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Teaching Shakespeare in a Maximum Security Prison

Good essay by Mikita Brottman. When I read Macbeth for the first time, I understood almost nothing. The play’s immediate subjects (kingship, Scottish history, nations at war) did not engage me, nor did I have any interest in theater. I loved Macbeth not for its story but for its language. I was fascinated by the weight of the words, their sequence and rhythm, the way they made me feel, even…

MLA Style Paper: Layout of First Page
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New Graphic for MLA Style Paper Handout

The other day, I noticed that if you Google for “mla style paper,” the first two images that appear are from my website — but out of context, they aren’t terribly useful. They’re just screenshots of sample papers. I’ve added some callouts with visual tips. Not the best graphic I’ve ever created, but certainly more useful than just a screenshot of a sample paper.  During the academic year, the MLA style…

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Homage to Poe

Michael Dirda offers a thoughtful assessment of Poe’s career. My initial puzzlement about Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) was hardly surprising. His fiction can seem too rhetorical, too thickly textured, too literary for most young people. Still, Basil Rathbone’s recording did persuade me to give the writer another try—sometime. The opportunity finally arose in high school when I opened my new English textbook and discovered the revenge story “The Cask of…

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An Experimental Autism Treatment Cost Me My Marriage

Interesting essay challenging the notion that medical difference equals pathology. With Children of a Lesser God, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, “Flowers for Algernon,” “Cathedral,” The Glass Menagerie, The Miracle Worker, and The Sound and the Fury, I can see putting together a special topics literature course on pathology and pathos in literature. An intervention to switch on my emotions succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, but…

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How ‘twisted’ early childhood education has become — from a child development expert

Kids who got low scores, I was told, got extra drills in reading and math and didn’t get to go to art. They used a computer program to teach 4- and 5-year-olds how to “bubble.” One teacher complained to me that some children go outside the lines. In one of the kindergartens I visited, the walls were barren and so was the whole room. The teacher was testing one little…

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Brilliant, Troubled Dorothy Parker by Robert Gottlieb

In 1915, Parker, aged twenty-two, went to work at Vogue (for ten dollars a week), writing captions, proofreading, fact-checking, etc., and after a while moved over to the very young Vanity Fair; her first poem to be published had recently appeared there. She happily functioned as a kind of scribe-of-all-work until three years later she was chosen to replace the departing P.G. Wodehouse as the magazine’s drama critic. She was…