Thursday, August 31, 2006


Read about this mandatory reading for all freshmen at Baruch Colleg. This is the kind of stuff that passes for "reading" these days at colleges. But Plato's Republic? Naw. Paradise Lost? Students haven't heard of these works.

Read this link from Baruch College

Click on the links for "suggestions for faculty" and "study guides for students." Soldiers, particularly, will be outraged.

I found this on the Phi Beta Cons blog of National Review Online, where such outrages are reported.

This is criminal. A certain Russian novelist wrote about this kind of indoctrination under the Soviets. But nobody reads him any more because he is a Christian.

And even here in Decatur, Georgia, there is a literary event for the masses, the over-taxed illiterate literati who frequent poetry slams or who think that Michael Moore produces documentaries. This tres chic part of the Atlanta metro area will host the first ever Decatur Book Festival. As a DeKalb County taxpayer I am forced to help pay for the speaking fees of such literary luminaries as Arianna Huffington. Take a look at the line-up.

Monday, August 28, 2006

and they don't mean that Slovenian will be the other language

Thanks to my brother-in-law, Eric, for notifying me about this.

Give this the widest distribution possible. > > 38 SENATORS VOTED TODAY AGAINST MAKING ENGLISH THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE> > OF AMERICA.> HERE THEY ARE. > > > > > > Akaka (D-HI)> > Bayh (D-IN)> > Biden (D-DE)> > Bingaman (D-NM)> > Boxer (D-CA)> > Cantwell (D-WA)> > Clinton (D-NY)> > Dayton (D-MN)> > Dodd (D-CT)> > Domenici (R-NM)> > Durbin (D-IL)> > Feingold (D-WI)> > Feinstein (D-CA)> > Harkin (D-IA)> > Inouye (D-HI)> > Jeffords (I-VT)> > Kennedy (D-MA)> > Kerry (D-MA)> > Kohl (D-WI)> > Lautenberg (D-NJ)> > Leahy (D-VT)> > Levin (D-MI)> > Lieberman (D-CT)> > Menendez (D-NJ)> > Mikulski (D-MD)> > Murray (D-WA)> > Obama (D-IL)> > Reed (D-RI)> > Reid (D-NV)> > Salazar (D-CO)> > Sarbanes (D-MD)> > Schumer (D-NY)> > Stabenow (D-MI)> > Wyden (D-OR)> > > > REMEMBER THIS THE DAY YOU VOTE. > > PLEASE PASS THIS ON

Friday, August 25, 2006

a poem for you

Today's poem is brought to you by the prompting of one of my dance partners, Verley.

But first, here is my poem to him:

To Verley:

There is a time to be silly,
and that's while dancing.

There is a time to discuss poetry
and that's between dances.

Groan...that is so-o-o bad! But Verley, who was at Mentone last weekend, will know what I'm talking about. He may even be able to make it rhyme.

Well, Verley, between dances, has been mentioning "Ars Poetica" by Archibald MacLeish, and so I looked it up and liked it so much, I've decided to copy it for your reading pleasure here. I think also that this should be a poem read before all the shouting, radical poets at open mics get up there. Enjoy!

'Ars Poetica'

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

As old medallions to the thumb

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown -

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind -

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

A poem should be equal to:
Not true

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea -

A poem should not mean
But be

-- Archibald MacLeish

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"Sex with God" call for papers!

It used to be that medievalists, by virtue of the religious nature of the literature they dealt with, were immune from this kind of pseudo-scholarship. But the feminists have pushed their big "bodies" into this sacred ground as well.

From: Marla Segol
Sent: Mon 8/7/2006 2:05 PMTo:

Subject: CFP: Sex with God: Monotheism and the Eroticized Framing of the Human-Divine relation (9/15/06; Kalamazoo, SMFS, 5/10/07-5/13/07)

Call for Paper Abstracts, proposal deadline: September 15

Session:Sex with God: monotheism and the eroticized framing of the human-divine relation

Sponsored by the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship42nd International Congress on Medieval StudiesWestern Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MIMay 10-13, 2007

This panel will explore the ways in which the human-divine relationship is imagined through the gendered, transgendered, and sexualized human body, and the cultural currents and contradictions informing this relation.Specifically, we will work to conceptualize the ways in which an eroticized framing of the human-divine relation calls attention to problems of embodiment within the Western religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) in the medieval period. These problems are based in the shared conception that human beings are created in the divine image. Earlier medieval traditions in some of these faiths attest to literal interpretations of this doctrine, so that there is clear documentary evidence of some belief that God had a body, and that this body was imagined to resemble the human body. By the high middle ages, these beliefs were strained as developing monotheistic notions of God actively disputed these earlier traditions to assert that the divine is unified, incorporeal, and radically different from and incomprehensible to human beings. This kind of philosophical monotheism worked in part to devalue the human body, and to limit its use for relation to divine. As the intellectual climate changed throughout Europe, religious devotees accepted the limitations placed on the body, but at the same time they also developed a sexualized terminology for framing the human relation to God. For this panel we are looking specifically for papers that theorize the cultural currents and contradictions embedded in the eroticized framing of human-divine relations.Papers should be 15-20 minutes in length, and might address issues such as :

The impact of rationalist philosophy in the conceptualization of embodied, eroticized religious experience

The gendered divine body and its relation to the gendered human body

Medieval monotheisms and their treatment of divine gender

The function of imaginative transgendering in eroticized conceptualization of the human-divine relation

Or others focusing on the cultural work done by eroticized human-divine relation in religious thoughtProposal abstracts should be no more than 300 words, and must bereceived by September 15th.

Please email to:Marla Segol
Or by post to:Marla SegolDepartment of Philosophy and ReligionSkidmore College815 North BroadwaySaratoga Springs, NY 12866-1632

Monday, August 21, 2006

letter from a former professor

I've pasted the letter from a former professor, Randy Malamud, at Georgia State University in response to my column on August 4 in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (You should be able to access my column in my August 4 posting.) Following it is the letter I sent to him in reply. I have not heard back from him. Of the letters of application I've sent to Georgia State University, most have gone unacknowledged. Most of the time I've received form rejections, even though I've sent my application to former professors and followed up with telephone calls. Oh, BTW, I received a private letter of praise from a reader who said he sent such a letter to the AJC. It was not included in those published. Two out of the three published were negative.

From: Randy Malamud
Sent: Fri 8/4/2006 1:58 PM
To: Mary GrabarSubject: Your article

Dear Mary Grabar:I read your column in the AJC today, and thought about writing a letter to the editor, but decided it didn't warrant a public response. But I wanted to share with you, privately, my thoughts: I found it self-righteous (without any foundation, as far as I can tell, in any record of scholarly accomplishment on your part, which accentuates a resonance of 'sour grapes'), gratuitous, and, as a salvo in the culture wars, um, about ten years out of date . . . . Your writing is formulaic, utterly predictable, uninspired. As a member of the profession, I found it embarassing. You will probably 'interpret' my response as a self-defensive riposte from a tenured radical, but it's really not -- if I thought your 'point' was important enough to attack, I would have done so publicly. I really just found it trite and banal. -Randy Malamud

Mon, 7 Aug 2006 09:55:10 -0700 (PDT)
"Mary Grabar"
your letter

Dear Professor Malamud:

Thank you for your letter regarding my editorial “Colleges’ open minds close door on sense” (AJC 8/04/06) sent to my Clayton State University e-mail account.

I would welcome a dialogue with you about the issue at hand. I would be happy to forward the calls for papers that I listed. But I am sure that you subscribe to the same list. If you believe that these are suitable topics for scholarship then you should support your points. I think the public would benefit greatly from an open and honest debate, such as in a letter to the editor from you, and a defense of specific types of scholarship. After all, we both work at public universities. Georgia taxpayers have a right to know what goes on in the institutions they support.

I was quite surprised to see your assessment of my writing as “trite and banal” because I earned an A in your seminar on T.S. Eliot as a master’s level student in the early 1990s; I recall your comments on how well-argued my papers were. I was encouraged enough by the comments from you and other professors to go on to earn my Ph.D. at The University of Georgia. I have had papers published in major journals and collections and have presented papers here and abroad. I trust that you felt that I earned the A. Why now after I have obtained my Ph.D. and published and taught for several years do you not respect my scholarship?

I would like to keep the discourse at a level in which we address pertinent points rather than make ad hominem attacks (attributing ‘sour grapes’ to me, for example). I think that all of us in the profession agree that personal attacks are unprofessional. That is what I teach in my writing classes.

I do disagree with your approach to scholarship, particularly in reference to T.S. Eliot. I felt very frustrated in your class because it was a 10-week-long attack on Eliot’s character, namely with your charges that he was anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and elitist. I recall a good part of the class period taken up with you reading from your manuscript-in-progress. I was frustrated because when a student asked, “was T.S. Eliot a good poet?” you simply brushed the question aside.

I also learned from the late Hugh Kenner, who was on my doctoral committee, that not all in the profession agree with your opinion of T.S. Eliot. As you know, Hugh Kenner was an internationally recognized authority on the modernists, and--pardon my impertinence-- more esteemed as a scholar than you are. Hugh Kenner highly disagreed with your assessment of Eliot; in fact, Dr. Kenner knew Eliot personally.

I found that I had to search long and hard to find a professor who was not extremely liberal and took the same political approach to literature as you did. The few remaining were near retirement age.

I don’t think you know much about me personally. I am an immigrant from Slovenia and became a U.S. citizen at the age of 18. My father had a fourth-grade education. I was not able to enter graduate school until I was in my mid-thirties. I come from a blue-collar background and to survive have in my time worked in agriculture (the vineyards of Upstate New York), cleaned houses, tended bar, waited on tables, and worked in fast food and retail establishments. I eagerly awaited a study of T.S. Eliot but was sorely disappointed when I took your class.

I sense that you would prefer to keep me out of the profession; you have probably seen my letters of application to Georgia State University. (I guess that is where you have determined that I do not have “any record of scholarly accomplishment” as you have ascertained.) But I fulfilled the requirements for a Ph.D., and at a disadvantage, for I had to counter the positions of professors like you with rock-solid papers. Since most of the academic journals and panels at major conferences at the MLA are comprised by those with your political views, my work is not welcomed there.

Hiring committees do not welcome candidates with political views that differ from their own. And “conservative activists” ask only that we enjoy fair representation. Show me your recent hires at Georgia State University that would demonstrate this intellectual diversity. I have observed only the hiring of those with similar views to those doing the hiring and running of English and Comparative Literature departments today.

I find it ironic that a professor who complimented me on my work and felt along with many others that I did work good enough to be awarded a Ph.D. now disparages an editorial in the newspaper and does not address the specific points I have raised. As a teacher, I am glad to see students who are not afraid to venture from the standard interpretation and forcefully argue and support their own positions. I wish that you would write a letter to the editor and openly defend your position, addressing the specific points I make on the panels I cite. Above all, let’s keep the dialogue at a level befitting our profession.


Mary Grabar

Friday, August 18, 2006

protected speech in textbooks

The AJC has published editorials on the Georgia Tech issue: one by the two students bringing suit and one by the school's chair of the School of Modern Languages ("Shameful victory for the intolerant stings").

But protected speech of favored groups is so insidious that only newcomers and outsiders can recognize it in academia. Consider these two treatments of the literature of two different religious groups in a college textbook I am required to use.

To introduce students to Zuni ritual "poetry," one of which is the Scalp Dance, the editors of the Norton Anthology of World Literature write, "Bastions of spiritual and social autonomy, the pueblo communities, make a profound impression on the nonnative world by the strength of their traditions in an era of change; and of this there can be no more convincing proof than the ceremonial system of the Zuni pueblo with its annual cycle of drama, sacrifice, and oratory."
The "Scalp Dance," an example of this "ceremonial system," ends, “In a shower of arrows, / In a shower of war clubs, / With bloody head, / The enemy, / Reaching the end of his life, / Added to the flesh of our earth mother.” But the editors in the introductory pages instruct students that the purpose of this Scalp Dance was to “purify the warrior who had taken a scalp and to induct the trophy itself into the company of previously won scalps, regarded as rain makers.” The "Scalp Dance," presented as having profoundly religious meaning (it "purifies") has replaced the poetry of Christian writers in such anthologies.

Compare this introduction to the "Scalp Dance" to the introduction to Alexander Solzhenitsyn:
"Since Solzhenitsyn is such a dedicated anti-Communist and anti-Marxist, many Westerners have jumped to the conclusion that he is in favor of the Western democratic system. Such is not the case. He looks back to an earlier, more nationalist and spiritual authoritarianism represented for him by the image of Holy Russia." In a typical classroom where "authoritarianism" (Christian authoritarianism especially) is presented as the greatest evil, the discussion is predictable. But a writer like Solzhenitsyn who is explicitly moral is treated with suspicion and his views oversimplified. Chants of an illiterate group that describe their pantheistic beliefs as they celebrate with the scalps of their enemies are presented as profoundly religious poetry.

Oh, and do not be fooled by Professor McKnight's presentation of Goethe in his editorial in the link above; he implies that Goethe would be in favor of abortion rights and gay marriage. To the contrary! Today's Faust is the post 60s revolutionary, romantic out to "find himself." But this is a pact with the devil. Today's Gretchen is the young woman deceived by the Fausts around her. But instead of murdering her baby after its birth, she has an abortion.

Now back to preparing my own syllabi for the semester.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

local news flash: insults allowed at Georgia Tech!

Insults are now allowed at Georgia Tech! This as a result of a lawsuit brought on by two conservative students, one Christian and one Jewish. The headline in yesterday's paper says it all.

The story in today's AJC tells about the threats that one of these students who brought the suit against speech codes, Ruth Malhotra, gets; among them are death, choking, and having acid thrown on her. Malhotra is Indian and her campus mailbox has been stuffed with Twinkies, the message being that she is yellow on the outside and white on the inside.

Is there any connection between the way the story is presented and the way students who resist speech codes are treated? Is there any connection between the indoctrination of students from kindergarten on up and their attitude towards such codes that give them a false sense of their own virtue? What about the fact that most teachers are hardly objective when it comes to discussing "diverse" religious perspectives?

The answer is that Christianity and Judaism are so maligned is classrooms that no one even notices it any more. The answer is that if you challenge the status quo on campus you will be attacked. In the late 90s I wrote an editorial in support of teaching classic authors, like Plato and Shakespeare. I received anonymous typed letters in my university mailbox.

But this is not a new story, really. Insults have been allowed for decades. They have been allowed against Christians, Jews, and conservatives. But no one saw them as "insults." They have been the curriculum.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

new link

I have been linked to Arts & Letters Daily Scroll down the left to "weblogs," and there I am!

Denis Dutton, who teaches at the University of Cambridge in New Zealand, is editor of this web page. He is also editor of the journal, Philosophy and Literature, which published physicist Alan Sokal's article explaining the reason behind his hoax. For those of you not familiar with this incident, in 1996, Sokal wrote a nonsensical piece on physics titled "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity." He used academic jargon and all the right buzzwords needed to get one tenure; it was published in the "cutting edge" journal Social Text. In other words, the emperor is wearing no clothes, folks!

More information here

Arts & Letters also sponsors the bad [academic] writing contest and publishes three new interesting articles each day.

I am very proud to be listed here. Please visit Arts & Letters frequently!

Friday, August 04, 2006

my article in today's paper

Here is my latest publication

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Jim Wooten allowed to publish (thank God)

Jim Wooten's column on the current "conflict" between Israel and Hezbollah is the most trenchant analysis I've seen. Read it here

While most of the media screams that Israel attacks innocent civilians, Wooten reveals the tactics of Hezbollah and similar terroristic groups, and how the Left aids and abets them.

I am so grateful that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution prints an occasional column by a conservative. But it's a little like academia: the few conservatives who have tenure (but are close to retirement) are permitted to voice their opinions. The liberals who are in power point to the token conservatives to show that they are not 'biased.'

But keep telling it like it is, Mr. Wooten!

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