Books
Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E.L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation

Emma Donoghue's Room and E.L. Doctorow's Homer & Langley define and confront life within limited space.


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Books

Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.

Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Reading Pandemics

Poe, Pandemic, and Underlying Conditions

To read Edgar Allan Poe in the time of pandemic, we need to appreciate a very different aspect of his perspective—not that of a mimetic artist but of the political economist.

Books

'Yours, Jean' Is a Perfect Mixture of Tragedy, Repressed Desire, and Poor Impulse Control

Lee Martin's Yours, Jean is a perfectly balanced and heartbreaking mix of true crime narrative and literary fiction.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D
Television

Power Struggle in Beauty Pageants: On 'Mrs. America' and 'Miss Americana'

Television min-series Mrs. America and Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana make vivid how beauty pageants are more multi-dimensional than many assume, offering a platform to some (attractive) women to pursue higher education, politics, and more.

Hilary Levey Friedman
Reading Pandemics

Taking a Page About Community and Responsibility from Albert Camus' 'The Plague'

Initially, the city of Oran does not take care of its most vulnerable populations in Camus' The Plague, and as a result, the city suffers for it. This parallels today's COVID-19 world.

Books

The 2020 US Presidential Election Is Going to Be Wild but We've Seen Wild Before

Americans are approaching a historical US presidential election in unprecedented times. Or are they? Chris Barsanti's The Ballot Box: 10 Presidential Elections That Changed American History gives us a brief historical perspective.

Books

'Chasing Chopin' from the Concert Hall to the Jazz Club

Annik LaFarge's Chasing Chopin is a slim book but it stands out because it's a hybrid work—biography and journalism—with utterly lovely, vivid descriptions of Chopin's music.

Books

Collaboration Is Fruitful in Graphic Novel 'Old Growth'

In their collaborative graphic fiction, Old Growth, Olivo and Bavarksy drew in tandem, trading the panels back and forth, each adding new details, both and neither taking the role of primary artist-writer.

Reading Pandemics

What's Love Got To Do with It? Shakespeare's 'Venus & Adonis'

The worn trope—Time Devours All Things (tempus edax rerum)—is true for human beings, says Shakespeare: if you're a mortal, death lurks at the heart of the very thing you most want. During a plague, or a pandemic, it's wanting that endangers us.

Books

The Young and the Superpowered in Isolation: Revisiting Anne Dyson's 'Writing Superheroes'

Dyson's seminal Writing Superheroes, and how children process violence and power, is considered in a new light as children consume media in this time of social isolation.

Books

Crapification Syndrome: When Hilarity Slides into Nausea

No one living in America today can escape the blast radius of the questions raised in Wendy A. Woloson's Crap.

Books

'Spring Rain' Is a Superb Graphic Memoir of the Vagaries of Mind and Memory

Andy Warner's style of narrative in Spring Rain is evocative of those visual puzzles that require the viewer to look beyond the image in front of them, letting their eyes relax into an indirect gaze, in order for the hidden picture to reveal itself.

Books

Next Day. Same Time. Same Place:  How Waiting Out the Pandemic Is Like Waiting for Godot

Even though these times of self-isolating feel absurd, the Theater of the Absurd has a lot to teach us about waiting, time, isolation, and feeling like we exist.

Reading Pandemics

Pandemics and Trumpian Echoes in Miller’s 'Blackfish City'

When we can't turn to the federal government for the truth, sometimes we need to turn to fiction. Sam J. Miller's Blackfish City maps a pandemic in a post-United States future.

Reading Pandemics

Reading Pandemics: From Boccaccio to Indigenous Futurism

Join us -- at a safe distance -- on this journey through the canonical and radical as we look to literary representations of pandemics in the past to help us understand the politics and possibilities of the present COVID-19 pandemic.

Books

Schisms and Connections in Sahar Mustafah's 'The Beauty of Your Face'

With The Beauty of Your Face, Sahar Mustafah pens an emotional and rich journey, laden with awareness and intrigue.

Reviews

Remember to Come up for Air When You Read 'They Say Sarah'

Debut They Say Sarah is a vivid impressionistic novel that churns the entire emotional spectrum.

Books

Home Computers: 100 Icons that Defined a Digital Generation (excerpt)

Whether you remember waiting for dial-up access, tiny screens, and green lines of text or not, you'll get a kick out of Alex Wiltshire's travel back in time to when computers came with wires. Enjoy this excerpt of Home Computers, courtesy of MIT press, with nostalgia photography by John Short.

Alex Wiltshire
Television

Where's the Strong Woman in Netflix's Adaptation of 'Good Hunting'?

Contrary to the intention of Ken Liu's short story, "Good Hunting", Netflix presents a superficial arc of female empowerment, then allows animation and the role of male characters to undercut that message.

Books

Class, Craft, and the Cost of Ambition: An Interview with 'Lake City' Author Thomas Kohnstamm

While Lake City masquerades as a social climber satire that is really something else, author Thomas Kohnstamm is an open book about his intentions in his work and his hopes for his city.

Books

'Blackface Minstrel Show in Mass Media' Is a Roadmap to a Peculiar, Disturbing Terrain

Tim Brooks' detailed research tells us how blackface didn't die, but found ways to multiply as the entertainment industry grew.

Books

Shahidha Bari's 'Dressed' Is a Well-packed Suitcase

Reading Dressed is rather like the experience of wandering through a department store or a friend's well-curated closet.

Books

French Comic Artist Blutch Makes an Experiment of 'Mitchum'

The images in Blutch's Mitchum are technically cartoons, but the style is idiosyncratic, sometimes warping into full abstraction.

Books

'The Cold Last Swim' Plunges into Alternate Hollywood History

Junior Burke knocks James Dean's bad-boy-gone-too-soon off the iconic pedestal in his latest book, The Cold Last Swim.

Books

Mieko Kawakami's 'Breasts and Eggs' Is a Feminist Masterpiece

Fearless in its demand for accountability, transcendent in its honesty, Mieko Kawakami's Breasts and Eggs breathes life into feminist literature and throws down a gauntlet for other writers to aspire toward.

Books

Jeff Buckley's Voice Returns

Jeff Buckley's journals, photographs, and memorabilia of the late singer are compiled by his mother, Mary Guibert, and Rolling Stone's David Browne in Jeff Buckley: His Own Voice.

Books

'Lydia Lunch: The War Is Never Over (A Companion to the Film by Beth B)' (excerpt)

An accompaniment to Beth B's documentary of the same name, Nick Soulsby's book is the first comprehensive overview of Lunch's creative campaign of resistance, a celebration of pleasure as the ultimate act of rebellion. Enjoy this excerpt courtesy of Jawbone Press.

Books

What Has a Real Critic Got to Offer? On Stephanie Ross' 'Two Thumbs Up'

Stephanie Ross' book on aesthetic philosophy, Two Thumbs Up, can be used as a dissertation template. Just expect -- like a critic -- to argue with it, at times.

Film

Bhogwan Singh: Hollywood's Longest-Serving 'Turban Wrapper'

Bhogwan Singh performed with snakes for a beach sideshow in Los Angeles before he got his chance with Universal Studios to fix Rudolf Valentino's turban.

Reading Pandemics

Why Boccaccio's 'The Decameron' Can Help Guide Us Through COVID-19

Rather than write about death and the world unfolding in the throes of the Black Plague, Giovanni Boccaccio instead wrote about the utopian potential of storytelling.

Music

Drag Queen Trixie Mattel Tells All

How the joke-telling, cosmetic-slinging country music star Trixie Mattel sees the world.

Business

J.M. Coetzee's 'The Death of Jesus'Uses Cervantes' 'Don Quixote' as Subtext

Whereas J.M. Coetzee's writing regularly utilizes parables, The Death of Jesus purposely destabilizes. It dazzles in its ability to present profound questions while challenging the reader to remain critical and question the meaning derived from any and all parables.

Books

Comedy, Pathos, and Bibliophilia Merge in Jean Giono's Wartime Journal

In addition to its literary significance, Jean Giono's newly translated Occupation Journal is also an important reminder of the value of pacifism in a world where over-eager partisanship is once more merging with the enthusiastic violence of political dogma.

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