Monthly Archives: November 2017

Chaucer’s Solution for Sexual Assault

What are we to do about all of our sexual assaulters, given that they probably number in the thousands? Chaucer’s Wife of Bath has an answer.

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The Assault on Rand Paul, a Theory

Why did Sen. Rand Paul’s neighbor attack him. Novelist Thomas Berger’s “Neighbors” provides a possible explanation: “sinister banality.”

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The Evangelical Rose Is Sick

Many rightwing evangelicals are selling their souls for Trumpism. William Blake would have something to say about that.

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Brecht Quatrains for Challenging Times

During World War II Bertolt Brecht wrote quatrains that speak powerfully to our own political times.

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A Teacher, Lit, & a Jailed Student

In “Reading with Patrick,” English teacher Michelle Kuo works with a student in 8th grade and then later after he has killed a man. The story brings up questions about lit’s impact.

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Fall, Season for Beautiful Depression

Those suffering from depression will find a kindred spirit in this gorgeous St. Vincent Millay poem about autumn.

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Tess, More Relevant Than Ever

Students find Hardy’s “Tess” to be only too relevant In the age of Trump, Weinstein, and Roy Moore.

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Roy Moore’s Obsession with Lolitas

To understand Judge Roy Moore’s predilection for teenage girls, read “Lolita.” Like Humbert Humbert, Moore is obsessed with purity.

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God’s Prayer to Us: Live Kindly, Live

James Richardson’s poem “Evening Prayer” urges us not to narrowly constrain God within rules but to see God as something greater.

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Twitter: Shorter Is Sweeter

Responses to Twitter increasing its character limit to 240 have often been quite humorous, including some limericks. And speaking of limericks and twitter…

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Hardy Understood Sexual Predators Well

“Tess of the d’Urbervilles” is a prescient account of how sexual predators operate. It is no less relevant today in the age of Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein than it was in 1892.

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Murakami on Ideology’s Hollowness

Murakami’s diatribe against rigid ideologues in “Kafka on the Shore” applies only to well to figures on the American right.

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Lit Encourages World Citizenship

Political identity arguments that demographic groups should stay in their own lanes fail to acknowledge the power of literature to “cross group boundaries,” according to philosopher Martha Nussbaum.

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The Blue Guitar vs. Facebook

Wallace Stevens asserts that art changes “things as they are.” So does Facebook. We need the first to counteract the second when it is taken over by hostile forces.

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How Can I Focus My Flickering Mind?

If you have ever found your mind wandering as you knelt to pray, Denise Levertov knows how you feel.

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Beware of Literature’s Purity Police

Laura Moriarty’s “American Heart” has been attacked for being a white savior narrative. Such stories should in fact be critiqued, but the attackers are often a bigger problem.

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Bone-Crushing Prince of Dark Days

Trump regards Special Counsel Robert Mueller as the crows view the owl in Mary Oliver’s “In the Pine Woods: Crows and Owl.”

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Guinevere over the Centuries

In her senior project, my student is applying feminist political theory to understand why depictions of Guinevere evolved as they did, from Chrétien de Troyes to Tennyson to modern Arthurian novels.

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