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Close reading is hard to do in a state of normalized outrage.

So this “Muslim ban” thing… is a ban or not? Does it even have to do with Muslims or not? In the Washington Post, scholar Tom Nichols writes: Trump promised a Muslim ban during the campaign. But the executive order now running into multiple challenges is not actually a Muslim ban: It affects the citizens, regardless of faith, of several Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and Africa but has…

America’s Shakespeare

Shakespeare continues to be the most performed playwright in the United States, but his appeal has a global extension, and it has long been so. Sublimity has ever called to sublimity. The great modern nations boast great writers who depict and define the national life and character: Victor Hugo for the French, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for the Germans, Leo Tolstoy the Russians, Herman Melville and Mark Twain the Americans,…

2

An open letter to Trump from the US press corps

This is the message I’ve been waiting for. Perfect reading assignment to start off my journalism class next week. Blunt, insightful, scrappy, professional. No whining, finger-pointing, or distractions. We will set higher standards for ourselves than ever before. We credit you with highlighting serious and widespread distrust in the media across the political spectrum. Your campaign tapped into that, and it was a bracing wake-up call for us. We have to…

2

Imma Let You Integrate Quotations

In the poem “Imma Let You Integrate Quotations!” by Melvin Middleschool-Writer, it talks about a writing style that wastes words. “Those long quotations, dropping awkward into the essay / Hijack your thoughts / Like a Kanye who graciously accepts a microphone from Taylor Swift  / So he can confidently mansplain it all.” This quote means that students who interrupt their own essays  with a lengthy, not-contextualized quoted passage, and then follow that quote with a separate sentence…

1

I Never Would Have Guessed I Would Be Able to Complete a Close Reading

I started my American Literature class by assigning students to listen to 40-minute audio lectures that provided context and walked them through the literary texts we were to discuss in class. As the semester drew on, I had students write podcasts to introduce texts to each other, and by the end of term I was asking students to read scholarly articles in which literary scholars aren’t introducing the texts to…

1

Commentary: The unbearable smugness of the press

More on how their desire to control the narrative led journalists to ignore alternative voices: That’s the fantasy, the idea that if we mock them enough, call them racist enough, they’ll eventually shut up and get in line. It’s similar to how media Twitter works, a system where people who dissent from the proper framing of a story are attacked by mobs of smugly incredulous pundits. Journalists exist primarily in…