Food puns

Welcome home, literature lovers. The campus is green, the skies are blue, and I can’t wait to start this new year with you! (In hindsight, that last sentence uncomfortably reads a lot like a “roses are red, violets are blue” poem…) Be sure to check out the new English Department website (as always, – it’s faster, it’s sleeker, it’s crisper… and we’re excited. Are you excited?

The rest of this blog post really has nothing to do with the new academic year – it has mostly has to do with the fact that I missed lunch and I am starving.

Literature + food = these are all terrible puns (really, I just substituted food for words in titles)

  • The Grape Gatsby
  • Macbroth
  • Portrait of the Pinconning as a young Colby (Pinconning is an aged Colby cheese.. yeah this was a stretch)
  • Banana Karenina
  • Catch-22 Fish
  • Brave New Watermelon
  • Tart of Darkness
  • The Salmon and the Fury
  • Dark Chocolate at Noon
  • Sons and Lavender Ice Cream
  • To the Light…ly Frosted Chiffon Cake
  • An American Cheese Tragedy
  • The Grape Juice of Wrath
  • Slaughterhouse-Five
  • Invisible Manicotti
  • Appointment in Samosa
  • Goat Cheese from the Underground
  • Room with a Veal
  • Lime and Punishment
  • Tender is the T-Bone
  • As I Lay Snacking
  • All the King’s Minestrone
  • Go Tell it on the Meatball
  • The Souffle Also Rises
  • War and Peas
  • Portnoy’s Cornbread
  • Pale Fire-Seared Steak
  • The Ketchup on the Rye
  • The Prime Rib of Miss Jean Brodie
  • Trifles Revisited
  • Finnegans Cake
  • The Camembert of the Wild
  • Lard of the Fries
  • Midnight’s Chili
  • Sophie’s Cheese
  • Gone With the Watercress (what?)
  • A Pear for Owen Meany
  • Lunchables, Lunchables! (Like Absalom, Absalom!… only resolutely not)
  • Someplace to be Frying
  • Blood Orange Meridian
  • To Grill a Mockingbird

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The Start of Something New


A few weeks ago, the Stanford English Department had, in a cozy room in Cubberly Education building, our first ever meeting of the Stanford English Research Colloquium (or SERC).

SERC? Another acronym? Whyyyyy, Stanford, why? (We decline to comment, except to say that we think it is catchy and pronounceable.)

SERC is a quarterly colloquium hosted by the English Department and an opportunity for undergraduates and graduate students to meet each other and learn about all the different subjects being researched in the department.

This time around, we had three speakers — Advanced English PhD candidates Allison Rung and Becky Richardson and Literary History Course Coordinator Kenny Ligda. Each presenter took 15 minutes to brief the group about their research, and then fielded questions from undergraduates and graduates alike.

In 2013-14, SERC will be attached to the Literary History sequence: SERC will meet mid-way through each quarter, and will have a panel of 3-4 graduate students whose work overlaps with the material being read in each course.

An arena where they can practice articulating their research in front of an audience of attentive peers, we hope that graduate students find this colloquium just as helpful an experience as it is for undergraduates– who, in attending the colloquium, gain exposure to the fields of research they might be interested in pursuing for an honors thesis or seminar paper, as well as having a group of mentors of whom they can ask questions.

Until next quarter!

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Top Spots to Read at Stanford: Part I

Top 12 Spots to Read on—and off—Campus

Part I: Classics and Landmarks

Somehow, you ended up with way more reading than you had expected this quarter. The library is quiet and your room is comfortable, but you don’t want to miss out on Stanford’s springtime weather! Whether you’re reading for class or for pleasure (or both!), take your books outside this second half of spring quarter!

Classics: These spots are no secret!

Lake Lag: Our notoriously dry lake is actually surprisingly swampy at the moment! The birds (and the bugs) are enjoying it. You should, too! Bring a blanket to sit on, or take over one of the benches along the trail. Or, if you like to snack while reading, grab some graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate, and friends and head over to the pit to make some s’mores. Yum! Nothing like gooey fingers when you’re trying to turn the page!

The Oval: On sunny days, the Oval is always full of hearty picnics, frolicking dogs, and high-flying frisbees. Lie out in the grass with some friends from class and get your reading done together! You can bring fruit and sandwiches to munch on as you enjoy a social reading session. After all, it’s fun to read, but even more fun to discuss what you’re reading with friends.

The Quad: Sometimes I feel like campus visitors get enjoy the quad more frequently than students do. Let’s change that. The quad is full of both sunny and shady spots to bring a book. The trees and circular benches provide you with a choice between a sunny or shady spot at any time of day, and you’ll be able to wave hello to friends as they bike past on their way to class. Perhaps it’s a bit of schadenfreude, but there’s something pleasantly calming about reading a book as the rest of the world buzzes from point A to point B.

Landmarks: The must-visit spots you didn’t know were perfect for reading!

Top of Hoover Tower: This one is especially for those of you who have somehow not yet been to the top. What are you thinking? Get on up there! Once you’ve had your fill of pointing at the little miniature buildings where you’ve met your best friends and fallen in love with whatever it is you study here (it’s English though, am I right?), once you’ve taken all of those snapshots and put those snazzy filters on them and posted them to #socialmediasites, once you’ve helped a tourist do the same, pick a cozy corner as your study nook. It may not be the most comfortable spot on campus, but if getting your reading done doesn’t already metaphorically put you on top of the world, now it physically will.

Cantor Arts Center: It’s unbelievable that we have such an incredible (free!) museum right on campus. After you stroll through the exhibitions, there are plenty of places you can sit and read: by your favorite painting, out on their upper deck, inside the outdoor sculpture. Or, lay out on the lawn of the Rodin Sculpture Garden. There’s plenty of sunshine and shade, and you can even bring a picnic. Just keep in mind the museum’s hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 11am-5pm, with extra hours on Thursdays from 11am-8pm.

Memorial Church: Okay, so I’m cheating a bit here. Reading in MemChu isn’t really reading outside. But I bet probably haven’t taken a book to MemChu, and you totally should! The stained glass windows let in the gorgeous glow of springtime sunshine, giving you some warm, colorful light to read by. It’s incredibly quiet and peaceful, like the library, but less populated. There are also plenty of small secret seating areas tucked away around and behind MemChu, perfect for exploring.


Part II will bring you the best garden and off-campus spots in which to read! In the meantime, what are you waiting for? Grab a book and go read outside!

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English majors in business – a career panel and networking event TODAY 4/3.



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Stanford Professor Adam Johnson wins Pulitzer Prize in Fiction

Assistant Professor Adam Johnson, of the Stanford Department of English, has just won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his 2012 novel, The Orphan Master’s Son. According to USA Today, which helped break the news, the Pulitzer committee described Prof. Johnson’s book as an “exquisitely crafted novel that carries the reader on an adventuresome journey into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart.”

The Prize was not awarded in fiction in 2012, which resulted, according to news sources, in disappointment among writers, publishers, booksellers, and distributors alike. The last time there was no recipient for the prize was in 1977; since 1917, when the Pulitzer was established, this has only occurred eleven times.

With the prize, Johnson joins the ranks of some of the most celebrated novelists in American literary history, including Edith Wharton (The Age of Innocence, 1921), John Steinbeck (Grapes of Wrath, 1940), Robert Penn Warren (All the King’s Men, 1947), Earnest Hemingway (The Old Man and the Sea, 1952), Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird, 1961), William Faulkner (A Fable, 1954; Reivers 1962), Wallace Stegner (Angle of Repose, 1972), Alice Walker (The Color Purple, 1983), Toni Morrison (Beloved, 1988), and Philip Roth (American Pastoral, 1998).

Johnson's novel is available from Amazon at

The Orphan Master’s Son is a kind of historical fiction with obvious political concerns. Set in the recent past during the reign of the late North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-il, it has been praised for its bold imagination of the consequences of narrative control as it emanates from the localized power of the totalitarian state. In a 2012 New York Times book review, the critic Michiko Kakutani describes the novel as conjuring “an Orwellian world, in which the government’s myths about the country – its success, its benevolence, its virtues in taking on the evils perpetrated by the Unites States, South Korea, and Japan – are not only tirelessly drilled into the citizenry through propaganda broadcasts but have also become an overarching narrative framing everyone’s lives.” The novel’s protagonist, Jun Do, must learn to navigate through the contested landscapes of selfhood and self-definition, even as, says Kakutani, people around him constantly and tacitly subordinate their identities “to the roles the state expects them to fulfill.” Johnson’s novel dramatizes not only the political dimensions of a twenty-first century totalitarian regime and their effects on the identification of self as the subject of the state, but it also interrogates the very conceptions of shared narratives, the consequences of the intersections of multiple identities on self-formation, and the authority and reality of narrative and representation.

At Stanford since 1999, Professor Johnson often teaches one of the three required methodology courses (English 161: Narrative and Narrative Theory), which is designed to give undergraduates a wide range of tools with which to analyze and understand conventions and innovations in narrative technique. Additionally, Professor Johnson teaches classes, workshops, and seminars in fiction, creative non-fiction, the graphic novel, and graphic non-fiction. Johnson is also integral to Stanford’s prestigious Stegner Fellowship—named after another Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and the founder of Stanford’s world-renowned Creative Writing Program, Wallace Stegner. To learn more, visit the Stanford English Department’s faculty profile on Johnson.

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Ode on an Ike’s Sandwich

Written On the eve of the End of the World, 2012…

As the world quietly comes to a close on this blustery night, I find myself huddled under covers, in the company of the best cat the world will have ever made. The last book I will have read will have been the Golden Compass, which is essentially “The Chimney Sweeper” from Songs of Innocence made into a book. Fitting. All seems as I would want it to be and I am ready to sink Lethe-wards…

And then I remember, alas, my last moments at Stanford. But I remember not which friends I last saw, what jokes we had… I revisit not the tower of Margaret Jacks, nor the stately pleasure dome of Florence Moore Hall.. But rather, I turn my thoughts upon the last meal of which I partook in the quaint establishment which resides in Huang Centre for the People of the Engineering. My last supper….

Oh Ike’s! How I long for thee on this sad, wintry night—perhaps my last on this earth.
Shall we e’er be joined as one, again?
Shall the Name of the Girl I’m Dating be forever chaste?
Shall our lips, cruelly rent apart, ever meet once more?
Thou still unravish’d bride of Halal chicken and honey mustard sauce!
Thou foster-child of toasted dutch bread and pepper jack cheese!

Stalwart onion! What lettuce-fringed legend haunts about thy shape!
More happy banana peppers! more happy, happy banana peppers!
Forever warm and still to be enjoy’d..
To what Havarti altar, O mysterious Leninade,
Lead’st thou that sandwich lowing at the skies,
And all her crunchy, provolone-clad flanks with teriyaki sauce drest?
O Attic shape! fair Carmel Apple Sucker! Thou, silent form!
dost tease us out of thought as doth avocado and zesty orange glaze:

Cold, soggy Jim Rome! When old age shall this generation waste, thou shalt remain.
‘Full Sandwich is truth, truth, Full Sandwich,—
that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’

- John Keats, feat. Sarah Weston

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