Literature: Why It Matters

by Pascal Porcheron

It’s September 2006 and the author of this piece is sitting in their first Literature class. The professor begins the class by asking us, ‘why are you here? What’s the point of studying Literature?’ Chaos ensues, as we soon discover that we have never interrogated the ‘why’—we … Read More

What is the History of Emotions?

By Barbara H. Rosenwein and Riccardo Cristiani

Aren’t emotions the same now as they have always been? Weren’t they hardwired in us from the Stone Age on? The answer to both questions is a simple No. Psychologists, neuropsychologists, historians, and sociologists are increasingly recognizing the mutability of human emotional life. … Read More

The twin tales of Russian history

Studying imperial Russia, scholars have produced two stories. One concerns a great country that competes successfully, though unevenly, with other European powers, produces brilliant literature, and stages unprecedented social experiments. The other story is one of economic backwardness, unbridled violence, misery, illiteracy, despair, and collapse. I subscribe to both of … Read More

What is politically and artistically unique about France’s stellar writers?

Alison Finch, author of French Literature, posts on the relationship between writing and power.

I’ve always been keenly interested in both politics and literature. But when I was an undergraduate studying French literature at Cambridge, these two passions were in separate parts of my life. I was active in student … Read More