children’s Interior Worlds

Maurice Sendak knew how the honor the interiority of children.

Posted in Sendak (Maurice) | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Listen to the Music that Is All around You

In “As It Is in Heaven,” a famous conductor travels back to his childhood town and helps a church choir find the music that is in and around them.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why Can’t Mitt Fake Authenticity?

Klaus Mann’s novel “Mephisto” applied to Mitt Romney gives us insight into whether can give a strong presidential performance while being inauthentic.

Posted in Mann (Klaus), Wilde (Oscar) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Werther-Fever Upended Europe

Goethe’s “Sorrows of Young Werther” created a sensation in 1774, with a young cult following and older attackers.

Posted in Goethe | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Art Goes Where Humans Can’t

A dying professor in Gail Godwin’s novel “The Good Husband” turns to John Donne’s “Second Anniversary” to comfort her.

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

When Great Artists Do Bad Things

Gertrude Stein’s Vichy sympathies raise the issue of the contrast between an artist’s politics and his or her art.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Anchorless and Yet Anchored

St. John of the Cross finds that love shows itself the strongest when we live in “darkness without light.”

Posted in St. John of the Cross | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Hunger Games & the Job Market

“The Hunger Games” captures how my students see the contemporary job situation.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ayn Rand vs. the Catholic Bishops

The attack of the Catholic Bishops on Paul Ryan’s devotion to Ayn Rand’s ideas puts “Atlas Shrugged” once again in the news.

Posted in Rand (Ayn) | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Obama as a Toni Morrison Character

Perhaps some of the conservative antipathy to Obama is because he is seen as just taking over when he promised to work for social justice.

Posted in Morrison (Toni), Wilmot (John) | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Stuart Little Rescues a Gay Boy

As an undersized gay child, humorist David Rakoff found a soul mate in Stuart Little.

Posted in White (E. B.) | 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.

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