A White Moderate Misunderstands White Supremacy

When the scholar James Chase Sanchez recently wrote on social media, “White supremacy will destroy us,” a white man I will call Chad responded with a well-intended paragraph. His comment is so dense with common misunderstandings of white supremacy that I find it instructive to unpack line by line. The full comment reads: Nah…theres way […]

Why Do Caucasian Americans Know So Little about People of Color? | An Essay by Tenielle Mounts-Williams

Corrigan’s Editorial Note: Tenielle Mounts-Williams wrote this essay in my English Composition I course at Southeastern University in spring 2019. I found her writing moving, her message pressing, and her drawing striking. I am delighted to share her work with you. Don’t Touch, I’m Not Yours Imagine me washing my hair to start the day […]

I Want to Make White Folks Uncomfortable | A Conversation with Natalie Giarratano

In this interview, Rilee Oien talks with the poet Natalie Giarratano about Big Thicket Blues. Giarratano, who won the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry, Leaving Clean, lives in Colorado with her partner, daughter, and dog.  This conversation covers a number of topics, from specific poems in the book, to the poet’s childhood in Texas, […]

All News Is Local News | A Conversation with Marjorie Maddox

In this interview, Ireland Dempster talks with Marjorie Maddox about Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation, a captivating collection of poems exploring the human body’s physical, spiritual, and mental aspects. Describing her father’s unsuccessful heart transplant during the blizzard of 1993, Maddox walks the reader through her experience with losing her father and her journey of healing, often through surreal descriptions […]

Everything That Has Happened Around the World Is Part of Your Life | A Conversation with Emily Jungmin Yoon

I talked with Emily Jungmin Yoon (@EmilyYoon), poet, translator, and doctoral candidate in comparative literature at the University of Chicago, about her latest book, Against Healing: Nine Korean Poets—a tiny anthology of translations just out from Axis Press as part of a series on “Translating Feminisms.” Our conversation began by considering two related statements Yoon makes […]

The Divine Spark Can Be Found in the Embrace of Imperfection | A Conversation with Wendy Chin-Tanner

In this interview, James Shaw discusses with Wendy Chin-Tanner her brand-new book of poems, Anyone Will Tell You. Their conversation covers fertility and infertility, motherhood, and the struggle of two miscarriages. They also unpack how Chin-Tanner’s experience writing a graphic novel influences her poetry, the role of nature in poetry, the practicing of keeping a […]

The Last Jew in Afghanistan | A Conversation with M.E. Silverman

In this interview, Andrew Gillis asks the poet M.E. Silverman (@MESilverman_BLP and Blue Lyra Press) about his most recent book, The Floating Door, particularly regarding Silverman’s fascination with Zablon Simintov of Afghanistan, the thought process behind choices he made in his poetry, and how Jewish life in America compares to Jewish life in Afghanistan. Silverman also […]

English Majors Get Jobs

“My Passion for Literature Succumbed to Reality,” writes Bianca Vivion Brooks in an op-ed in The New York Times. While Brooks loves majoring in English—the reading, the writing, the thinking, the discussions—her family sacrificed for her to go to college and count on her to help out after graduating. She needs a decent, steady income. […]

The Many Places of Poetry | A Conversation with Ravi Shankar and Lisa Pegram

Ravi Shankar’s just-published book The Many Uses of Mint presents new and selected poems from twenty years of his writing, including from the Norton anthology he co-edited Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond. The poet Lisa Pegram and I recently sat down with Ravi over video chat to […]

Citing Louise Rosenblatt

I am writing an essay that celebrates the groundbreaking work of the late Robert Scholes (1929-2016), one of my favorite literary and pedagogical scholars, whose books, especially The Rise and Fall of English (1998) and The Crafty Reader (2001), influenced me a great deal during graduate school and continue to influence me to this day. But as […]

Race, Craft, and Creative Writing | A Conversation with David Mura

In the video below, I sit down with David Mura—teacher of creative writing and author of at least ten books of poetry, fiction, memoir, and craft criticism—to discuss his new book: A Stranger’s Journey: Race, Identity, and Narrative Craft in Writing. In both the book and our conversation, Mura speaks with insight, clarity, and grace on: […]

Democracy Is Worth a Good Argument | A Conversation with Patricia Roberts-Miller

In the video below, I chat with Patricia Roberts-Miller, PhD, about her recent book Demagoguery and Democracy. Although as a scholar of rhetoric or specifically “of train wrecks in public deliberation,” Roberts-Miller has written a number of academic tomes (and in fact has a scholarly version of this one forthcoming), she wrote this as a little […]

An Experiment in Deep Reading, by Shanoya Murphy

Corrigan’s Editorial Note: In my English Composition I course, I have started asking students to experiment with how they read, first reading a book (James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time) as they usually would, then rereading that same book while trying out my advice for how to read deeply, then writing a comparison and contrast essay […]

Choreographing Borges, by Kylei Strahan

Corrigan’s Editorial Note: My World Literature course asks students to find creative, meditative ways of working with texts from around the globe. In fall 2017, Kylei Strahan took Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Garden of Forking Path”—a fascinating, bizarre, deeply multicultural text, written by an Argentine writer, set in the UK, revolving around a location in France, […]

Photo of money by Marc Brakels (CC BY-NC-ND 2010)

Want a Job with that English Degree?

If you want to major in English, you might feel some pressure. Folks might warn you against it. Folks might tell you that you can’t get a job with an English degree, might advise you that a “practical” degree is the safe bet in a rough economy, might crack jokes about you working at Starbucks while writing a novel in your […]

World Literature in Watercolor, by Jamie Weston

Corrigan’s Editorial Notes: In my World Literature course, I invite students to practice reflective, meditative, contemplative ways of reading. The idea is to slow down, pay attention, and listen. A wide range of creative responses lend themselves to this work, including painting (which I’ve written about). The time spent painting in response to a text […]

What I Learned from My “Liberal” Arts Education, by Emilee Rosell

Corrigan’s Editorial Note: Emilee Rosell took her very first (English Composition II) and very last (World Literature) college classes with me as her professor. She’s now graduated with a BA in English. In this reflection essay, she looks back on what she learned in that last class, and throughout college. I cannot say how inspired and encouraged I […]

A White Person on White Privilege

My friend and former student Danielle Bonilla asked me for my take on “white privilege.” This phrase, which Peggy McIntosh famously unpacked in her 1989 essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,”  has received a lot of attention lately, positive and negative. In this post, with Danielle’s permission, here are her questions and my responses. What is your perspective on white privilege? “White privilege” is […]

Race & Justice: A Primer on Key Terms

“ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” —James Baldwin #‎Racism‬ – When your society divides people into “races” based on arbitrary factors like skin color or ancestry and ascribes different worth to the different groups ‪#‎Prejudice‬ – When you have negative thoughts or feelings toward people of another race or ethnicity […]

Visual Interpretations of Okada and Steinbeck, by Raeanne Watkins

Corrigan’s Editorial Note: In U.S. Literature in Spring 2015, Raeanne Watkins created the following images in response to John Okada’s No-No Boy and John Steinbeck’s The Pearl. Okada describes experiences of Japanese Americans after the WWII internment, while Steinbeck offers a parable, set in Mexico, about poverty and wealth. I find Ms. Watkins’ images striking on their […]

Sculpture Angel of the Waters by Emma Stebbins (1873); photo by Ahodges7 (2008).

The Postsecular and Literature

A review of scholarship. by Paul T. Corrigan 1. Introduction In late modernity and postmodernity, many aspects of traditional religion have become intellectually and morally untenable. Among the most pressing of these are the patriarchy, homophobia, and antisciencism that so often come with traditional religion. At the same time, however, many contemporary writers, religious and nonreligious, […]

Sculpture of Enée et Anchise by Pierre Lepautre (1697), Photo by Miniwark (2006)

Literature of Exile

Many people do not realize that Jesus was quoting directly from the Book of Leviticus when he said to love one’s neighbors as oneself. This context lends an important layer of meaning to his words. Often his saying is reduced to an encouragement to “be nice” to others. While not a bad admonish as far as it goes, that interpretation […]

Watercolor of Ephemera Vulgate, Katherine Plymley, 1805.

William Bartram Contemplates Ephemera

William Bartram—the naturalist who effectively missed the American Revolution because from 1774-1777 he left his home in Pennsylvania and traveled through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida—had a vast knowledge of ecology, including plants, animals, soil, landforms, and weather, which he demonstrates in his book on that expedition, commonly known simply as his Travels. If the glossary in the Library of […]