Walking in Alabama: Enclosure and In-Between-ness

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This spring, I gave a paper at the British Women Writer’s Conference in Auburn, Alabama. Alabama has been in the news a lot lately, but I was there to think about women and legal rights in the nineteenth century, not the twenty-first. My paper was on walking in Anne Brontë’s 1848 novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. That sounds strange: to write about walking in a novel. Walking is just something people tend to do,…

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Toddlers in Court: 21st c. Family Separation & 19th c. Charles Dickens

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I’m immersed in two books right now, both by Charles Dickens. I’m rereading Bleak House (1852-53) and during some long car trips this summer, I’ve been listening to David Copperfield (1849-50). I’ve read these works before, but each time I re-enter their worlds, I feel they are new. Because I write about law and literature in the nineteenth century, I spend a lot of time, perhaps an inordinate amount of time, thinking about the relationship between individuals…

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Time to be Heroes Again: What Media Teaches us (and We Teach It) About Our Values

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I grew up loving my country. I loved the traditions, and the landscapes and the values: knowing that we were the “good guys.” I loved that we, as a nation, would do the right thing, even if it was the harder thing. ’Cause we were the good guys! Remember?   And what was the right thing? Well…..to value people over money. To take care of the weak. To defend honesty and decency. To give everybody…

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“Other people’s babies,” The Humanities, and Responses to White Nationalism

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This past weekend, Represenative Steve King (R-Iowa), tweeted his support for the far-right Dutch politician, Geert Wilders. Wilders is openly anti-Islamic, and has argued that mosques should be closed and the Koran should be banned in the Netherlands. King wished Wilders good luck in the election in the Netherlands, but he said more than that when doing so. In his most recent tweet, King stated that “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny” and…

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