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Rachel Blumenthal's Blog

Solitude
I am not by any means an avid gamer, but I do have vivid memories of a brief but beloved stint with a game called King’s Quest in the late nineties, when I was but a wee middle-schooler with a fascination for mystery, adventure, and fantasy. You had the option to play it in “first-person mode” which made the experience scary beyond belief.  King’s Quest   Desolate townscapes of Level 1 toggled between two kinds of scenes: those of barrenness in which you could fully explore... Continue Reading >>
A Quick and Dirty Feminist History
“Frailty, thy name is woman!” So the Prince of Denmark chastises his mother in Shakespeare’s early 17th-century play. She remarried too quickly and too rashly – to a man who quite possibly murdered her first husband and usurped his crown. Hamlet was perhaps justifiably enraged, but he abstracts his anger against woman, at large. Nothing screams misogyny louder than a fear of women, at large.  Kenneth Branagh as Hamlet; Julie Christie as Gertrude  “Frailty, thy name is... Continue Reading >>
What Are You Going to Eat for Dinner?
There is probably little that is inherently show-stopping about a good old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s a simple meal, though to be sure, you’ve got some options: White bread? Wheat? Will you cut off the crusts? And you’ve got your peanut butter options: Smooth? Chunky? (mmm…) Organic? And of course, the jelly: Strawberry? Blackberry? Fruit juice sweetened? It can become a culinary mini-adventure combining those three simple ingredients. Inevitably, they taste pretty good... Continue Reading >>
A Jazzy Take on American Transcendentalism
Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass just might be the seminal collection of American literary verse (if we even want to limit ourselves with such bold categorizations!). He celebrates our country’s bountiful nature, revels in our beautiful bodies, catalogues our careers and our diversity. And he loves togetherness:  I celebrate myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. I always get a thrill and a... Continue Reading >>
Archiving our Lives: CHF’s Rich Collection of Life-Stories
I loved reading novels as a child – the books of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters were my mainstay. I picked up more 19th century British drawing room etiquette than probably was useful for an American child of the nineties. But now in my young adulthood, I gravitate more towards the genres that promise “truth” in story-telling: documentaries, popular sciences, biographies, autobiographies. I turn to these in my ongoing search for wisdom, for guidance (somehow the older I get, the more I seem... Continue Reading >>
Our Romance with the American Wilderness
My love affair with nature has only been strengthened by the urban centers in which I’ve lived – Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago. The cars, the construction, the skyscrapers make me all the more fanatical about the idea of a wilderness untouched by human hands. And when I finally visited the Monteverde Cloud Forests of Costa Rica a few years ago, I was enthralled by the feeling of freshness. The sound of motors and human chatter had been replaced by leaf rustles and bird calls. And the smell of... Continue Reading >>
A Civil War Thriller at CHF!
As a graduate student at Northwestern, I have the pleasure of teaching undergraduate courses in American Literature and Culture. Although literary texts are the primary works I usually teach (Edgar Allan Poe and Toni Morrison are often big hits), I try to intersperse these books with historical readings for context and counterpoint.  But sometimes even my outstanding undergraduate students seem a little bored by the portions of history texts I assign to them. I think they find it difficult to... Continue Reading >>