Literary Criticism

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Is Economic Despair What's Killing Middle-Aged White Americans?

Two Princeton economists elaborate on their work exploring rising mortality rates among certain demographics.<p>Two years ago, the Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton published an alarming revelation: Middle-aged white Americans without a college degree were dying in greater numbers, even …

Equality

The controversy over Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and trans women, explained

Adichie’s comments, and the backlash they inspired, fit into a very old fight in feminism.<p>By 2013, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was already a literary sensation known the world over for her beautiful prose and complex, lively characters. Her star rose even higher after Beyoncé sampled …

Feminism

Rogue One Was Literally Put Together From Pieces of Other Movies

Yahoo Movies UK has posted a fascinating, if unsurprisingly circumspect, interview with the editors of <i>Rogue One</i> that reveals how the first of the …

The Best Time I Pretended I Hadn’t Heard of Slavoj Žižek

One weird trick to frustrate the hell out of a Marxist broPhoto: Andy Miah/FlickrThe other night, I pretended I didn’t know who Slavoj Žižek, the …

Twin Peaks

Philosopher Richard Rorty Chillingly Predicts the Results of the 2016 Election … Back in 1998

Twenty years ago a strong academic left in universities all over the world spoke to political culture the way that a globalized nationalist far-right …

American Philosophy

How Well Can Computers Read Fiction?

Computational tools have the ability to analyze books’ emotional arcs, but it’s unclear what they can really find out about literature.<p>In recent years, literature has been getting attention from an unusual quarter: mathematics. Alongside statistical physicists analyzing the connections between …

Literature

The doxxing of Elena Ferrante: the uproar over the novelist’s secret identity, explained

One of the literary world’s biggest mysteries has been solved. That’s not necessarily a good thing.<p>On Sunday, Claudio Gatti published an article on the New York Review of Books’ website alleging that he had determined the identity behind the notoriously private Italian author who writes under the …

Literature

The Philosophy of Deadpool – Wisecrack Edition

English professor's 500-plus tweetstorm about 'King Lear' is the literary community’s hottest beef

<i>Scene: The internet</i><p><i>Enter</i> <i>Holger Schott Syme</i><i>, associate professor of English, chair of the Department of English and Drama at the University of Toronto-Mississauga, and</i> <i>Twitter user</i> <i>with 1,135 followers.</i><p>And like the three witches in <i>Macbeth</i>, his next tweet offers a glimpse into the future.<p>Thus began …

William Shakespeare

David Bowie's producer is terrified by the music industry's "downward spiral"

And he has the speculative fiction to prove it<p>Legendary music producer Tony Visconti described a vision of the music industry's dystopian future at his SXSW keynote speech this morning, calling himself "The Ghost of Christmas Future" and reading an earnest, self-penned short story to make his …

David Bowie

Jane Eyre and the Invention of the Self

Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel helped introduce the idea of the “modern individual”—a surprisingly radical concept for readers at the time.<p>Consider the selfie. By now, it’s a fairly mundane artistic tradition, even after a profusion of thinkpieces have wrestled with its rise thanks to the so-called …

How to Spot a Communist Using Literary Criticism: A 1955 Manual from the U.S. Military

In 1955, the United States was entering the final stages of McCarthyism or the Second Red Scare. During this low point in American history, the US …

U.S. Military

Teacher Calls Jacques Derrida’s College Admission Essay on Shakespeare “Quite Incomprehensible” (1951)

<i>Click here for larger image, then click again to zoom in.</i><p>Backstories of famously accomplished people seem incomplete without some past difficulty or …

Graphical Feature: Socialism Vs. Capitalism

Socialism

Farewell to America's Middle Class: Unions Are Basically Dead

The U.S. is one of the only rich countries that has reached the (incorrect) conclusion that organizing workers is counterproductive.<p>For a group of presidential candidates who claim to be interested in the plight of the American worker, it was surprising that no one onstage for the first Democratic …

Theodor Adorno’s Critical Theory Text Minima Moralia Sung as Hardcore Punk Songs

With the possible exception of John Gray’s <i>Straw Dogs</i>, few works of philosophy confront the barrenness of human life in the modern world in bleaker …

Philosophy Explained With Donuts

We’ve all seen them, on the boardwalks of Venice Beach or of the Jersey Shore: poop-joke t-shirts that state the gist of various world religions or …

This Is Your Brain on Jane Austen: The Neuroscience of Reading Great Literature

I freely admit it—like a great many people these days, I have a social media addiction. My drug of choice, Twitter, can seem like a particularly …

Brian Kim Stefans on Bruce AndrewsÕs I DonÕt

Brian Kim Stefans,Bruce Andrews's <i>I Don't Have Any Paper So Shut Up (or, Social Romanticism)</i> (Sun & Moon Press, 1992)<p>Bruce Andrews's <i>I Don't Have Any</i> …

Foucault That Noise: The Terror of Highbrow Mispronunciation

From Anaïs to Zizek, a brief list of "shibboleth names"<p>In October 1937, the president of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, devised a simple way to identify the Haitian immigrants living along the border of his country. Dominican soldiers would hold up a sprig of parsley—<i>perejil</i> in …

Super Marx Bros: watch your favorite video game characters explain philosophy

The above video is a succinct, clever explanation of Marxism: specifically, Karl Marx's theory of history. It's also, hilariously enough, animated with characters from the old-school Mario games.<p>The Marxism/Mario video is part of a great series called 8-Bit Philosophy, by YouTuber Wisecrack. It's …

Karl Marx

Sigmund Freud Writes to Concerned Mother: “Homosexuality is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of” (1935)

Hank Green, hosting his <i>Crash Course on Psychology</i>, put it best: when we think of the study of the mind, we think of an old, bespectacled bearded man …

Take notes, Nate Silver! Reinventing literary criticism with computers

Big data literary critic Franco Moretti wants to study bad books, preferably without reading them<p>As a literary critic who says he aims to study books without actually reading them, Franco Moretti has positioned himself as an iconoclast. He has described what most non-academics think of as the …