Blog Profile / The Mumpsimus

Filed Under:Academics / Literature
Posts on Regator:490
Posts / Week:1.1
Archived Since:August 2, 2009

Blog Post Archive

BPM and The Young Karl Marx

BPM: Beats Per Minute (120 battements par minute) tells the story of AIDS activists with ACT UP Paris in the 1990s, and its scenes of ACT UP meetings are among the most compelling representations of everyday political planning and argument I know of other than the extraordinary land reform debate scene in Ken Loach's Land and Freedom. Show More Summary

Speculative Memoir

Electric Literature has now published a roundtable discussion between Sofia Samatar, Carmen Maria Machado, Rosalind Palermo Stevenson, and me about a thing we provisionally call "speculative memoir". This began when Sofia had separate...Show More Summary

Under the Lines

Sometimes I buy a book for its cover, and this is one, a 1979 Bantam edition of Andrew Holleran's classic Dancer from the Dance. The cover... well, it speaks for itself.Flipping through the book, I was at first annoyed to see some pages with underlining from a red felt-tipped marker. Show More Summary

A Sparkling Sentence

This year is Muriel Spark's centenary, and it's been fun to encounter the various tributes to her. I decided to reread The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, her most famous book, because I haven't read it in twenty years or so, though much of it remains vivid in my memory. Show More Summary

Ursula Le Guin: In Your Dreams, In Your Ideas...

1. I am writing this on Virginia Woolf's 136th birthday. Ursula K. Le Guin, who died a few days ago, was a lifelong reader of Woolf's work, and the trace of Woolf's writing and thinking can be found not only throughout Le Guin's essays, but also in her fiction, different as it is in style and substance from Woolf's own. Show More Summary

UW Struggle: When a State Attacks Its University by Chuck Rybak

If I had piles of money sitting around, I would buy tens of thousands of copies of Chuck Rybak's little book UW Struggle and send them to state legislatures, public university boards of trustees, university administrators, students,Show More Summary

2017: Read, Seen, Heard

Dimond Library, University of New Hampshire, November 2017, photo by MC The year has ended. Indeed, it ended a week and a half ago. People were publishing reflections on the best/worst/whatever of 2017 months before the end of the year,...Show More Summary

Land of Doubt by Sam Baker

Sam Baker's music is relatively new to me, and it has become an obsession. I first heard of him when I heard part of his Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross in 2014 while driving somewhere, and I was captivated, but for one reason or another, I didn't remember to seek out any of his albums. Show More Summary

Sentences Seeking, and Finding, Forms: On Some Passages in Barnaby Rudge

William Gass died a few days ago, and, as I do when a writer I value dies, I returned to his work. I read around in In the Heart of the Heart of the Country, and then A Temple of Texts, where, in the essay "The Sentence Seeks Its Form", I read:Between Shakespeare and Joyce, there is no one but Dickens who has an equal command of the English language. Show More Summary

Virginia Woolf Miscellany and a Remembrance of Jean Kennard

The Spring 2017 issue of Virginia Woolf Miscellany (issue 91) has been posted online as a free PDF. It includes a brief essay I wrote in remembrance of Jean Kennard, who taught a Woolf seminar twenty years ago that helped set me on a...Show More Summary

Notes on Blade Runner 2049

To write responsibly about Blade Runner 2049, I would need to see it again, and to explore what I want to explore I would need to watch Denis Villeneuve's previous film, Arrival, again (I last saw it on its theatrical release), and I...Show More Summary

Beating the Bounds by Liz Ahl

Let me begin with disclaimer: This is not a review of Liz Ahl's first book-length collection of poems, Beating the Bounds. Liz is a longtime friend who sometimes writes about the place where I live and people I know, so anything I say about this book's qualities ought to be suspect. Show More Summary

The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water was the opening film of the mini-festival Telluride at Dartmouth, and so I got to see it a few months before it will be released generally. I love del Toro's work — even when it falls flat for me (Crimson Peak), it's nonetheless clearly the work of someone with his own vision and style. Show More Summary

A Convex Mirror: Twin Peaks

That is the tune but there are no words. The words are only speculation (From the Latin speculum, mirror): They seek and cannot find the meaning of the music. We see only postures of the dream, Riders of the motion that swings the face Into view under evening skies, with no False disarray as proof of authenticity. Show More Summary

My Heart Hemmed In by Marie NDiaye

Marie NDiaye's 2007 novel Mon coeur à l'étroit has now been translated by Jordan Stamp and published by Two Lines Press as My Heart Hemmed In. It is a strange, unsettling book, a tale told by a woman named Nadia whose husband receives...Show More Summary

What Is To Be Done About The Social Novel?

Chernyshevsky in prison, painting by Gorovych (1953) The new issue of Harper's includes a review-essay by Jonathan Dee that asks a question summed up by the writer of the headline as "Does the social novel have a future?" Ultimately,...Show More Summary

"Grade Inflation" as a Path to Ungrading

Cat Sidh, Flickr At Jacobin, Ed Burmila writes about grade inflation as a symptom of the neoliberalization of education, pointing out that there is no group within contemporary higher ed for whom there is much benefit to a lowering of...Show More Summary

Shetland: Attending to the Consequences of Violence

From now on, whenever someone argues that their story or tv episode or movie or whatever absolutely couldn't possibly work without a graphic rape scene, I will think of episode 5 of the third series of the BBC show Shetland. The episode includes the kidnapping and rape of a regular series character. Show More Summary

Against Academic Conferences

There's a lot I love about academia — more than I dislike, or I wouldn't be about to start my 5th year toward a PhD — but it is an often vexing world, particularly to those of us who've spent a lot of time outside it. If you've never...Show More Summary

Why I Killed My Best Friend by Amanda Michalopoulou

A hazard of doing intense academic work all about novels and novelists and The Novel and the novelties of novelism, etc. etc. etc. ad noveleam, — as I have been doing for a few years now — is that you stop being able to enjoy novels....Show More Summary

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