Author Archives: Robin Bates

Shakespeare in the Courtroom

A Georgia judge is guided by Shakespeare and sometimes cites the Bard in his rulings.

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Lit’s Contribution to the Civil War

If the Civil War was brought on by a combination of pity and politics, literature helped build the case for pity.

Posted in Douglass (Frederick), Jacobs (Harriet), Stowe (Harriet Beecher) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Invasion of the Ants

Those experiencing ant problems will find fellow sufferers in H. G. Well’s “Empire of the Ants” and Calvino’s “Argentine Ant.”

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The Journeys of the Night Survive

“Akiba” is a powerful Passover poem by Muriel Rukeyser that links the flight from Egypt to other liberation struggles.

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Is Tiger, Like Sherlock, Presumed Dead?

Sherlock Holmes had an unexpected second act. Can Tiger Woods have one as well?

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Mowgli, a Tea Party Libertarian?

Although Kipling’s “Jungle Books” sometimes read like a rightwing fantasy, there’s a progressive element as well.

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The Minefield of Talking about Race

More thoughts on how to address difficult questions of race, again with the help of Aphra Behn.

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Race Disagreements amongst Friends

The intricacies of the debate between Chait and Coates on the culture of poverty can be sorted out by applying Aphra Behn’s “Oroonoko.”

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Spring’s Triumph over War

In Henry Reed’s “Naming of Parts,” sexual spring wins out over a bureaucratic drill sergeant.

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Melville’s Parable of American Denial

Melville’s “Benito Cereno” captures the contradictions of today’s conservative extremists.

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Hope Out of a Dry Bones Wasteland

In “The Waste Land,” Eliot alludes to Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones multiple times.

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The Zen of Basketball

Imagine a groups of Zen Buddhists playing basketball.

Posted in German (Norman) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Will Oliver Finally Get Health Care?

Oliver Twist experiences the same ups and downs as Obamacare has. But there’s a happy ending.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Analyze Fantasy Projections

What fantasy means in 15 simple steps.

Posted in Haggard (Rider) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

#CancelColbert, #CancelMarkTwain

Carl Rosin, a high school teacher I admire tremendously, shares below how he will be using a recent public dust-up about a Stephen Colbert tweet to help his students understand the power and danger of satire, especially as it applies to Huckleberry Finn. I love the tweet that Carl imagines could have emerged out of Huck […]

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Meditation upon a Broom (April Fool!)

Swift’s “Meditation on a Broomstick” could well have been an April Fool’s joke.

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Is Bridget Kelly a Femme Fatale?

Christie’s Bridgegate scandal is beginning to look like “The Maltese Falcon.”

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The Opening of Eyes Long Closed

A Salman Rushdie short story and a David Whyte poem lead to insights into the story of Jesus and the blind man.

Posted in Rushdie (Salman) | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bat Waits for Ball to Mate

The start of the baseball season calls for this fine May Swenson poem.

Posted in Swenson (May) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Rumsfeld through the Looking Glass

Interviewing Donald Rumsfeld is like entering Alice’s looking glass world.

Posted in Carroll (Lewis) | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Whither Flight MH370? Shangri-La?

The disappearance of MH370 momentarily led me to fantasize that the passengers had ended up in Shangri La.

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Top 10 Hellish Child-Parent Relationships

Top 10 Literary Parent-Child Relationships from Hell.

Posted in Aeschylus, Dostoevsky (Fyodor), Euripides, Lawrence (D. H.), O'Connor (Flannery), Plath (Sylvia), Roth (Philip K.), Shakespeare (William), Shelton (Richard), Sophocles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top 10 Parent-Child Classics (Positive)

A top ten list of classics with positive depictions of parent-child relationships.

Posted in Dickens (Charles), Eliot (George), Hughes (Langston), Lee (Harper), Stowe (Harriet Beecher) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Female Freedom Drives Right Crazy

Euripides “The Bacchae” well describes rightwing legislators obsessed with abortion.

Posted in Euripides | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chaucer’s Riff on the Woman at the Well

Seen in the light of the Samaritan woman at the well, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath is one of Christ’s messengers.

Posted in Chaucer (Geoffrey) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Call of the Steel Hoop

Celebrate March Madness with this “transcendent moment in sports” poem.

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When the World Is Puddle Wonderful

It was raining yesterday in Pittsburgh on the first day of spring, bringing to mind one of the great poems about the season.

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Why GOP Right Is Beating Up on the Poor

Paul Ryan projects upon the poor as Joseph Conrad did upon Africans.

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Turn Life into a Great Jamesian Novel

Philosopher Nancy Nussbaum, drawing on Henry James, shows how the creative imagination is also a moral imagination.

Posted in James (Henry) | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

The Centrality of Fiction to Our Lives

Jonathan Gottschall’s “How Stories Make Us Human” is an enlightening book with some limitations.

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

I Am of Ireland

Yeats captures the enduring myth that is Ireland in two poems.

Posted in Yeats (William Butler) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

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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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