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This is How Literary Fiction Teaches Us to Be Human

Practicing empathy through drama and poetry and art and games and face-to-face conversations and human acts of all kinds matters. This article covers the specific social benefits that come from reading literary fiction. Film critic Roger Ebert called movies the most powerful empathy machines, but someone with the right knowledge base can say pretty much the same thing about other genres. What we can say about the virtues of movies…

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‘Arrival’ Is Smart, Stylish Sci-Fi About Language, Not Laser Beams

The premise sounds quite interesting. Realistically I doubt I’ll have the chance to see a movie until Christmas, but this is something to look forward to. So it’s time to move onto written language, and the most thrilling elements of the film are the geekiest ones: when Louise gets to explain what she’s trying to teach the aliens and why. To broach the essential topic (“What is your purpose on…

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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…

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This Is How My Composition & Culture Class Preps an Oral Presentation

Instead of delivering a formal speech for my approval, my students are off in groups, listening to each other. I should note that I don’t let all my students go off like all semester long. They’ve worked hard to get to the point where they know what they need to do, and they are ready to be critical and supportive peer audiences. A healthy democracy is full of people who…

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A ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ Lesson for the Digital Age

If we were surprised Tuesday night, it was because journalism failed us. As reported in the NY Times, every major source forecasted the Clinton win for which the establishment desperately hoped. No one predicted a night like this — that Donald J. Trump would pull off a stunning upset over Hillary Clinton and win the presidency. The misfire on Tuesday night was about a lot more than a failure in polling.…

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UVA administrator awarded $3M in Rolling Stone case

Jurors awarded a University of Virginia administrator $3 million Monday for her portrayal in a now-discredited Rolling Stone magazine article about the school’s handling of a brutal gang rape a fraternity house. The 10-member jury’s decision came after they concluded Friday that the magazine, its publisher and reporter Sabrina Rubin Erdely were responsible for defamation, with actual malice, of former associate dean of students Nicole Eramo in the 2014 story…