The Great Gatsby

Teaching Trigger Warnings: What Pundits Don’t Understand About the Year’s Most Controversial Higher-Ed Debate

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When Kyla Bender-Baird was an undergraduate a decade ago, a gender studies lecture she was attending ended with an incident she’ll never forget: a visiting professor played a rape victim’s graphic 911 call. Then the class was dismissed and, she says, everyone went home dazed and had “messed-up dreams” that night.

Although the professor apologized at the next session for failing to place the recording in appropriate context and give students adequate time to process it, Bender-Baird kept the incident in mind when she became a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, teaching sociology courses to undergraduates. Now, she includes a note at the end of her syllabus,that reads, in part:

It is my goal in this class to create a safe environment in which we examine our assumptions… Discomfort can be part of the learning process as we are challenged to shift our paradigms. I invite you to sit with this discomfort. However, if the discomfort starts to turn to distress, I want you to take care of yourself. You can withdraw from an activity or even leave the classroom.

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‘The Great Gatsby’ Turns 90: Five Things You Might Not Know About the Classic Novel

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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a staple of high school English classes and “best books” lists, from 20th Century books to American novels to the greatest novels ever written. Therefore although some Gatsby fans have merely ogled Leonardo DiCaprio or Robert Redford in the titular role (in one of the unspectacular film adaptations of a hard-to-adapt novel) most of us have actually read the book. To us, it may feel like Tom and Daisy Fay Buchanan, Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby have always been around. But did you know Gatsby languished in obscurity for years? The American classic, which celebrates 90 years of publication today, has a backstory as convoluted and fascinating as the enigmatic, self-made Gastby’s himself.

To celebrate Fitzgerald’s critique of, and ode to, jazz age capitalistic excess, here are five interesting angles on the novel and its history for your consideration.
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Dating Advice From Classic Non-Jane Austen Literature

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This week, Melville House released The Jane Austen Rules: A Classic Guide to Modern Love by scholar Sinéad Murphy. It’s a dating advice book culled from the Austen oeuvre, with chapters entitled things like “Dress Up,” “Find a Man, Not a Guy,” and “Be Quite Independent.”

This witty, brief new guide is part of an “Austen advice” mini empire, coming on the heels of Elizabeth Kantor’s rather conservative The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After and William Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education and many other books of similar intent.
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25 Must-Read Books For the Fall

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Fall! It’s a time for picking apples, wearing plaid, watching the leaves change color, and catching up on the season’s most beguiling new book releases. Fall is when the big houses bring out the big names, from Lena Dunham’s hotly anticipated book of essays, Not That Kind of Girl, to new work from future predictors Stephen Johnson and Nicholas Carr, to stories from reliable geniuses like Marilynne Robinson and Denis Johnson. We pared down a list of a million fascinating looking books (Good luck, Christian Rudder’s Dataclysm. Better list next time, Christos Tsiolkas’s well received Barracuda. I see you, Charles Burns’ Sugar Skull) to a workable group of 25 of the fall season’s must-reads. Add them to your list, and dominate cocktail parties all season long.
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Mouth-Watering Photos of Literature’s Most Famous Meals

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When Dinah Fried’s Fictitious Dishes were first posted in June 2012, they caused an online stir, and that was no surprise. She styled, prepared, and shot elaborate recreations of some of the most iconic meals in literature, from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo‘s open-faced sandwiches, or smørrebrød, to Proust and Swann and his very famous madeleines. You can find these charming images and many more in the new book Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals, which features Fried’s photos, mouth-watering excerpts from the greatest meals in literature, and trivia. Here’s a selection of three meals, from Alice in Wonderland, Moby Dick, and The Great Gatsby.
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8 Money-Soaked Tales of Wall Street Excess

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Just a few years removed from the worst economic crisis to hit the United States since the Great Depression, we’re suddenly in the midst of a newfound cultural fascination with the fat cats on Wall Street, and their excesses of bacchanalian proportions. We’re still arguing about The Wolf of Wall Street a month after its release, and the recent news that the Goldman Sachs elevator-gossip Twitter account, @GSElevator, has sold a book to Simon & Schuster is further proof that while we might despise the traders making untold millions, we’re still really interested in hearing their tales of excess. The forthcoming book and Scorsese’s film are the latest chapters in a long history of famous (and notorious) accounts of Wall Street. Here are some of the best examples.
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Stereotyping You by Your Favorite Movie of 2013

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There are just a little over two weeks left of the year, which means it’s almost too late to run any year-end list of the best cinematic offerings of 2013 (which seems silly, really, since most of us still haven’t seen a handful of Oscar-baiting movies due out at Christmas). But it is the perfect time for a gratuitous exercise in stereotypes, which is why you’ll find an incredibly insightful and — most importantly — correct list of what your favorite movie of the year says about you. Will you think I nailed it? Because I think I nailed it. 
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10 Famous Works of Literature With Queer Subtexts

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Yesterday at Salon, Caleb Crain, author of the highly praised novel Necessary Errors, talked a bit about being a gay novelist and the effects non-heterosexual subject matter has on the chances for a novel’s publication. In response to a question about needing a “gay canon” of literature, Crain said, “The straight canon is very gay… I don’t read somebody because they’re a gay writer. I read them because they’re a good writer.” It’s true that it seems silly and reductive to insist on setting gay writers apart from their straight cohort (although doing so can help raise awareness that they do, in fact, exist), especially since there’s enough queer subtext in popular literature already. Just have a look at these ten obvious examples. 
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