Humanities

Category archives for Humanities

Calendrical Innovation

Union operates on a trimester calendar, with three ten-week terms (September-November, January-March, April-June), rather than the two 14-15 week semesters used by most other colleges and universities. This has some advantages in terms of flexibility– even science and engineering students get to take terms abroad, which is harder to swing in a semester system– and…

You Will Never Die

If I ever decided to abandon any pretense of integrity or credibility, and just shoot for making a bazillion dollars peddling quantum hokum, the particular brand of quantum philosophy I would peddle has already been laid out, in Robert Charles Wilson’s Divided by Infinity. In the story, the narrator is given a copy of a…

Short Story Club 2: The Locussing

For both of the readers who enjoyed last fall’s Short Story Club, there’s another round starting up soon, this time run by Locus, featuring award-nominated works. I’m busier now than I was in the fall, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to participate in all of these, but then, I’ve already read two of…

One of the perils of book reviewing, or any other form of literary analysis is putting more thought into some aspect of a book than the author did. It’s one of the aspects of the humanities aide of academia that, from time to time, strains my ability to be respectful of the scholarly activities of…

Advancing by Subtracting

I’ve got draft versions of all the chapters of the book-in-progress now, which is great. Of course, when you add up all the words in those chapters, it comes to 92,000, when the contract calls for 70,000. Which means I’ve entered the part of the writing process where progress is measured not by how many…

I’m taking some flak in the comments to yesterday’s book recommendation request post, so let me illustrate what I meant with an example. Lots of people recommended the Andrew Lang Fairy books, which are freely available online. I looked at the first story in the first book, which is plenty entertaining, but also has this…

Bad Words and Great Books

There’s a new wrinkle in the endless controversy about Huckleberry Finn, with NewSouth Books preparing an expurgated edition replacing “nigger” with “slave” throughout. Sentiment in the parts of the Internet I frequent is mostly against the change, which has been made with the goal of getting it back on high school reading lists, which it…

It’s time now to talk about two of the greatest mentor figures in the literature of the fantastic. You know their stories well, I’m sure, but the parallels between them are eerie: Both are gruff but kindly mentor figures who provide crucial guidance for the young and naive protagonist of the story as he moves…

The Problem of the Humanities

I’ve probably gotten a dozen pointers to Gregory Petsko’s open letter in support of the humanities, addressed to the President of SUNY-Albany, over the last couple of weeks (the link is to a reposting of the letter at Inside Higher Ed; it was originally on Petsko’s own blog). I haven’t linked to it or commented…

Nobel Prize Betting Pool

It’s that time of year again– the Swedes will be handing out money to famous scientists, with the announcements of who’s getting what starting one week from today. Thus, the traditional Uncertain Principles Nobel Prize Picking Contest: Leave a comment on this post predicting the winner(s) of one of this year’s Nobel Prizes. Anyone who…