“I Am Cool, Fearless, and Strong”: Reasons for Living Single

A few days after refusing a proposal from the man who would eventually become her husband, Charlotte Perkins Gilman -- turn-of-the-20th-century writer and social reformer -- wrote a document in her private diary that she titled “An Anchor to Windward.” It details her reasons for wishing to remain single. A little context: Walter Stetson proposed …

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How Do You Teach Time?

One pleasurable challenge of my job is getting to teach interdisciplinary courses. To expedite students through their general education requirements in History, English, and Philosophy, our college offers hybrid courses combining two or three disciplines. But, lacking hybrid professors to go with them, these courses are taught by folks like me --  stretching, consulting, and …

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If Louisa Met Saoirse: On Bigotry and Casting Little Women

The new trailer for Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Little Women has gone live, and book lovers have gone into a delighted tizzy (except diehard fans of the Winona Ryder-Christian Bale film, of course). One unusual thing about Gerwig's new version, which surprisingly has gotten little press, is that these March sisters are distinctly less American. …

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Reasons to Own a Lot of Books that Don’t Spark Any Joy

Just like we infer the existence of a black hole by the behavior of matter around it, so I learned of the existence of Marie Kondo’s Netflix series based on a sudden flurry of posts on social media about how many books a person should own. Apparently, Kondo’s Tidying Up includes scenes of tidying up …

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Below the Bennets’ Stairs: Jo Baker’s Longbourn (book review)

Longbourn, Jo Baker’s 2013 semi-retelling of Pride and Prejudice, may well be the best-written Austen-adjacent text that I’ve read, in terms of prose style. And I have read… a lot. I use the term “semi-retelling” because the book is about the Longbourn servants, focalized through Sarah the housemaid, and doesn’t really concern the events of …

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Race, Christianity, and High Drama in The Woman of Colour (1808 book review)

Drawing again on that list of diverse Austen-adjacent texts that tipped me off about Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged, I also decided to check out The Woman of Colour: A Tale, an anonymous epistolary novel published in 1808. It's about the daughter of a female slave and a white Jamaican plantation owner, who is raised …

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Books Like Books Like Books: Sofia Khan is Not Obliged (review)

What a puzzle this book is! As I mentioned last time, I've spend the summer preparing to teach a course on Jane Austen (with a popular culture twist), which meant I was forced (oh no!) to read and watch what I'm calling “Austen-adjacent” texts. In addition to sequels, adaptations, and modernizations, this category also includes books …

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