Howard Zinn, Gramscian Intellectual

Amid  the sadness so many feel these days  at news of Howard Zinn‘s death, and within the scores of tributes that most deservedly continue to pour forth, it should never be forgotten that all his life Zinn wedded his erudition and scholarship to his activism, to being in the street as well as in the reading room. From his working-class Jewish background, his labor agitation on the docks of Brooklyn, the brutally honest self-examination of his role as a fighter bomber in the Second World War, his struggle to be educated in the America of  Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy, Read More …

A Post Mortem From the Massachusetts Election: Teacher as Organizer

by Susan Jhirad  | Leonard Vogt’s article about the possibilities and limits of the classroom as “bully pulpit” made me reflect on the disturbing election results in Massachusetts. Most of us, I think, already know what polls showed: Massachusetts voters did not vote for Scott Brown because 1. they are turning “Republican” or 2. they are against health care reform. They voted for Scott Brown because Martha Coakley ran a horrible campaign  and Scott Brown ran a great one. The “lessons” are, unfortunately, not about policies, but about effective organizing. She was ahead in the polls by 15 points a Read More …

Sunday Football Edition

by Emily Drabinski | Last week, when the San Diego Chargers’ Nate Kaeding missed three field goals in a playoff loss against the New York Jets that the Bolts were heavily favored to win, the Internet came alive with condemnation of the two-time Pro Bowler who, during the regular season, was pretty much automatic. On Wikipedia, that heavily favored scholarly source of so many students, Kaeding’s biography took particularly heavy hits. Contributors to his page, editable by any registered user, said that after storied high school and college careers, he went on to “becoming a failure in the NFL for Read More …

Teaching and Learning Amid the Riots in Hyderabad

by Linda Dittmar In India on a four months’ Fulbright assignment, I am encountering a reality here in Hyderabad, capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh, quite different from anything I anticipated. After more than a month on my home campus of Osmania University I am yet to meet any of my students. The students are very much “here,” demonstrating and rioting but not in their classrooms. More often than not the campus has been shut down altogether, with students sent home, armed guards at the gates, me locked in under “protective custody.” The few students I meet by the Read More …

Radical Teaching and the Haitian Crisis

by Leonard Vogt In the presence of the suffering in Haiti right now, and the United States media’s exploitation of it, this retired community college teacher would not mind two or three class periods back in the classroom. My first guide to the Haiti earthquake was Diane Sawyer, the new anchor on World News Tonight on ABC. Her simpering sincerity about the horror of this “natural” disaster and how the United States would of course be there to help made me nauseous. I foolishly hoped that her sincerity might include some analysis of how the United States has consciously fostered Read More …

A New Job Crisis in the Humanities?

By Kate Drabinski At the annual convention of the Modern Language Association in Philadelphia last month, shrinkage and decline were palpable.  The book exhibits that used to fill a large ballroom could have been accommodated in a small bar room.  Attendance was down:  I don’t know the figures, but elevators in the Marriott and Loews were nearly empty, and all the sessions I went to had more empty seats than occupied ones.  Hundreds of graduate students in English and foreign language departments were there without a single job interview, or with just one or two.To be specific about that last indicator:  Read More …