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Darwin and Eliot and History*

Darwin and Eliot and History*

My very smart academic friend, Sam Cohen, recently wrote at length about the difficulties of planning a course based on a particular historical moment in terms of the philosophical problems of making fiction stand for history. At least, that’s how I’m choosing to paraphrase a key point implicit in his great discussion of three things he wishes someone had told him a long time ago when he first started studying literature. In lieu of filling his comments section with a…

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Of Academic Idealism

Of Academic Idealism

I want my students to be brilliant. I want them to make observations I haven’t thought of, and write sentences that make me smile just because they are so articulate, and draw connections that illuminate literary history. And in between those flashes of brilliance, I want them to be competent. And in the lulls between competence, I want them to be hard-working and recognize that there is always room for improvement. And when they are too busy to be hard-working…

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