Liberal Arts Classes Could Teach Neil deGrasse Tyson a Thing or Two about the Path from Data to Wisdom

Your mileage may vary, but I immediately thought of Galadriel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, who states this problem in negative terms. Yes, she’s a made-up character delivering a line in a movie about an imaginary ring from a fantasy book, but anyone who really understands Tolkien’s story will have reflected on the connection between localized morality (the imagined injustice Gollum faces, and the real prejudice he experiences…

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…