Erich Neumann: Theorist of the Great Mother

In graduate school, I ransacked the library in my quest for inspiration: it was a kind of archaeological excavation. Today, because of online catalogs and specialty Web sites, information can be targeted with pinpoint accuracy and accessed with stunning speed. Hence I doubt whether that kind of untidy, often grimy engagement with neglected old books will ever appeal again to young scholars. But it was through the laborious handling of…

'Lit chick' debacle that damns the publishers

Alloy’s team craft the proposal, shape the plot and create characters. Even the writing of the book is often farmed out to a team of authors. The process is more similar to television writing than most readers’ idea of the creation of a novel and the packaging closer to creating a boy band than promoting a new literary star. Among Alloy’s hit series are The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,…

Hammer & Tickle

It was in Romania, while making a film about Ceausescu, that I first stumbled across the historical legacy of the communist joke. There I learned that a clerk from the Bucharest transport system, Calin Bogdan Stefanescu, had spent the last ten years of Ceausescu’s regime collecting political jokes. He noted down which joke he heard and when, and analysed his total of over 900 jokes statistically. He measured the time…

History Of Rock Written By The Losers

“Rock is so important to me,” Harris said, gesturing to a cabinet where he files articles concerning all of the live shows he attends and detailed transcriptions of interviews with artists who live only blocks away. “If I couldn’t write about music and collect music, I have no idea what I’d do instead.” The social misfits who chronicle rock seek not only to log facts, but also to influence public…

Wikipedia Ripe for Political Dirty Tricks

In Georgia this week, the campaign manager for a candidate for governor resigned amid allegations he doctored the Wikipedia biography of an opponent in the Democratic primary. Morton Brilliant was accused of revising the entry for Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor to add his son’s arrest last August in a drunken driving accident that left his best friend dead. The information was accurate and had been in the news. –Shannon McCaffrey…

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The Real Reasons Students Can't Write

When I find significant errors in student writing, I chalk it up to one of three reasons: they don’t care, they don’t know, or they didn’t see it. And I believe that the first and last are the most frequent causes of error. In other words, when push comes to shove, I’ve found that most students really do know how to write — that is, if we can help them…