Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Indictment Game Is Afoot

Monday Former federal prosecutor Ken White channeled Sherlock Holmes while explaining the latest revelations concerning Trump and his associates. The expression memorably associated with the great detective first appeared in “The Adventure of Abbey Grange”:  All three briefs show the special counsel and the Southern District closing in on President Trump and his administration. They’re […]

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The Meaning of Hell

Spiritual Sunday Stephen Greenblatt, the world’s preeminent Shakespearean, has an article about hell in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books that has me thinking about a subject I generally avoid. It’s a smart piece but fairly grim.  For the most part, my view of hell is the one set forth in […]

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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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For Practical Purposes, Major in English

CBS’s Moneywatch reports that English majors are no less likely to be underemployed than business majors. I argue that English is more practical.

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Life Was Simple before the Angel

Kilian McDonnell’s poem about Mary captures the difficulty of life as an unwed mother–and as one touched by God.

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Cassandra vs. the Judiciary Committee

Thursday I posted the following essay last December when I looked back over the year and concluded that, other than the chaos accompanying Donald Trump, the most significant development of 2017 was the rise of the #MeToo movement. I rerun it today because, once again, the question before us is whether to “believe the woman.” […]

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More People Reading Poetry

According to recent surveys, poetry is more popular than ever. The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of fiction.

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Did Liberalism Lead to Trump? Uh, No

Some blame Voltaire, Rousseau, and the Enlightenment for the rise of fascism. “Candide” suggests they’re not to blame.

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Hot Sun, Cool Fire

Renaissance writer George Peele was fascinated by Bathsheba, depicting an erotic mixture of hot passion and cool restraint.

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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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