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A Semester in the University Classroom
What is it really like to be a college professor in an American classroom today? An award-winning teacher with over twenty years of experience answers this question by offering an enlightening and entertaining behind-the-scenes view of a typical semester in his American history course. The unique result—part diary, part sustained reflection—recreates both the unstudied realities and intensely satisfying challenges that teachers encounter in university lecture halls.
From the initial selection of reading materials through the assignment of final grades to each student, Patrick Allitt reports with keen insight and humor on the rewards and frustrations of teaching students who often are unable to draw a distinction between the words "novel" and "book." Readers get to know members of the class, many of whom thrive while others struggle with assignments, plead for better grades, and weep over failures. Although Allitt finds much to admire in today's students, he laments their frequent lack of preparedness—students who arrive in his classroom without basic writing skills, unpracticed with reading assignments.
With sharp wit, a critical eye, and steady sympathy for both educators and students, I'm the Teacher, You're the Student examines issues both large and small, from the ethics of student-teacher relationships to how best to evaluate class participation and grade writing assignments. It offers invaluable guidance to those concerned with the state of higher education today, to young faculty facing the classroom for the first time, and to parents whose children are heading off to college.
The Coming of Age of the Woman Poet and the Politics of Poetic Address
When Anne Sexton, Adrienne Rich, Sylvia Plath, and Gwendolyn Brooks began to write poetry during the 1940s and ’50s, each had to wonder whether she could be taken seriously as a poet while speaking in a woman’s voice. I Made You to Find Me, the last line of one of Sexton’s early poems, calls attention to how resourcefully the “I-you” relation had to be staged in order for this question to have an affirmative answer. Whereas Rich tried at first to speak to her own historical moment in the register of universality, Plath openly aspired to be “the Poetess of America.” For Brooks, womanhood and “blackness” were inextricable markers of poetic identity. Jane Hedley’s approach engages biographical, formal, and rhetorical analysis as means to explore each poet’s stated intentions, political stakes, and rhetorical strategies within their own historical context. Sexton’s aggressively social persona called attention to the power dynamics of intimate relationships; Plath’s poems lifted these relationships onto a different plane of reality, where their tragic potential could be more readily engaged. Rich’s poems bear witness to the enormous difficulty, notwithstanding the crucial importance, of reciprocity—of making “you” to find “we.” For Brooks, the crucial question has been whether she could presuppose an “American” audience without compromising her allegiance to “blackness.”
A German American's Fight against Hitler and Nazism
Kurt Frank Korf's story is one of the most unusual to come out of World War II. Although German-Americans were America's largest ethnic group, and German-Americans-including thousands of native-born Germans-fought bravely in all theaters, there are few full first-person accounts by German- Americans of their experiences during the 1930s and 1940s.Drawing on his correspondence and on oral histories and interviews with Korf, Patricia Kollander paints a fascinating portrait of a privileged young man forced to flee Nazi Germany in 1937 because the infamous Nuremburg Laws had relegated him to the status of second-degree mixed breed(Korf had one Jewish grandparent).Settling in New York City, Korf became an FBI informant, watching pro-Nazi leaders like Fritz Kuhn and the German-American Bund as they moved among the city's large German immigrant community. Soon after, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in Germany as an intelligence officer during the Battle of the Bulge, and as a prisoner of war camp administrator. After the war, Korf stayed on as a U.S. government attorney in Berlin and Munich, working to hunt down war criminals, and lent his expertise in the effort to determine the authenticity of Joseph Goebbels's diaries. Kurt Frank Korf died in 2000.Kollander not only draws a detailed portrait of this unique figure; she also provides a rich context for exploring responses to Nazism in Germany, the German-American position before and during the war, the community's later response to Nazism and its crimes, and the broader issues of ethnicity, religion, political ideology, and patriotism in 20th-century America. Patricia Kollander is Associate Professor of History at Florida Atlantic University. She is the author of Frederick III: Germany's Liberal Emperor. I Must Be a Part of This Waris part of her ongoing research into the experiences of some fifteen thousand native-born Germans who served in the U.S. Army in World War II. John O'Sullivan was Professor of History at Florida Atlantic University.
Drive-by Essays on American Dread, American Dreams
From the cultural critic Wired called “provocative and cuttingly humorous” comes a viciously funny, joltingly insightful collection of drive-by critiques of contemporary America where chaos is the new normal. Exploring the darkest corners of the national psyche and the nethermost regions of the self—the gothic, the grotesque, and the carnivalesque—Mark Dery makes sense of the cultural dynamics of the American madhouse early in the twenty-first century.
Here are essays on the pornographic fantasies of Star Trek fans, Facebook as Limbo of the Lost, George W. Bush’s fear of his inner queer, the theme-parking of the Holocaust, the homoerotic subtext of the Super Bowl, the hidden agendas of IQ tests, Santa’s secret kinship with Satan, the sadism of dentists, Hitler’s afterlife on YouTube, the sexual identity of 2001’s HAL, the suicide note considered as a literary genre, the surrealist poetry of robot spam, the zombie apocalypse, Lady Gaga, the Church of Euthanasia, toy guns in the dream lives of American boys, and the polymorphous perversity of Madonna’s big toe.
Dery casts a critical eye on the accepted order of things, boldly crossing into the intellectual no-fly zones demarcated by cultural warriors on both sides of America’s ideological divide: controversy-phobic corporate media, blinkered academic elites, and middlebrow tastemakers. Intellectually omnivorous and promiscuously interdisciplinary, Dery’s writing is a generalist’s guilty pleasure in an age of nanospecialization and niche marketing. From Menckenesque polemics on American society and deft deconstructions of pop culture to unflinching personal essays in which Dery turns his scalpel-sharp wit on himself, I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts is a head-spinning intellectual ride through American dreams and American nightmares.
In this series of intricately related texts, internationally known poet, critic, and performance artist David Antin explores the experience of time—how it's felt, remembered, and recounted. These free-form talk pieces—sometimes called talk poems or simply talks—began as improvisations at museums, universities, and poetry centers where Antin was invited to come and think out loud. Serious and playful, they move rapidly from keen analysis to powerful storytelling to passages of pure comedy, as they range kaleidoscopically across Antin's experiences: in the New York City of his childhood and youth, the Eastern Europe of family and friends, and the New York and Southern California of his art and literary career. The author's analysis and abrasive comedy have been described as a mix of Lenny Bruce and Ludwig Wittgenstein, his commitment to verbal invention and narrative as a fusion of Mark Twain and Gertrude Stein. Taken together, these pieces provide a rich oral history of and critical context for the evolution of the California art scene from the 1960s onward.
Eighty Years of Black Entertainment, Big Bands, and the Blues
I Remember is a first-hand account of the world of black American music told by a man who has been part of that world for eighty years. Clyde E. B. Bernhardt worked with a number of bands, including King Oliver, Marion Hard, Cecil Scott, the Bascomb Brothers, and Joe Garland. He started his own band, the Blue Blazers, in 1946 and formed the Harlem Blues and Jazz Band in 1972.
The book is a primary document that provides information about a part of the history of American music for which there is little documentation.
Six Decades Among the Great Jazzmen
Al Rose has known virtually every noteworthy jazz musician of this century. For many of them he has organized concerts, composed songs that they later played or sang, and promoted their acts. He has, when called upon, bailed them out of jail, straightened out their finances, stood up for them at their weddings, and eulogized them at their funerals. He has caroused with them in bars and clubs from New Orleans to New York, from Paris to Singapore—and survived to tell the story. The result has been a lifetime of friendship with some of the music world's most engaging and rambunctious personalities. In I Remember Jazz, Rose draws on this unparallelled experience to recall, through brief but poignant vignettes, the greats and the near-greats of jazz. In a style that is always entertaining, unabashedly idiosyncratic, and frequently irreverent, he writes about Jelly Roll Morton and Bunny Berigan, Eubie Blake and Bobby Hackett, Earl Hines and Louis Armstrong, and more than fifty others. Rose was only twenty-two when he was first introduced to Jelly Roll Morton. He quickly discovered that they had more in common than a love of music. Something of a peacock at that age, Rose was dressed in a "polychromatic, green-striped suit, pink shirt with a detachable white collar, dubonnet tie, buttonhole, and handkerchief"—and so was Jelly Roll. About Eubie Blake, Rose notes that he was not only a superb musician but also a notorious ladies' man. Rose recalls asking the noted pianist when he was ninety-seven, "How old do you have to be before the sex drive goes?" Blake's reply: "You'll have to ask someone older than me." Once in 1947, Rose was asked to assemble a group of musicians to play at a reception to be hosted by President Truman at Blair House in Washington, D.C. The musicians included Muggsy Spanier, George Brunies, Pee Wee Russell, Pops Foster, and Baby DOdds. But the hit of the evening was President Truman himself, who joined the group on the piano to play "Kansas City Kitty" and the "Missouri Waltz." I Remember Jazz is replete with such amusing and affectionate anecdotes—vignettes that will delight all fans of the music. Al Rose does indeed remember jazz. And for that we can all be grateful.
A Biography of Edward H. Nakamura
Tom Coffman’s portrait of Edward Nakamura is both insightful biography and engrossing political history. The arc of the story may sound familiar (the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the GI Bill, Statehood), but it is strewn with surprise, resulting from Nakamura’s unshakable creed and unique angle of vision.
Translating the political gains of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Nakamura played a central role—unpublicized—in devising arguably the most progressive program of legislation in an American state: universal health care, temporary disability insurance, collective bargaining rights for public workers, and more—all of which forever changed the Hawai‘i worker’s landscape.
Vaulted from relative anonymity onto the Hawai‘i Supreme Court, Nakamura was acclaimed for his powerful intellect, his writing, and, most of all, his iron will and integrity. In retirement, he became a dissenting moral force. He fought mismanagement in the State Retirement System, helped to block a highly controversial Supreme Court appointment, and agitated for separating the high court from the Bishop Estate.
Against his background of comforting the afflicted, in retirement Nakamura afflicted the new “in” crowd, the smug and self-serving—fighting corruption, mismanagement, and the corrosive effect of Bishop Estate appointments on the Hawai‘i courts.
A Latitude 20 Book