Monthly Archives: November 2018

In Praise of Literary Biography

I share a discussion I had with John Stubbs, author of riveting biographies on Swift, Donne, and the cavalier poets.

Posted in Milton (John), Swift (Jonathan) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Read to Resist: An Introduction

Thursday I share today the introduction to my upcoming book, which is still in draft form and whose title I keep changing. Latest title: Read to Resist: Classic Lit Provides Tools for Battling Trump and Trumpism. I’m still not entirely satisfied with that and so will keep tinkering. In any event, here’s my first attempt […]

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Lee (Harper), Milton (John), Pope (Alexander), Wells (H. G.) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lettuce, E. Coli, and Deregulation

Trump’s FDA put a hold on FDA regulations designed to prevent E. coli and the result has been another outbreak. Calling Upton Sinclair.

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America’s Dark Fairy Tale

Gordimer’s “Once Upon a Time” is about a wall to keep out perceived dangers that turns into a nightmare. As such, it works as a parable about Trump’s wall.

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By Donne Logic, Chess Refined, Not Dull

While the 2018 chess championship is proving disappointing to some, Donne helps us see it as the experts do.

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The Only Lasting Treasure, Truth

William Cowper’s meditations on Truth in “The Task” dramatize Jesus’s words on the subject.

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Who Determines What a Work Means?

I share a copy of a talk I gave on how literary interpretations are decided, focusing on theorists Stanley Fish and Hans Robert Jauss.

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At This Table, We Give Thanks

Joy Harjo takes us to her kitchen table in a poem that, while giving thanks, complicates Thanksgiving by facing up to the bad as well as the good.

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Teaching Lit in Ljubljana

I share my experiences teaching Shakespeare and post-colonial literature in Slovenia.

Posted in Atwood (Margaret), Prešeren (France), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


  • 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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