≡ Menu

Annie Murphy

Romney, from a teacher’s perspective

Here is an example of something I do in my classroom, room 209, when conflict arises, which it inevitably does when almost thirty teenagers remain in a room with four walls, one of which is less than functional as a wall, for ninety minute periods. This is the scenario: A student thinks that she should [...]

The urge to write meets the blue day

“The urge to convert experience into a group of words that are in a grammatical relation to one another is the most basic, ongoing impulse of my life. It is a habit of antiphony: of call and response.” – Jhumpa Lahiri, “My Life’s Sentences,” NYT 3.18.12 Perhaps it is presumptuous to agree with the eloquent words [...]

Oedipus & Jury duty

I am a high school English teacher. I have missed over a week of school due to jury duty at the DC Superior Court. What follows is an open letter to my ninth-grade world literature students.  Dear students, I have missed you. While you have begun to consider issues of crime and punishment, and those of fate [...]

Antioxidants and Great House

“Great Grapes: Score another point for resveratrol, the antioxidant found in red grapes and red wine. Basque researchers have shown that, in mice and men, it blocks lipid accumulation …” (48 Psychology Today 7-8/11). Is this literary ? Something about it struck me. I wondered why readers of Psychology Today would notice and/or find interesting [...]

Unreliability Across Oceans: Miroslav Penkov’s debut story collection, East of the West Generally speaking, unreliable narrators tend to stump student readers, naïve and experienced alike. While bookworms notice implicit characterization, ponder subtle themes, and discern the meaning of motifs, they often believe they can trust a story’s narrator. In the two times that I have taught [...]

Starting out

Yesterday, the Summer Fiction Issue of the New Yorker arrived. I think I may have squealed. The table of contents listed the nonfiction of Jhumpa Lahiri and Aleksandar Hemon and Vladimir Nabokov; essays on “Starting Out,” or becoming a writer, by Jennifer Egan, Junot Diaz, Edward P. Jones, and Tea Obreht; and the fiction of [...]

“Feeling postcolonial?”

That’s how my professor of Postcolonial Studies began each class last fall. I’m not especially sure how we would feel postcolonial—in fact, a lot of people would say that a group of graduate students at an elite university couldn’t come close to feeling what it’s like be a citizen of a postcolonial nation. Yet I think [...]

If a tree falls in the forest …

I wrote something potentially (academically) dangerous earlier: “If a professor speaks and if nobody listens, did the professor speak?” I didn’t intend this as a condemnation of professors; quite the opposite, I hoped pull in the common adage, “If a tree falls in a forest …” to illustrate the disconnection between the so-called ivory tower [...]

Reaction to a reaction to a reaction

Although I generally do not like to hear pop stars’ opinions on politics, or politicians’ opinions about pop culture—the operative principle being, “if you don’t have anything informed to say, don’t say anything at all”—I’m going to stretch (and/or violate, depending on your perspective of my perspective) that norm. That is, as a student of [...]

The sour apple

The irony is no longer lost on me. I am returning from a Comparative Literature conference in New York City on the topic of irony, and I have just realized that I’ve analyzed the city from the outside; I have the mindset of a Southerner-turned-Washingtonian, studying New York City as if I were an anthropologist [...]

A misplaced medias

While attending the Association of Writers and Writing Programs 2011 conference in Washington, DC, I grew angry at the commercialization of—like everything else—literature, the fetishization of creative writing, and the vitriol between creative writers and scholarly writers. I consider myself a member of the l atter group, primarily because I am currently enrolled in an [...]