Ursula K. Le Guin: A Personal Take on Go Set a Watchman

  Before Watchman was published, I was skeptical and unhappy — all the publicity made it sound like nothing but a clever lawyer and a greedy publisher in cahoots to exploit an old woman. Now, having read the book, I glimpse a different tragedy. Lee was a young writer on a roll, with several novels in mind to write after this one. She wrote none of them. Silence, lifelong. I…

Understanding Sonnet 130 (Preview)

Close Reading of Sonnet 130: Form, Theme, and Cultural Context (and a Rage Comic)

I’m preparing to teach Shakespeare again this fall. Seton Hill offers the course every other year, so each time it comes around, it feels new.  The course will focus on plays, but I do like starting out with a brief unit on the sonnet in order to help my students get accustomed to the language. It occurred to me that a lecture on the sonnet would be a good place to start…


Understanding Shakespeare: “Pick a play. Click a line…”

Pick a play. Click a line. Instantly see articles on JSTOR that reference the line. Understanding Shakespeare is a collaborative project between JSTOR Labs and the Folger Shakespeare Library. It’s a research tool that allows students, educators and scholars to use the text of Shakespeare’s plays to quickly navigate into the scholarship written about them—line by line. Source: Understanding Shakespeare

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Why Love Lyrics Last

I am inclined to agree with the “favorite scholarly idea” that is here criticized, if only to offer a counterpoint to the notion that the “I” who speaks in each Shakespeare sonnet is a coherent and consistent stand-in for Shakespeare himself, and that the proper way to understand a poem is to imagine a situation that might have motivated the poet to write this poem. In order to teach literary…

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Walking in Another’s Skin: Failure of Empathy in To Kill a Mockingbird

The money quote: “In this essay, I argue that To Kill a Mockingbird fails to aptly demonstrate the practice of cross-radal empathy. As a consequence, readers cannot empathize with the (largely silent) black characters of the novel.” Empathy–how it is discussed and deployed by both the characters in Mockingbird and by the author, Lee–is a useful lens to view the depictions of radal injustice in Mockingbird, because empathy is the…