In Which, Gentle Reader, Nothing I Say is Safe for Work

In Which, Gentle Reader, Nothing I Say is Safe for Work

Seriously. This blog is written by someone who was recently told that all her Facebook status updates sound like raunchy double entendres and who has made a room full of economists blush by giving a paper about early modern recoinage poetry. You have been warned. So, a couple of very very funny women have made a very very funny video over at Funny or Die called Republicans, Get in My Vagina, the central theme of which is nicely outlined by the following bit of the script: I don’t want government in my banks. I don’t want government in my classrooms. Where do I want government? In my vagina! Way way deep, up up there in my vagina. In my mother’s vagina. In my daughter’s vagina. In my great-grandmother’s vagina. The video goes on to...

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I Do Solemnly Swear. Or Maybe I Just Swear, Dammit.

So apparently yesterday was proclaimed “Loyalty Day” here in the United States of America. We are, so I gather, meant to “rededicate ourselves to the common good, to the cornerstones of liberty, equality, and justice, and to the unending pursuit of a more perfect Union.” While I deeply appreciate the sophisticated use of the nested Oxford commas there, you’re going to have to forgive me if I decline to proclaim my loyalty and if, in truth, the whole notion of doing so makes me distinctly queasy. The time and place that I study–early modern England–is rife with loyalty oaths, and oaths of allegiance, and homilies on obedience. Henry VIII started a vogue for Oaths of Supremacy when he established himself as the head of the...

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Good Learning as Well as Travel is a Great Antidote Against the Plague of Tyranny

It’s not quite April, but you can feel it coming. That means, for academics all over the world, it’s time to travel. I was in France last week, am headed to Las Vegas this weekend, and then to Washington, DC the week after that. Everywhere you go, the professors are packing, complaining about the cost of airport coffee, and ostentatiously reading highly technical literature from the most obscure field they can find in hopes of impressing the flight attendants. It’s conference season. Academic conferences are a mystery to those who’ve never been. Happily, a benevolent universe has given us David Lodge, who described them hilariously and accurately in Small World, which if you haven’t read, go get it and take it to your next conference. Anyway,...

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Poems for People who Hate Poetry, Part V

Poems for People who Hate Poetry, Part V

So here is today’s comic at Girls With Slingshots (Warning: while the specific comic reproduced here is completely SFW, the site sometimes isn’t. This is, of course, one of the reasons I love it. But I thought I should warn you before you click.) I do love open-mic night humor. And all that snapping, by the way? That’s not just because we’re so pretentious it hurts to be us, it’s also so we don’t have to put our drinks down, people. Funny comic. Really funny comic. Really funny comic…BUT… One of the challenges for poets is dealing with the inchoate human response to grief. What do you do if–as a poet–your primary way of understanding  the world is through writing about it, through forcing your howls of...

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Poems for People who Hate Poetry–Part IV

Poems for People who Hate Poetry–Part IV

Everyone recovered from Valentine’s Day by now? It’s a little more than a week later, so the chocolate should be eaten, the cards tucked carefully away (or tossed out if you aren’t a sentimentalist) and even the more cantankerous among us have probably ceased griping about the commercial aspects of the holiday. Good. Because today we’re going to talk about love poetry. I know. Love poetry, like candy hearts, makes you want to vomit. (It would make me vomit too, if my inner child weren’t a permanently swoony 15 year old. It’s a curse.) Love poetry is probably (aside from poems about babies or spring) the reason you most hate poetry. It’s just so…drippy.  It’s not surprising. Love poetry has some built-in...

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Sometimes It’s Okay to Just Chill

A few years ago I had the pleasure of being seated next to a Nobel Prize winning economist during dinner. We spent the evening talking about fishing and about our gardens. If we talked about econ at all, I don’t remember it. Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “What a wasted opportunity!! Why didn’t Sarah talk about economics or politics? Or find out more about his work? Or tell him all about hers? Why didn’t she, you know, network a little?” I could have. I certainly do plenty of that kind of thing as part of my job. I enjoy it. It’s fun to play a little inside baseball when the opportunity arises, and there’s a lot of pleasure and usefulness in exploring ideas and opinions with other smart...

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Et in Arcadia

My friend Steve and I were recently griping about our least- favorite cliches, as one does. He mentioned that he’s driven batty by the romanticization of the past. You know, the folks like Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen who list all the horrors of their past and complacently remind one another that, “We were poor..but we were happy….Nah, we were happy because we were poor.” Despite my not-so-secret fondness for stuff in the “Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, swishing petticoats, opera gloves, and oh my god the hats” genre, I’m with Steve on this, particularly as it applies to thinking about progress and human flourishing. It’s true that Samuel Pepys had a rich and interesting life in 17th century in London...

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