Monthly Archives: October 2014

How the Dead Talk to Us

Naomi Shihab Nye finds that the dead talk to us through the new closeness that we experience with those who remain.

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Dark Doubles in Jane Austen

Of all Jane Austen’s novels, “Emma” may gives us the most interesting character study.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Don’t Underestimate Your Students

Rule #1 for literature teachers should be to listen carefully to your students’ responses. There may be hidden wisdom in even the most unpromising ones.

Posted in Edson (Margaret) | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Beaten Down by Life

This Scott Bates fable takes a sober look at the aging process.

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Trying (and Failing) to Shield Our Love

Stephen Crane captures the agony of loss.

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We Blame Spiritual Directors for Our Sins

Sir John Betjeman blasts congregations for blaming their ministers for their own unresolved issues.

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Peyton Manning as Poe’s Dupin

Peyton Manning is like Edgar Allan Poe’s detective Dupin, who uses his keen mind to triumph over devious opponents.

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The Limitations of Cerebral Teaching

Teaching literature must be more than just a cerebral affair.

Posted in Donne (John), Edson (Margaret) | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Koch Inc: Oligarchs of Order and Ordure

A Scott Bates poem framing our oil barons as “the officious oligarchs of order and ordure” and “the lizards of ooze.”

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A Writer Walks into a Starbucks…

Literary Starbucks is an entertain blog that imagines different authors and characters ordering coffee.

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What Defoe Would Say about Ebola

Daniel Defoe’s “Journal of the Plague Year” has good advice for dealing with outbreaks, such as not to react with overly harsh and fearful measures.

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Making the Invisible Visible

Tuajuanda Jordan, our college’s newest president, turned to Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man” to articulate her vision for the future.

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Enthralled by Anglicanism’s Theatricality

Spiritual Sunday Last month I posted on a wonderful Alice Munro short story, “The Age of Faith,” about a girl wrestling with issues of faith. In today’s post I look specifically at the protagonist’s experience with the town’s Anglican church since I myself am Anglican (or, as we call it in America, Episcopalian). Most of […]

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KC Royals Storm into World Series

The way the Kansas City Royals upended conventional wisdom in making it to the World Series is not unlike the chaos caused by Ariel in “The Tempest” to restore another royal to power.

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And a Woman Said, “Tell Us of Pain”

Is Kahlil Gibran right in seeing pain as a road to enlightenment. Or is this just wish fulfillment?

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Finding Hope in a Captured Fish

Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish” works as a powerful meditation on hope.

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What Does It Mean to Hope against Hope?

What does it mean to hope against hope? Emily Dickinson and an analytic philosopher weigh in.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

How Do You LIke to Go Up in a Swing?

In “Child’s Garden of Verses,” Stevenson captures the complex inner lives of children.

Posted in Stevenson (Robert Louis) | 3 Comments

Krauss’ Book about Imaginary Books

Books that describe imaginary books seem to offer us special portals to magical worlds.

Posted in Borges (Jorge Luis), Krauss (Nicole) | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Celebrating the Golden Calf

In Rabbi Jacob Staub’s vision, the early Israelites’ worship of the Golden Calf was liberating.

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Tom Brady Channels Medea’s Fury

Lack of respect can lead to fury and destruction. As it was with Medea, so it was last week with Tom Brady.

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You Don’t Have to Read between the Lines

To teach poetry successfully, focus initially on what is being said and why people care about it. The form of the poem should come last.

Posted in Herrick (Robert) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Eclipses in Literature

Yesterday’s lunar eclipse brought to mind a couple of books that mention eclipses.

Posted in Hergé, Twain (Mark) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Comedy & Sentiment, a Potent Mixture

Literature that moves the heart seems opposed to comedy, but sometimes they work together.

Posted in Austen (Jane), Fielding (Henry), MacKenzie (Henry), Richardson (Samuel), Sheridan (Richard), Wilde (Oscar) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kingsolver Tries to Save the Planet

I’m not entirely sure what to make of Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior (2012), which I’m currently teaching in my Introduction to Literature class. It fits well with my theme, which is “Humans in Nature,” and I certainly agree with Kingsolver’s point that climate change is one of the greatest dangers facing humankind. I just have […]

Posted in Kingsolver (Barbara) | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Literature as a Social Activity

Literature becomes especially interesting when it enters social situations.

Posted in Hardy (Thomas), Murakami (Haruki), Sterne (Lawrence) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Rich Reflects on Yom Kippur & Conflict

Adrienne Rich’s meditates on the meaning of Yom Kippur in light of America’s divisions and her own longing for solitude.

Posted in Jeffers (Robinson), Rich (Adrienne), Whitman (Walt) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Player vs. Player on a Simple Field

A poem to celebrate the baseball playoffs.

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Walking Out in the Sun of October

As we enter October, revel in Dylan Thomas’ celebration of the season.

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“Queer and Marxist Readings of Beowulf”

A Buzzfeed post uses as proof of English majors’ superiority the fact that they can execute queer and Marxist interpretations of “Beowulf.” We explore what such interpretations would entail.

Posted in Beowulf Poet | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Ebola as a Stephen King Nightmare

The Ebola outbreak brings to mind Stephen King’s “The Stand.” Fortunately, it is not quite so infectious as the weaponized flu that King describes.

Posted in King (Stephen) | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

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