"A Childish Prank"
I've found Ted Hughes' "A Childish Prank" to be a wonderful poem to introduce on the first day of a gen ed lit class. The language is straightforward. The context (a subversion of the Genesis creation story) is recognizable and resonant. Some of the suggestions (that men and women are not in control of their biological sexual urges) are always entertaining to college students (as is the suggestion of genitals as the writhing halves of a worm desperate to join back together). I think it really shows students what we can do when we're reading literature.
I put it on an overhead, read it through once, and then ask students to share any thoughts they have on it. Sometimes I ask follow-up questions, or re-phrase (a habit I should try break--or at least tone down--this semester) and add commentary. But I think it really shows students that literature can be fun, it is in their grasp, and in this class, I want to turn it over to them to give their ideas (we embrace Reader-response theory as a pedagogy).
If you notice (I know you don't), I've been adding a lot of links to this blog. I'll keep seeking out new links.
William Grimes reviews The Logic of Life, by Tim Harford, a "a devotee of rational-choice theory," the belief that "Human beings are rational creatures who respond to incentives and rewards. No matter how bizarre a choice might seem, there is logic at work." Of course you know I think it takes quite an assumption to think humans generally act rationally.
Robert Fulford describes the benefits of a life devoted to appreciating art and literature (via Arts & Letters Daily).
David Oshinsky reminds us that no, Joseph McCarthy wasn't doing good.
We've all been there, man. We've all been there (The Onion). But this one is making me laugh out loud (The Onion, again).