Category Archives: Course related

“You Gradgrind”: The Role of Literature in Saturday

One of the most curious things about Ian McEwan’s Saturday is his take on literature. We know Henry Perowne adores Daisy, his poet of a daughter; but McEwan beats us over the head with the point that Henry himself has no clue about literature. He’s slow at reading the books assigned to him by Daisy (currently […] Continue reading

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A World of Saturdays: The Unities and Beyond

In the early 1580s, Sir Phillip Sidney wrote his now famous The Defense of Poesy. In it, besides arguing for poetry’s ability to instruct the mind to higher things, Sidney also argues for the classical unities. He claims that a piece of work should take place in one main setting, during one day, and with […] Continue reading

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Generous Scheherazade

Throughout the novel, Russell Stone, our putative protagonist, has one refrain: “All writing is rewriting.” At first, this seemed like something we tell our 102W students, something along the lines of “revision is the most important part of writing.” As we get deeper and deeper into the plot of the story, however, Stone’s refrain takes […] Continue reading

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Powers, Pater, Penman: Generosity and Mindfulness

“That isn’t mania,” she told him, even as doubt spread across his face.  It was, in fact, something much weirder.  “That’s what we in the mental health business call peak experience.  And you’re saying she’s like that all the time?” (Powers 93)   Early in Richard Powers’s Generosity: An Enhancement (2009), Thassadit Amzwar is rendered […] Continue reading

Posted in 19th Century, 21st century, brain plasticity, cognitive science, Course related, Danny Penman, emotional health, generosity, genetic determinism, happiness, Mark Williams, mental health, mindfulness, pathologization, psychology, richard powers, Studies in the History of the Renaissance, Walter Pater | Comments Off on Powers, Pater, Penman: Generosity and Mindfulness

The Story on Stories: Narrative in Generosity

While most basically Generosity is a novel about finding the “happiness gene,” in this case, in a singular, unique woman, the novel is also about the telling of stories and the creation of new ones, a fact most easily attested to by the central presence of Russell, a writer and one-time professor. As the novel […] Continue reading

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Bioethics and Nationality: A Romance

In a hilarious skit by British transvestite stand-up comedian/actor Eddie Izzard, Eddie Izzard mocks the difference between British movies and American movies. The British movie, generally entitled something like “Room with a View of a Staircase and a Pond,” is quite subdued–not much action, lots of unuttered affect. “Whenever the movie makes any little bit […] Continue reading

Posted in American, Chromosome 6, Course related, Eddie Izzard, Never Let Me Go, Priscilla Wald, the human | Comments Off on Bioethics and Nationality: A Romance