The American Literature Archive

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Selected Works:

  • A link to After Apple Picking and two videos -- Robert Frost reading the poem and some critical commentary from Frost himself, Seamus Heaney, and Richard Wilbur.

  • Art from Art. Just as Frost rewrites Emerson in "After Apple Picking," here's a more modern example of artistic revision: Chuck Berry's reprise of "Johnny B. Goode" (1957)--"Bye Bye Johnny" (1960)--and Bruce Springsteen's memorial to the death of Elvis, "Johnny Bye Bye" (1983).

  • "Education by Poetry" Robert Frost explains what thinking is and how poetry can help teach you how to do it.

  • "Good Readers and Good Writers" Vladimir Nabokov gives his definition (and explanation) of both.

  • How Race Is Lived in America: The New York Times series that documents the experience of race in America at the beginningt of the twenty-first century: Shared Prayers, Mixed Blessings by Kevin Sack; Best of Friends, Worlds Apart by Mirta Ojito; Which Man's Army by Steven A. Holmes; Who Gets to Tell a Black Story? by Janny Scott; A Limited Partnership by Amy Harmon; At a Slaughterhouse, Some Things Never Die by Charlie LeDuff; When to Campaign With Color by Timothy Egan; Reaping What Was Sown on the Old Plantation by Ginger Thompson; Growing Up, Growing Apart by Tamar Lewin; The Hurt Between the Lines by Dana Canedy; The Minority Quarterback by Ira Berkow; Guarding the Borders of the Hip-Hop Nation by N.R. Kleinfield; Why Harlem Drug Cops Don't Discuss Race by Michael Winerip; and "America, Seen Through the Filter of Race" -- a series of editorial statements by Patricia Williams, Jack Kemp, Linda Chavez, and others.

  • Test the Roots of Your Prejudice. You say you're not biased? Take this test -- called the Implicit Association Test -- developed by researchers at Yale University and the University of Washington. Researchers created the test in 1995 to expose hidden thoughts and feelings. It can reveal unconscious attitudes that could affect how you interact with people of a different race. Also, a link to the IAT Home Page, that includes links to tests on Age and Gender implicit preferences; and a link to the main site called, "Hate and Violence: No Simple Answers"; also, an essay by Tim Wise on racial blindness called "See No Evil" and an article by Robert Jensen on how "White Privilege Shapes the U.S."

  • The Jefferson - Hemings Controvery. Why were Jefferson scholars so reluctant to admit to Thomas Jefferson's relationship with his slave Sally Hemings? Here's a series of 1998 editorials that discuss these recent findings: Annette Gordon-Reed (author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings) on the "objectivity" of History and historians; William Safire on the contemporary political implications of "Sallygate"; Orlando Paterson on Race, History, and what to make of the whole shebang; and Brent Staples, writing in 1999 that there's still no place at the Jefference table for the Hemings clan.

  • Metaphor Monopoly. Bill Gates has been educated by poetry.

  • The Modern Library's Choices for the 100 greatest books of the 20th century. Includes all of nine women, none women of color, and four male minority authors.

  • Modern - Postmodern. Some illustrations to accompany Fredric Jameson's "Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism"; a "learning trail" on Postmodernism at, where "thinking is encouraged" (just type in "postmodernism" at the search button); and a set of resources and links called Postmodern Thought.

  • An interview with and an article about Toni Morrison, and a link to a good student essay on Tar Baby, from a site dedicated to Morrison.

  • Flannery O'Connor's, "Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction" (1960), in which she reveals that, "anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the Northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic" and that "[a]ll novelists are fundamentally seekers and describers of the real, but the realism of each novelist will depend on his view of the ultimate reaches of reality." A perfect companion piece for "A Good Man Is Hard to Find."

  • The Posture Photo Scandal. Who says Physiognomy was just a 19th century pseudo-science? The New York Times Magazine (Jan. 15, 1995) unearths the freshman "posture pictures" designed to document the visible signs of our nation's elite. And speaking of "Fate," here's a New York Times editorial on "DNA and Destiny" (Nov. 2, 1998) and link to the (very Emersonian) "We're Texas" ad campaign. 

  • "The Queen's Looking Glass" The first chapter of Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar's groundbreaking work, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth Century Literary Imagination, a work that asks the question, "Is the pen a metaphorical penis?" Along with a page of photos, including the back of the box description of The Last Seduction, another picture of Kate Moss, a parodic look at Obsession, and some pictures of Medusa that bear an uncanny resemblance to Glen Close in Fatal Attraction. Finally. a site that focuses on women, the body, self-esteem, and political expression (from The Body Shop) and a Women's Studies Database.

  • Realism vs. Romance. Some definitions from the OED: realism, real, realistic, romance, and romantic (note: these links work only if you are on an ISP that subscribes to the UT library or the OED), and some definitions from Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary; an explanation of Romance (vs. the Novel) from Nathaniel Hawthorne and an explanation of the Real (vs. the Romantic) from Henry James.

  • The Road Not Taken or The Poem Not Written? Robert Frost vs.

  • The Simple Art of Murder. Raymond Chandler's definitive essay on Realism, the Detective Story, and modern day heroes.

  • Violence: the Unheard Voices. From a site called "Slashdot: News for Nerds. Stuff that matters" -- a link to Voices from the Hellmouth, a collection of e-mails from self-proclaimed "geeks, nerds, and oddballs" that give voice to the unheard part of the conversation surrounding the tragic events at Columbine HS and tell a disturbing story of the witch hunt that's developed as a result; and "Our Violent Inner Landscape," a New York Times editorial by Gregory Gibson, that looks at the connections between Columbine, Rambo, and Richard III; and a link to a site called, "Hate and Violence: No Simple Answers".

  • When Are You White? Lise Funderburg takes to the streets and asks this question of friends, strangers, and celebrities. And an article by Robert Jensen on how "White Privilege Shapes the U.S."

  • "Who Says a White Band Can't Play Rap?" by Joe Wood in The Village Voice (1991). Asks the questions: Is racial identity a matter of consumption? Who gets to produce culture? Who gets to consume it? Who gets consumed? Was Elvis the King or just the King of Tacky? Listen as Little Richard battles Pat Boone (with a little Elvis thrown in for comparison) in 1956. Wood also asks the question: is Chuck D an American poet? You be the judge. The lyrics and a video clip for "Can't Truss It" (1991). Finally, a picture of the Young Black Teenagers and a set of readings and resources on Minority Studies, at The Voice of the Shuttle, and on Race in the US, courtesy of The English Server (Carnegie Mellon).

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