Category Archives: Uncategorized

Often Goes Christ in a Stranger’s Guise

Here’s an old Gaelic poem that captures the spirit of the president’s recent decision to grant relief to the undocumented parents of American citizens.

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A Writer Walks into a Starbucks…

Literary Starbucks is an entertain blog that imagines different authors and characters ordering coffee.

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Using Kipling to Voice Despair

Roger Cohen of the New York Times turns to a Kipling poem to express his despair about the world.

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Are College Students Sheep?

William Deresiewicz’s recent book “Excellent Sheep” may make the same mistake as other books about college: generalize about students.

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Is Poetry in Decline? Nope

A New York Times columnist laments the decline of poetry. Here’s why he’s full of it.

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How to Compile a Summer Reading List

Any reading list will be to some extent arbitrary. Here are some thoughts about compiling such a list.

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Haikus Make Econ Less Dismal

Haiku competitions in economics classes can get students engaged in the otherwise dry subject matter.

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Websites for Literature Lovers

I’m currently inundated with students essays and so am not posting an essay today, referring you instead to Flavor Wire’s “25 Best Websites for Literature Lovers.” (Thanks to Rachel Kranz for alerting me to it.) Some of these websites I visit regularly (like the New Yorker’s “Page Turner”) and some I’m learning about for the […]

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In Defense of Arcane Scholarship

Disciplines may engage in arcane language but they provide the foundation out of which exciting insights emerge.

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How Is Lit Useful? Let Me Count the Ways

A recent issue of “New Literary History” explores a number of ways that literature is useful.

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Close Reading Leads to Superior People

Recent brain search gives more evidence on the vital necessity of reading literature.

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Lit’s Ten Most Likable Characters

My top ten likable characters.

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The 10 Most Unreliable Narrators

Here’s a list of some of literature’s great unreliable narrators.

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Science Speaks: Lit Makes You Smart

The science is in: great literature makes you emotionally smarter.

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The Wood Tick’s Holy Grail Quest

Only an imaginative biologist like David Haskell would compare wood ticks with Camelot knights..

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Poems on Mayweather, Manziel, Rivera

“The Daily Sports Poem” blog has poems that perfectly capture a wide range of sporting events.

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Light Verse Honoring Wimbledon Finalists

A new “Sports Poem” blog features lyrics about tennis players Murray, Djokovic, and del Potro.

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Ain’t gonna let the SC turn me ’round

The Supreme Court’s assault on the Voting Rights Act means we may have to break out the old freedom songs again.

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Please, Writers–More Complex Narratives

Sports narratives that look only at winning and losing are simplistic and misleading.

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Teaching Lit as a Public Mission

Teaching at a public liberal arts colleges shapes has influenced how I approach literature.

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Novels as Dating Manuals

The predominant readers of 18th century novels were young readers trying to find answers to the questions facing them.

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Novel Readers: The Young & the Restless

The early novel appealed to the young, the ambitious, the mobile, and the urban.

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Hell Comes in All Shapes and Sizes

Literature is strewn with hot hells and cold hells. A “New Yorker” article lists a number of them.

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Joy Recollected: High School English

Meeting up with an old high school English teacher brought memories flooding back.

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The Bush of Faith Resists the Flames

Yakov Azriel’s poem on Moses and the burning bush contrasts scorching fire with nourishing faith.

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The Power of Political Narrative

Narrative has become more important than ever in political campaigns.

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Riveted by Competing Campaign Narratives

Political campaigns have come to be seen as competing narratives, providing those who understand fiction with special insight.

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How Beowulf Can Save America – Free upload for 5 days

If you have a Kindle, beginning tomorrow (Sunday) you can upload for free How Beowulf Can Save America:An Epic Hero’s Guide to Defeating the Politics of Rage. Kindle allows authors to offer their ebooks free of charge for five days so the offer will last through Thursday (Oct. 25). Please take advantage yourself and let other people […]

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Books That Have Shaped America

The Library of Congress names 91 books that shaped America.

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Empty Chair Makes Clint’s Day

Clint Eastwood’s argument with an invisible Obama sums up the Romney campaign.

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Lit Titles as Cocktails (“The Wasteland”)

NPR’s Studio 360 sponsored a “literary cocktail” contest. We share here some of the highlights.

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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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