Roundtable discussion with Professor of English Sean McCann, Professor of History Ronald Schatz, and Olin Professor of American Studies, Emeritus Richard S. Slotkin on the role of posters and propaganda in the mobilization of the United States during World War I. Topics will include the experience of immigrant and African-American soldiers, as well as the cultural response to propaganda, and tensions between state power and democracy.
Date: Thursday, November 13 Time: 5-6 PM Place: CFA Hall, 287 Washington Terrace
Explosions! American Studies! “Thinking Mythologically: Black Hawk Down, the ‘Platoon Movie,’ and the War of Choice in Iraq,” an event courtesy of Laura Borhman:
Inaugural lecture in the annual Richard Slotkin American Studies Lecture Series, by Richard Slotkin, Olin Professor of American Studies and English, Emeritus.
Richard Slotkin’s classic American Studies histories include his award-winning trilogy, Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600–1860; The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800–1890; and Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in the Twentieth Century; and also Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality. His novels include The Crater: A Novel of the Civil War, The Return of Henry Starr, and Abe: A Novel of Young Lincoln. He won Wesleyan’s Binswanger Award for Excellence in Teaching twice and is the founder of the American Studies Department.
Date: Thursday, April 24, 2014 Time: 4:15-6PM Place: Powell Family Cinema, Center for Film Studies
Following up on their personalized publicity campaign, the strangely-named MTV Iggy interviews Das Racist on all Wesleyan topics. But I can’t introduce this clip better than they did:
“Westco. Butt B. Anthony Braxton. The Argus. The Ampersand. If these words mean anything at all to you, you probably attended Wesleyan University in grim, grim Middeltown, Connecticut. You know who else did? The “weed-edge/hare krishna hard-core/art-rap/freak folk” duo Das Racist. We sat the MCs of our favorite hip hop group down and asked them the tough, tough questions about their alma mater. We ran out of time before they could sing the school fight song, but if you’re even watching that far into the video, you already know the song by heart. 06459 in the house!”
The Atlantic Monthly looks into its archives for some context on the Supreme Court’s monumental decision this past week on gun ownership in D.C. v. Heller. In case you missed it, the Supreme Court ruled that Washington, D.C.’s longtime strict ban on private handgun ownership, meant to combat gun violence, violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms. Big deal!
One of the relevant articles dredged up is our own Professor Richard Slotkin‘s important 2000 review of Arming America, a book about the cultural significance of America’s historical relationship with guns. Blogger Andrew Sullivan excerpts a section on his blog:
The militia issue highlights a critical difference in the way American and European cultures permit violence. American culture has tended, from the eighteenth century on, to assign an extraordinary value to individual rights, desires, and property. So we came to treat weapons, and the right to use them, as we treat all forms of private property—granting the widest possible latitude of action to the owner.
Our self-defense statutes are more permissive than those of any other industrialized nation. Under English law if a person menaced with deadly force is able to flee, he is obliged to do so. American laws since the Jacksonian period have typically declared that a man may defend himself with deadly force when he has a credible belief that he is menaced with deadly force. Under this rule a Louisiana man was acquitted in 1993 after having shot an unarmed Japanese exchange student who came to his door looking for a Halloween party.
I doubt that many Wesleyan students are gun owners, but this is an interesting read regardless of your NRA status.
Olin Professor of English and American Studies Richard Slotkin is retiring from teaching at Wesleyan. Check out student video of his last day of teaching, which apparently was today (which is odd, because I’m pretty sure I’ve got AMST201 with him tomorrow afternoon). The Film Department brought in a mariachi band to celebrate:
The funniest part is definitely after 6:06… Slotkin suggests partying with tequila instead of champagne, and the person filming whispers, “Tequila shots with Slotkin!” You can feel his utter joy at the prospect.
Richard Slotkin, our American Studies professor currently teaching Westerns (with his own extensive Wiki page, no less!), is a key commentator in this Hartford Courant articleabout how the American public is tuning out the war in Iraq because of domestic distractions:
“If you get some other crisis to deal with, you can leave behind the morally tricky question of the war,” says cultural critic and historian Richard Slotkin, the Olin Professor of American Studies at Wesleyan University…
“People’s sympathy is for their own, and for themselves, first,” he says. “If you ask people what they feel about those who are serving, they would say they are concerned. But it’s just not the same.”
…To pull funding for the war and bring the troops home with no resolution or good outcome in Iraq would be an admission that the war was illegitimate, he says, and that the sacrifices and the lives that were lost were in vain.
But there is historical precedence for that, he says. At the end of the Vietnam War, in 1975, the Ford administration went to Congress to authorize funding for the use of bombers to counter the final assault of the Viet Cong.
“And Congress refused,” Slotkin says. “There was a general belief that it just was not worth spending any more lives or money on that war.