Category Archives: Shakespeare (William)

Same-Sex Desire in the Sonnets

Wednesday If you want a one-stop article about the same-sex desire expressed in Shakespeare’s first 126 sonnets, Sandra Newman’s recent Aeon article is the place to go. Newman neatly summarizes the historical debates over the sonnets and pretty much puts the matter to rest: they really are expressions of homosexual love from Shakespeare to a […]

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Are We Watching Shakespeare or Beckett?

Friday When assuring my English majors that they will find jobs in the world beyond college, I sometimes point out that they are experts in narrative. Increasingly we are learning how much we process reality through stories, and political operatives talk ceaselessly about “controlling the narrative.” How you organize facts (or for that matter, lies) […]

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Caution against Purity Policing

Monday One of my conservative readers wrote me recently asking me how I felt about leftist insistence that Virginia governor Ralph Northam resign for having posted a racist picture in his medical school yearbook years ago. After all, hasn’t Northam lived a fairly exemplary life since then? The reader also sent me a Quillette article […]

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Do Endings Reveal Meaning of Life?

Monday My wife Julia alerted me to an intriguing although somewhat frustrating article in Atlantic about the end of time. Drawing on Frank Kermode’s 1967 The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction, Megan Garber wrestles with an issue recently raised by The Washington Post: how do we live with constant reminders […]

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Shakespeare Hated Bullies

Tuesday Last week a reader accused me of anti-Semitism for defending Merchant of Venice. While I’m always willing to learn new things about myself—personally, I think I have more trace elements in my system of sexism, racism, classism, homophobia, and ableism than of anti-Semitism—the response sent me back to early recollections of the play. For […]

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Lit as a Survival Toolkit

Thursday Friend and occasional guest blogger Carl Rosin alerted me to a heartfelt Commonweal article by an English professor describing how literature helped her confront and work through childhood abuse. Cassandra Nelson’s difficult history leads to some remarkable insights into trigger warnings, which she opposes. Nelson’s view on trigger warnings is pretty much my own […]

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Which Shakespeare Character Is Trump?

Wednesday It’s satisfying to see national pundits take a page out of Better Living through Beowulf and turn to the classics to understand Donald Trump. Okay, so NeverTrumper conservative Bret Stephens has probably never read this blog, but we both recognize how literature deepens our understanding of the world, including American politics. I particularly appreciate […]

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Trump’s Taming of the GOP

Thursday Political scientists will debate for years how Donald J. Trump took over and “Trumpified” the modern Republican party. Multiple explanations exist, including George Packer’s theory that Trump represents a longtime rot within the GOP (I blogged about this on Monday). Nevertheless, it still boggles the mind that a disreputable realtor to whom no one […]

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Teaching Lit in Ljubljana

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

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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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