Literary News

Literary News2023

Some Best-of-the-Best Videos
Shakespeare & August Wilson Videos

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Julius Caesar.Italian prisoners Salvatore Striano (as Brutus) and Cosimo Rega (Cassius) rehearse Act 1, Sc. 2. English subtitles.

Macbeth. An audio rendition, this much-lauded version of the full play follows Paul Scofield and Peggy Ashcroft as the Macbeths, from the couple's joint rise to their individual downfalls.

Romeo and Juliet.
In 2020 (during Covid), Cassia Thompson evinces misery as lovestruck Juliet (Act 2, Sc. 2). Wracked by their families' rivalry, she expounds on Romeo's surname.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. In a stellar performance, Chadwick Boseman, as trumpeter Levee, lashes out when others in the band rib him about kowtowing to white management.

Fences. Rose (Viola Davis), wife of Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington), discovers that he has fathered a child with another woman.

For more by these writers, see Video Library.

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See also the spoken-word poems on Page 2.



English Studies and the Literary Canon: Vital or Not?

Market realities. English studies are in peril. Statistics, pre-eminent today, tell us so. Witness the precipitous decline, says Nathan Heller (New Yorker, 6 March 2023) in undergrads who major in English at U.S. universities. From Arizona State to Harvard U, the number has plunged by two thirds in the last ten years. Yes, the decline has much to do with present-day society's preoccupation with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the sentiment that English is far from a desirable career path in our market-oriented, skills-focused world. Even literature-loving undergrads, reports Heller, regard majoring in English as something of a "joke." But here's a flash for us: the sentiment belies the truth.

An October 2022 AACU* survey of employers (in banking, manufacturing, health care, construction) testifies to the high premium they place on proficiencies cultivated in English and the other liberal arts: critical thinking, problem solving, verbal and written communication. To employers, these higher-ed takeaways are prized business/career skills, foundational for occupational success. Much needed also are 1) training for teamwork and 2) internship or prepratory work experience—two deficiencies, the employers say, in many prospective hires. Still, the job market covets English majors. The conviction that it does not is illusory.

The canon controversy. A second issue factors into the decline noted above:


*AACU American Association of Colleges and Universities.

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