The Service Literature Provides

Graham Greene dismissed some of his novels as "entertainments."  Yet among these are works as lasting as anything he wrote--and as interesting.  Greene was reflecting a cultural schizophrenia that Clement Greenberg, on the eve of World War II (and the time when Greene was producing "entertainments" profusely) diagnosed, calling one extreme "kitsch" and the other … Continue reading The Service Literature Provides

"Oh literature! Oh here, oh now, oh hell!"

In Ray Bradbury's "Usher II," it's 'realism,' not 'literature.'  But the sentiment remains.  It was mine, more and more, these past years... though that may be beginning to change.Over the past semesters, I've slowly slipped away even from the teaching of literature--and have written less and less about literature.  Until this year, that is.  I … Continue reading "Oh literature! Oh here, oh now, oh hell!"

Looking Back to See

[I've also a post today on Free Exchange on Campus, "Thoughts for the New Year," on faculty responsibility under the umbrella of "academic freedom."]Sixty-six years ago, the Athenæum Press of Ginn and Company published Readings for Our Times edited by Harold Blodgett and Burgess James of Union College. As both a cultural historian and a … Continue reading Looking Back to See

Conspiracy in the Classroom: Oh My!

This semester, I am teaching a course under the generalized rubric “Perspectives on Literature” that I call “Alternatives.” It’s a cobbled-together course, taken on at the last minute and soon after I had sworn never, ever to teach literature again. Not surprisingly, it is proving to be the most successful course I have taught in … Continue reading Conspiracy in the Classroom: Oh My!