Posts Tagged: the awl

The Role of the Critical Writer

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For The Awl, Maria Bustillos sits down for lunch with writer Teju Cole in Bali, where Cole recently spoke at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. The two discuss art, colonialism, and the role of the critical writer. Regarding the latter, Cole says:

What it’s our job to do [as critics] is to help create and sustain value for overlooked work… The question is not always about what people are paying $50 million for, but the stuff that is only fifty thousand, only ten thousand, and getting that stuff into the museum space and have it be what it needs to be, to write books about it, to get it in the syllabus.

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Spelling Reformed

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At The Awl, Annie Abrams gives the history of a 19th-century newspaper, Di Anglo-Sacsun, and its editors’ attempts to make literacy more available to the public, by developing their own phonetic alphabet that the newspaper was written in. Abrams also dives into the controversy surrounding the name of the paper:

Andrews and Boyle pointedly explained that they did not choose the title “in a partisan or national spirit, or with a view to render prominent the dysfunction between the different branches of the human brotherhood,” but instead “because it seems to us to contain a proper allusion to the language which it is our primary object to reform.”

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I Get My Favorite Short Stories From the CIA

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The Kenyon Review. Mundo Nuevo. The Paris Review.

Check out whether you’ve been unknowingly colluding with secret agents whilst reading your favorite lit mags. Patrick Iber writes, “The CIA became a major player in intellectual life during the Cold War—the closest thing that the US government had to a Ministry of Culture.” (The Rumpus would like to state that we are miffed to be excluded from this list.)

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Our Words, Possessed by Fans

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In the driest language possible, I would say that fan fiction successfully undermines the traditional American heteronormative dynamic in ways that can’t be undone. In wetter language, fan fiction sexualizes. It’s transgressive because it suggests the possibility of the erotic. It’s political, because it complicates power structures.

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Queen Joan

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The act of anointing Joan Didion as our favorite, our best, our everything, is the act that reveals what we’re trying to say: that we’re cool, that we’re educated, that if we are not young and white and slender and well-dressed and disaffected and sad and committed to the art of writing as an arduous and soul-sucking process that must be endured yet Instagrammed simultaneously, then we will be, at least, as close as possible to those identifiers even if it kills us.

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Rain Dance

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Over at The Awl, Josephine Livingstone treats us to poetics on the colorful sounds of precipitation:

Actual rain falling on my urban windows was, however, just too good to miss. I have lived on three continents and my family comes from a fourth: these circumstances have forged in me a deep and abiding attachment to environmental constants.

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Light Reading

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Why do readers love to hate the Times’s Style section? While many of its trend pieces are guilty of the same transgressions committed elsewhere in mainstream media, a history of misogyny and homophobia directed at lifestyle journalism suggests our contempt goes beyond objective criticism:

Far from detailing the paper’s ignominious decline into muddy ethical waters and vacuous intellectual territory, the history of style reporting at the New York Times actually exposes some of the nastiest truths about misogyny and homophobia in the mass media: their intensity, their unbelievable durations (by which I mean “totally believable”), their active contemporary manifestations, and the role audiences play in perpetuating them.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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Story|Houston published a beautiful story this week in their Fall 2014 issue, all of which centers around the theme of family, functional or otherwise. “Termites” tells the story of Tamara, aka Tam or Tam-Tam, a youngish woman living in and trying to take care of/sell her family’s childhood home on Staten Island.

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How to Write (for Actual Legal Tender)

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Over at The Awl, Heather Havrilesky, a writer without an MFA, has some humorous and candid freelancing tips for her MFA students and us readers. Havrilesky knows we’ll appreciate this advice, since she’s “one of the only writers [her] students know who earns actual legal tender from her writing—instead of say, free copies of Ploughshares”:

It’s annoying, to have to take time out of my incredibly busy writing schedule in order to spell it all out for young people, just because they spend most of their daylight hours being urged by hoary old theorists in threadbare sweaters to write experimental fiction that will never sell.

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Taking a Break from the Internet

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We at the Rumpus love the Internet. We are, after all, a place to read, on the Internet (just check our Twitter bio).

But sometimes it’s good to contemplate how exactly you’re using the Internet and why, as Matthew Gallaway does in this piece for the Awl:

I had gradually become incapacitated by the endless sales pitch of my online persona, the implicit dissonance as I compared it to my offline self, the constant cycle of posturing and affirmation.

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Existence of Typewriter Confuses and Angers Internet

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Shortly after moving to New York, writer C. D. Hermelin decided to try a cool busking experiment: he’d sit out in parks with an old typewriter and compose on-the-fly stories for passersby, asking them to donate what they could.

It was a lot of fun—until someone posted a picture of him online and the Internet exploded into vitriolic rage at the existence of a “hipster.”

Read his bizarre and kind of terrifying story about becoming a meme at The Awl.

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What’s The Deal With Massive Open Online Courses?

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MOOC’s are a word for forgetting that universities have never grown without being planted, for trusting that just as students can teach themselves, universities will magically grow themselves, too.

In the 21st century, many universities have been changing their game and debilitating higher education by turning it into a corporate ordeal.

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The Less You Tell

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“For the shy and passive aggressive, blackmail might be the perfect means of control. Hone your blackmailing chops and you can utilize them in a range of scenarios: betrayal, revenge, moral castigation (theirs, not yours).”

The Awl is in the midst of a two-week series on “the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.” Jane Hu shares a history of blackmail.

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The Death (and Rebirth?) of the Book Review

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Why review books? At The Awl, Jane Hu takes a historical approach to answering that question.

Quoting writers from Alexander Pope to Jonathan Franzen, Hu argues that the apparently ever-progressing “death” of the book review is perhaps a more nuanced process than it first appears:

“Perhaps a large problem in the decline of good criticism is that readers no longer know how, or where, to find critics, and, more importantly, how to define what makes it Good.”

Hu’s essay is in some aspects a continuation of the narrative established in Elizabeth Gumport’s 2011 essay “Against Reviews” for N+1, an impassioned argument for a complete rethinking of the form and its uses.

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