Monthly Archives: October 2017

Putin as Murakami’s Boris the Manskinner

Murakami’s Boris the Manskinner has an unsettling resemblance to Vladimir Putin and wannabe authoritarian Donald Trump. Without strong beliefs, one cannot stand up to him.

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Mockingbird Discomfits the Wrong People

If teachers should teach controversial lit to discomfit their students, is “To Kill a Mockingbird” a good choice? There’s a problem if those most discomfited are black students.

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Rightwing Evangelicals Bind with Briars

Studies show that college does not turn young people away from religion. In fact, literature and humanities courses can strengthen faith.

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Foes of Mockingbird Have a Point

I’m somewhat sympathetic with the Biloxi parents who want to ban “To Kill a Mockingbird” in an 8th grade classroom. At the very least, I want it supplemented with works by writers of color.

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Wild Accusations of Witch Hunts

Wild accusations of witch hunts by Donald Trump and Woody Allen are not what Arthur Miller had in mind when he wrote “The Crucible.”

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Ishiguro Anticipated Brexit, Trump

Recently Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro anticipated the return of tribal hatreds in the developed world.

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Kelly as Coriolanus? Dear God, No!

John McCain is John of Gaunt to John Kelly’s Coriolanus. Guess which one loves his country more.

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How Owen Meany Comforts the Bereaved

In his interactions with friends and family of slain Green Beret Sgt. La David Johnson, Trump is making the issue about himself. “Prayer for Owen Meany” reminds us that we should focus instead on the mourners.

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Religion in Class? Teach It, Don’t Preach It

Is academe biased against religion? Maybe to a degree, but religious background is essential for understanding most of the literature we teach.

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How Moliere Is Saving France

Moliere is helping French PM Macron steer a sane middle road between rightwing and leftwing purists.

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Atwood’s Year of the Flood–Our Future?

Atwood lays out the social devastation that can arise from extreme climate events in “Year of the Flood.” Some of her predictions are starting to come true.

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Trump, 4 Dead Soldiers, & Col. Cathcart

Trump handled the death of the four Green Berets who died in Niger like Col. Cathcart in “Catch-22” would have. A better model would be Ned Stark in “Game of Thrones.”

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Three Poems for Surviving Trump

Hope is needed in the face to emotional exhaustion over Trumpism. Here are three poems about finding hope in dark times.

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GOP Releases Catch-22 on Gun Control

To avoid doing anything about the bump stock that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock used, the GOP has invoked Catch-22.

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A Positive Spin on the Golden Calf

Rabbi Jacob Staub’s account of the golden calf is much different, and a lot more fun, than the Exodus version.

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How Nazis Used Art’s Soft Power

Hitler and Mussolini took the arts seriously and tried to use them to extend their power. They had mixed results.

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Will Warm Days Never Cease?

Changes in climate can cause us to see classic poems in a new light. Case in point: Keats’s “To Autumn.”

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Brother Fire Ravages California

Louis MacNeice captures what northern California is experiencing in “Brother Fire.” The poem also reveals a disturbing dark side in how we respond to catastrophe.

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Literature’s Revolutionary Power

The concept of “unleashing,” used to explain much of today’s upheaval, can also be applied to literature that changes lives.

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Las Vegas: Our Killers, Ourselves

As a white man, the Las Vegas shooter could not be fitted into an easy right wing Other narrative. “Beowulf” shows how monsters generally look like us.

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Visit Puerto Rico with Wings of Healing

Read through hurricane-weary eyes, Coleridge’s “Dejection: An Ode” promises soulful hope.

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If Fielding Had Written about Trump

Henry Fielding would have had a field day writing about America’s president.

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Wordsworth and a Depressed Philosopher

When utilitarian John Stuart Mill’s philosophy led him into despair, Wordsworth’s poetry saved him.

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Assertive Women Drive Lear, Trump Mad

Lear is driven mad by his assertive daughters. Are strong women like the San Juan mayor also sending Trump around the bend?

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The NRA, Preying on Anxious White Men

The NRA is implicated in the ease by which the Las Vegas shooter acquired an arsenal of automatic weapons. This Scott Bates poem calls the organization out.

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While the President Golfed…

Sarah Cleghorn’s famous poem “The Golf Links” captures our president, who golfs while Puerto Rico starves.

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May We Sail without Giving into Our Fears

A Noah’s Ark poem by the great Syrian poet Adonis can be applied to the Puerto Rico rescue effort, especially as certain people on the right attempt to inject race into the affair.

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