Entries from January 2008

Saturday, January 26th, 2008


Calvin Tomkins, in an article in the January 28, 2008 issue of The New Yorker (“Lifting the Veil: Old Masters, Pornography, and the Work of John Currin”), recounts a conversation with the painter John Currin in which the painter speculates that pornography is a kind of elegy to liberal culture: “I know how right wing […]

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Where Is One So Weak as in a Bookstore?

“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?” Henry Ward Beecher famously asked (and reading Debby Applegate’s recent bio of the nineteenth-century celebrity preacher, The Most Famous Man in America, you learn that he knew something about the weakness of human nature). My name is Tom, and I am a bookaholic. “Hello, Tom.” […]

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Stepping Stone State University

Our local newspaper has announced the sudden (but not unexpected) news that the president of one of our two state universities in town (I’ll call it Stepping Stone State University) is leaving for another university presidency after seven years on the job. We are fortunate to have two respected state universities in town: a historically […]

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Where Do Americans Go for Information?

According to the results of a recently released survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, they don’t go to television and radio to find information in order to solve a problem (or only 16% do). A substantial majority of respondents (58%) claimed the Internet as their source. Many of them are using public […]

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

E-Textbooks? Really. We Mean It This Time. Seriously.

Textbook expenses in higher education have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, with the burden of managing costs being placed mostly on professors (as if we were responsible for textbooks’ costs). Why are they so expensive? In part because publishers insist on coming out with new editions every three to five years, even in […]

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008

Humanities Matter

The recent annual Modern Language Association (MLA) meeting took up the theme, The Humanities at Work in the World. For the uninitiated, the humanities are those fields of human labor, knowledge, and creativity that include languages and literatures, fine and performing arts, and history (if you don’t call history a social science). The MLA scholars […]

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

Huckabee’s Paralepsis

A delicious moment in the interminable presidential primary farrago: Mike Huckabee shows reporters (including TV reporters) his campaign’s anti-Romney TV ad but only to tell them that his campaign won’t be showing the anti-Romney TV ad on TV. In classical rhetoric this is known as paralepsis, a pretended omission, mentioning a topic by saying that […]

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

Resolutions for 2008

Americans as diverse as Jonathan Edwards (famous to lit students for his 18th-century sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”) and Benjamin Franklin (famous for just about everything except sermons) wrote and kept track of resolutions, seeking to conform their deeds to their ideals, so why should I be different? Less email, more […]