Vanderbilt University’s Jay Clayton teaches a class that I wouldn’t dream of skipping: Biotechnology and Culture: From Victorian Eugenics to Contemporary Genomics, whose syllabus includes Middlesex, Cloud Atlas, White Teeth, Blade Runner, and a whole lot more. That gobstoppingly excellent reading and viewing list is bolstered by a fine blog that’s currently drilling into some plot points of Richard Powers‘ The Gold Bug Variations. (via)
If you’d prefer a primer in the basics, Yale University has posted 26 videos of Amy Hungerford’s course in the American Novel since 1945.
In the Daily Beast, Laura Lippman posts an good list of five of her favorite works of fiction, which includes books by Jack Pendarvis, Philip Roth, Kate Atkinson, Megan Abbot, and Herman Wouk. (Haven’t heard a plug for that last author in quite a while.) (via)
I don’t have the patience to read all the squabbling, but apparently fantasy author Elizabeth Bear launched quite a kerfuffle about racism in her genre.
Which has, in turn, prompted an assertion by an anonymous industry insider that publishing in general has a race problem.
The Second Pass, a new Web site dedicated to reviewing new books and revisiting old ones, has just launched. Looks promising.
The NEA’s Big Read honcho, David Kipen, promises he’ll eat a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird if he can’t get all 128 residents of Kelleys Island, Ohio, to read the book. (I picture a tragic scene where the last holdout, after hours of browbeating, breaks down in tears and cries, “I never learned to read!”) This should come in handy for prep work: