Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Using informational text to revamp, disrupt, and recharge your curriculum

Though we always welcome time to relax and recharge over the summer, our energy for the new school year starts revving up come August. If you're thinking about revamping your curriculum and maybe even disrupting some of the texts (#DisruptTexts) you've traditionally taught or inherited, our Using Informational Text series can help. (Disclaimer: We do not intend to claim credit for the great conversation started by @TriciaEbarvia this summer; we are simply offering resources to help teachers engage in this important work.)

Our newest volume on The Great Gatsby offers classroom-ready units featuring nonfiction excerpts that support critical conversations with students around race, immigration, and inequality in connection with Fitzgerald's 1920s novel, which seems more relevant than ever in our present political and cultural climate. These readings, accompanied by vocabulary activities and guided reading and discussion prompts, support student inquiry into essential questions like "Why Should We Care About Economic Inequality?" and "What Is Tom Buchanan Worried About--Is Civilization 'Going to Pieces'?" If you'd like a preview of how to put present-day issues in dialogue with Gatsby, check out our recent blog posts on both the difficulties and enduring relevance of Fitzgerald’s classic novel.

Similarly, our volume on To Kill a Mockingbird presents units that examine the relationship between Calpurnia and Scoutquestion whether Atticus is a hero, and help your students think critically about the characters and the complex world Harper Lee depicts (and even teach them to "read against" canonical works like Mockingbird).

If you are teaching A Raisin in the Sunthe second volume in our series will help you underscore the enduring relevance of Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark play. In it, you will find ready-to-use units on housing discrimination past and present, the violence surrounding housing desegregation, the politics of African-American women’s hair, and more.

If you are looking for ways to collaborate with your content-area colleagues around literacy, check out Connecting Across Disciplines: Collaborating with Informational Text. This volume offers practical strategies for initiating cross-disciplinary collaboration and developing students’ disciplinary literacy skills, as well as a sample unit based on a science article and an excerpt from Lord of the Flies.

If you are thinking about how to revamp your curriculum in general, our website and blog feature resources and strategies for finding great informational texts that relate to any literary work you may be teaching and using them successfully in your classroom. We also offer ideas for teaching key vocabulary in meaningful and engaging ways and using multimedia together with written informational texts. Check out our sample units based on Mockingbird for models.

If you’d like hands-on training in our approach to using informational text, contact us about scheduling a professional development session in your school or district. We offer half-day and full-day workshops for both English and/or content-area teachers. If you are in the NJ/PA area, we look forward to seeing you at NJCTE in September, PCTELA in October, or NJEA in November. Otherwise, we hope to see you at NCTE and CEL in Houston!

We hope our resources will help you create rewarding learning experiences for you and your students. If you use any of our materials, please send us your feedback. We would also greatly appreciate it if you would post a review on Goodreads or Amazon. Thank you again for your interest and support!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Contextualizing Trump and Tom Buchanan's anti-immigrant sentiments

During an interview with British newspaper The Sun while visiting England in July, Donald Trump made the following comments about immigration:
“Allowing the immigration to take place in Europe is a shame,” Trump said. “I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a positive way.
“So I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad,” he continued. “I think you are losing your culture. Look around. You go through certain areas that didn’t exist ten or 15 years ago.”
Once again, Donald Trump is rehearsing the idea that white civilization is about to collapse and that “millions and millions” are coming to Europe (and the United States) to take over (and destroy) the culture. These are the ideas that Lothrop Stoddard offered in 1920, warning of the threat to the white world and white world supremacy. In his The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, Stoddard warns of the “influx of undesirable elements” and the damage to “our race-heritage” because America has not been “reserved for the descendants of the picked Nordics of colonial times.” (Stoddard’s text is in public domain and accessible online, but critical, relevant excerpts are available in a classroom-ready format, accompanied by discussion and writing prompts and other teaching materials, in our recent volume, Using Informational Text to Teach The Great Gatsby.)

Tom Buchanan is the mouthpiece in The Great Gatsby of these white nationalist sentiments. He spouts Stoddard’s nativist racist ideas (although he calls Stoddard by the name Goddard).

But it’s worth noting, as part of a study of Fitzgerald’s novel and of Trump’s recent remarks, that the identity of the undesirables is not and has never been wholly stable. Stoddard’s comment about Nordics is worth unpacking along with the complex racial identities of the characters within Gatsby. Many of the characters in Fitzgerald’s novel appear to students today as white, but whiteness in 1920 did not mean what it means today. Fitzgerald populates the characters at the margins of Gatsby with a range of non-Nordics, who would not have been considered white or desirable in this period.

The “gray, scrawny Italian child setting torpedoes in a row along the railroad track” and the “young Greek, Michaelis, who ran the coffee joint beside the ashheaps,” for example, stand at a distance from Daisy and her beautiful “white girlhood.” So too does the Jewish Wolfsheim, whose undesirability is marked both by his profession in the novel as a gangster but also by his racialization – his big nose and his hairiness marking his Otherness.

And of course, a central moment in the text, when Nick meditates on the idea that “Anything can happen … anything at all …. Even Gatsby could happen” is undercut by its juxtaposition with Nick’s ghoulishly racialized description of “a limousine … driven by a white chauffeur, in which sat three modish negroes, two bucks and a girl … the yolks of their eyeballs rolled toward us in haughty rivalry.”

Even Gatsby, who changes his name, is racially nebulous. Tom’s accusations against Gatsby are not about the affair per se but about Gatsby’s undesirability. Gatsby is “Mr. Nobody from Nowhere.” In the next breath, Tom compares the affair to “intermarriage between black and white.” And while Jordan assures Tom (and the reader?) that “We’re all white here,” the unnamed epithet, the “obscene word,” left on a piece of brick at Gatsby’s house hints that perhaps Jordan was wrong.

Gatsby, after all, is a novel that meditates on exactly Trump’s fears. White culture, a culture of outsized wealth, privilege, entitlement, and abuse, seems under siege to Tom. And perhaps he is right. Gatsby is able to infiltrate Tom’s world, however briefly, and capture Daisy, the icon of white womanhood.

It’s worth reminding ourselves and our students, however, that few of us are the descendants of the picked Nordics of colonial times. Many of us would not have been considered by Jordan and her peers to be white in 1920.

The Greek Michaelis and the Italian child, alongside the African-American men and woman in the limousine, are part of the long history of immigrants and slaves who have come to the United States and shaped and reshaped the changing culture of our nation -- and in a positive way!

Given that the vast majority of our students are not descendants of the picked Nordics of colonial times and instead are a part of the millions and millions who have moved around our globe and reshaped and reinvigorated our cultures both in Europe and the United States, we owe it to our students to help them contextualize Trump’s and Tom’s rhetoric, to understand its implications for the past and the present, and to speak out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Gatsby, Buchanan, and racial paranoia past and present

As most of us turn away from our classrooms, the difficult and troubling resonances with The Great Gatsby, that consummate American novel, continue to come, fast and furious.

This week, it’s New York Times columnist Charles Blow, in “White Extinction Anxiety,” commenting on how Trump’s broader border policy, leaving aside the odiousness of family separation, reflects a panic about “a loss of white primacy.” Blow places Trump’s concerns within the context of Pat Buchanan longstanding ideas about the threats to whiteness, reflected in Buchanan’s Suicide of a Superpower (2011), his latest blog posts, and his comments on Laura Ingraham’s show.

Here’s a brief snippet from Buchanan’s blog:
The existential question . . . remains: How does the West, America included, stop the flood tide of migrants before it alters forever the political and demographic character of our nations and our civilization?…. We are truly dealing here with an ideology of Western suicide. 
If Europe does not act, its future is predictable. 
The population of Africa, right across the Med, is anticipated to climb to 2.5 billion by midcentury. And by 2100, Africa will be home half of all the people of the planet.
Africans taking over the planet: We aren’t in Wakanda.

The idea that white civilization is about to collapse and that Africans are about to take over the world isn’t new. Lothrop Stoddard offered the same idea in 1920, using the very same flood tide imagery to warn of the threats to the white world. In his The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, Stoddard prophesizes: “Here is the truth of the matter: The white world to-day stands at the crossroads of life and death.” (Stoddard’s text is in public domain and accessible online, but critical, relevant excerpts are available in a classroom-ready format, accompanied by discussion and writing prompts and other teaching materials, in our recent volume, Using Informational Text to Teach The Great Gatsby.)

Like Buchanan, Stoddard worried that both Europe and America, the white homelands, were threatened by “oblivion in the dark ocean” of immigrants from “the colored world.” Stoddard warns, “If the present drift be not changed, we whites are all ultimately doomed. Unless we set our house in order, the doom will sooner or later overtake us all.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald picked up on Stoddard’s nativist racial paranoia and placed these noxious ideas in the mouth of his arrogant, abusive, philandering, millionaire, Tom Buchanan. Tom argues the point, “violently”:
Civilization’s going to pieces . . . . Have you read “The Rise of the Colored Empires” by this man Goddard? . . . Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be – will be utterly submerged. . . . It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out of these other races will have control of things.
Nick Carraway, Gatsby’s narrator, dismisses Tom as “pathetic” in this moment. We might be tempted to dismiss Stoddard and his ideological progeny, Buchanan, as equally pathetic.

But can we afford Nick’s complacency?

Instead, we suggest that teachers of Gatsby seize this moment, both in our broader culture and in Fitzgerald’s uncannily timeless and prescient novel, to explore the racial paranoia and its bizarre coexistence with extreme power and privilege. September and Gatsby are right around the corner. Seize the moment to plan for what Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich calls “the real, and yes, uncomfortable and unpredictable work of teaching and learning.” These difficult but important classroom conversations will make your reading of a 1925 novel more relevant and revealing.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Roseanne Barr and The Great Gatsby? Absolutely!

What could have provoked Roseanne, at this particular moment, to offer her racist comments about Valerie Jarrett? Roseanne, after all, would have seemed to have been at the top of the world. Her eponymous show was rated the third most popular on network television and had been picked up for another season. She should have been at the top of the world, right?

And yet she chose to lash out at Jarrett, a former senior adviser to President Obama. Jarrett is not currently in a position of particular power. Obama is not in office. How, at this moment, was Jarrett a threat? Why would Jarrett have merited attack? Why did Roseanne need to bully someone and what made Jarrett a worthy target?

Certainly, the simple answer is that Roseanne’s outburst reflects a kind of commonplace racism. The odd juxtaposition of “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes” in Roseanne’s tweet suggests a kind of knee-jerk and thoughtless targeting and conjoining of Muslims and African-Americans. 

But leaving that base and grotesque racism aside for a moment (as it has received a wellspring of deserved attention from a range of commentators), it’s enlightening to turn to Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel in relation to Roseanne.

The opening chapter of Gatsby offers some surprising answers to the question of why someone in power might be gratuitously cruel. As we read the opening pages of Gatsby, we meet Tom Buchanan, who, like Roseanne, would seem to be on top of his world. 

He is wealthy and powerful, although unlike Roseanne, he was born to this position of power. We learn about his background: Yale. Tom has a heroic football background, “one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven,” and enormous family wealth. When our narrator, Nick, meets Tom, it is at Tom’s “even more elaborate than I expected” house.

Yet with all this acclaim, money, and power, Tom is cruel. He has “a rather hard mouth,” “arrogant eyes,” and “a cruel body.”

Like Roseanne, the object of Tom’s cruelty in chapter 1 of Gatsby is people of color. For reasons that are never explained by Fitzgerald, Tom is obsessed by “The Rise of the Colored Empires” by Goddard (in real life Lothrop Stoddard, author of The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy) and the idea that “if we don’t look out the white race will be – will be utterly submerged.” 

To be clear, Tom, at the very top of the food chain, is worried that his kind are in danger of being utterly submerged by people of color. What? Why?

Why the paranoia and cruelty, why the insecurity and gratuitous vitriol from someone at the pinnacle of power? Why Tom? Why Roseanne?

Two units in our new volume on Gatsby may help you explore these timely questions. First, excerpts from Stoddard and Kenneth L. Roberts elaborate on the anxiety about whiteness and power expressed by Tom and other characters in the novel. Second, Paul Piff’s “Does money make you mean?” discusses a series of fascinating social psychology experiments that explore how wealth, power, and privilege breed greed, a diminution of empathy, and unethical behavior. 

Such discussions may seem like a detour from your usual reading of Gatsby, but they offer an important opportunity to help your students use their critical thinking to make insightful connections between the past and the present and better understand the impacts of the various cultural and political discourses across the range of media – from Fitzgerald’s novel to social media – they encounter on a daily basis.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Jesmyn Ward on Gatsby's tricky vision of hope for young readers

Jesmyn Ward, the brilliant author of Sing, Unburied, Sing and Salvage the Bones, has written an introduction to a new Scribner edition of Gatsby. We haven’t yet gotten our hands on the new edition, but an essay version of Ward’s introduction appeared in the New York Times in April 2018. It’s a beautiful, thoughtful meditation on Gatsby, an essay certainly worth teaching and meditating on at length. Ward offers us a model reading of Fitzgerald: careful, nuanced reflections in her own incandescent writing style.

It is striking, however, to note how Ward describes her own early reading experience with Gatsby. She writes of reading the novel as a teenager:

We read it when we are bewildered and delighted at our changing bodies, flush with burgeoning sexuality, heady with the certainty of our ascendancy, the prospect of our future greatness shining off in the distance like a great green star. 
It is easy for young people to see themselves in Gatsby. His earnestness is familiar. His ambition, twinned with desperation, resonates with any teenager who wants to journey off to college or move states away for work, in a bid to escape youthful boundaries.
…. he believed that if he worked hard enough, he could remake himself. He could ascend to a different social class, a class where life seemed to be an enchanted necklace, each moment a pearl on an endless string. It seems to be a universal sentiment of youth: the belief that, given the luxury of time and focus, one can become anything.

Ward offers us here a vision of Gatsby as full of hope. This is Gatsby as the embodiment of the American Dream – full of possibilities. Gatsby, as the ambitious young man, whose aspirations and hard work enable his economic and social mobility.

The novel, however, also carries with it a darker underside. After all, we only meet Gatsby after we have been introduced to the rich and powerful: Tom, Daisy, Jordan, and even Nick. None of them are ambitious youthful strivers. They have each, in their way, been born with silver spoons in their mouths. No striving is required. Nick, the least among them, is himself a legacy at Yale, the son of three generations of “prominent, well-to-do people.” He graduated in 1915 and went to war, from which he came back “restless.” It isn’t until 1922 that he comes to New York to “learn the bond business,” financed in this enterprise by his father and supported by aunts and uncles “as if they were choosing a prep school for me.”

In other words, by the time we meet the striving Gatsby, we have already been well acquainted with the world of the entitled rich, for whom hard work seems entirely unnecessary and the luxuries of time and leisure seem to abound.

For some readers, then, Gatsby seems to be a novel about the impossibility of ascendancy and future greatness for those not born to social privilege. The wealthy within the novel are vastly ahead and inhabit an entirely separate space, engaging begrudgingly with the marginal characters at the margins of their world: the “gray, scrawny Italian child … along the railroad track” or the “gray old man who bore an absurd resemblance to John D. Rockefeller” selling puppies.

Tom’s affair with Myrtle only underscores the impermeable boundaries between the elite in Gatsby and everyone else. She may think Tom is going to leave Daisy for her, but she is as clueless about her powerlessness in her relationship to Tom as she is about the “puppies of indeterminate breed.” Tom, however, has no trouble discerning that the puppy is “no police dog.” 

The novel, in other words, can joke about the gray man’s resemblance to the uber-wealthy John D. Rockefeller and about ersatz police dogs because those in power have no difficulty identifying and excluding interlopers.

Ward writes of how easy it is for young people to see themselves in Gatsby. Surely the opposite is also true. If young people see themselves in Gatsby, they may also see how Gatsby’s failure is marked right from the beginning of the novel. They may read Gatsby as a novel that scorns their ambition and tramples their dreams of ascendancy. Perhaps this duality underscores how difficult this novel can be to teach.

Before we even meet Gatsby, we learn about an impenetrable world of the heady, wealthy elite. And then, as we meet Gatsby and see the evidence of his wealth – his fancy house, his elaborate parties, we also immediately hear rumors about his “dim” background. 

Gatsby is not a man with a Yale legacy and an easily understood family past. The idea that he is a fraud is introduced immediately in the novel.

For young people, then, it’s possible to read the novel not as an invitation to aspiration but as a warning. Don’t be ambitious; don’t think you can work hard and succeed. The only access those outside of the elite have to wealth and power is through crime. It’s a rigged system. 

Strive for education and go to an elite college like St. Olaf’s and you’ll be reminded of your place by being tasked to work as a janitor; you won’t last a month. Attend Oxford as a war veteran? You won’t really be able to earn a degree or credibility. Befriend a wealthy patron like Dan Cody? The legal system is set up in ways you won’t understand to be sure that you never inherit any legacy.

And what of Jewish readers and readers of color who encounter the racism and anti-Semitism within Gatsby? As Stephanie Powell Watts, author of No One Is Coming to Save Us, a compelling reimagining of Gatsbyexplains her experience: “However swept up and away I may be, I can’t help but fear that the door of the book will suddenly close in my face by excluding or demeaning people of color, women, the poor. . . . it hurts to find yourself on the outside, the butt of the joke.”

Ward argues compellingly that Gatsby endures “generation after generation” because it offers “new revelations, new insights” at every reading. So true. But for young readers, at that pivotal moment in their lives, full of youthful ambition but also youthful insecurity, Gatsby is a tricky and potentially devastating text to encounter.

Perhaps above all else, Gatsby reminds us of the power of narrative: to shape youthful ambition, buoy young readers, and embolden new voices. As teachers of this consummate American novel, our work is tricky. But we can all be heartened at how Gatsby has continued to serve as an inspiration to young people, including to contemporary writers like Watts and Ward, to take ownership of their own narratives and find their own greatness. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

A little summer Gatsby reading: Corrigan's So We Read On


If you teach The Great Gatsby, put Maureen Corrigan’s So We Read On onto your summer reading list. It’s chatty and fun, full of all sorts of tidbits and details about Fitzgerald, sources and context for the novel, the initial publication and reception of the text, and the ways in which Gatsby made it into the literary canon and our many classrooms.

This is a compelling and refreshing read, not a stuffy academic treatise; Corrigan is thoroughly honest and highly engaging about her own relationship to Gatsby. She writes in the very first paragraph about how, as a high-school senior, she thought it “was a boring novel about rich people” (3). Susan didn’t fully appreciate Gatsby until college after being roundly unimpressed by it in high school, and Audrey still sometimes finds Fitzgerald’s text a frustratingly claustrophobic examination of a narrow slice of society.

So We Read On is that rare and charming combination: both scholarly and totally fan-girly in its adult enthusiasm for Gatsby. Corrigan gushes that The Great Gatsby is “the Great American Novel, if there is such an animal” (8) and “as perfect as a novel can be” (9). And she worries about how students are and are not reading Fitzgerald’s work: “It’s not the green light, stupid; it’s Gatsby’s reaching for it that’s the crucial all-American symbol of the novel” (5).

This latter comment, of course, is in alignment with our visions. Like Corrigan, we think students need to be thinking about big ideas and essential questions when they read literature, and our volumes on using informational text, including our latest on Gatsby, are designed to help teachers guide their students away from the small questions about the green light and onto the bigger questions about what all these symbols – the green light, the mongrel dog, the gray child – illustrate about the vision of America and American possibility offered by and thwarted within the novel.

What is probably most infectious about Corrigan’s volume is her humility as an always-eager reader and thinker about Gatsby. For example, despite the fact that she has taught Gatsby at Georgetown year after year, Corrigan describes asking a group of students at her alma mater high school in Queens about why Daisy cries when she sees Gatsby’s pile of shirts. Corrigan admits, “I often ask classes that question because I’m never sure what that scene means” (293). And then she writes, with admiration of the answer a student offers:

A dark-haired girl raises her hand and says something I’ve never thought of: “She cries because she sees that Gatsby is just like Tom now. The poor boy she loved is gone. He’s rich like Tom, so he’s changed.” Her comment stops class discussion in its tracks for a few minutes because it feels so emotionally smart. I’ve never thought of Gatsby “becoming” like Tom. I’m not sure if she’s right but I love that this novel, like all great novels, spawns endless sharp interpretation. (293)

So read Corrigan this summer, if you haven’t already, and embrace some of the tantalizing ideas and writing and discussion prompts her text offers. Here are just four that we gleaned:

1. “The Great Gatsby is America’s greatest novel about class. In fact, it’s the only one of its canonical peers (Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, Invisible Man, Beloved) that foregrounds class instead of race” (16). Do you agree? How do the anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and racist moments in Gatsby connect with its broader narrative of class?

2. Corrigan describes giving a “contrarian talk” with the title “The Great Gatsby: Just How American Is This Great American Novel?” What do you think she means? In what ways, for you, is this novel distinctly American? What narrative of America does it offer? How compelling is that narrative in our current historical moment?

3. Corrigan tells us that Fitzgerald struggled with the title and when the novel was in production called it “Trimalchio,” after a character in the first-century Roman work Satyricon, by Petronius. She explains that Trimalchio “is a freed slave who’s climbed up the ladder of Roman society through hard work” (201). What do you think of “Trimalchio” as a title instead of Gatsby? Corrigan also informs us that Fitzgerald wasn’t “fond of `The Great Gatsby’ because he said that Gatsby wasn’t really great” (201). Do you think Fitzgerald was right to be skeptical about the title of his novel? Do you agree with Fitzgerald that Gatsby isn’t really great? Why or why not? Can you think of a better title?

4. Corrigan writes that Fitzgerald was “aiming for a big statement about America” (300). She notes that “So many immigrants had poured into America via New York City by the early 1920s. . . . Fitzgerald was a man of his time; he was nervous about those alien hordes, but he also understood their yearning. Could America deliver on its promises?” (301). What answer do you think Fitzgerald offers to this question at the end of Gatsby? Do you see echoes today in Gatsby’s nervousness about “alien hordes”? Do you think America today is delivering on its promises?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Asking more of pairing nonfiction with literature

In the March 2018 edition of English Journal, Ameer Sohrawardy offers a compelling article about the use of nonfiction in connection with Julius Caesar. Sohrawardy writes about using a piece of political commentary written by Andrew McGill about West Virginia coal miners and the election of Donald Trump. Sohrawardy reflects on how the discussion that followed, in a class comprised primarily of Clinton supporters, “rehearsed many of the dyadic frameworks” of the election, oversimplifying frameworks that were “already being questioned by political analysts” (64).

This exercise, it strikes us, reflects the dangers of using nonfiction simply to find (and perhaps exploit) relevance in literature. Sohrawardy notes that her students were willing and able to extend their analysis of McGill’s piece to Caesar, making interesting connections, but they couldn’t see the limitations of the analogy. Their reading of McGill, in other words, enabled them to discuss Caesar in the context of the Trump election, but that discussion didn’t productively complicate their reading of either the election or the play.

Relevance is critical, and we do want our students to make interesting connections between our world and the literary texts we ask them to read. But Sohrawardy is right to ask for more from this kind of contextualizing reading.

Next, Sohrawardy asked the students to read excerpts from Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class: An Inquiry into the Value of Work (2009). This text, as Sohrawardy explains, focuses on the dislocation and diminution of manual competencies in a fragmented and alienating 21st century economy. More importantly, the class discussion of Crawford’s work enabled Sohrawardy’s students to rethink the election, McGill’s ideas about the election, and Shakespeare’s investigation of the discontent among the Roman citizens.

Most compellingly, Sohrawardy writes that the readings “had begun to attune us … to listen” to the “fleeting, fugitive voices in our own time” (66). These are the skills we want to cultivate in the humanities: the ability to find and think through more context, to hear unexpected voices and ideas, and to rethink our preconceptions.

So, the lesson from Sohrawardy is clear: when we seek out a nonfiction reading to pair with a literary text, we need to be careful. Relevance is great for engagement. But we can’t stop there. Our pairings should help our students and ourselves continue to find the unexpected, even in texts like Caesar that we’ve read time and again.