Monthly Archives: April 2014

A Child’s Connection with the Dead

Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven” captured my son’s sense of connection with his dead brother.

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I Am the Stem that Fed the Fruit

Judith Wright’s “Woman to Child” captures the primal bond that begins early and never ends.

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The Work Ethic of Poor People

The American work ethic is alive at all levels of society, including in the drug trade.

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Tormented, Torn & Twisted with Doubt

In Levertov’s poem on St. Thomas, she links his doubts with that of the father of the demon-possessed son who comes to Jesus.

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NBA Playoffs: Daphne Chases Apollo

Like the topsy-turvy forest in “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the NBA playoffs are witnessing strange reversals.

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Women Making Sense of Their Lives

The female Bildungsroman arose to help women make sense of their lives in the feminist era.

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Websites for Literature Lovers

I’m currently inundated with students essays and so am not posting an essay today, referring you instead to Flavor Wire’s “25 Best Websites for Literature Lovers.” (Thanks to Rachel Kranz for alerting me to it.) Some of these websites I visit regularly (like the New Yorker’s “Page Turner”) and some I’m learning about for the […]

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Mother Goose’s Ecological Warnings

Scott Bates’ variation of familiar Mother Goose rhymes warn us of environmental devastation.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

The Elaborate Plots of Conspiracy Nuts

Conspiracy theories bear a lot of resemblance to literary plots.

Posted in Pynchon (Thomas) | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The God-Given Freedom to Mooch

Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy resembles the farmer in “Catch-22” who complains about the government except when it pays him not to grow crops.

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the dance of Jesus music holds the air

These Lucille Clifton poems usher us from Lent into Easter.

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Asphalt Court Dreams

Asphalt court basketball players dream of the spotlight.

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Here Is No Water but Only Rock

Dry rocks have functioned as images of spiritual desolation throughout the history of Good Friday poetry.

Posted in Eliot (T.S.), Herbert (George), Rossetti (Christina) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Bard Could Improve Lawyer Behavior

A judge makes his case about how Shakespeare can improve lawyer professionalism.

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Shakespeare in the Courtroom

A Georgia judge is guided by Shakespeare and sometimes cites the Bard in his rulings.

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

Lit’s Contribution to the Civil War

If the Civil War was brought on by a combination of pity and politics, literature helped build the case for pity.

Posted in Douglass (Frederick), Jacobs (Harriet), Stowe (Harriet Beecher) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Invasion of the Ants

Those experiencing ant problems will find fellow sufferers in H. G. Well’s “Empire of the Ants” and Calvino’s “Argentine Ant.”

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The Journeys of the Night Survive

“Akiba” is a powerful Passover poem by Muriel Rukeyser that links the flight from Egypt to other liberation struggles.

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Is Tiger, Like Sherlock, Presumed Dead?

Sherlock Holmes had an unexpected second act. Can Tiger Woods have one as well?

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Mowgli, a Tea Party Libertarian?

Although Kipling’s “Jungle Books” sometimes read like a rightwing fantasy, there’s a progressive element as well.

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The Minefield of Talking about Race

More thoughts on how to address difficult questions of race, again with the help of Aphra Behn.

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Race Disagreements amongst Friends

The intricacies of the debate between Chait and Coates on the culture of poverty can be sorted out by applying Aphra Behn’s “Oroonoko.”

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Spring’s Triumph over War

In Henry Reed’s “Naming of Parts,” sexual spring wins out over a bureaucratic drill sergeant.

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Melville’s Parable of American Denial

Melville’s “Benito Cereno” captures the contradictions of today’s conservative extremists.

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Hope Out of a Dry Bones Wasteland

In “The Waste Land,” Eliot alludes to Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones multiple times.

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The Zen of Basketball

Imagine a groups of Zen Buddhists playing basketball.

Posted in German (Norman) | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Will Oliver Finally Get Health Care?

Oliver Twist experiences the same ups and downs as Obamacare has. But there’s a happy ending.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Analyze Fantasy Projections

What fantasy means in 15 simple steps.

Posted in Haggard (Rider) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

#CancelColbert, #CancelMarkTwain

Carl Rosin, a high school teacher I admire tremendously, shares below how he will be using a recent public dust-up about a Stephen Colbert tweet to help his students understand the power and danger of satire, especially as it applies to Huckleberry Finn. I love the tweet that Carl imagines could have emerged out of Huck […]

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Meditation upon a Broom (April Fool!)

Swift’s “Meditation on a Broomstick” could well have been an April Fool’s joke.

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  • 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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