Despair, debt, frustration, a decade in school rewarded with guaranteed joblessness. If this cocktail of woe sounds good to you, consider getting a Ph.D. in English, History, or any other humanities discipline. At the New York Times, yet another of the recent spate of articles explaining how utterly dismal the prospects of recent humanities Ph.D.s are.
“War happens when words no longer work. Yet war is declared at the very point when words are at their most powerful. It’s an odd kind of paradox. In a time of war, the familiar words of your own language can become even more significant, as language is linked to the idea of home.” At JSTOR Daily, linguist Chi Luu looks at trauma and language loss.
“But poems are not poems if they make people feel dead. I want people to feel alive – even if it is alive with grief.” The Guardian profiles poet Danez Smith about poetry; race, gender, and queerness; and their poetry collection, Don’t Call Us Dead (a finalist for the National Book Award). Pair with: an essay on writing that gives shape and depth to victims of criminal injustice.
It’s turning into Speedboat Week here, so why not spend the weekend with some of Renata Adler‘s most renowned nonfiction? Her controversial reassessment of Pauline Kael (featuring “A Limitless Capacity to Inquire,” one of the best found poems you’ll ever read) is at the NYRB, and her deep dive into l’affaire Lewinski can be found at the L.A. Times. Interestingly, as Sarah Weinman points out, Adler’s 2001 book about the Bilderberg Conferences still hasn’t seen the light of day. (“Who suppresses manuscripts? We do!”)
Edmond Caldwell, a longtime Millions commenter and member of the golden age of lit blogging, has passed away. Caldwell was the founder of The Chagall Position and Contra James Wood. Read a tribute to Caldwell by his friends Boyd Nielson and Joseph G. Ramsey at Dispatches, here.
“After years of reading, teaching, and writing about the book, though, I’ve come to believe that… our understanding of what is comic and what is serious in Huck Finn says more about America in the last century than America in the time Twain wrote the book.” Andrew Levy writes for Salon about childhood, race, and “dedicated amnesia” in Mark Twain‘s controversial classic.