Monthly Archives: December 2014

Top Post of 2014: Black Lives Matter

I repost a Toni Morrison essay on the importance of black men asserting their worth.

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2014, Eeyore, & Silver Linings

We can learn from Eeyore to be more forgiving of our public servants.

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“Frozen” Is “Sense & Sensibility” with Ice

To compare “Sense and Sensibility” to the movie “Frozen” is to open up new complexities in the novel.

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

Lit, Like Christ, Is Divinity Made Manifest

The opening lines of the Book of John can be used to describe how literature operates in the world.

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Sports Saturday Finis

I wrap up my Saturday sports column, explaining that I have become worried about repeating myself.

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Joy Shall Be Yours in the Morning

Kenneth Grahame has a particularly beautiful Christmas story in “Wind in the Willows.”

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The Minstrels Played Their Christmas Tune

William Wordsworth celebrates Christmas was a poem about minstrels singing Christmas carols.

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The Divine Enters thru Imagination’s Holes

If Christmas is about the entrance of the divine into the human, then works of the imagination are always filled with the Christmas spirit.

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

Dickens Returned Christmas to Its Roots

Dickens’ “Christmas Carol” returned the Christmas celebration to its medieval folk roots.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Holiday Gathering of the Bates Clan

The holiday gathering of our family has me thinking of Sir Walter’s Scott’s poem about the gathering of the MacGregor clan.

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The Peace of Wild Things

My Intro to Literature class explored how a disconnect from nature leads to existential anguish while opening themselves up to nature provides spiritual nourishment.

Posted in Berry (Wendell), Clifton (Lucille), Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Euripides, Kingsolver (Barbara), McCarthy (Cormac), Oliver (Mary), Shakespeare (William), Silko (Leslie Marmon), Sir Gawain Poet, Wordsworth (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are the Gods Out to Destroy Manziel?

The epic fail in Johnny Manziel’s first NFL start invites Sophoclean analogies. Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus also comes to mind.

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San Luis Rey, a Bridge of Love

Wilder’s “Bridge of San Luis Rey” is a powerful book for those who have lost friends.

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Austenland, a Game for Janeites

At the end of each fall semester, we have a “fall festival” where the first year seminar students present a project to the community that shares some of what they have learned. This year my Jane Austen class invented a board game for the occasion, which they are calling Austenland. In the past, my Austen […]

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Connecting Art to Life

In a lovely introduction to a reading I gave the other night, my son Toby examined the value of the liberal arts.

Posted in Sir Gawain Poet | Tagged | 2 Comments

Inviting Jane into Your Life

Once again Jane Austen has stepped into the lives of my students and enriched their lives immeasurably.

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The CIA’s Heart of Darkness

Published details about the CIA’s torture program reveal that America descended into a Conradian heart of darkness.

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Waiting for the Messiah to Knock

Steven Schneider’s Hanukkah celebration occurs in a place the old patriarchs never could have imagined.

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This Isn’t a Football, It’s a Shoe

In this surrealistic poem about football, a quarterback holds on to the ball too long but does so for understandable reasons.

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The Quest of the Marvelous Tree

In this mystical Scott Bates poem, the Christmas tree becomes a magical key that unlocks the darkness.

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

The Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge

The Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge is attracting some of my students.

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Toni Morrison: Stand Up & Breathe

“I can’t breathe” has become a rallying cry for Black protesters. Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon” shows powerfully what it feels like to breathe again.

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Falling Out of Love with Tom Jones

I have fallen out of love with “Tom Jones.” One reason may be because of the author’s sense of entitlement.

Posted in Fielding (Henry), Smollett (Tobias) | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wheezles and Sneezles

Like my literary namesake, I’ve had wheezles and sneezles for the past five days.

Posted in Milne (A. A.) | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Animals Are Trying to Warn Us

Scott Bates invokes “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” in this Nativity poem.

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A Poem for Monday Morning QB’s

Ogden Nash’s celebration of football also points to its violence.

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Clean Air Is Bad for the Nation?!

Republicans complaining about clean air regulations recall the Coketown mill owners in Dickens’ “Hard Times.”

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

Portrait of the Lesbian as a Young Artist

Proust and James Joyce were particularly important in helping Alison Bechdel negotiate her complex relations with her father.

Posted in Bechdel (Alison), Colette, Dahl (Roald), Joyce (James), Milne (A. A.), Proust (Marcel), Salinger (J. D.), Wilde (Oscar) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bechdel Uses Lit to Understand Her Life

Alison’s Bechdel time and again turns to literature in her memoir to understand her upbringing.

Posted in Bechdel (Alison), Fitzgerald (F. Scott), James (Henry), Shakespeare (William), Stevens (Wallace) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Open Season on Young Black Men

Hilaire Belloc satirically advocates dire punishment for childish misbehavior except when it comes to guns. The NRA would approve.

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Banishing Fear by Standing Tall

Police officer Darren Wilson, whom a Ferguson Grand Jury refused to indict last week for shooting Michael Brown, is the latest in a long line of police and vigilantes who have gone free after killing unarmed black men. Upon hearing the decision, one National Public Radio columnist turned to an Audre Lorde poem for comfort. […]

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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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