Category: Literature

Developing an Ecological Orientation Through the Narrative Imagination

For the last several weeks I have been trying to develop an ecological orientation through the narrative imagination. By ecological orientation, I mean “a new consciousness of the country” or “a new relation to it,” as the narrator of O...

/ July 22, 2010

Crazy Ivar: Walking Gently on the Earth

A Meditation on Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! Shortly after the death of Nebraska pioneer John Bergson, his children––Alexandra, Lou, Oscar, and Emil––go on a “pleasure excursion” to buy a hammock from Crazy Ivar, who obtained the name from his hermetic...

/ July 9, 2010

“Her eyes drank in the breadth of it”: a phenomenology of receiving the land

Here I am again at the writer’s desk with a tall glass of lemonade, ready to analyze two passages that invoke “the Genius” of the land in Willa Cather’s novel O Pioneers! In the first passage, we witness the retrospective...

/ July 7, 2010

The same old New World?

Since the discovery of the American continent, Europeans saw the land I call home as the objectification of Nature, good and bad.  Coming to a relatively unpopulated region, the European explorers, settlers, and thinkers were faced with a lot empty...

/ June 30, 2010

The Genius of the Land

In my first post on O Pioneers! I mistakenly drew a historical contrast between the modern project of “marking on the land” and a postmodern project of “being marked by the land.” This contrast is too neat and tidy. As...

/ June 24, 2010

Hamlet on Embodiment

Tonight I enjoyed some of the best free Shakespeare I’ve ever seen, and one of the most difficult plays to pull of well, too.  It’s long, it’s brooding, and the over-acting potential is through the roof. Especially in the final scene...

/ June 4, 2010

Shakespeare the Chaste Christian

The case for Shakespeare’s Catholicism may be a bit shaky, but Anthony Esolen recently made a compelling case that the Christian virtue of chastity is indispensable for understanding his plays. He writes: There is an abundance of evidence to show that Shakespeare...

/ May 24, 2010

Italian Sonnet

I AM, the holy smoking fire, Burns bright on Sinai’s awful height; And tremors from His words of might Split wide the earth and shake the pyre Where goat and bull and Self perspire: Vain off’rings for the King of...

/ April 28, 2010

Soils for the Seeds of Doctrine: Chesterton’s Orthodoxy as the Antidote to Modernity

I have always thought that every academic–or wannabe, like me–ought have one or two hypotheses that are held very loosely, are somewhat defensible but impossible to prove, and just fringe enough to make academic parties interesting. One such hypothesis that...

/ March 7, 2010

Old and Relevant: Plato's Anthropological Principle

Perhaps the most famous dialogue penned by Plato is his far-reaching Republic.  In this work he addresses the popular philosophy of his day—a philosophy that was promulgated by a group of teachers known to us as Sophists.  The Sophists were...

/ February 17, 2010