What I Learned in Humanities 110

My alma mater is, for better or worse, the undergraduate equivalent of a cult film: Most people have never heard of Reed College, and the few who have really like to argue about it. So it’s disconcerting when arguments usually confined to the Reed campus attract national attention. In recent days, a Washington Post column […]

Moors: Love or Hate? Discuss.

Helen: Ann, we’re here because you said you hate moors. I am currently having a love affair with moors, so I want to know: Why? Also, we’re here because I suspect this will give us an opportunity to talk about how much we hate Wuthering Heights. Unless you like Wuthering Heights. Do you like Wuthering […]

The Atreides vs the Ancient Greeks

I’d been reading a book by Colm Tóibín called House of Names.  The house is the House of Atreus; Tóibín explained through a character why he substituted “names,” but I didn’t understand it.  He took the story pretty faithfully from the plays of Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripedes about one or all members of the family.  […]

Redux: Tesser Well

When I first published this post, my daughter was six. Now, she’s eight-going-on-nine, and halfway through the Harry Potter series. But on dark and stormy nights, winter or summer, she still feels the pull of A Wrinkle in Time—and I do, too. ______ It was a dark and stormy night. In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, […]

Redux: Dr. Frankenstein’s Climate

Two hundred and one years ago today, a young writer began a very famous story. Every year, it gets a little more relevant. Between two and three o’clock in the morning on June 16, 1816, during a restless night in a villa on Lake Geneva, eighteen-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin had a waking dream. As the moon […]

Reading Sci-Fi with Astrobioloigist David Grinspoon

David Grinspoon is a comparative planetologist and an astrobiologist. He’s also a big book nerd, and his love for both fiction and nonfiction are proudly on display in his own new book, Earth In Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet’s Future. Grinspoon’s book uses insight from the study of the other planets in our solar system […]

Dial M for Medicine

One evening last week, after digesting about three times the recommended daily allowance of political news and making myself nauseous with anxiety about the state of the world, I resorted to a familiar remedy. My husband found me in the half-lit bedroom, staring at a flickering iPad. I looked up and shrugged. “Icelandic crime drama,” […]

Good Night, Patriarchy

I am a feminist, and I’ve raised my daughter to be a feminist. But lately, I’ve been administering feminism like it’s a damn inoculation. (The shot is metaphorical. The disease is not.) One of my favorite prophylactics against the patriarchy—suitable for girls and boys alike—is the feminist bedtime story, and happily, the selection is expanding […]