4 Poems by Osip Mandelstam


Over the next several weeks Rutgers's James McGavran will be joining us to share his translations of major Russian poets.  Today we begin our new poetry series with the work of Osip Mandelstam. Undoubtedly one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938) was born in Warsaw but grew up in St. Petersburg. Early in his career he was a founding member of the Acmeist school of poets that also included Anna Akhmatova and Nikolai Gumilyov; Mandelstam’s first collection of poems, Stone (1913), brought him instant recognition as one of the most talented writers of the younger generation. Further collections followed in the early 1920s, as Mandelstam’s style became more and … [Read more...]

Using Science Fiction to Teach History (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Distant Future)


I have been reluctant to use fiction in my courses.  This is despite the fact that my own high school and college educations introduced me to most of the fiction I know; as a recalcitrant and noncommittal reader of non-nonfiction, I still find it difficult to get through even the best literary prose.  But the diminutive and terrifying Sharia Isenhour got me to read Crime and Punishment and Cry the Beloved Country in 10th grade—this was a woman who was utterly distinguished by a mien somewhere between drill sergeant and Communist re-educator. My college courses, at a public university not much different from the one where I currently teach, demanded an ambitious diet of literature; at UNCC, … [Read more...]

Apocalypse on the Lower East Side: Zone One Zombies

zombie nurse on parade

I am sick of zombies. Once upon a time, I had a Dawn of the Dead poster hanging on my apartment wall and would watch Shaun of the Dead a half-dozen times. Zombies had their own little corner in my pop-culture collective.  Not a big one, but enough real estate in my heart that if I stumbled upon a late night film featuring a shambling, half-rotted actor in search of “braaaainnns” and clunky social commentary, I might have settled in for the duration. It’s amazing how fast we can ruin these things for ourselves. This year’s zeitgeist has decided that zombies are the new thing for 2012, and they are everywhere.  In fact, it seems all the things I used to love are “cool” now; like an … [Read more...]


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