Medievalist Elaine Treharne teaches a course on Beowulf at Stanford, and one of her primary theoretical questions for her students is, “What is (the) Text? … What constitutes Beowulf?” So she got to thinking. She wondered what she and her students would do “with a social media version of the poem.” What ensued is a distillation of the great epic in 100 tweets, which you can read over here.
“Why do we lust for lists?” Sandra M. Gilbert may not have an answer, but she does have a response to all those “100 Best American Novels” lists (and a list of her own). The Millions has a few lists too, of course – be sure to check out Janet Potter‘s “28 Books You Should Read If You Want To.”
Is “literary” fiction just a product of clever marketing? Elizabeth Edmondson thinks it is. At The Guardian, she argues that classically literary authors like Jane Austen had no idea they were writing Literature — posterity classified their work as such later on. Her essay dovetails nicely with our own Edan Lepucki’s argument that literature is a genre.
David Denby wonders: After nearly 150 years have passed since its initial publication and countless imitators have blunted its artistic radicalism does Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground still pack a punch? For more contemporary readings of Dostoevsky, see Rob Goodman’s recent article on forensics, The Brothers Karamazov and the death of the courtroom drama.