In the spring of 2006, John Unsworth taught a graduate seminar on “Twentieth-Century American Bestsellers.” It led to one of history’s finest class projects–a browsable database of bestsellers, 337 in all. As with any bestseller lists, you’ll find a range of titles, everything from Thomas Wolfe to Tom Clancy, but click through and find that each entry includes an extremely detailed description of the book’s history (these were compiled by graduate students, after all); a mini-essay on its reception; images of covers, page layouts, and even some ads; and more. It is, in short, bibliophilic crack. (Thanks Craig)
The Scottish poet Robert Burns’s “Address to a Haggis” might well be the most famous ode to a food product in the English canon. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein celebrates Burns's birthday by reflecting on the poem, which starts off by describing haggis as the “chieftain of the pudding race.”
"American television has been a juvenile medium for most of its existence," David Simon tells Salon. This defense of 'Treme' was published three days after David Thier called the show "deeply boring" in The Atlantic. "There is nothing New Orleans loves so much as New Orleans" Thier says, "but the show can't get past the desire to be authentic." Sarah Broom, during last May's PEN World Voices Festival, said "this 'love of place' is really just from people who are stuck in a lots of ways." But hey, at least the show's attention to detail is admirable.
As noted on Arts & Letters Daily, Yale's decision to shutter its Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism raises the question, "Where does scholarship end and advocacy begin?"
People laugh when I tell them: everybody’s born right-handed, but the best overcome it. But now, take heed my Southpaw brethren. Science may be on our side. One recent study indicates that left-handedness may lead to “a boost in a specific kind of creativity—namely, divergent thinking, or the ability to generate new ideas from a single principle quickly and effectively.”
“Fifty Shades of Grey follows this long history of class ascendancy via feminine wiles, but does so cleverly disguised as an edgy modern bodice-ripper,” writes Heather Havrilesky in the latest issue of The Baffler. Throughout the piece, Havrilesky explores the way luxury brand fetishism and conspicuous consumption fueled E.L. James's “female-friendly” pornography phenomenon