Month: September 2015

Why do we read literature?; or, Questions from the Classroom

During a class discussion last week on Ernest Hemingway’s “Big Two-Hearted River,” a student asked, “Why do we read literature? Why do we read Hemingway?” I provided a generic answer and tried to get the class to respond with their own ideas. This method completely failed. I told the class, “I cannot give you a definitive answer to that question.” I went on to … Read More Why do we read literature?; or, Questions from the Classroom

August Wilson’s "Fences" and the American City

With the announcement that Denzel Washington would ┬ábe starring in one and producing all ten of August Wilson’s Pittsburgh cycle, I thought it would be fitting to do a brief post on Wilson’s Fences. Plenty of scholars have focused on the failure of the American Dream and the integration of sports in the play; however, I do not want to focus on what Troy … Read More August Wilson’s "Fences" and the American City

James Joyce’s "Dubliners" and Ernest J. Gaines

Last week, I led a discussion on the influence that James Joyce had on Ernest J. Gaines. I have written about this before, briefly, on the Ernest J. Gaines Center’s blog. There, I wrote about the reference to Joyce in Gaines’s A Lesson before Dying. Throughout his career, Gaines has espoused the ways that authors like Joyce provided models for his own writing. He … Read More James Joyce’s "Dubliners" and Ernest J. Gaines

Carson McCullers’s "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe"

As I read Carson McCuller’s The Ballad of the Sad Cafe, my mind kept going back to Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “Hop-Frog; or, The Eight Chained Orangoutangs.” On the surface, it may not appear that these two stories have much, if anything, in common. However, I would argue that a deeper examination of the stories in relation to another shows that they have some … Read More Carson McCullers’s "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe"

“Gains and Losses”

This semester, I am teaching six classes, three of which happen to be composition courses. For their first essay, my students must write a literacy narrative, discussing their own experiences with reading or writing. As part of the module for this essay, I had them read Richard Rodriguez’s “Gaines and Losses.” The essay chronicles Rodriguez’s schooling and acquisiton of literacy, in this case “English” … Read More “Gains and Losses”