Wednesday, May 18, 2011
First off, I'd like to thank my students and their families for choosing The College of New Jersey as their "learning destination" -- not to be confused with a vacation destination. We're proud of the education we offer, and we are pleased that you selected TCNJ.
Next, I would like to thank the residents of New Jersey for continuing to support public education for young (and not-so-young) New Jerseyans. Many many middle class families throughout the US would have never achieved economic stability without our American commitment to public education. I myself would not enjoy a nation in which only those families who could afford private schools were able to obtain degrees for their children.
Before we all get too caught up in summer, let's think about what this academic year has brought us.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
But last year we decided to open the competition up to student preference. As a result, I had to face one of my demons: books I don't like. It started with Catcher in the Rye. I acknowledge Salinger's importance to our culture and recognize that it would have been appropriate to read his most famous and influential book right after his demise. But I really hate Holden Caulfield. I wanted us to read Chris Abani, since I was so impressed with the talk he gave at last year's convention. Nonetheless, I was happy to read the birthday party episode from The Lord of the Rings in my West Country accent. Yet this year...this year. We have reached a bridge too far my friends--what do I do now? The students have selected Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead as one of the three candidates in the penny wars they're conducting to choose the book (and to support the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen). Ayn Rand's ideological rant faces up against Sense and Sensibility and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I've been ranting and raving, scowling and snarling about this choice for over a month now, but I finally decided I needed to lay out my reasons against this book. The penny war is a contest, so I can be overruled, and I refuse to be the principal donor in the war, but I wanted my chapter members know why I object so viscerally to this novel, especially since I pride myself as a champion of academic freedom. And I invite my opponents to provide their reasons for the texts in question. Thus, patient reader, allow me to put Rand's The Fountainhead on trial.
My charges are thus: one count of bad prose, one count of bad economics, and one count of irredeemable misogyny. My evidence follows.
First, I'm working from Google books, so I do not have a page number for this Penguin edition. My apologies:
"Keating looked at the sketch. He had known for a long time that Howard Roark had been chosen to build the Enright House. He had seen a few mentions of Roark's name in the papers; not much, all of it to be summed up only as 'some young architect chosen by Mr. Enright for some reason, probably an interesting young architect.' The caption under the drawing announced that the construction of the project was to begin at once. Well, thought Keating, and dropped the paper, so what? The paper fell beside the black and scarlet book. He looked at both. He felt dimly as if Lois Cook were his defense against Howard Roark."
My evidence from this one paragraph suggests that Rand 1) overuses pronominal constructions making it difficult to follow the logic of her narration, 2) overuses past perfect constructions so that the text exists in a time vacuum, 3) lacks a narrative perspective. I consider all three of these traits to be sins of prose fiction and poison to an extended live reading.
Second charge: bad economics. Take this one quotation, admittedly with little context:
"He's only a common worker, she thought, a hired man doing a convict's labor."
The suggestion of a 20th century author that labor is something appropriate only for convicts is abhorrent to me--I cannot suffer to hear this kind of thing.
Third (and damning) charge: irredeemable misogyny. I somehow doubt that the students who have not yet read The Fountainhead know that it includes, as one of the actions of its nearly divine hero, the architect Roark, one of the most appalling rape fantasy scenes in all literature. I won't quote the rape itself, but from its aftermath--from what it does to the character of Dominique.
"She could accept, thought Dominique, and come to forget in time everything that had happened to her, save one memory: that she had found pleasure in the thing which had happened, that he had known it, and more: that he had known it before he came to her and that he would not have come but for that knowledge. She had not givene him the one answer that would have saved her: an answer of simple revulsion--she had found joy in her revulsion, in her terror and in his strength. That was the degradation she had wanted and she hated him for it."
Now, as many of my students know, I'm no shrinking violet, and have taught some graphic, quite horrifying literature in my classes. I think most fondly of Last Exit to Brooklyn, which one of my students thought was too scandalous for a woman to read while pregnant, as I was when I taught the book. I'm not queasy about violence. But I simply am horrified by the idea that my students will sit around a lounge, many of them in their last year of college, after having participated in presentation and event after presentation that says that "No means no," that "No woman deserves or asks to be raped," and have to listen to this indictment of female sexuality. I confer the matter to the jury, respectfully. May you vote with your spare change and pennies. --Felicia Steele
Monday, March 21, 2011
Ten players anxiously await the end of the first round, hoping they will advance in the tournament and gain the fame and glory they so crave.
Emily watches as Jenna plays another made-up word.
Eight players made it to the second round, four advanced to the semi-finals, and finally Frank and Alexa played in the final match.
Congratulations to Alexa for winning the tournament and taking home the grand prize of a $30 giftcard to Amazon.com.
And thank you to all sixteen players who competed in the tournament!
Friday, March 11, 2011
Monday, February 28, 2011
If you are reading a book for class, which seems to grow extra pages the longer you read it, you might realize it’s time for a break. But you’re still a book-loving English major (minor, etc) and you don’t quite want to move away from your books.
Let me introduce you to Dr. Seuss Day on March 2nd. Clearly, an event all fans of the printed word would be interested in. Who doesn’t remember those early years when fish were red or blue, one or two? Look fondly back on the days when green eggs and ham didn’t refer to a bad dinner pick from our Eickhoff dining hall.
Come join us from 1-3 in Bliss Lounge. Why? Because we’re fellow adults who still love hearing Dr. Seuss. And eating cake. Did I mention the Dr. Seuss themed cake that will be available for free? Well let me now: there will be a Dr. Seuss themed cake that will be available for free. At 1:30 and 2:30 we will have marathon readings. If you want to read, go stop by and sign up; if you don’t, then sit back and have a story read to you for once in way too long.
At the end, don’t forget to sign the guest list and get your certificate e-mailed to you!
Check out our Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=198371190191289
Hope to see you there! Wed March 2nd. Bliss Lounge. 1pm-3pm. Cake and other goodies from 1pm-3pm. Marathon Readings 1:30 and 2:30.