Author Archives: Robin Bates

Textualist Judges Out of Control

Textualist judges committed the same mistake as formalists in ruling against federal subsidies for citizens who signed up for Obamacare in the federal exchanges.

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Reading Lit through the Eyes of Others

Reading literature through the eyes of others brings special pleasures and insights.

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Why the Wealthy Get Wealthier

Thomas Piketty turns to Jane Austen and Honoré de Balzac to analyze “Capitalism in the 21st Century.”

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The Children’s Hour, Pros and Cons

Longfellow’s “Children’s Hour” may be overly sentimental but, as I played with my grandson, I found myself not caring.

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A Divine Stairway of Sharp Angles

Levertov uses to story of Jacob’s Ladder to describe the miracle of poetry.

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Strong in Will vs. Time & Fate

Roger Feder, like Tennyson’s “Ulysses,” braved time and fate and came up just short.

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The Tiny Rituals that Make a Marriage

Alice McDermott in “Someone” captures the small rituals and routines that make up a marriage.

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Silko Foretells the “Brown Surge” North

Silko’s “Almanac of the Dead” foretells the “brown surge” of refugees crossing into the United States.

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In Praise of Light Summer Reading

This Scott Bates imagines a nightingale relaxing into summer reading.

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Whisky, an Ethereal Marchioness

Muriel Barbery’s ecstatic descriptions of food in “Gourmet Rhapsody” enhance our eating experiences.

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Deutschland über Alles

In honor of Germany’s World Cup victory, here is the poem that serves as the foundation of their national anthem

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Broken in Pieces All Asunder

Flannery O’Connor, like George Herbert, found her Christian faith regularly challenged by deep despair.

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The Return of King James

Lebron’s return to Cleveland is like Odysseus’ return to Ithaka.

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Austen on Bad Reasons for Getting Married

In “Pride and Prejudice” Jane Austen systematically explores bad reasons for getting married.

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Raised in Foster Care, Saved by Oates

Joyce Carol Oates’ Wonderland Quartet provided a lifeline for this woman who grew up in foster care.

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Fences Entrap Rather than Protect

“Robinson Crusoe” functions as a parable about America’s fear of immigrants.

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“Alice” Shaped Joyce Carol Oates

“Alice in Wonderland” is the book that changed the life of Joyce Carol Oates.

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Steinbeck Described Anti-Migrant Protests

The social unrest caused by the flood of immigrants crossing the American border is described in “The Grapes of Wrath.”

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The Evil I Do Not Want Is What I Do

Spiritual Sunday  In today’s Episcopal service we encounter a passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans that I particularly like, in large part because it captures an internal conflict that we can all relate to. It also reminds me of a passage from Anthony Trollope’s The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867). First, here’s St. […]

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World Cup: Some Said It Couldn’t Be Done

The hackneyed poems of Edgar Guest actually capture the effort put forth by the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team.

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Learning to Love America

A poem for the 4th of July on how immigrants come to love America.

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SCOTUS Traps Women in Doll’s House

The Supreme Court, with its Hobby Lobby decision, is reminiscent of patronizing Torvald Helmer in Ibsen’s “Doll’s House.”

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Viagra and the Drums of War

Scott Bates’ “Viagra” offers up an explanation as to why America’s war hawks won’t go away, even after they bungled so badly.

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Going to Bed before It’s Dark

Stevenson’s “Bed in Summer” captures a child’s sense of injustice as going to bed while it’s still light.

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It’s Not Always More Blessed to Give

Trollope, Shaw, and Lawrence can be seen as wrestling with the merits of self sacrifice.

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Reveling in Isaac’s Self Sacrifice

Trollope uses the sacrifice of Isaac to parody Victorian narcissism.

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Bram Stoker’s Cure for Biting

Soccer star Luis Suarez has a problem with biting. Bram Stoker had advice for dealing with biters.

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Ask Jane: Advice for Lovers

“Pride and Prejudice” functions as a perceptive guide in how to develop a soul relationship.

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Paradise Lost (Scott Bates’ Mole Version)

Scott Bates’ animal fable about an epic mole parodies “Paradise Lost” and provides a skeptical look at poetry and religion.

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Monarch Butterflies in Danger

Barbara Kingsolver’s “Flight Behavior” warns of the threat to monarch butterflies.

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Oedipus in Iraq

America’s blindness in instigating the Iraq War, now proving to be an abject failure, resembles that of Oedipus.

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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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