Author Archive

In HBO’s Westworld, Literature Is the Key to Personhood

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HBO’s Westworld is rife with literary references that, like the androids populating the titular park, have started to take on a life of their own.

The Affair’s Slyly Satirical Portrayal of the White Male Literary Darling

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While Showtime’s The Affair has been praised for its incisive exploration of the unreliability of memory, particularly in romantic relationships, some of its most insightful commentary is on the contemporary literary community.

The 2016 Presidential Election Was Predicted by a 1970’s Absurdist Novel

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A middle-aged white man steps onto the political stage in a fancy suit. He makes speeches that are simple and direct, low on facts but high on rousing rhetoric. He touts an inanimate object as the savior of the economy and a metaphor for the American way of life.

Emily Dickinson’s Drift Between a Living Hell and Hellish Heaven

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Emily Dickinson is known for her rumination on the anxiety surrounding death, and particularly the pain that accompanies mourning. But her poetry demonstrates a comparable mistrust of eternal life, rendering the idea of a paradisiacal afterlife as emotionally fraught as the idea of oblivion.

Feminism by Way of Tragic Misogyny in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

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In social justice activism, offensive rhetoric is considered a form of toxic pollution. Language shapes our culture, society, and schema for thinking about different groups, and so can never be considered harmless.

Fifty Shades of Heathcliff: Why WUTHERING HEIGHTS Isn’t a Love Story

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Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë is often considered one of the great Victorian romances, mentioned in the same breath as classics like Pride and Prejudice and her sister Charlotte’s most famous work, Jane Eyre. But where Jane is a love story through and through, from the early meet-cute to

Firefly and Beowulf’s “Reavers from Hell” as the Dark Side of Human Nature

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In Seamus Heaney’s acclaimed translation of Beowulf, the narrator describes Grendel and his mother’s fearsome raids, declaring that no one is safe “where these Reavers from Hell roam on their errands.” This was by far the most high-profile usage of the word “reaver,” an otherwise obscure and obsolete term

The Long Shadow Cast by Lily Bart’s Cosmetic Morality

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Lily Bart is nothing if not a master of self-denial, supremely talented at self-deception and shameless rationalization, which inevitably bleeds into her distinctive brand of morality. At the beginning of House of Mirth, Wharton is careful to clarify that Lily is not “scrupulous” in the traditional sense, but that

Angela Carter’s “Unicorn” and the Illusion of Empowerment Through Objectification

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“Q. What have unicorns and virgins got in common A. They are both fabulous beasts.” In the new collection of Angela Carter’s mostly forgotten, but viscerally affecting poetry, Carter perverts mythological symbols in order to subvert the mythology of femininity. Just as Simone De Beauvoir lamented that “one is not