From CLR, Julia Braun Kessler on Manhattan, school for scriveners. What's in a name: Literary history could have been dramatically different if some classics had been published under their working titles. Here's an annotated list of 61 essential postmodern reads. With book tours mostly a thing of the past, the only folks who will be going out on tour are the most famous authors — the ones who hate book tours. Literary Death Match is a kind of X-Factor for books, the latest American cultural import, driven by a really refreshing optimism. Mono-highbrow: The Norton Anthology of World Literature: The Twentieth Century is not bad, no worse than the others — the problem is the century itself, anyway, not the anthology. Titles within a tale: Novelists who invent fictional novels — with their own obsessive readers — may be making a hedge against oblivion. A posthumous dispute over a writer’s legacy: A battle over the estate of the Hungarian playwright and novelist Ferenc Molnar spans generations, continents, religions and sensibilities. Julian Baggini meets the debut philosophical novelist Lucy Eyre. A Lost Art: What happened to Christian literature? The Untouchables: Antoni Cimolino on why it's blasphemous to alter Shakespeare's words for a modern audience.
From PopMatters, the dimestore novels of the '50s and '60s helped foster the gay rights movement, and many of them aroused their readers while inspiring them; the artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s society; and thanks to modern psychology, you can now be trained to accept or reject homosexuality depending on your interpretation of what's needed. Gays are the new niggers: 40 years after the Stonewall riots, what Bayard Rustin means for American democracy. Queer Prehistory: The gay-rights movement did not begin with the Stonewall riots in 1969. A review of The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America by Margot Canaday (and the first chapter). A review of The Sodomy Cases: Bowers v. Hardwick and Lawrence v. Texas by David AJ Richards. From The Advocate, as a candidate Obama promised us a lot; as president he’s delivered very little; many gays are getting impatient. Gay Ambivalence: For some of us, gay pride is a simple matter of everyday life, but others need 10,000 semi-naked friends. You can be queen for a day: What are all of us honest-to-goodness, queer-to-the-core homosexuals to make of these wannabes?
Dotan Oliar and Christopher Sprigman (Virginia): There's No Free Laugh (Anymore): The Emergence of Intellectual Property Norms and the Transformation of Stand-Up Comedy (and more). From Ode, a special issue on laughter, including a look at what makes the whoopee cushion so funny; and in the beginning was the joke: Why cheerfulness is next to godliness. The comedy scene has become the latest arena for the God debate with a new wave of irreverent, atheist stand-ups. From PopMatters, a review of Dave Barry's History of the Millennium (So Far); a review of The Modern Wit by Shelley Klein; and a review of Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein. A look at how sexist jokes favor the mental mechanisms that justify violence against women. As nasty as they wanna be: How the Friars Club roasts expanded the First Amendment. An interview with Paul Krassner, author of Who's to Say What's Obscene: Politics, Culture & Comedy in America Today. When humor humiliates: For gelotophobes, even good-natured laughter can sound a lot like ridicule. Political correctness used to rule comedy, but now comics routinely offend their audiences — how did things get so nasty? (and more from the Edinburgh Festival) Improbable research: An article on England as the birthplace of the sick joke. The dark knight: Merry prankster Sir John Hargrave is a square peg at a round table.
Genes, memes, and now what?: There's a new type of evolution going on and it may not be to our liking, says Susan Blackmore. Caution: Do not read the words "Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy". Sworn statements filed in Federal Court allege that Blackwater founder Erik Prince launched a "crusade" to eliminate Muslims and Islam (and more and more). The history of the Times New Roman typeface: The recent release of Starling has presented not just a new font, but a challenge to the accepted history of one of the most widely used type designs in the world. Paleoanthropologists know more about Neandertals than any other extinct human, but their demise remains a mystery, one that gets curiouser and curiouser. A review of The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor by Colin Tudge (and more). Scott McLemee looks at four recent university press titles that almost slipped under the radar. Simon Critchley tells Julian Baggini about philosophy without fear. A review of Don’t Get Fooled Again: A Sceptic’s Guide to Life by Richard Wilson. Would we really need debate on the torture question if we discussed the numerous acts of sodomy instead of the nuances of waterboarding? More on An Intellectual History of Cannibalism by Catalin Avramescu. Study shows how college major and religious faith affect each other.