Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Fiscal Cliff as Kubla Khan’s Chasm

Our looming fiscal cliff can be imagined as Coleridge’s “deep romantic chasm” in “Kubla Khan.”

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Jesus Lies Enclosed but Fills All Place

John Donne’s poem on the Nativity shows us a way out of our imprisoned existence.

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Beckham Bends It Like Achilles

In 2010 Carol Ann Duffy compared Beckham to Achilles after he went down with an injury to his Achilles tendon.

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There Is No Friend Like a Sibling

My sons’ special friendship brings to mind Laura and Lizzie’s friendship in “Goblin Market.”

Posted in Rossetti (Christina) | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Shakespeare a Lifeline for Those in Prison

A copy of Shakespeare’s works that circulated through apartheid-era prisons shows the Bard providing solace for the prisoners.

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Santa Claus in Narnia

Tolkien criticized the looseness of C. S. Lewis that prompted him to put Santa Claus and a variety of myth traditions in Narnia.

Posted in Lewis (C. S.) | 2 Comments

No Room for Them in the (Holiday) Inn

In Scott Bates’s updated nativity scene, there is no room for Mary and Josephn in the Holiday Inn.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Christmas

Applying “Hichhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” to the nativity scene opens up interesting perspectives on the animals that are present.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Haunting Music of the Other World

Anne Porter shows us how “the fresh truth of children” is central to the Christmas experience.

Posted in Porter (Anne) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Roll On, Thou Alabama Crimson Tide, Roll

Byron’s “deep and dark blue ocean” rolls on and so does the Alabama Crimson Tide.

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The End of the World As We Know It?

A number of poets have written poems about the apocalypse. But it’s always figurative, never literal.

Posted in Arnold (Matthew), Pope (Alexander), Shelley (Percy), Woolf (Virginia) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Was God During Sandy Hook?

Elie Weisel helps us understand where God was during the Sandy Hook killings.

Posted in Weisel (Elie) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Solidarity No Longer Forever in Michigan

Rachel Kranz’s “Leaps of Faith” provides a vision of unions that are needed in the face of GOP attacks.

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Why (Some) Americans Love Guns

Gun control is difficult because certain Americans have almost a sexual relationship with guns.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Songs of Innocence Destroyed

Blake captures the tragic clash between childhood innocence and worldly corruption that we witnessed in Sandy Hook.

Posted in Blake (William) | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Love Saith, “Be with Me Where I Am”

A Christina Rossetti poem about the massacre of the innocents looks for solace for such tragedies in Christ’s love.

Posted in Rossetti (Christina) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Lamentation and Weeping in Newtown

The Sandy Hook killings recall the Biblical massacre of the innocents, referenced in “Moby Dick.”

Posted in Bible, Melville (Herman), Owen (Wilfred) | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Bored Students, Don’t Forget Lyre Bird

Jacques Prévert’s lyre bird comes to the rescue of bored students everywhere.

Posted in Prévert (Jacques) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Austen vs. Common Core State Standards

To excite students, teach good writing–not writing that torments.

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

Gradgrind Takes Over English Classes

The new Common Core State Standards are pushing literature out of English classes.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Leaping Off the Fiscal Cliff…and Flying

Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” has advice for Obama in the fiscal cliff confrontation: Leap!

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Kate’s Pregnancy: Return of the King

Fascination with Kate Middleton’s pregnancy may be tied in with the “return of the king” trope found in much British fiction.

Posted in Tolkien (J.R.R.), White (T.H.) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Carry You in Me Like an Embryo

Marge Piercy’s mother died during Hanukkah and the poet uses the season to reflect upon their contentious relationship.

Posted in Piercy (Marge) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

NFL Rookie QBs and Mac the Knife

RGIII, Russell Wilson, and Andrew Luck are escape artists in the mode of Mac the Knife.

Posted in Gay (John), Harris (Joel Chandler), Homer, St. Vincent Millay (Edna) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Which Jane Austen Character Are You?

Find out what Jane Austen character you are with my class’s Jane Austen Personality Profile test.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , , | 32 Comments

Holmes, Moriarty Grapple on the Fiscal Cliff

If Obama goes over the fiscal cliff as Sherlock goes over the Reichenbach Falls, then he’ll be all right.

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A Solution to Nativity Scene Battles

The Christmas nativity scene is less Christian than devout Christians realize.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Beating Obama into a Steel Spike

For strength Obama can think of himself as Carl Sandburg’s steel spike.

Posted in Larkin (Philip), Sandburg (Carl) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Budget Arm Wrestling with the GOP

Obama appears to be playing Beowulf-hard rather than Wealtheow-soft in budget negotiations with the GOP.

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Pan’s Call–The Return of the Repressed

Pan became a major figure for turn-of-the-century poets and artists.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Peyton Manning and the Maltese Falcon

“The Maltese Falcon” captures the existential absurdity of Peyton Manning in a Broncos’ uniform.

Posted in Hammett (Dashiell) | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments


  • 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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