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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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A Video Game About Changing What Happens In Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Elsinore is a game where you play as Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. She’s stuck in a time loop, a la Groundhog Day or Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Her goal? To prevent Hamlet, a Shakespearean tragedy so tragic that it borders on ludicrous, from ending tragically…. As Ophelia, you gather information and interact with people to change their stories — to, say, stop Hamlet from murdering Polonius and, you know,…

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What’s a Snollygoster? Even lexicographers are wrong sometimes

This is an amusing little story about how politics affects the English language. An obscure word that politicians and pundit like to use to refer to their opponents has faded in and out of use. The “wrong” move was removing the word from the dictionary recently, after which it made a comeback. (I’d still never heard of it.) As the dialectal furor faded, so too did snollygoster—so much so that…

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Using “Strive” as a Noun

Obviously I know what my students mean when they use “strive” as a noun, in phrases like “the strive for success.” I have noticed this more frequently in recent years. I do not think they are mishearing “strife” (which has the same linguistic root, but has negative connotations of violence and opposition, whereas the verb “strive” connotes dedication and progress). Is this a regionalism, like “that table needs washed,” or…

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Annoyed and Bored by Anachronisms in The Great Gatsby Movie

I just watched the recent Great Gatsby movie. I didn’t care for the use of modern hip-hop music, though I can accept it as a director’s choice to appeal to modern audiences — like the added narration about the stock market and prohibition. But with all the money they put into the costumes and the CGI camera effects (swooping across the bay between Gatsby’s pier and Daisy’s green light, like…

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Paper Titles: Inform by Stating your Topic and Position; Grab the Reader’s Interest If You Can

An effective research paper title will identify the limited subject of the essay, and the position the paper takes on the subject. It may also be useful to grab the reader’s interest with a brief quote or detail, but if your goal is to persuade your reader, your title will also need to inform. Your title is your first opportunity to persuade your reader. Don’t waste it. —Paper Titles: Inform by Stating your…

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High School Poems in a College Writing Workshop

Poems that you wrote in high school to celebrate a first love, work through a painful breakup, or say goodbye to friends at graduation may be of extreme personal value to you; but if such poems are historical artifacts — if you value them as definitive records of the way you felt at that time — they won’t work terribly well as submissions for college writing classes, since most professors…