Tag Archives: literature

16 postcard-length meditations on the Game of Thrones ending

Does this really need a spoiler alert?  OK, spoiler alert.  Don’t have a meltdown. Dany touching the Throne of Swords in the snow in 8.6 completes one of the dream-visions she had in the House of the Undead in the … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Other (including pop culture of all kinds) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Contradictions in Nathaniel Rich’s “Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change.”

Nathaniel Rich’s issue-long essay in this week’s New York Times Magazine receives a title worthy of a play: “Losing Earth: The decade we almost stopped climate change. A tragedy in two acts.” It’s definitely worth an hour or two of … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Other (including pop culture of all kinds), Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On Canons and “Headcanons” in Cultural Studies

Yes, “headcanons” (one word) is a term. Has been for awhile. Interesting conundrum: while the idea of an agreed-upon “canon” has been treated with increasing skepticism in literary studies (though not by all parties), the concept thrives in popular culture, … Continue reading

Posted in Other (including pop culture of all kinds), Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freedom and Fate in Game of Thrones, “The Door”

For Game of Thrones fans, please don’t read this until you’ve seen Season 6, Episode 5 (“The Door”). Normally stories about time travel dramatize the power of human agency, our potential ability to know and intervene in past events and … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Other (including pop culture of all kinds), Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Freedom of expression or the need to speak against oppression in a single voice? Coetzee and Gordimer debate

This 1988 debate between Coetzee and Gordimer (RIP) is eloquent and important, and VERY relevant for current debates in 2014. It’s given a fine overview here. The debate is notable for their focus on the _principles_ at stake; their disagreement … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Other (including pop culture of all kinds), Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Mistakes Jonathan Franzen’s Haters and Fans Both Make

Introduction for Jonathan Franzen, Swarthmore College, Feb. 14, 2013. Good evening. Speaking for our community of readers, I’d like to welcome you, Jonathan, back to Swarthmore. As for you, the audience, I will do you credit and not list Jonathan’s … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Other (including pop culture of all kinds), Swarthmore; Academia | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Philip Roth Says He’s Done Writing Books – NYTimes.com

Are we supposed to be crestfallen about this news, or just relieved?  (I’m very much a fan of Roth’s early and middle period work, but think his fiction precipitously drops in quality beginning with American Pastoral, which was over-written and … Continue reading

Posted in Literature | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Introduction for Zadie Smith’s talk at Swarthmore, Nov. 7 2012: “Why I Write.”

It’s an honor to introduce Zadie Smith.  I shouldn’t be nervous, because introductions are easy, right?  Zadie Smith, meet Swarthmore College and Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.  Swarthmore, Zadie Smith.  Yet introductions are really impossible, because more words need to be said but … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

This may be the best short discussion ever written about words as signs (semiotics) vs. words as music, especially in poetry

A. R. Ammons, “Motion” (c. 1961-65)   The word is not the thing: is a construction of, a tag for, the thing: the word in no way resembles the thing, except as sound resembles, as in whirr, sound: the relation … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

What Should I Do With the Dead Turk in the Bedroom? Class, Sex, and Otherness in Downton Abbey

Julian Fellowes’ Downton Abbey is fun and fascinating TV for lots of reasons.   It has an excellent script and superb acting, and the detailed development it gives just about all the major and minor characters is smartly set against a … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Other (including pop culture of all kinds), Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments