Philosophical ruminations.
Dec. 24 1998 3:30 AM

News from academe.

(Continued from Page 1)

Faster, Pussycats! Cook! Cook!

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Students at the Rhode Island School of Design have unveiled the "kitchen of the future." The utopian prototype, called the Universal Kitchen, is designed for maximum efficiency in cooking and cleaning: The 400 steps it now takes to prepare a modest dinner in an ordinary kitchen would be reduced to 100. Its oven would perform all the functions of a microwave, a broiler, and a conventional oven, as well as steam-cooking and steam-cleaning. According to Jane Langmuir, director of the project, "water and heat come together and create a totally new appliance." The model is currently on display at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York City. If it's ever built, the kitchen will come in two sizes, "min" and "max."

Dead Letters ...

The world's oldest and largest university press--Oxford--has just announced that it is canceling its poetry list. According to the Guardian, Oxford, which is, after Faber and Faber, the leading publisher of contemporary poetry in Britain, has cut loose its living poets, including such respected figures as Craig Raine and D.J. Enright. The dead poets Oxford publishes--including Lord Byron, Edmund Spenser, and William Wordsworth--will remain in print.

... and the Living Arts

The Modern Language Association has commissioned a documentary on the history of oral performance, from Homer to poetry slams--raucous readings in which the quality of poems is judged by the ferocity of audience response. Some critics find the popularity of the events an encouraging sign in a media-saturated age. But others--notably Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler--view the rise of the slam with alarm. Bloom, after reading the work of some contest winners, declared them "of a badness not to be believed."

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