The Millions is thrilled to welcome Kirstin Butler as our new Social Media Manager. Kirstin got her start in books at the Harvard Book Store and has worked on projects for Slate, MTV Networks, and a variety of other outlets. She’s a writer with bylines at places like The Atlantic and The New Republic, and a novel is in the works. Find her online here, and of course, on The Millions‘ feeds.
The term “academic writing” is controversial, not least because it implies that academics have an odd and persnickety way of writing. In a blog post for The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman examines the genre, looking back on his time in grad school to argue that academic writing is a “fraught and mysterious thing.”
Frederick Douglass was one of the first people to use photography to control meaning. Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American catalogues his many portraits and how they contributed to our perception of Douglass. Our own Edan Lepucki writes about the place of slave narratives in fiction.
“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” NPR reminds us of this great quote from Haruki Murakami before rounding up its five favorite books in translation for 2016, including Yoko Tawada‘s Memoirs of a Polar Bear (originally published in German) and The Clouds by Juan José Saer. And from our archives: translator Alison Anderson on “Ferrante Fever” and what a great translation adds to the original work.
In a piece reminiscent of Talk of the Nation’s “You Can’t Possibly Read It All, So Stop Trying” episode, A D Jameson tracks every film he’s watched over a fifteen year span, and then discusses the data for HTMLGiant. Choice line (which could easily apply to literature, too): “The more you watch from the present day, the more garbage you’re bound to see—but your conclusions will be your own. Conversely, the further back you go, the more you’ll be guided by the opinions of others. (If nothing else, what’s available will be largely determined by what’s remained popular.)”
Now that the Library of Congress is shut down, it’s as good a time as any to remember why we have it in the first place. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova looks through a collection of vintage catalog cards, two of which include early entries for A Room of One’s Own and Ulysses.