(Published in 2021)
Teaching Jane Austen to high school homeschoolers is a delightful and enlivening experience. In addition to eagerness and enthusiasm, the students bring hearts relatively free of suspicion and agendas. They do not come determined to read post-Christian sensibilities into emphatically Christian texts. I do find, however, that some time must be devoted to negotiating deeply-infused egalitarian principles. We cannot merely dismiss the social hierarchy of Regency-era England as “un-American”; we must be able to recognize the way in which the society worked and, to the best of our abilities, value all that is good in its structure. Jane Austen’s Christian Aristotelianism demands that the hierarchy operates on terms of responsibility and virtuous relationship...
(Published in 2018)
As our neighborhood fills with jack-o-lanterns, ghosts and even a creepy graveyard, “teen vampire lit” conversations aren’t far behind. “Have you read the Twilight books?” “What do you think of the Vampire Diaries series?” These are two shy questions I hear often from high schoolers to the tune of giggles in the background from other girls. I do try to be diplomatic in my response. But as a reader, writer and teacher, I find nearly every modern representation of the vampire nauseating and lame. Even full of novacaine, I’d find Bela Lugosi’s Dracula more interesting than Edward Cullen...
(Published in 2009)
Poets, as a class, are business men. Shakespeare describes the poet’s eye as rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven, and giving to airy nothing a local habitation and a name, but in practice you will find that one corner of that eye is generally glued on the royalty returns. –P. G. Wodehouse
Everybody–and his Aunt Nellie–has a novel stashed in a desk somewhere. Most of them are pretty dreadful, some are rather good, and a few are moderately brilliant. Nearly all of them will never be published and those that are will not necessarily include the good or the brilliant...
(Published in 2009)
From Disney movies to the most recent bestseller, children are born to escape the confines of familial failure. No hero is worth his salt unless and until he casts off the shackles of parental mismanagement. Or so we are often told. Traditionally, the trajectory of the heroic quest has been the . . .
(Published in 2008)
In November 2007, the National Endowment for the Arts published a report titled To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence . Building on its earlier research, in Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America (2004), the 2007 report provided, in the words of NEA chairman . . . .