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Literature

Winter 2017

Homer on a flash drive

Plato is sitting at the feet of his mentor Socrates, writing down what the old philosopher says. What Socrates is saying, ironically, is that writing is bad for you: It rots your memory. Preserved in Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates’s opinion of the then-emerging technology sounds strange to us now—until you recall that that’s pretty much exactly what pundits in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have been saying about TV, video games, and texting.

Dene Grigar, director of Washington State University Vancouver’s program in Creative Media and Digital Culture, laughs and nods. She’s also the president of the Electronic Literature Organization, an international team of scholars and … » More …

Winter 2017

Lit Bits: Electronic literature on the web

Redshift & Portalmetal” by Micha Cárdenas. Your planet is dying. You have an apparent choice: travel to the Ice Planet and start over, or stay and try to help. Every layer of this piece is rich with video, audio, and a textual narrative that triangulates between science fiction, philosophy, and a sort of future-tending Romanticism.

High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, an Interactive Poem was created and conceived by the High Muck a Muck Collective. You enter this gorgeously illustrated and written story by clicking on a lottery card–an appropriate visual metaphor for taking your chances on a narrative that determines itself as … » More …

Bitter Tastes: Literary Naturalism and Early Cinema in American Women's Writing cover
Fall 2017

Bitter Tastes: Literary Naturalism and Early Cinema in American Women’s Writing

Bitter Tastes: Literary Naturalism and Early Cinema in American Women's Writing cover

Donna M. Campbell

University of Georgia Press: 2016

 

In 1921, Edith Wharton became the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her novel, The Age of Innocence. Wharton was part of a new generation born in the 1860s and 1870s who, equipped with new biological theories, challenged conventions of the Victorian era.

Deriving its title from one of Wharton’s remarks … » More …

Fall 2017

James Thayer on the craft of the novel

James Thayer reads from The Boxer and the Poet

James Thayer ‘71 reads the first chapter of his romantic comedy, The Boxer and the Poet.

 

 

Tips and Techniques

Thayer started teaching the craft of the novel about ten years ago as a creative writing instructor at the University of Washington. He’s also a regular contributor to Author magazine.

Thayer, a natural storyteller, absorbed his craft through his lifelong voracious reading habit. When he first got the teaching job, he realized he didn’t have enough to say to fill a 90-hour, year-long course. So, as is his wont, he read a bunch of books. … » More …

John McCallum
Spring 2017

Writing pools, movie stars

The New York Yankees were establishing their dominance over America’s favorite pastime. The Golden Era of Hollywood was in full swing. And a nation recovering from the sacrifices of World War II had begun to heal and find itself.

It was a world of big cars and even bigger personalities. A world that sportswriter John D. McCallum, a U.S. Army veteran and former pro baseball player, found he could navigate with surprising ease.

McCallum resumed his English and journalism studies at Washington State after returning from the war, and briefly played for the Portland Beavers in 1947. But it was after he hung up his … » More …

Still Time cover
Winter 2015

Still Time

Still Time cover

Jean Hegland ’79

Arcade Publishing: 2015

Still Time, a new novel by Jean Hegland, explores dementia through the eyes of aging Shakespearean scholar John Wilson. Unsettled by life in a residential care facility and a surprise visit from his estranged daughter, Wilson finds solace and structure in the plays and poetry that so captivated his life.

Hegland, who shares poetry at a memory care center near her home in California, says she was inspired by … » More …

Astoria Bridge
Spring 2015

The West in the words of Washington Irving

“The broad and beautiful Columbia lay before them, smooth and unruffled as a mirror … .

“About thirty miles above Point Vancouver the mountains again approach on both sides of the river, which is bordered by stupendous precipices, covered with the fir and the white cedar, and enlivened occasionally by beautiful cascades leaping from a great height, and sending up wreaths of vapor.” —Astoria

Spring 2015

Voices of the Wilderness

I. BREATH

They saw in the water many of the serpent-kind,
wondrous sea-dragons exploring the waters,
such nicors as lie on the headlands,
who, in the mornings, often accomplish
sorrowful deeds on the sail-road,
serpents and wild-beasts.

 

So concludes the epic poem Beowulf. Speaking Old English, storytellers composed Beowulf extemporaneously and shared passages from person to person for thousands of years until they were written down sometime between the eighth and the eleventh centuries. Beowulf is very much a poem about animals, so it’s appropriate to translate its last word, “wilde-or,” as “wild-beasts,” though the word forms … » More …