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What Beekeeping Taught Me - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

What Beekeeping Taught Me - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it

With help from bees and Emily Dickinson, a retired professor of literature comes to better understand the artisanal nature of teaching, especially in relation to the labour and fruits of close reading experience:

 

"In my new relationship with honeybees, I have come to understand more about teaching than I did before. In addition to hexagonal characters on a cuneiform, cells on bee frames resemble rows of student desks. I know now that when we send the students who briefly inhabit those desks out to forage in a text, we mean for them to come back to the classroom with the nectar they have extracted from their reading, there to engage in an interpretive dance not unlike the waggle dance returning forager bees make to encourage and direct other workers to valuable foraging sites. Making a nectar deposit in the classroom itself, to be multiplied in discussion as each student approaches the poem or novel, allows the young members of our colony to contribute to the "Amber Quantity." "

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Literary Imagination
A curatorial extravaganza of the centrality of literature in human thought, action, and creative life.
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Martin Amis’s New Novel, ‘The Zone of Interest’

Martin Amis’s New Novel, ‘The Zone of Interest’ | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
it seems clear that Mr. Amis wants to use this narrative strategy as a means of jolting the reader into a new understanding of how what one character calls “such a methodical, such a pedantic and such a literal exploration of the bestial” could take hold in “ ‘a sleepy country of poets and dreamers.’ ” And while “Zone” bogs down in the middle, it builds to a haunting conclusion that slams home the horror of the Holocaust.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Martin Amis here to jolt my lazy sensibilities once again.

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The final days of Russian writers: Nikolai Gogol and Anton Chekhov | Russia Beyond The Headlines

The final days of Russian writers: Nikolai Gogol and Anton Chekhov | Russia Beyond The Headlines | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Chekhov and Gogol’s last days were filled with the kind of peculiar events and irony that defined their respective works
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"Olga poured her husband a glass of the finest Moet, which he took with the remark, “It’s been a long time since I drank champagne.” He finished his drink, lay down on his side and stopped breathing. “It’s over,” Schwohrer said. Olga would recall that moment in her memoirs, writing, “There were no human voices, no everyday sounds. There was only beauty, peace and the grandeur of death.”
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines - http://rbth.com/literature/2014/06/05/the_final_days_of_russian_writers_nikolai_gogol_and_anton_chekhov_37225.html)
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Haruki Murakami’s ‘Colorless Tsukuru’ Tops Best-Seller List Again

Haruki Murakami’s ‘Colorless Tsukuru’ Tops Best-Seller List Again | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Mr. Murakami stayed away from the supernatural in “Colorless Tsukuru,” which is centered on a 35-year-old man’s quest to find out why he was ostracized by a close group of friends in his youth.

“I think what really appeals to his readers both here and in Japan is the same thing: Murakami’s ability to depict the feeling of the unreality of life in the contemporary world,” said Philip Gabriel, the translator of “Colorless Tsukuru,” in an email to The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Gabriel added, “What distinguishes this novel from the others the most, I think, is the serious tone. Tsukuru is on a serious quest, committed to understanding the past, and to making his love relationship in the present succeed. It’s really a question of life and death for him.”
Judith Robertson's insight:

“Colorless Tsukuru” is centered on a 35-year-old man’s quest to find out why he was ostracized by a close group of friends in his youth.

“I think what really appeals to his readers both here and in Japan is the same thing: Murakami’s ability to depict the feeling of the unreality of life in the contemporary world,” said Philip Gabriel, the translator of “Colorless Tsukuru,” in an email to The Wall Street Journal.  “What distinguishes this novel from the others the most, I think, is the serious tone. Tsukuru is on a serious quest, committed to understanding the past, and to making his love relationship in the present succeed. It’s really a question of life and death for him.”

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Political Order and Political Decay review – volume two of Francis Fukuyama’s magisterial political history

Political Order and Political Decay review – volume two of Francis Fukuyama’s magisterial political history | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
In Fukuyama’s view “Denmark” is a metaphor of moderate tempers, a good legal system, credible parliamentary democracy, a dose of healthful end-of-history tedium. Denmark, defined both as a real place or a metaphor, is the closest we can get to collective perfection.
Judith Robertson's insight:

In Fukuyama's ambitious 2-volume socio-political exegesis on democracy, he takes on the big subject of history - the human project of peaceful co-existence.  Starting with early human societies and ending with contemporary times, the writer is less than sanguine about the direction and promises of future collective life on the planet. "We begin somewhere remote with primates and family hunter-gatherer groups. Then we visit scattered tribes. Something like an ordered state comes earliest in China. Now we rush through Athens and Rome. Authentic states with functioning bureaucracies come into existence. The Catholic church proves unexpectedly to be an innovator with respect to law. Life becomes less brutish and short in places such as Denmark, England, and, later, the United States, Japan, Germany. There are wars, famines, breakdowns, but some sort of amelioration of the human condition can be seen to occur....In Fukuyama’s view “Denmark” is a metaphor of moderate tempers, a good legal system, credible parliamentary democracy, a dose of healthful end-of-history tedium. Denmark, defined both as a real place or a metaphor, is the closest we can get to collective perfection."

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Psychoanalysis and the Arts p.2

Psychoanalysis is sometimes thought of as a discipline that is focussed solely on the individual and biography. Ever since Freud's study of Leonardo Da Vinci...
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A wonderful 2-hour journey into the significance of psychoanalytic thought to the arts and architecture, by the author of "Sexy Rooms.

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Disobedient Objects review raw protest in genteel surroundings

Disobedient Objects review raw protest in genteel surroundings | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
V&A, London A thought-provoking history of the tools of protest comes with the inbuilt irony of being staged in a grand old museumDesign is more interesting when it is driven by intent and urgency, rather than the wish to tickle the appetites of...
Judith Robertson's insight:

This new exhibit entitled Disobedient Objects reveals the centrality of literary thought in protest: "The most memorable are those that turn the actions of their enemies against themselves. There are the book bloc shields, which are protective shields decorated with enlarged images of the front cover of books (Oscar Wilde's The Happy Prince, Thomas Paine's Rights of Man) such that riot police are obliged to belabour Literature and Knowledge with their truncheons. There are the dwarf hats worn by opponents of the Polish regime in the 1980s, which, as all protests were illegal, put the police in the position of arresting people for the crime of dressing as dwarves in large numbers.:

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The Fairy Tale of the Romanov Sisters Was Far From the Full Story

The Fairy Tale of the Romanov Sisters Was Far From the Full Story | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
How the famous family battled destiny.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Yelena Akhtiorskaya writes in the Guardian about Helen Rappaport's  haunted and wrenching newly published history of Russia's last imperial family, The Romanovs.

 

"Rappaport’s main undertaking is to give the sisters back their

individuality. The Romanovs themselves, however, undermine the effort. To their mother, Alexandra, they’re “the girlies.” Those girlies refer to themselves as OTMA (Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia). To the outside world they’re the Grand Duchesses—always the same “four light dresses, four gay summer hats.” From an early age, Alexandra dressed her daughters in “their own informal ‘uniform’ of matching colours, as two identifiable couples—the ‘Big Pair’ and the ‘Little Pair’ as she called them.” The coupling makes sense. The big pair is prime princess stock—they are tall, slender, graceful; the little pair is shorter, fatter, clumsier, and, as if in compensation, more lovable." 

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Louis-Ferdinand Céline and extreme writing - quiz

Louis-Ferdinand Céline and extreme writing - quiz | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
On the 'outlaw' author's anniversary, we bring you in for questioning about literature's extremists
Judith Robertson's insight:

Feel like wiling away a few minutes?  In honour of Celine's birthdy, try your hand at this short quiz from the Guardian on "extreme writers".... You may discover that you've dipped your toe deeper into this literature than you thought!

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Shoring Against the Ruins |

Shoring Against the Ruins | | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
A new biography on Walter Benjamin lays out his major works as part of an evolution of thought.
Judith Robertson's insight:

We remember him for many things:  his brilliant "angel of history" metaphor, his intellectually productive friendships with Adorno and Horkheimer, his unfinished, brilliant Arcades project, his ambivalence towards his Judaism and matters of faith in general, his prescient early understanding of the unfathomable destructiveness of Nazism, his failed attempts to win a university professorship as a young man, and his tragic suicide in 1941 leaving behind a never-to-be-found unfinished manuscript in a small hotel room somewhere in the Pyrenees.  Now comes a 700 page biography, Shoring Against the Ruins, that promises to shed light on this wonderfully complex, brilliant but daunting 20th C. philosopher, cultural critic, and literary theorist. Perhaps it is my view onto fog this afternoon through whatever window I look, but I cannot shake the feeling that Walter Benjamin's was a sad, sad life.

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Creative writing professor Hanif Kureishi says such courses are 'a waste of time'

Creative writing professor Hanif Kureishi says such courses are 'a waste of time' | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Buddha of Suburbia author, who teaches subject at Kingston University, added that many of his students could 'write sentences' but not tell stories
Judith Robertson's insight:

But Jeanette Winterson, who teaches at Manchester University, disagreed with Kureishi. She told the Guardian: "My job is not to teach my MA students to write; my job is to explode language in their faces. To show them that writing is both bomb and bomb disposal – a necessary shattering of cliche and assumption, and a powerful defusing of the soul-destroying messages of modern life (that nothing matters, nothing changes, money is everything, etc). Writing is a state of being as well as an act of doing. My job is to alter their relationship with language. The rest is up to them."

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A beautiful day for poetry

A beautiful day for poetry | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
On February 15th, in Cobourg Canada, poetry appeared in the streets. 120 poets from all over the world sent in more than 500 love poems that were displayed on store windows and read out to the publ...
Judith Robertson's insight:

I love this idea of poetry taking over the street:  poetry hanging from store front windows, wandering poets shouting out lyrics, the pure force of poetry re-igniting the Agora.  How inspired and purely liberating a force - well done PiC for creating FEELTHE LOVE in Downtown Cobourg!

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Sebastian Barker obituary

Sebastian Barker obituary | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Lyrical poet, much influenced by William Blake, whose later work contained a strong philosophical and reflective streak
Judith Robertson's insight:

Elizabeth Smart's son, Sebastian Barker (also a poet) is dead - another sad passing in this month of heart-wrenching losses.

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In Praise of (Offline) Slow Reading

In Praise of (Offline) Slow Reading | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Reading books is an important part of coming to know who we are.
Judith Robertson's insight:

David Mikics calls on Dave Eggers's popular dystopic tale "The Circle" to pronounce darkly on the self annilhating effects of social networking, especially when digital immersion takes away from slow time with a good old-fashioned book.

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Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and a Case of Anxiety of Influence - The New Yorker

Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and a Case of Anxiety of Influence - The New Yorker | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
It seems unlikely that Woolf would have failed to read “The Age of Innocence,” or that she would have failed to recognize its startling originality.
Judith Robertson's insight:

John Colapinto writing in the New Yorker reveals himself to be anything but a Virginia Woolf fan, calling Mrs. Dalloway a mere simulacra of James Joyce's Ulysses, and then (astonishingly) dismissing outright the literary and cultural significance of Woolf's Hogarth Press (publishers of Freud, Auden, T. S. Eliot, Sassoon) calling it a "tiny publishing operation she ran with her husband."  Even so, I think his claim that she may have been under an "anxiety of influence" from reading Edith Wharton when she penned Mr. Ramsay's anguish upon learning of the death of his wife in To the Lighthouse bears thinking about. Harold Bloom talks about how all poets necessarily struggle against the example set by writers "who came before them, drawing inspiration from their precursors’ innovations and experiments but worrying, simultaneously, about the price to their own originality. All writers are magpies (or cannibals), never reading solely for pleasure, but always with an opportunistic eye for an effect, a technique, a simile, a metaphor, or a transition that can be borrowed and used to solve the problems presented by a writer’s own work."

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Lionel Shriver’s tale of Kenyan calamity wins BBC national short story award

Lionel Shriver’s tale of Kenyan calamity wins BBC national short story award | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
“Ironically, low temporal risk can facilitate high-risk style and content. In a short story, you can try anything,” she said.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Heads up, Alice Munro short story aficionados.  "We Need to Talk About Kevin" creator and novel writer Lionel Shriver is again wooing us into high anxiety with her prize-winning Kilifi Creek narratives on how we react to what life might have in store for us. “‘Usually, when you have a near-miss, it’s an instant. A little flash, like, Wow. That was weird. This one went on forever, or seemed to. I was going to die, floating off on the Indian Ocean until I lost consciousness, or I wasn’t. It was a long time to be in this … in-between state’,” says Liana in the story, which was first published in the New Yorker. “‘I don’t know, don’t make me embarrassed. I’ve no idea what I’m trying to say.’”

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Judith Robertson's curator insight, September 30, 8:48 PM

Heads up, Alice Munro short story aficionados.  "We Need to Talk About Kevin" creator and novel writer Lionel Shriver is again wooing us into high anxiety with her prize-winning Kilifi Creek narratives on how we react to what life might have in store for us. “‘Usually, when you have a near-miss, it’s an instant. A little flash, like, Wow. That was weird. This one went on forever, or seemed to. I was going to die, floating off on the Indian Ocean until I lost consciousness, or I wasn’t. It was a long time to be in this … in-between state’,” says Liana in the story, which was first published in the New Yorker. “‘I don’t know, don’t make me embarrassed. I’ve no idea what I’m trying to say.’”

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Dominican Book Fair in New York celebrates Washington-area poet, George Mason professor Rei Berroa

Dominican Book Fair in New York celebrates Washington-area poet, George Mason professor Rei Berroa | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
“It’s not only a celebration of what in my solitude I create, but I will be there in the middle of the society of individuals, who might reach my poetry and find some solace to carry with them. That’s the social role that poetry should have.”

In his work, Berroa says he tries “in one way or another to transform everyday life into words that are everyday words, but by the order in which they are presented, and the rhythm that they convey, they can lift the human spirit above the fragility of life. That something as small and as stupid as a blade or a little bullet can end the immensity of the life of the human being, put an end to something that might become extraordinary.”
Judith Robertson's insight:

Professor and Poet Rei Berroa, winner of the International Poetry Prize (2011) and behind-the-scenes inspiration for this year's Feria del Libro Dominicano in Manhattan speaks eloquently here about how poetry enlarges human capacity in manifold ways.

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Vintage black glamour: pride and prejudice

Vintage black glamour: pride and prejudice | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
The history of film and music often omits the role played by women of colour. But a glossy new book redresses the balance. Alex Godfrey looks through Vintage Black Glamour and is inspired by the pioneering black stars
Judith Robertson's insight:

This long overdue glossy tribute to female black talent in the 20th C. culture industries won't wipe out all of the indignities and slurs suffered by black stars along the way, but it's a good step towards redressing the imbalance.

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A Literary Tour of Paris - Huffington Post

A Literary Tour of Paris - Huffington Post | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Huffington Post A Literary Tour of Paris Huffington Post On my first pilgrimage to this tucked-away street, a mere stone's throw from the Jardin du Luxembourg, I looked around at fellow pedestrians wondering if they too were venturing to feast...
Judith Robertson's insight:

Paris - a cultural crater of history, aesthetics, and delicacies of very sort, including the bookish kind.

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What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades

What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Even as the emphasis shifts to the keyboard, experts say that learning to write by hand improves motor skills, memory and creativity.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I'm not sure that I buy the argument that writing in cursive is a better facilitator of learning than, say, note-taking on a computer.  But I do agree that elegance of form in a carefully and beautifully handwritten note connects with something greater than the sum of its parts: a gesture towards human depth, an embrace of aesthetics that is organic and multifaceted in its expression.

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Lewis Carroll’s Photographs of Alice Liddell, the Inspiration for Alice in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll’s Photographs of Alice Liddell, the Inspiration for Alice in Wonderland | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
One of the great polymaths of the 19th century, Lewis Carroll (pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) —mathematician, logician, author, poet, Anglican cleric—took to the new medium of photography with the same alacrity he applied to all of his pursuits.
Judith Robertson's insight:

The debate continues about Lewis Carroll's extensive collection of photographs of children, and the artist's psychological need for and uses of such images.

 

"As it stands, the photographs of Alice and other children open a fascinating, if sometimes discomfiting, window on an age that viewed childhood very differently than our own. They also give us a view of Carroll’s strange inner world, one not unlike the unsettling fantasy realm of 20th century folk artist Henry Darger. Unlike Darger, Carroll’s work brought him widespread fame in his lifetime, but like that reclusive figure, the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass was a shy, introspective man whose imaginative landscape possessed a logic all its own, charged with magic, threat, and longing for lost childhood innocence.

See a galleries of Carroll’s photographs of Alice and other children here and here, and see this site for more general info on Carroll’s photography."

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Edgar Allan Poe, Interior Design Critic

Edgar Allan Poe, Interior Design Critic | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
What scared the author of 'The Pit and the Pendulum'? Bad design.
Judith Robertson's insight:

I have long read Poe for his literary genius and loved him.  How sweet it is now to find that his writer's eye shares that of a visual artist, with a strong commitment to the principles of form, story and substance in the domestic mise-en-scene.

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Video: Blake Bailey on Writing About His Own Life

Video: Blake Bailey on Writing About His Own Life | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
The literary biographer talks about his new memoir, “The Splendid Things We Planned.”
Judith Robertson's insight:

"Voltaire said about the dead, 'We owe them only the truth.'  And that is the philosophy I assume in this narrative. (Blake Bailey on Writing About His Own Life)

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Book Review Byline Tally Shows Gender Disparity

Book Review Byline Tally Shows Gender Disparity | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
In its annual count of male and female bylines in book reviews, magazines and literary journals, VIDA, a women’s literary organization, revealed that in 2013, the publications still largely favored men over women.
Judith Robertson's insight:

Kudos to the New York Times Book Review and the Paris Review for taking critical steps to reverse the unconscionable display of gender discrimination in authorship of literary reviews in contemporary journalism.

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Professors, We Need You!

Professors, We Need You! | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Academics are some of the smartest minds in the world. So why are they making themselves irrelevant?
Judith Robertson's insight:

I relate to this discussion of the usefulness of academic prose.  I am a trained Doctor of Philosophy, capable of delivering a beautifully constructed argument with analytical punch.  Problem is... No one reads it.  "A related problem is that academics seeking tenure must encode their insights into turgid prose. As a double protection against public consumption, this gobbledygook is then sometimes hidden in obscure journals — or published by university presses whose reputations for soporifics keep readers at a distance."

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A. A. Gill Honored for Top Hatchet Job

A. A. Gill Honored for Top Hatchet Job | Literary Imagination | Scoop.it
Mr. Gill’s review of Morrissey’s “Autobiography” took home an annual prize for the best negative book review.
Judith Robertson's insight:

“Poser writes pretentious book. Poser writes pretentious review.”

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