Archive for the 'art' Category

May 18th 2012
Liberals, I say! Liberals, all of them!

Posted under American history & art & fluff & students

The Norton Anthology of American Literature

In “Why the Right Hates English,” Stephen J. Mexal analyzes why right-wingers have targeted college English classes and professors since at least William F. Buckley’s God and Man at Yale, when by his lights the curriculum remains focused on American and British literature in the main, and on uncontroversial authors to boot:

Every English literature class I have ever taken, taught, or observed has spent the vast majority of its time on exactly what all these writers claim is missing: the study of literature. In my experience, English classes do pretty much what they’ve always done. Students read literature closely, and then talk about how it works and what it means. The courses I teach in American literature today contain pretty much the same authors you would have expected 20 or 30 years ago: Twain, Emerson, Dickinson, Douglass, Melville, Wharton, and so on. Of course, people teach some newer authors, too (Toni Morrison and Don DeLillo tend to show up often), and some authors are not taught quite as frequently (D.H. Lawrence, for instance), but English departments are not eternal guardians of a frozen literary heritage. They change a little over time, sure, but they still do what you’d expect.

For that matter, [Andrew] Breitbart’s English departments did pretty much what you’d expect, too. He had to take two semesters of American literature at Tulane University, and as Mark Howard and Alexander Zaitchik have reported, students in those courses were assigned to read Emerson, Thoreau, Twain, Hawthorne, Stowe, and so on. Not much “cultural Marxist theory,” in other words.

What do all of the bolded names have in common, friends?  They’re all liberals!  Continue Reading »


May 11th 2012
My fantasy

Posted under art & childhood & fluff & happy endings

You can have the coaches, the royal balls, the glass slippers, and personality-free Handsome Princes. For a library like that, I’d happily live with a beast. Continue Reading »


May 2nd 2012
Don’t be that guy

Posted under art & European history & fluff & Gender

Busy day–we’re still teaching classes here, with our dogforsaken 16-week semesters. But then, as Dr. Crazy noted yesterday, they end. (Finally!) And then, we begin all over again.

Don’t miss Dr. Crazy’s thoughts about teaching, and the myth that college professing is all about b!tching about teaching and cutting corners: Continue Reading »


April 30th 2012
Horror master King sez “Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!”

Posted under American history & art & bad language & Bodily modification & class & wankers

A most excellent screed from rich guy Stephen King as to why Ritchie Rich needs to pay more taxes.  To all of those Ritchie Riches who are “tired of hearing about” how they should pay more in taxes, he says:

Tough $hit for you guys, because I’m not tired of talking about it. I’ve known rich people, and why not, since I’m one of them? The majority would rather douse their d!cks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing “Disco Inferno” than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar. It’s true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions. My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (Jaws of Life tools are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough.

King and his wife are locally famous and revered in Maine for their charitable contributions and their support for the local arts community.  The Kings’ money actually funded a faculty position in History at the University of Maine that a grad school friend of mine has occupied for the past 15 years or so–a position that otherwise would not have been funded.  So he created at least one job–but as for the notion that Ritchie Rich is out there creating jobs?  Bullcrap, says King: Continue Reading »


April 1st 2012
Except perhaps in spring

Posted under American history & art & fluff

I get along without you very well. Of course I do.


March 31st 2012
I am so bored with March.

Posted under art & fluff & happy endings


Scram already, willya?


March 30th 2012
Extra Credit: Sonic Youth Friday

Posted under art & fluff & students & weirdness

Why is extra credit so motivating for my students? I wonder if there’s any educational psychology literature on this? Readers who are in the know, please let me know. My students, whose class attendance and record of written assignments is mixed overall at best, will do just about anything so long as I call it extra credit! (Is it like getting a “free” appetizer or dessert with your dinner, or a dollar off your coffee after you have your loyalty card stamped ten times?)

Does this happen to any of you faculty and teacher-types out there? Continue Reading »


March 29th 2012
Thursday round-up: The Right Shoe, Judy Blume, No Obamacare for You Bluegrass Review

Posted under American history & art & childhood & Gender & the body & unhappy endings & wankers

Well, well, well:  fires are raging here in Colorado, and hellzapoppin’ everywhere else these days.  Here are a few tidbits to keep you entertained today while I’m stuck in paper-grading hell. On a post last week that featured a new pair of shoes, a commenter asked if there were “shoes with manuscript-finishing powers?”  Girl, there’s a shoe, or a boot, for every job.  I’ve got these boots to inspire me to kick some a$$ and take names.  That’s what they say about me, friends:  Historiann really has a pair!  (Of boots, duh!)

  • Are your there, Judy Blume?  It’s us, your perimenopausal fangirlsAnna Holmes’s writes a valentine to Judy Blume’s unforgettable adolescent protagonists:  “Blume’s œuvre is filled with young female protagonists for whom boys, breasts, and sexual base-clearing are, if not irrelevant, sort of beside the point. In book after book, Blume gives us girls who have rejected the preciousness of childhood yet preserved the self-possession, ambition, and appetite for adventure that their peers and elders find in short supply. (‘What Mrs. Daniels didn’t know was that you could play with paper dolls like a baby or you could play with them in a very grown-up way, making up stories inside your head,’ reads one passage in ‘Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself.’) Contrast this with Blume’s exasperated, often derisive depiction of adult women—highly anxious, easily upset, overprotective, obsessed with outward appearances—and you begin to understand that what Blume is celebrating is that brief yet exhilarating time in a young girl’s life in which internal narratives take precedence over external attributes.”  Yes.  Don’t miss Holmes’s comments about the new e-book versions of Blume’s work, which totally undermines the way that the Blume books circulated in grade school back in the day:  someone would bring in their dog-eared copy, and each girl would have one or two nights in which to devour it before passing it along to the next girl.  Deenie.  Are You There, God?  It’s Me, Margaret.  And the succes de scandale, Forever!  (I never understood the appeal of Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, Blume’s one foray into male adolescence.  But that’s her only dog, in my view.)
  • From the department of “oops!”  Dahlia Lithwick called her shot last week about the Supreme Court’s review of the Affordable Care Act:  Continue Reading »


March 24th 2012
Falling down the Alice of Old Vincennes digital rabbit hole

Posted under American history & art & book reviews & captivity

“Alice of Old Vincennes” float, 1929

I know that I promised around the New Year not to buy any more books.  I’ve held to that promise, and have been pestering my subject-area librarian at Baa Ram U. with requests, as well as drawing heavily on our in-state library exchange system.  It’s been fantastic to read, enjoy, and return the books I’ve been reading!

However, as I warned you, I might make an exception for books I find in used book shops and old junk stores, and I’m afraid that last Sunday I did buy a book, Alice of Old Vincennes by Maurice Thompson (Indianapolis:  The Bowen-Merrell Company, 1900), which was a popular smash and among the top ten best-selling books of 1900 and 1901.  I paid all of $4.50 for my first edition copy, although you can pay eight or nine times more for it online.  (I love my old junk store haunts here in Northern Colorado!)

Who cares about some musty historical novel from the last century?  I bought the book because it is a story built around the capture of Fort Vincennes (now Vincennes, Indiana) from the British in 1779 during the War of the American Revolution.  Vincennes was originally a French fort, and the book purports to tell the story of a beautiful but willlful orphaned teenager named Alice who was adopted by a prominent French family at Vincennes.  Of course, SPOILER ALERT, she turns out to have been originally an Anglo-American girl who as a child was taken captive by Indians before she was “rescued” by the French family that raised her.  In short, it’s a typical turn-of-the-twentieth-century set-piece of Colonial Revival romanticism that portrays the French and Indian presence in the Old Northwest as a charming but doomed relict of the past, and it comes complete with the dashing young Anglo-American military hero ready to sweep Alice off her feet and return her to life among English- speaking Protestants.

Why are you still reading this post?  This is a post not so much about Alice of Old Vincennes as it is about the amazing power of the internets to elucidate and explain what otherwise would have been a long-forgotten historical novel that would interest few of us as a literary novel.  Continue Reading »


March 19th 2012
Mike Daisey and the Truth

Posted under American history & art & jobs & technoskepticism & the body & unhappy endings & wankers & weirdness

Locked and loaded!

Public Radio International’s This American Life last week was forced to retract a story they ran last January that drew heavily on a performance piece by Mike Daisey currently playing off-Broadway in New York.  Ira Glass writes on the website:

I have difficult news. We’ve learned that Mike Daisey’s story about Apple in China – which we broadcast in January – contained significant fabrications. We’re retracting the story because we can’t vouch for its truth. This is not a story we commissioned. It was an excerpt of Mike Daisey’s acclaimed one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” in which he talks about visiting a factory in China that makes iPhones and other Apple products.

The China correspondent for the public radio show Marketplace tracked down the interpreter that Daisey hired when he visited Shenzhen China. The interpreter disputed much of what Daisey has been saying on stage and on our show. On this week’s episode of This American Life, we will devote the entire hour to detailing the errors in “Mr. Daisey [and] the Apple Factory.”

Daisey lied to me and to This American Lifeproducer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast. That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.

We’re horrified to have let something like this onto public radio. Many dedicated reporters and editors – our friends and colleagues – have worked for years to build the reputation for accuracy and integrity that the journalism on public radio enjoys. It’s trusted by so many people for good reason. Our program adheres to the same journalistic standards as the other national shows, and in this case, we did not live up to those standards.

Glass and TAL did the right thing to retract this story and to devote last weekend’s entire show to correcting the record and to conducting a kind of on-air autopsy of what went wrong with TAL’s Daisey’s reporting and TAL’s fact checking.  Continue Reading »


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