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Literary Links

The Writers Who Went Undercover to Show America Its Ugly Side

“In the 1940s, a series of books tried to use the conventions of detective fiction to expose the degree of prejudice in postwar America.”

A history lesson from The Atlantic:

In the years during and after World War II, the battle against fascism spread to an unanticipated front line: the national conscience of the United States. The warriors in this fight, many of them Black and Jewish veterans of combat abroad, insisted that America confront and rectify its homegrown racial hierarchy and religious intolerance. . . . The seeds of what would eventually become the civil-rights movement included not only mass protest and political mobilization but a wide array of cultural and artistic expressions. Some of them . . . sought nothing less than a redefinition of American identity that would embrace racial and religious minorities.

In this article Samuel G. Freedman focuses on the use of a particular book format: “All of them, whether fictional or factual, employed the identical device of a writer going undercover to discover and expose the bigoted netherworld of white Christian America.”

Categories: Literary History, Literature & Culture

Writers Where They Work

“Bookshelves, typewriters, pills and booze: Writing spaces can evoke romance, glamour and despair at once.”

Photos of the work spaces of Helen Gurley Brown, Tennessee Williams, Richard Wright, and William S. Burroughs.

Categories: Author News, Literary History

Why Baby Boomers Love the Kindle—and Millennials Don’t

Another look at the seemingly endless question of which is better, print book or ereader? Perri Ormont Blumberg discusses the issue in the Wall Street Journal: “I, a millennial, can’t get enough of hard copies, while my baby boomer dad is enamored with his Kindle Paperwhite (from $140), which uses a unique no-glare lighting system to replicate a traditional reading experience more closely than a phone or tablet.”

Categories: Ebooks, Reading

The best ereader for 2023: top ebook readers for all budgets

While we’re on the subject of ereaders, in TechRadar Sharmishta Sarkar explains that choosing one may be more complicated than we might think. She offers both general discussion and specific analysis of several ereaders in various price ranges to help potential buyers make the best decision for themselves.

Categories: Ebooks, Reading

Collective events and individual affect shape autobiographical memory

This is a long article in a scientific research journal. I don’t imagine you’ll be interested in the whole thing, but you might find the first two short sections (Significance and Abstract) interesting. The research behind this article examined how memories of experiences “not only define historical narrative but our personal life stories as well.” 

The study covers peoples’ memories of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020. How do your memories of that time correspond with the researchers’ findings?

Categories: Life Stories in Literature

A Sort of Buzzing Inside My Head

“Whether ChatGPT passes the Turing Test is a less troubling question than what Alan Turing meant by ‘intelligence.’”

Jessica Riskin, professor of history at Stanford University, considers how ChatGPT, the most prevalant current expression of artificial intelligence (AI), is “utterly unlike” the concept of AI defined by Alan Turing in his 1950 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” 

Riskin’s discussion includes some interesting examples of AI-produced responses to prompts.

Categories: Literary History, Writing

How to grow a human

“Our childhood is preposterously long compared to other animals. Is it the secret to our evolutionary success?”

decorative plate that says "Home is where your story begins"

Since childhood provides the basis on which our life stories begin to develop, this article is basic to the study of Life Stories in Literature.

Category: Life Stories in Literature

Authors call for AI companies to stop using their work without consent

“Margaret Atwood, Viet Thanh Nguyen and 8,000 others have signed an open letter asking that permission is obtained and compensation given when a writer’s work is used by AI”

Categories: Author News, Writing

10 Thought-Provoking Novels About Artificial Intelligence

“Here are 10 novels and novellas about AI—some that take an optimistic outlook, others that are decidedly more pessimistic.”

Lorna Wallace looks to fiction to explore the significance of artificial intelligence, from Isaac Asimov’s foundational 1950 collection of short stories I, Robot to Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2021 novel Klara and the Sun.

Categories: Book Recommendations, Reading

© 2023 by Mary Daniels Brown

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