Shakespeare on Eclipses

Prepping for tomorrow’s first meeting of my Shakespeare class. In 1598, during Shakespeare’s lifetime, England experienced a total solar eclipse, with the path of totality tracking from Cornwall in the southwest up to Aberdeen in Scotland. As we in the twenty-first century prepare for the Great American Eclipse on Aug 21, let’s look at three of the ways Shakespeare used eclipses in his plays and poems: 1. An eclipse as an ill…

On Immigration, Poetry Isn’t Policy, but Poetry Matters, by David French, National Review

The conservative National Review offers an interesting take on what happens when a reporter relies on poetry to make a point. During a White House press conference yesterday, CNN Reporter Jim Acosta prefaced a question by reading “The New Colossus,” then asked White House aide Stephen Miller how he could support a policy that goes against the poem. Miller noted (correctly) that the poem was not originally part of the…

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Poetry Stimulates the Brain’s Reward-Anticipation Arousal Near Ends of Stanzas

I fixed the NY Mag’s clickbaity title, “This is what happens to your brain when you read poetry.” In fact the original study was about what happens when you listen to a recitation, not what happens when you read. While people “get chills” when they listen to music or watch movies, their brains seem to respond uniquely to poetry, anticipating an emotional rush as they near the end of a…

How ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ (And Writing Its Sequel) Helped An Actress Find Closure

I’m not sure what I think of this yet. My daughter, who played Hodel in a student production last fall, has lately been expressing more interest in writing. I’ll watch for the reveiws. In the musical, and second eldest daughter, Hodel, makes the bold decision to leave her family and everything she knows to find her fiancé, who has been sent to a labor camp in Siberia. As she boards…

Scholars’ unconvincing case about the value of the humanities (essay)

A literary work is a powerful tool for simulating what it’s like to inhabit someone else’s life. Not just tolerating difference, or grudgingly giving “the other side” equal time; but generating real empathy for the diversity of humanity. There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – This Traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of Toll…