Reads of the Week #39

Some heavy hitters here in a good week of reading, mainly because it was midterm and there was time for reading. Time for reading is golden.

James Snell asks though the literary and the historical can co-exist, should they? Should the writers of history make conscious decisions about their work on the basis of little more than style? I would humbly suggest that the answer to both of those questions is yes – and that the writing of history would be greatly improved – both in quality and reach – if more people thought so too. 

Writing history with skill and verve is not a distasteful exercise.

Terry Eagleton writes: As professors are transformed into managers, so students are converted into consumers. Universities fall over one another in an undignified scramble to secure their fees. Once such customers are safely within the gates, there is pressure on their professors not to fail them, and thus risk losing their fees. The general idea is that if the student fails, it is the professor’s fault, rather like a hospital in which every death is laid at the door of the medical staff.

Universities are service stations for neocapitalism.

Reviewing When the Facts Change: Essays by Tony Judt, Nicholas Lezard writes There are one or two big things, however, that the historian Tony Judt changed his mind about, and in this superb collection of essays, which consists mainly of substantial reviews from the New York and London Reviews of Books, we can track at least one of them.

A penetrating eye for realpolitik.

Kate Harding says being kidnapped by a pedophile: it’s basically like summer camp that never ends, if you ask Bill O’Reilly.

Everything Fox News gets horribly wrong about rape culture.


Malcolm Gladwell writes The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.

How School Shootings Spread.

To text or not to text… that was never the question. But what if Hamlet or Jane Eyre had got their hands on a mobile phone? Mallory Ortberg introduces her series of literary masterpieces reimagined for the 21st century, Mallory Ortberg in the Guardian.

Literary classics in text messages.

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