Blog Articles

Anatomy of Criticism – Part 1

August 4, 2015 1:09 pm Published by 1 Comment

What is the difference between so-called genre fiction and so-called literary fiction? Another way to ask the question is to wonder: When did genre fiction begin to be called genre fiction? The distinction seems so clear these days when you can walk into a library, a bookstore, or search online... read more

The Role of Sanskrit in Philology

July 30, 2015 10:52 am Published by Leave your thoughts

In 1778 William Jones, a lawyer in London with a taste for politics, heard the news that one of four Supreme Court judge positions in India was open. The judges were all appointed in England, because by that time the Persian Mughal Empire in India had come under the military... read more

The Australian Walkabout

July 23, 2015 10:01 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Cover Photo Credit: Steve Evans from Citizen of the World Aboriginal Australian cultures have a rite of passage known as the Walkabout. Adolescent males spend up to six months on foot tracing paths established by their ancestors. These journeys can be as long as 1000 miles, and the young men... read more

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On Romanian Gypsies

July 20, 2015 9:14 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Romanian Gypsies are a problem. There, I’ve said it. The first problem is with their name: gypsies, from the place name Egypt. In Romanian it’s țigani. But the gypsies don’t come from Egypt. They’re Indo-Iranian. Their proper ethnonym is Roma, more technically spelled Rroma. They’re also called Romany. Romania has... read more

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Enriching Your Story

July 16, 2015 6:58 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

In Three Tips for Creating Good Dialogue I mention the technique of imagining what other art form your story could be in order for you to get a sense of the proportion of dialogue to narration. As an example here I suggest that Jane Austen novels are minuets, unhurried, elegant,... read more

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The Peculiarly American Love of Self-Help

July 13, 2015 8:57 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Note: I wrote this blog after reading Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. Vintage Book, Random House, 2013. The HBO documentary Going Clear was aired in April, 2015. “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found... read more

Campbell Soup Cans and the Romance Novel

June 18, 2015 10:12 am Published by Leave your thoughts

You’ve seen them, Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soups Cans, painted in 1962 and now displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Here’s a selection: You might have also seen Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl. It was painted in 1963 and has been part of MoMA’s permanent collection since... read more

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Hanukkah! Kentucky Derby!

June 4, 2015 9:02 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Sarah Wendell, creator of smartbitchestrashybooks.com gave a talk at Duke University in March at the Unsuitable Series, led by Laura Florand and Katherine DuBois. Laura and Katie are both published romance writers and both teach at Duke, where I also teach. The title of Sarah’s talk was “Female Sexuality and... read more

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Rom Com French Style

May 28, 2015 10:45 am Published by Leave your thoughts

The weather in Paris in May is wonderful – except when it isn’t. So what to do on a blustery rainy afternoon? Go to a movie, of course. We went to Les Halles, a shopping/entertainment complex in the center of Paris, where we knew there would be 30+ movies to... read more