Monthly Archives: September 2009

The Rebellious Thrill of Gothics

Emily in the Castle of Udolpho In yesterday’s post I discussed anxious parents and proposed Northanger Abbey as a sane approach to teenage reading (and movie watching and internet using). I elaborate here. I start first with the reading material in question. Heroine Catherine Moreland and her best friend Isabella Thorpe are enthralled with the […]

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Mocking Adult Anxieties about Novels

“Before,” by William Hogarth (1736) What can happen to your daughters if they read novels? According to William Hogarth, something like the above. Check out the lower left hand corner where a side table is falling over. The drawer has been left casually but deliberately open so that one can see the book that is […]

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Danger: Georgian Teens Reading Novels

Samuel Johnson  If we need proof that adolescence has always been a difficult age, we can look at those 18th century moralists that were panicked about young people reading novels. Of course if you’re young (to build off of a comment that Barbara makes in response to Friday’s post), part of the fun of reading […]

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Claims that Novels Are Bad For Teens

Jane Austen Last night I was teaching a Jane Austen class at a local retirement center and was talking about the defense of novels that appears in Northanger Abbey. Catherine, the book’s heroine, has just made a new friend in Isabella Thorpe.  They go everywhere together in Bath and, when the weather is bad, meet […]

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Less Sexually Liberating for Women

Jean Honore Fragonard, The Bolt (1776)   Yesterday I wrote about Aphra Behn giving us images of women’s sexual liberation in her 1677 play The Rover.  But there is a dark undertone that differentiates the play from male-authored Restoration comedies.  Behn’s play may not be as polished as the plays of William Wycherley and George Etherege.  […]

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Aphra Behn, Sexual Revolutionary

Aphra Behn, by Mary Beale I am having a great deal of fun teaching Aphra Behn’s play The Rover this week. Written in 1677 during the reign of Charles II, it is a rollicking sex comedy that proved to be very popular. A woman writing for the stage was in itself extraordinary. That the play […]

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Trading Stories with a Sick Friend

Virginia Woolf  I have been reporting on the salons we have been holding to honor my friend and former colleague at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Alan Paskow. Alan has an aggressive cancer that has moved into his lungs, and while the outlook is not good, he and his wife Jackie (also a former colleague) […]

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A Slave Novel about Race Today

Harriet Tubman, inspiration for the heroine   About our “One Maryland One Book” discussion at Leonardtown Library on Thursday, I’m sorry to report that (as expected) we didn’t pull in anyone other than our book group regulars.  The good news is that that group appears as solid as ever and we had a very good conversation […]

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Shadow Projections on the President

A couple of months ago I wondered on this blog whether some of the vitriolic attacks on Obama (as distinguished from reasoned disagreement) were driven by racism, and now I see that others are wondering the same, including Maureen Dowd and Jimmy Carter.  But a reader of Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish has a more […]

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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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