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The New Republic and the Long Magazine Article

Back in December 2014 The New Republic saw the majority of the editors for the publication resign.  Twelve senior editors and twenty contributing editors left the publication, upset with the direction for the magazine that has been articulated by its new owner, Chris Hughes. Dylan Byers reported in Politico on who the editors were who resigned, and their stated reasons. This news set alight a small grove of the Internet’s wide green forest…those who had a personal history with TNR and those who comment on the state of American journalism.  Immediate response from any was a tone of resigned anguish–that while there was perhaps a generational transition for a private enterprise at the heart of this, “eulogy” was a popular word to describe these resignation.  Reporting in Vox Ezra Klein gathered tweets and other primary documents as the story broke, and his own take on the demise of the “ambitious policy magazine.”  Ross Douthat expanded on this idea in the New York Times Sunday Review when he wrote of “the loss of the older magazine’s ability to be idiosyncratic and nonpandering and just tell their readers what they should care about, because more than ever before you need to care about what readers click on first…to get the traffic that pays for the ads.” Of the TNR, Douthat concludes:

It wasn’t just a liberal magazine, in other words; it was a liberal-arts magazine, which unlike many of today’s online ventures never left its readers with the delusion that literary style or intellectual ambition were of secondary importance, or that today’s fashions represented permanent truths.

That point is what perhaps makes this more than a tale of a “creative destruction,” it is rather a moment asking the question whether long articles still have a place in journalism.  Is a sustained linear narrative on a complicated topic possible outside of academic literature, and if the events at the TNR suggest no, what does that mean?  The image of a Sunday feature, a longer piece of journalism that could fill a quiet Sunday afternoon brings with it the idea of a reader having time to think about what they have read. Digesting something.  Does the fate of the TNR suggest that this kind of reading is unsustainable in an online environment?  They’ll be several more posts with commentary on the fate of the TNR

Philip Levine, 1928-2015

w-philip-levine-obitPhilip Levine died on February 14th, and with his death the United States lost one of it’s great working poets. A transcription of Tom Vitale’s thoughtful obituary that aired on Morning Edition is available from North Country Public Radio, and he is remembered by colleagues at California State University Fresno here.  Levine is well represented in the SLU Libraries collections, including his first book On the Edge (a book from Frank Piskor’s collection), Not this Pig, and Simple Truth, the book which won him the Pulitzer Prize. We also have his autobiography published in 1994, The Bread of Time: Toward an Autobiography.  There are interviews with Levine in American Poetry Review (November/December 2013), Triquarterly (winter 1995), and Five Points (January 2008).  One of his poems is titled “Losing You,”



Losing You

Another summer gone,
the hills burned to burdock
and thistle, I hold you
a moment in the cup
of my voice,
you flutter
in the frail cave of finch,
you learn to speak
in my ear
and the first rain blows
you away.

Dusk is a burning
of the sun.
West of Chowehilla
The Lost Continent of Butterflies
streams across the freeway.
Radiators crusted,
windshields smeared with gold
and you come on
rising into the moons
of headlights.

My brother is always a small bear
cleaning his paws<
I am a leopard
running through snow,
you are the face of an egg
collapsing sideways.
Now the last olive falls
gripping its seed,
a black stone among stones
and you are lost.

In a white dress
my little girl goes to the window.
She is unborn,
she is the thin flame
of a candle,
she is her mother
singing a song,
her words frost
the mirror of the night,
a huge wind waits
at the back of her breath.

Poetry Magazine November, 1972

Winter Reading, Books About Winter

winterWell, with winter making itself a quarrelsome and noisy house guest, what better way to calm the chill than to embrace it.  With that in mind, a list of books about or largely about winter.  The idea was to draw as widely from topic and type as possible, enjoy:

Winter Reading, Big Books

A short but interesting reading list based on the notion than what is better on a February day, particularly a February day like today, than curling up with a long book, a substantial read, an edifice of words.  This list is admittedly somewhat random, but tries to include different genres, novels and short stories, and hopefully will inspire some reader to a new book (or a mid-winter rereading) by the fire.

New Book by Elun Gabriel

elun   Associate Professor of History Elun Gabriel has a new book out, Assassins, Conspirators: Anarchism, Socialism, and Political Culture in Imperial Germany, published by Northern Illinois University Press.  His teaching interests include European history, the Holocaust, modern Germany, modern Italy, World War I, and Weimar & Nazi Germany, and J.R.R. Tolkien,  provides an overview of his book:

My book addresses the place of anarchism in the political culture of the German Empire (1871-1918). Tracing public debates about anarchism offers a unique vantage point on the construction of political legitimacy in the German Empire. Members of all other political camps considered anarchist violence fundamentally illegitimate, and so anti-anarchist rhetoric helped demarcate the parameters of acceptable politics. The book explores one crucial aspect of this public discussion, the question of German Social Democrats’ relationship to the threat of revolutionary violence and terrorism (this is the same German Social Democratic Party, or SPD, that is the second largest party in Germany today). In the 1870s, government mouthpieces branded Social Democracy the “party of assassins and conspirators” and sought to excite popular fury against it. Over time, Social Democrats managed to refashion their public image by emphasizing their overall commitment to peaceful change through parliamentary participation and open public debate. They condemned anarchist behavior—terrorism and other political violence specifically—and distanced themselves from the alleged anarchist personal characteristics of rashness, emotionalism, cowardice, and secrecy. Repeated public debate about the appropriate place of Socialism in German society, and its relationship to anarchist terrorism, helped Socialists and others, such as liberals, political Catholics, and national minorities, cement the principles of legal equality and a vigorous public sphere in German political culture, paving the way for the parliamentary democracy of the later Weimar Republic. My analysis of anarchism in Germany utilizes public sources such as newspapers, political pamphlets, parliamentary speeches as well as police reports and other internal government sources on the anarchist movement.


Student Research, Jessica Tyree

Jessica 2    Jessica Tyree is working on her senior honors thesis under the supervision of Karen Dillon O’Neil and will explore mental health issues experienced by young people who are constantly exposed to violence.  Jessica was inspired to work on this project when she began to think about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder issues in youth while working with Dr. O’Neil on a project about urban policing.  Jessica is planning ethnographic research in her home town of Schenectady, New York, where she will be interviewing teachers, counselors, and other mental health professionals who have worked with students at the elementary, middle, and secondary levels.  The question she’s pursuing is why some children seem more resilient after witnessing violence, while other children struggle with many manifestations of stress (or ) having witnessed violent acts.  She plans on being in the Albany schools, and talking to as many mental health care professionals as is possible.

Jessica plans to pursue a Masters in social work and this research will provide a foundation to her intended career goals of working with children-at-risk.

Faculty Publication, Samantha Glazier and Nadia Marano

nadia_sam   Associate Professors of Chemistry Samantha Glazier and Nadia Marano have taught general chemistry for 10 and 22 years, respectively.  They have presented several workshops on teaching general chemistry and published two papers on related topics in the Journal of Chemical Educations,  and here in the new year they shared this about their recent work:

Our interest in student-centered learning led to the adoption of a new general chemistry textbook and accompanying curriculum in 2004.  The arrival of three new chemistry professors provided an opportunity to overhaul the chemistry department’s introductory course to make it more activity-based with an emphasis on deeper conceptual understanding of fewer topics.  As a result, we became aware of important omissions and misconceptions perpetuated by standard chemistry texts.  We quickly became involved in the American Chemical Society’s effort to provide workshops to help others use this approach.  As we did workshops, we noticed that participants were not aware of these misconceptions.  This prompted us to collaborate with another workshop leader to research and write our first paper on teaching about and explaining intermolecular attractions using boiling point data.  What we learned in the process allowed us to make further changes to the way we taught the topic.  Buoyed by our relative success, we moved on to a conceptually more difficult topic – why some things are soluble in water and others are not.  Although the explanations we wrote about are not new, the misconceptions make so much intuitive sense that it is hard for many to change their ideas and especially how they are presented to first year students.  After three years of substantial revisions, first our own and then in response to reviewer comments, the paper was finally published.  We were invited to present this paper at a Faculty Café, It’s Not Enough to be Hot, You Have to Know How to Move, and had a lot of fun with our engaged colleagues who participated in our activities and asked excellent questions.  Working together with each other, workshop participants and our students, we learned a lot more about chemistry and teaching, which has extended to all of our courses.

Another Holiday Reading List

green_xmass_ballOne of the pleasures of spending too much time by the monitor glow of the Internet is one is forever coming across reading lists. In wandering to the Daily Beast on this suitably heavy-skied December day one comes upon Scott Porch’s Best Books About the Volatile 60′s. This is basically a list of books about politics, but it’s an admirable list in the wide range of issues these titles reference, and the number of people who were in play on the national stage fifty some odd years ago.  Some of these books are in our collections, and there would still be time to get some of these through Interlibrary Loan if one did so soon…pour a manhattan into a glass with Fred Flinstone on it, and start a book about the 1960′s? Not a bad plan for a quiet holiday afternoon…

Best Books of the Year

girl_reading   Atlantic Monthly has published its Best Books Read in 2014–that is, the books that folks associated with Atlantic Monthly read most of which were not published in 2014.  Several of the contributors to the article pointed to books by James Baldwin, and Nora Biette-Timmons enjoyed Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle.  Taken together this stands as a fine list of suggestions for holiday reading the holiday reading season upon us…

New FODYLL Bulletin Out

herring_blog   Our 2014 issue of the FODYLL Bulletin has been mailed to the FODYLL membership.  Much of the copy of this issue of the Bulletin is devoted to the renovation of Herring-Cole Hall, and the role Herring-Cole can now play as a contemplative space on the SLU Campus.  We also delved into the archives to find material on the history of the building, and one of the documents we found was a “discursive report” written in 1968 by Paul Malo for the New York State Council on the Arts.  His descriptions of the interior of Herring-Cole is florid, but in the best possible sense of that word.  Here is the portion of Mr. Malo’s text that we included in the Bulletin:

In terms of style, the eclectic quality of the work is characteristic of the turn-of-the-century.  It is eclectic in the truest sense: not simply find expression in the language of a particular historic style, rather it combines stylistic elements from various periods freely.  A generation ago academic architects regarded such a want of consistency as evidencing a lack of knowledge or of taste.  To-day, we are more inclined to recognize the inventiveness of such architecture, and to find visual delight in the juxtaposition of forms.  The Cole Reading Room is a creative work. Its architect is unknown, but a dynamic quality characterizes the vigorous design.

This large wing, a single room inside, was related outside to the Herring Library in material and alignment of elevations, and it is harmonious in general effect.  The character provides an interesting contrast, however.  Where the earlier work is modest in scale and restrained in execution, the new twentieth century statement expresses affluence and self-confidence.  The bold assurance of this design suggests the bravura of Teddy Roosevelt’s muscle-flexing nation.

Perhaps the first impression of the building from this aspect is of its sumptuous richness: the vivid color of the sandstone, so unusual for a building is heightened by stained glass and slate roof with a rich metal cresting.  The principal entrance elevation counterplays a great wheel window above a magnificent classical portico, framing a pair of massive wood doors of Second Empire Renaissance design.  The stylistic unrelatedness of the elements seems to set them off in a new context, and it was probably the intent of the architect so to combine elements in surprising combination, as a poet casts words.

The fenestration and cornice of the side elevations are somewhat neo-classical in design, but are again more inventive that derivative, combining small casement sash at the lower level with larger groups of double-hung ash above.  The change of scale is effective in enhancing the monumental appearance of the structure.

The interior of the new wing, as its name, the Cole Reading Room, implies, is a single high space, but in reality, the actual size is not so great as the impressiveness of the design suggests.  The scale of the interior elements is quite small, so that the whole appears quite grand.  Again, the first impression is of richness. There is lavish use of golden oak woodwork, with wainscoting, fluted Corinthian columns supporting an oak railed mezzanine and bookcases at the upper level.  But the principal features are the elaborate hammerbeam trusses of the roof with decorative metal tie rods.  The ceiling, following the slope of the roof is sheathed in wood.  Some original lighting fixtures remain, of brass with glass shades.

The room is well lighted by windows on each side, at floor and mezzanine levels, and by the great stained glass wheel window above the entrance.  At the lower level, under the mezzanine, small alcoves are defined by the gallery columns, and small casement windows are appropriately placed here.  These intimate spaces contrast effectively with the lofty central space.

Information on becoming a Friend of the Owen D Young and Launders Libraries can be found here.