Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak – Edited by Mark Falkoff

What kind of spring is this, / Where there are no flowers and / The air is filled with a miserable smell? – Shaikh Abdurraheem Muslim Dost The above poem was etched into a styrofoam cup and passed between detainees in the infamous Guantánamo Bay detention camp. It is included alongside twenty-one other poems in…

I Am a Strange Loop – Douglas Hofstadter

Who am I? Why I am here? Why did it take me so long to get this thirtieth episode up and running? What is the self? What is human consciousness? Are we a perpetually perplexed species? In this episode we dive headfirst into questions of human existence and consciousness with a return guest and the…

Middlemarch – George Eliot

Ah, Victorian fiction; lengthy narratives, plots that may involve the return of at least one character from the dead, and the frequent determination of a woman’s character based on her gaze/finger slenderness. I admire Victorian authors for their commitment to realism and their vital reflections upon the complexity of human nature amid sociocultural change. When…

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) often catches readers off guard. Centuries of stage and screen adaptations have resulted in a game of interpretative broken telephone that distances us from the original narrative’s poignant reflections on human nature. Our eighteenth reader studied the novel as a high school student and as an undergraduate. We sat down to…