Back to School: Literature and Life

Older generations of writers who had come up through the ranks of journalism (and who had often been to war) used to complain about the academic colonization of literature, particularly of the novel, that ostensibly most democratic of forms. In "American Plastic," for instance, his survey of postmodern fiction, Gore Vidal lamented a context so … Continue reading Back to School: Literature and Life

Nick Sousanis, Unflattening

Unflattening by Nick Sousanis My rating: 2 of 5 stars The pseudo-poet who writes his thesis in poetry is a pitiful writer (and probably a bad poet). From Dante to Eliot and from Eliot to Sanguineti, when avant-garde poets wanted to talk about their poetry, they wrote in clear prose. —Umberto Eco (qtd. here) This … Continue reading Nick Sousanis, Unflattening

Robert Dale Parker, How to Interpret Literature

How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies by Robert Dale Parker My rating: 4 of 5 stars This is a primer for undergraduates on the major schools of modern literary theory. Its survey is as follows, in order of their appearance in the book, which Parker cleverly arranges according to the … Continue reading Robert Dale Parker, How to Interpret Literature

Wittgensteinian Investigations

David Auerbach on why you should take a Wittgenstein class: Wittgenstein’s philosophy also accounts for the disastrous state of Internet discourse today. The shift to online communication, textual interactions separated from accompanying physical practices, has had a persistent and egregious warping effect on language, and one that most people don’t even understand. It has made … Continue reading Wittgensteinian Investigations

At Barmecide’s Table: Notes on Literary Education Now

...in good democracy every man should be an aristocrat. —Oscar Wilde, Vera; or, The Nihilists One of the things I hope to show with this exhibition is that we tend to think of, say, Borges or Nabokov as geniuses, but really what we’re seeing is people who from an early age had access to knowledge … Continue reading At Barmecide’s Table: Notes on Literary Education Now