Anne Liebig | 4 February, 2019
To be or not to be – who has not heard, used, or abused this phrase, written down over 400 years ago? Who cannot conjure up a spontaneous image of the Bard, or name at least one of his plays? Shakespeare has performed a feat that few other writers have achieved across the globe: he has been elevated to a symbol of national culture. But when did you last stop and ask yourself what the point of having a so-called national poet really was?
Anne Liebig | 4 February, 2019
Katherine Carlman | 14 January, 2019
“I’m very good at math,” the boy said as I passed. He was five or six years old and made this declaration not to me, but to the adult who belonged with him. With his mop of long curls and declaration of brilliance, he had more self-confidence than I’ve ever had. How could a child have more self-assurance than a fifty-year-old woman? He must be an only child, I reasoned – maybe an oldest child, but certainly not the youngest.
Dylan Taylor | 25 July 2017.
The dawning supremacy of M.F.A. writing is well observed and disparaged by many. Arguably, this ‘homogenized, over-workshopped writing’ has become increasingly content to follow prevailing literary models, making much contemporary English literature unambitious and conservative. Rather than push boundaries, many modern writers seem content to contribute their own version of a story that has been told a thousand times before: a story typically of love, of coming-of-age, of examining identity, in middle-class London or New York. Overwhelmingly, the stylistic cornerstone of such a story is prose that is polished and clear: all unjustified adjectives must go.
Niki Holzapfel | 6 March 2017
“I wrote stories from the time I was a little girl, but I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to be an actress. I didn’t realize then that it’s the same impulse. It’s make-believe. It’s performance. The only difference being that a writer can do it all alone” -Joan Didion, The Paris Review, 1978
I was once in a class with someone who referred to Joan Didion lovingly as “Joan” and spoke of her with the utmost reverence. Rightfully so; the quote above—to me, at least—is brilliant. Writing creatively gives me narratives other than my own to consider. Not a unique conclusion, I realize, but one that makes the act of writing so attractive, so much more than a hobby to mock, so freeing.
The following piece was written when a number of narratives competed in my mind—when make-believe made the most sense.
March 21, 2016 | Robyn Pritzker.
Amongst the most misunderstood literary partnerships to date is that of Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife Fanny Van de Grift Stevenson. The two coauthored several volumes, to wide critical disapproval, and Fanny was her husband’s amanuensis and editor for many years through his bouts of ill health. Fanny was an artist in her own right, a trained painter and an author who penned several short stories and captivating travel diaries during her family’s extensive travels across Europe, North America, and the Pacific Islands. Robert Louis Stevenson frequently mentioned their collaboration in his letters, referencing the two of them hard at work together on his latest pieces, but nonetheless critics and biographers like Frank McLynn and T.C. Livingstone have long asserted that Fanny’s influence was minimal if not actually detrimental.
March 7, 2016 | Tess Goodman.
Is there such a thing as a relationship between a reader and an author? Authors often structure their relationships with readers in different ways, in order to connect with a potentially enormous group of readers, widely variant in personality and opinion, whom he or she will never meet. How do authors frame these relationships in ways that can be sustainable over decades or even centuries? And what do those relationships help the author to achieve?
March 7, 2016 | Harriet MacMillan.
I wrote the above poem in 2012, but it had been in gestation for some time. I first encountered David’s painting The Death of Marat (1793) in 2006; I clearly recall finding the artwork, detailing the French revolutionary’s death in his bath tub at the hands of Charlotte Corday, at once stark and yet curiously sterile. I still retain a fascination with Marat and his murderer Charlotte Corday, described posthumously as ‘l’Ange de l’Assassinat’. I am not alone in my fascination; Corday’s brutal killing of Marat has inspired many artists and writers. But what do artistic acts of rewriting history teach us? Can they ever truly represent those figures who have inspired or horrified us?
November 26, 2015 | Patrick McGhee.
History means talking to each other. More now than ever before, members of the public are able to join with students, researchers and academics in order to communicate and connect across departments and disciplines, countries and continents. Digital platforms and social networks such as academia.edu, WordPress and Twitter can both augment and change the way we share and debate ideas.