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Education: Teaching teachers how to teach reading

I’m definitely seeing students in my freshman writing class and intro lit classes struggling with complex texts. I have more freedom to address the problem in my lit classes, where the focus is on reading. In the freshman writing class, where the goal is to produce a 10-page research paper by the end of term, students who do have the writing ability are struggling with academic texts (preferring instead to…

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What Borges Learned from Cervantes

Borges reinvented Don Quixote as a playful novel, full of surprises and unexpected anticipations of the way we read today. Across genres and over decades, his varied meditations opened new paths for readers. The following conversation took place during January 2016 between Ilan Stavans, Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, author of Quixote: The Novel and the World (2015), and publisher of Restless Books, and…

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Fair use prevails as Supreme Court rejects Google Books copyright case

Fair use is a concept baked into US copyright law, and it’s a defense to copyright infringement if certain elements are met. The US Copyright Office says the defense is decided on a case-by-case basis. “The distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may…

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Salman Rushdie: how Cervantes and Shakespeare wrote the modern literary rule book

By a set of strange coincidences, complicated by the history of Europe’s uneven adaptation of the Gregorian calendar, April 23 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of the deaths of both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare. In June I’ll be playing the villain in the Cabaret Theatre’s production of Man of La Mancha (which incorporates the plotline of Cervantes’s Don Quixote) and in July I’ll be playing Oberon in the…

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The Novel as a Tool for Survival

Much of what Krystal writes about the novel also applies to drama, but the difference is that theatre presupposes a community. The writing, editing, manufacture, sale, and criticism of books is, of course, a communal endeavor, but the novel as an artifact can be experienced in isolation. Fiction, speaking very generally, is about the individual in society, about the expectations and conflicts that color a life when an obdurate reality…

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‘Chronicles of Prydain’ Movie: Disney Acquires Rights to Develop

We went through a Lloyd Alexander phase at my house a few years ago; I read through the whole Prydain series and a few of his stand-alone works. I did enjoy The Black Cauldron, which is technically impressive, and ambitious in its storytelling, but made a muddle of two of the five Prydain books. Disney has acquired movie rights to the fantasy series “The Chronicles of Prydain” and is in…