Azar Nafisi thinks the best way to pin down a culture is to take a look at its canonical works of literature. In The Republic of Imagination, as Adam Begley details in a review in the Times Literary Supplement, she examines a few of America’s classic novels, including Babbitt, Huck Finn and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. You could also read Jonathan Russell Clark’s review of the book for The Millions.
It’s a question that puzzles writers of all stripes: why is so much academic writing so terrible? It’s an issue that’s been a lifelong head-scratcher for the linguist Steven Pinker, who set out to answer the question once and for all. His verdict? It has to do with the meaning of “literary style.”
You may have heard that “because” is a preposition now, because Internet. What you may not have heard is that the American Dialect Society named “because” their Word of the Year. Their reasoning? The word’s new meaning allows us to omit full clauses, which makes it useful. (Hilariously, they also named Sharknado the “most unnecessary” new word.)
On February 17th, the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program will launch a free digital course open to everybody with an internet connection. The course is entitled “Every Atom: Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself,” and registration is now open. The course will “take a collective approach to a close reading of America’s democratic verse epic.”