Back to School: Literature Springs Eternal

Most of my reading matter for the spring semester is above. (You can find the syllabi here.) As with ordering from a new and affordable menu, the digestive organ may be too small for the appetite: in other words, perhaps too many books! Extracurricularly, I am currently reading a long, dense book, Saul Bellow's The Adventures … Continue reading Back to School: Literature Springs Eternal

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

How to Cite This Site

Élèves, students, scholars...I am getting traffic to this website from a plagiarism detector! For one thing, you must not plagiarize. Here is how to cite a sample essay from this site in MLA format, if you must: Pistelli, John. "Louise Erdrich, Love Medicine." John Pistelli, 14 May 2017,  https://johnpistelli.com/2017/05/14/louise-erdrich-love-medicine/. Accessed 28 May 2017. For another thing, I … Continue reading How to Cite This Site

Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems

Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg My rating: 2 of 5 stars I read this—and I don't think I've ever read this volume as a volume before, though I've read most of its contents, some multiple times over the years—to see if my longstanding judgment upon it holds up to maturer reconsideration. Stereotypically, one … Continue reading Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems

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

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

Goodreads Review Round-Up & Fall Teaching

I miss the old Internet days when one just had a blog (or a livejournal!) and it all went there: the pretty pictures, the book reviews, the ancient quotations veiling political fears, the notes on pedagogy, etc.  But we must adapt to this multi-platform age if we want to continue to promote every aspect of our … Continue reading Goodreads Review Round-Up & Fall Teaching