Songes and sonnettes

In The Merry Wives of Windsor the uninspiring suitor Slender is planning his courtship of Anne Page. He calls for a particular book: “I had rather than forty shillings I had my book of Songs and Sonnets here”. He refers to the book most often known now as “Tottel’s Miscellany”. While its invocation here allows … Read more

Keeping it real

Modern times are, for medievalists, difficult times. A few months ago, a book was published called The Bright Ages: A new history of medieval Europe. Its authors, Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry, set out their stall at once: “Our story is one that escapes the myth of the ‘Dark Ages’ … Shifting our perspective … Read more

The rest of the iceberg

There are many myths about writing. One is that the main challenge is to put words together in a way that is both beautiful and grammatically correct. A variation of this myth is that writing is primarily about plot, or argument, or form, or some easily discernible element of the final work. Focusing on the … Read more

Bennett and Woolf

Margaret Drabble says that “the question of class is at the heart of the opposition of [Virginia] Woolf and [Arnold] Bennett, and it has little to do with feminism” (May 13), and this might well seem so to any reader of the well-known essay “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown”, with its certainly “embarrassing” portrait of … Read more

Five Things I learned from being a COVID-forged Youth Librarian

Just like every Thursday, 10:00am finds me getting ready for storytime. I’m probably practicing a new fingerplay or song I’ve just learned—maybe a new variation of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, perhaps accompanied by some American Sign Language. I’m definitely re-reading the book I’ve decided for the day, trying to memorize where I want to pause … Read more

In Search of Autistic Representation in Children’s Literature

Try this when you’ve got a spare ten minutes: open up your library’s catalog and search for “autism.” Imagine that you are autistic (if you aren’t), and you’re looking for books about people like you. What kind of books do you see? How easy is it for you to find positive autistic representation in your … Read more

Edward Said: The condition of exile

Edward W. Said was a linguistic virtuoso, and his theory of Orientalism is far too erudite, complex and nuanced for shorthand definitions. He wrote contrapuntally, thought in long circles and connected seemingly dissonant events, and so any brief account of his oeuvre is bound to fall short. In his magnum opus, Orientalism (1978), Said fused … Read more

Let’s Talk: Philly DA – Blog

Philadelphians, we need to talk! Join your neighbors at eight Free Library of Philadelphia libraries between May 23 and June 30th, to watch and discuss individual episodes of the award winning PBS documentary series Philly DA. We seek to learn from you, and from each other the answers to several pressing questions. Do you and … Read more