The 10 Best Literature Blog Posts of 2021


This year on OUPblog, our authors have marked major birthdays, championed activism, confronted anti-Semitism, shattered stereotypes and sought to understand our post-pandemic world through literature. Dive into the top 10 literary blog posts of the year on the OUPblog:

1. The real scandal of Dante’s Beatrice

2021 marked the 700th anniversary of the death of poet Dante Alighieri. To mark this, we asked some of our authors to write for the OUP blog on Dante. In this blog, Martin Eisner, author of The New Life of Dante’s Book: A Philology of World Literature, explores Dante’s deification of a mortal woman, with specific reference to Dante’s Beatrice new life (Vita nuova).

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2. Shakespeare and the sciences of emotion

What role should literature have in the interdisciplinary study of emotion? The dominant answer today seems to be “not much”. Literature researchers write about emotion of course, but the fundamental questions about what emotion is and how it works belong to other fields: psychology, cognitive science, neurophysiology, philosophy. spirit. In Shakespeare’s day, the picture was different. What the time called the “passions” were material for ethics and for that part of natural philosophy dealing with the soul; but it was rhetoric which offered the most extensive accounts of the passions.

Explore the science of emotion with Benedict S. Robinson, author of Fictions of passion from Shakespeare to Richardson.

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3. Extraordinary times: revisiting the familiar through the novels of Marilynne Robinson

“When I read Marilynne Robinson’s first novel, Housekeeping, in college, its lyrical beauty fascinated me. In this OUPblog article, Laura E. Tanner, author of The elusive everyday life in Marilynne Robinson’s fiction, explores the American writer’s ability to transform the ordinary world into something extraordinary, as a way to begin to understand post-pandemic life.

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4. Fragmentology: pieces of books and medieval manuscript

There are so many manuscript fragments that a new term – fragmentation – has recently been applied to the study of these parts and plots. Librarians, archivists, and academics pay more attention to what can be learned about textual culture from a folio, for example, a 12th-century manuscript and later used by a bookbinder to line the oak planks of a 15th century book.

Explore what fragmentation can teach us about medieval conceptions of literature and art with Elaine Treharne, author of Perceptions of Medieval Manuscripts: The Phenomenal Book.

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5. Six Oxford World’s Classics Summer Readings

Wherever you are in the world, soaking up the summer sun or counting the days until it reappears, lose yourself in the worlds of Jane Austen, George Elliot, Jonathan Swift and more with these six novels classics selected for our summer readings series.

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6. The Spanish Civil War: a nostalgia for hope

The summer of 2021 marked the 85th anniversary of the start of the Spanish Civil War, a brutal struggle that began with a military uprising against the Second Democratic Republic and ended, three years later, with the victory of General’s rebels. Francisco Franco. The lasting fascination of this conflict, its ability to capture the world’s imagination, belies its geographic scale and testifies to the power of art.

Learn more in this blog post from Kathleen Riley, author of Imagine Ithaca: nostos and nostalgia since the Great War.

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7. What does it mean to think of the world “like a Jew”?

Anti-Semitism is increasingly making headlines, from reports of violent incidents directly targeting Jews to the growing importance of ethnonationalist discourse that frequently uses Jewish stereotypes. This rise of anti-Judaism includes a renewed attention to the medieval image of the wandering Jew, translated into contemporary language by the term “globalism”. It would be tempting to dismiss such ideas as misinformed distortions of Jewish culture and history. It may be helpful then to think with the stereotype rather than against it. What does it mean to think of the world “like a Jew”?

Explore what a vocabulary of Jewish worldliness might reveal about the world present with Saul Noam Zaritt, author of American Jewish Writing and World Literature.

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8. Whitman and America to Come: Reconceptualizing a Multiracial Democracy

In this OUPblog article, Kenneth M. Price, author of Whitman in Washington, explores American poet Walt Whitman and what often seemed to many to be a loss of Whitman’s early political and poetic radicalism after the war, and how this can best be understood as his own effort to reconceptualize a multiracial democracy.

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9. Adapt Shakespeare: Breaking down stereotypes of Asian women on stage and on screen

There has always been a certain affinity between submissive Ophelia and East Asian women. Ophelia is a paradox in world literature. Even when she seems to depend on others for her thoughts like her Western counterpart, the Ophelia in Asian Adaptations adopt rhetorical strategies to be heard, oscillating between eloquence and silence, shattering stereotypes about submissive Asian women.

Read the blog post of Alexa Alice Joubin, author of Shakespeare and East Asia.

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10. Lyricism as Activism: Sigurd Olson and The Singing Wilderness

Placing the reader in the poetic and ethical space is the first step towards direct action that affects the larger human community: a step towards activism. Activism formalizes the values ​​that ultimately inspire and guide our will – and our action – to preserve and protect. By opening up new worlds, other spaces, and creating experiences for the reader – and, most importantly, letting the reader explore these worlds for themselves or for themselves – the lyricist has the opportunity to create a protected area. for meaningful communication.

Read the blog post from Carmen Bugan, author of Poetry and the Language of Oppression: Essays on Politics and Poetics.

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