Liberty’s Daughers and Sons: Celebrating the Legacy of Mary Beth Norton

The conference planned in honor of Mary Beth Norton’s career now has a program posted online, as well as new information about accomodations for the big weekend, September 28 and 29, 2012.

This could be your chance to meet Tenured Radical, who’s chairing the first panel on Friday morning the 28th! Alas, I will not be able to be there myself, much as I had hoped. Continue reading

Why blogging still sucks, part II: a shande

I haven’t written about this previously because I haven’t wanted to give this predictable charade the attention Naomi Schaefer Riley so desperately craves, but here she is, boo-hoo-hooing all the way to the bank with her next book deal in the works, I am sure.  Fannie and Lance wrote perceptively about this embarassment for the Chronicle of Higher Education last week–read their links if you want more background.  So, to summarize:

  1. Nasty, lazy blogger with an axe to grind insults the ongoing dissertations of a few graduate students on a Chronicle-sponsored blog. 
  2. The mostly academic audience for the Chronicle blogs takes offense not only at the a) racist invective of the original post, but b) at the fact that the writer came to her opinions on the basis of reading just the titles and brief abstracts of the dissertation.
  3. The Chronicle dismisses the nasty, lazy blogger, after foolishly trying to portray the blogger’s post as an “invitation to debate.”  (Since when do we debate the existence of academic fields?  Do we debate the existence of the Philosophy or History departments?  Does the Chronicle publish blog posts arguing that all biology departments are driven by their political agenda of evolution, instead of producing research based on creationism and intelligent design too?)
  4. The nasty, lazy blogger writes a screed complaining of her unfair victimization by typical left-wing closed-minded academics.

Here’s something from the nasty, lazy blogger that’s unintentionally funny.  Continue reading

Rites of spring

A colleague of mine recently gave a talk at my undergraduate college.  While we caught up over a cup of coffee, he asked about my experiences there, as he’s interested in sending his daughter to a college or university like that.  As I told him stories about the safety and liberty I felt there–and have felt nowhere else before Freshman convocation or since graduation–it occured to me that a surprising number of my fondest memories involved semi-public nudity.  Most of the naked memories were streaking up and down Senior Row or skinny-dipping in a fountain after dark when few people were around to witness us, and it was always a group endeavor–sometimes all-women, sometimes a coed group.

Is it just me, or do some of you have similar stories and memories?  What do you think is behind the compulsion of students to experience a college campus in Eve’s Livery? Continue reading

Saturday round-up: lazy blogger edition

Well, friends, it’s the Saturday in-between the end of classes and the beginning of finals week, so I’ll be out in the garden weedin’ and grillin’ up a storm  instead of in front of this computer screen for most of the day. I’m turning this blog over to smarter writers and bloggers than I, for your degustation:

  • Tony Grafton reviewsAndrew Delbanco’s College:  What it Was, Is, and Should Be.  Of all of the recent books on what’s wrong with higher education, this one seemed to me to be among the most worthy.  I’ve had Delbanco’s scholarship on my shelves since undergraduate days, and as he is a Columbia University faculty member he’s doesn’t blame the faculty for all of our current woes.  Grafton finds Delbanco’s contribution stronger on the Was and Is parts than the Should Bes–in other words, a better history of higher ed and diagnosis of its current ills and perhaps weaker on prescriptive solutions, but it seems like getting the Was and Is parts right is a good enough reason to read it. 
  • Echidne reflects on the end of the Cold War, and concludes that without the atheistic communist foe, capitalism “has gone wild:”  “It is ironic that communism was what kept the American type capitalism decent. Without that public enemy the nazguls are free to rob and ravage.”  That’s the thing about the ultra-rich and their lapdog politician-servants:  they’re not just greedy, they’re sore winners.
  • Finally, the Big Dog takes on the Dog-EaredContinue reading

I am Black Robe

Black Robes

For the past several years in my colonial North America class, we’ve read several different books that deal with Jesuits as a part of the French colonial strategy. I’ve also had my students read selections from The Jesuit Relations and write essays using them as primary sources, and I usually also show the relentlessly depressing Black Robe (Bruce Beresford, 1991) in class, too. (Fratguy once offered the best review of this movie ever: “It’s Apocalypse Now, only with Jesuits and Indians!”) Every time, I find myself in an awkward position of defending the Jesuit perspective against my students’ reflexive secular and/or evangelical protestant anti-Catholic views about Jesuit missionary work.

It’s a very strange position to be in, as a non-Catholic Marxist feminist scholar. Continue reading