Washington Post, Breaking News, Is Also Breaking New Ground

The Washington Post, famous for breaking the Watergate scandal that brought down Nixon’s presidency, is churning out top-quality journalism in the age of Trump. As an organization the Post is gaining readers, hiring journalists and scooping its competition. As a private company since 2013, when the deep-pocketed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought it for $250 million, The Post doesn’t disclose much financial data. But by all visible measures, including the…

Old English Has a Serious Image Problem

This fall I will be teaching Shakespeare again; but thereafter, as part of a curriculum redesign, Shakespeare will be rolled into a “Shakespeare in Context” course that will also need to address Beowulf, medieval drama, Arthurian legend, Chaucer, Marlowe, etc. I intend to do this by teaching five different Shakespeare plays, focusing on one play for a week, then on some other literary work for a week, and then on…

In Defense of Liking Things

It used to bother me that people got all excited about the color shirt that was being worn by a particular person holding (or throwing, or tossing, or avoiding) a small round object. Then I read the Onion article “Walking Sports Database Scorns Walking Sci-Fi Database:” A self-described “sports fanatic” who experiences vicarious thrills through such idols as Mike Piazza and Tiki Barber, Moreland said he can’t understand science-fiction fans’…

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Whoops, I Accidentally Used a Photo of Donald Trump in this Blog Post on Richard III

Hum de dum. Not paying any attention to current events at all, just thinking about possibly teaching Richard III in my Shakespeare class this fall. Oh, look, Dwight Goodyear posted commentary on Agnes Heller’s book The Time is Out of Joint: Shakespeare as Philosopher of History. How interesting. You know, to those of us who care about Richard III. Stage 1: The would-be tyrant must become an actor, a dissembler, who spreads…

No, the AHCA Doesn’t Make Rape a Preexisting Condition

A Republican Facebook friend posted a link to this article, which acknowledges that there’s plenty to dislike about Trumpcare, but challenges the truth behind some of the statements that are driving online outrage. Remember the Trump administration’s strategy — do something that invokes outrage, pounce and call it “fake news” as soon as someone exaggerates or makes a mistake in reporting on the outrage, and while everyone is distracted, do…

The Media Bubble is Real — And Worse Than You Think

In the early 20th century, print journalists often identified with the working class. Small newspapers were created by and read by people who live and often grew up in the same area. Online jobs tend to clump around big cities, meaning that reporters increasingly live in a media bubble that isolates them from the life experiences of Americans who live outside the big cities. This article doesn’t romanticize rural conservatives,…