Josh Mayo

Josh Mayo is an Assistant Professor of English and Writing at Grove City College. He writes at

Josh Mayo Oct 14, 2019

I love George Herbert’s The Temple—the major hits, the b-sides, everything. The more I read Herbert’s work, the more I realize just how inventive it really is. Take even a minor poem like “Paradise” for example. Like so many works by Herbert, this one is a little Matryoshka doll of meaning—a highly intricate artifact containing successive, hidden surprises.

Josh Mayo Aug 5, 2019

Is Shakespeare a moral enigma? Many critics have thought so. Take the late Anthony Nuttall, who contended that “we have no idea what Shakespeare thought, finally, about any major question”—or Harold Bloom, who has argued that the Bard was “too wise to believe anything.” Such remarks challenge Shakespeare enthusiasts: When a play like Twelfth Night contains such a diverse cast of characters, such a motley crew of moral viewpoints, how can we know which characters represent the playwright? How can we know what Shakespeare thinks?

Josh Mayo May 29, 2019

It’s May, and the world is finally awake. The campus of EDUCRAT STATE hums like a hive. Outside the dormitory, the day is all daffodils and spring zephyrs, but inside 303 WEST HALL a storm-cloud of academic fear brews. Dreading an impending final in literature, sophomore Joe Schmo peruses a SparkNotes article on Herman Melville’s classic whaling adventure. Travelling through time to rescue Joe from this perilous, ethical fog, Socrates materializes on the couch—quite unexpectedly.

SOCRATES: Hey, Joe. What are you up to?

Josh Mayo Apr 15, 2019

There are three kinds of teachers: the tough, the nice, and the charitable.

Josh Mayo Mar 13, 2019

The size of a poem is not something that can be measured by line number. Some long poems are “big” in their moral vision—like the heroic code of the Iliad, the transcendent grandeur of the Divine Comedy. But other long poems are philosophically cramped—like Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Say whatever you want about the speaker of this poem (yes, the poet is large; yes, he contains multitudes), but by the end of all that soul-expansion, all that spiritual osmosis, all that singing of oneself, we are still only left with some guy from West Hills, NY.

Josh Mayo Feb 13, 2019

Dead Poets Society is a truly great film—if for John Keating alone. It’s Robin Williams at his best: a mentor authoritative yet tender, aristocratic yet plebian—a wise teacher balancing on the knife’s edge between the pater and peer. Who doesn’t rejoice at the demolition of the textbook? Who can hold back his soul when Williams performs his John Wayne Macbeth and Marlon Brando Marc Antony—rigor mortis jawline and all? And is there any teacher in film more iconic than Mr.

Josh Mayo Dec 14, 2018

What is Homer’s Odyssey about?

Josh Mayo Dec 3, 2018

Occasionally, academics need a good lampooning. Perhaps often.

Josh Mayo Nov 16, 2018

All educators (who aren’t chatbots) know weakness. Disorganization, stage fright, incompetence in a subject matter, pedagogical clumsiness. These things inhibit our effectiveness and confidence. One day we discover—surprise!—we are not the John Keatings and William Forresters we hope to be.

Josh Mayo Oct 26, 2018

I will confess that I am not a fan of speedreading strategies, though I have some experience practicing them. In eighth grade, I decided to take a class on speedreading at the classical school I attended. Here are the main points I remember from the class: