From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The New Yorker and the World—Syllabus

[a] Literary fields RF
This is a long enough post on its own, so I will let it speak for itself in all its detail and perplexity...until tomorrow...when I will explain the plan in depth—sort of like I do during the first day of class. For now, though, just take a look at the course books. They balance a history of the twentieth century with full books on The New Yorker magazine. Moreover, you will notice that just about every week we will explore a full month of New Yorker issues from various points in the twentieth century. For me, this is one of the high points of the course. Delving into old issues (and challenging times) is half the fun—and frustration—of this entire journey into the literary detritus of a dizzying century.

Although I usually don't try to make these "texts" less terrifying (until students see that they are actually quite reasonable in the course of their studies), let me say this. If you think of "reading" as moving at the same pace through every page of text, this syllabus will seem insane. I would argue that it is not, but, then, I run the asylum. Still, the whole point of all of my teaching—and especially my teaching of first-year students of the kind who will be taking this seminar—is to teach (and for me to learn more deeply) all sorts of ways to read material, ranging from close analysis of a single page (or paragraph) to getting the "gist" of enormous swaths of text. You already understand this, don't you? Of course you do, because we're all too busy, and there is always too much to do. Learning to handle "too much" is one of my primary goals in teaching. There is more, though. You see, some things require such special attention that no "sped redin" course could ever (ever) meet our needs. What we all need to learn is how to read on multiple levels, and to target the right skills toward the right needs...almost all of the time.

[b] Saucy RF
That is what this course is about. Oh, and it's about The New Yorker—the magazine that changed America. Here is the syllabus. I have had students in other classes over the years (this group of students has no choice, alas) panic and rush out of the room as soon as they see my syllabus. If they waited for the explanation (multiple reading strategies and lots of well as a fair dose of compassion for the challenges we all face), well, maybe one or two more would stay. This syllabus (despite what you may think on a first glance) is all about learning to love learning.

It just looks scary.

One last thing. I believe in breaking each assigned reading down so that readers can think about the structure of the book. The contents speak to exactly that, and it is one of the reasons that the syllabus is so long.

More tomorrow.
The New Yorker and the World
FYI 100
Autumn 2012
Tuesday and Thursday, 2:00-4:00

Robert André LaFleur                                                Office Hours

MI 111                                                                          Tuesday            4:00-5:30
363-2005                                                                      Thursday          4:00-5:30                                                      …or by appointment

Required Books         
Gill, Brendan. Here at the New Yorker.
Groth, Janet. The Receptionist
Johnson, Paul. A History of the American People
Kunkel, Thomas. Genius in Disguise: Harold Ross of the New Yorker.
Mehta, Ved. Remembering Mr. Shawn's New Yorker.
Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (FYI Common Reading)
Thurber, James. The Years with Ross.
Yagoda, Ben. About Town: The New Yorker and the World it Made
Hacker, Diana. A Pocket Style Manual

[c] Tonic RF
This seminar will explore the twentieth century through the lens of one of the world’s great magazines. Since its first issue in February 1925, The New Yorker has covered national and world events (large and small) with a kind of depth and introspection that few media have matched, and has published work by many of the most prominent literary figures of the twentieth century. We will study a peculiarly successful match of journalism, history, literature, and entrepreneurship that tells us a great deal about modern America in a complex world. 

Students will read issues from all decades of The New Yorker’s existence, and will pay close attention to the way the magazine has been perceived in each generation up to the present. Projects will include historical fact-finding, study of rhetorical styles, and the analysis of major events, including the stock market crash of 1929, the Depression, World War II, the Cold War and Vietnam, and September eleventh.

Through it all, New Yorker editors have maintained that great reporting and superb writing can go together. We will examine those claims and gain, in the process, a better understanding of history, culture, literature, and the wider world in which we live.

Weekly Quizzes/Logs                                      10%
Weekly Essays and Sketches                          30%
Midterm Paper (Review)                                  30%
Final Paper (Profile)                                         30%
Class attendance and participation is expected.  More than one absence will significantly affect your grade.  Late assignments will be penalized. 

Final Papers due by November 30th at 10:00 p.m.

Arrival Week (August 20-27)
The New Yorker, August 27, 2012
The Talk of the Town
      Comment: Who is Mitt Romney?
      The Pictures: Moonshine Kingdom
      At Sea: Solo
      Field Trip: Special Particle
      The Financial Page: The Track-Star Economy
Reporting and Essays
      The Political Scene: Schmooze or Lose (Jane Mayer)
      String Theorist: Christian Tetzlaff Rethinks How a Violin Should Sound (Jeremy Eichler)
      Altered States: Self-Experiments in Chemistsry (Oliver Sacks)
      Letter from Syria: The War Within (Jon Lee Anderson)
Shouts & Murmurs
      Lose That Fat With the Cursing Mommy (Ian Frazier)
The Critics
      A Critic at Large: The Escape Artist (Leo Carey)
      Briefly Noted: Seating Arrangements (Maggie Shipstead)
      Musical Events: Fresh Breezes. (Alex Ross)
      The Theatre: Bedtime Stories (Hilton Als)
      On Television: Child’s Play (Emily Nussbaum)
      The Current Cinema: “Cosmopolis” and “Compliance” (David Denby)
      “Amundsen” (Alice Munro)
      “Edward Hopper’s ’11 A.M.,’ 1926” (Joyce Carol Oates)
      “Haste” (C.K. Williams)
Goings on About Town
      Critic’s Notebook: Brown Thoughts (Sasha Frere-Jones)
      Tables for Two: Brooklyn Crab (Shauna Lyon)
      Critic’s Notebook: One Lucky Guy (Anthony Lane)
      TV Notes: Dance Dance Revolution (Emily Nussbaum)
The Mail

Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (FYI Common Reading from Summer 2012)
Part One: Life
The Exam…1951
Diagnosis and Treatment…1951
The Birth of HeLa…1951
“Blackness Be Spreadin’ All Inside”…1951
“Lady’s on the Phone”…1999
The Death and Life of Cell Culture…1951
“A Miserable Specimen”…1951
Turner Station…1999
[d] Retrospect RF
The Other Side of the Tracks…1999
“The Devil of Pain Itself”…1951
Part Two: Death
The Storm…1951
The HeLa Factory…1951-1953
Helen Lane…1953-1954
“Too Young to Remember”…1951-1965
“Spending Eternity in the Same Place”…1999
Illegal, Immoral, and Deplorable…1954-1966
“Strangest Hybrid”…1960-1966
“The Most Critical Time on This Earth Is Now”…1966-1973
The HeLa Bomb…1966
Night Doctors…2000
“The Fame She So Richly Deserves”…1970-1973
Part Three: Immortality
“It’s Alive”…1973-1974
“Least They Can Do”…1975
“Who Told You You Could Sell My Spleen?”…1976-1988
Breach of Privacy…1980-1985
The Secret of Immortality…1984-1995
After London…1996-1999
A Village of Henriettas…2000
Hela, Goddess of Death…2000-2001
“All That’s My Mother”…2001
The Hospital for the Negro Insane…2001
Soul Cleansing…2001
Heavenly Bodies…2001
“Nothing to Be Scared About”…2001
The Long Road to Clover…2009

Week I (August 28, 30)
The Complete New Yorker (February-March 1925)
February 21, 1925
February 28, 1925
March 7, 1925
March 14, 1925
Johnson, A History of the American People, 627-977
(You need to have this book in class with you each day of the semester)
      PART SIX ‘The First International Nation’
      Melting Pot America, 1912-1929
The Significance of Woodrow Wilson
Education and the Class System
The Advent of Statism
Wilson’s Legislative Triumph
McAdoo and the Coming of War
The Disaster of Versailles and the League of Nations
Harding, ‘Normalcy,’ and Witch-Hunting
Women Stroll onto the Scene
Quotas and Internal Migration
The Harlem Phenomenon and Middle America
Prohibition and Its Disastrous Consequences
San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Californian Extremism
Cheap Electricity and Its Dramatic Impact
The Social and Moral Significance of Jazz
Race Prejudice, Popular Entertainment, and Downward Mobility
Harding and Historical Deconstruction
The Age of Coolidge and Government Minimalism
Twenties Cultural and Economic Prosperity
      PART SEVEN ‘Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself’
      Superpower America, 1929-1960
Government Credit-Management and the Wall Street Crash
Why the Depression Was So Deep and Long-Lasting
The Failure of the Great Engineer
Roosevelt and the Election of 1932
The Mythology of the New Deal
FDR, Big Business, and the Intellectuals
Transforming the Democrats into the Majority Party
US Isolationism and Internationalism
Roosevelt, the Nazis, and Japan
America in the War; the Miracle in Production
FDR, Stalin, and Soviet Advances
The Rise of Truman and the Cold War
Nuclear Weapons and the Defeat of Japan
The Truman Doctrine, Marshall Aid, and Nato
America and the Birth of Israel
The Korean War and the Fall of MacArthur
Eisenhower, McCarthyism, and Pop Sociology
Piety on the Potomac
      PART EIGHT ‘We Will Pay Any Price, Bear Any Burden’
      Problem-Solving, Problem-Creating America, 1960-1997
The Radical Shift in the Media
Joe Kennedy and His Crown Prince
The Space Race
The Bay of Pigs and the Missile Crisis
Lyndon Johnson and His Great Society
Getting into the Vietnam Quagmire
Nixon and His Silent Majority
Civil Rights and Campus Violence
Watergate and the Putsch against the Executive
Congressional Rule and America’s Nadir
Carter, the 1980 Watershed, and Reaganism
Rearmament and the Collapse of Soviet Power
The Bush Interlude and Clintonian Corruption
Fin-de-Siècle America and Its Whims
Wyeth and the Significance of the Realist Revival
Judicial Aggression and the Litigational Society
The Sinister Legacy of Myrdal
Language, Abortion, and Crime
Family Collapse and Religious Persecution
The Triumph of Women
Talk of the Town and “Sketch” Due by 5:00 on Friday 8/31

Week II (September 4, 6)
The Complete New Yorker (November 1929)
November 2, 1929
November 9, 1929
November 16, 1929
November 23, 1929
Yagoda, About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made, 1-241
Introduction: Our Far-Flung Correspondence
One: Metropolitan Life. 1919­-25
Two: Hard Questions, 1925­-31
Three: Lowlife Ascendant. 1931-41
Four: Sophistication and Its Discontents, 1938­-51
Talk of the Town and “Sketch” Due by 5:00 on Friday 9/7

Week III (September 11, 13)
The Complete New Yorker (August 1936)
August 8, 1936
August 15, 1936
August 22, 1936
August 29, 1936
Yagoda, About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made, 242-429
Five: The Bland Leading the Bland, 1952­-62
Six: A Time of Tumult, 1962­-71
Seven: "Love Is the Essential Word", 1972­-87
Epilogue: The Years with Gottlieb, Brown, and Remnick, 1987-99
Talk of the Town and “Sketch” Due by 5:00 on Friday 9/14

Week IV (September 18, 20)   
The Complete New Yorker (December 1941)
December 6, 1941
December 13, 1941
December 20, 1941
December 27, 1941
Gill, Here at The New Yorker, xi-xxix; 1-193
1 Happy writers have histories shorter than happy families.
2 The celebrated nit-pickiness of Harold Ross has been inherited by...
3 Once upon a time, we had a writer on the magazine whose breezy motto was…
4 The vagaries of memory!
5 I perceive that I have been doing something odd and confusing.
6 I have hinted that the beginnings of m professional career cost me little pain…
7 The man generally regarded as the greatest poet in English in out time…
8 The reason I waited to marry until the day after graduating…
9 My disappointment in respect to Yankee Kingdom Come
10 Having demonstrated that I was capable of writing factual pieces as well as fiction…
11 When I came to work for The New Yorker…
12 To me in my early weeks and months on the staff of The New Yorker
13 Poor Maloney! I must offer up a blue-butterfly paragraph or two…
14 In my first year or so on the staff, White, Thurber, and Gibbs were figures…
15 Happy as I was at the fair, I was less happy at the magazine.
16 Having succeeded McKelway as managing editor, Shawn’s first official act…
17 Ross’s success as an editor had certain elements of the fortuitous about it…
18 To have a dead man in the text of the magazine is awkward enough…
19 Of the many cases of mistaken identity that I have been party to on the magazine…
Talk of the Town and “Sketch” Due by 5:00 on Friday 9/21

Week V (September 25, 27)      
The Complete New Yorker (August 1945)
August 4 ,1945
August 11, 1945
August 18, 1945
August 25, 1945
Gill, Here at The New Yorker, 194-395
20 Among the artists on the magazine, my oldest friend is Charles Addams.
21 Thinking of Stanley Edgar Hyman, I began to smile.
22 Oh, but John O’Hara was a difficult man!
23 If Thurber was no longer a regular member of the staff of The New Yorker
24 During most of the life of the magazine, the nearest bar…
25 To our readers, there appears to be a hierarchy of importance in respect to…
26 Among the best-known writers of departments are Mollie Panter-Downes…
27 Shawn has always ruefully accepted the fact that it would be necessary…
28 I began to write for The New Yorker when I was twenty-one and now I am almost sixty.
Talk of the Town and “Sketch” Due by 5:00 on Friday 9/28

Week VI (October 2, 4)
The Complete New Yorker (July 1955)
July 2, 1955
[e] 1938 RF
July 9, 1955
July 16, 1955
July 23, 1955
Thurber, The Years With Ross
Foreword to the Perennial Classics Edition (Adam Gopnik)
Foreword (James Thurber)
A Dime a Dozen
The First Years
Every Tuesday Afternoon
Mencken and Nathan and Ross
The Talk of the Town
Talk of the Town and “Sketch” Due by 5:00 on Friday 10/5

Week VII (October 9, 11)
Thurber, The Years With Ross
More Miracle Men
Onward and Upward and Outward
“Sex Is an Incident”
Who Was Harold, What Was He?
Up Popped the Devil
The Dough and the System
The Secret Life of Harold Winney
Writers, Artists, Poets, and Such
Dishonest Abe and the Grand Marshall
The Last Years
The Complete New Yorker (November-December 1963)
November 30, 1963
December 7, 1963
December 14, 1963
December 21, 1963

Week VIIIAutumn Break

Week IX (October 23, 25)—Midterm Week
Kunkel, Genius in Disguise
Prologue: A Hell of an Hour
      1/CHILD OF THE WEST: 1892-1924
The Petted Darling 13
Tramp 29
The Stars and Stripes 45
New Yorker
      II/A Magazine of Sophistication: 1925-1938
Labor Pains 97
Cavalry 133
      II/A Magazine of Sophistication: 1925-1938 (continued)
A Cesspool of Loyalties 169
Fleischman 207
Life on a Limb 240
Skirmishes 275
Words and Pictures 295
     III/Season in the Sun: 1939-1951
War 339
Squire 375
Recluse About Town 399
Back to Algonquin 416 
Epilogue: The Angel of Repose 433
Midterm Review Essay Due on Sunday, October 28th by 10:00 p.m.

Week X (October 30, November 1)     
The Complete New Yorker (August 1968)
June 1, 1968
[f] Plaid RF
June 8, 1968
June 15, 1968
June 22, 1968
Groth, The Receptionist, 1-229
Introduction; or, Jack Spills the Beans 1
Homage to Mr. Berryman 9
On Writing, Not Writing, and Lunching with Joe 20
Remembering Muriel 45
Rough Passage through the New Yorker Art Department 69
Party Girl 96
Back on Reception 106
Fritz 126
Intermezzo 138
Fritz: The Denouement 143
A World Awry 155
A New Roommate 161
Greece: The Journey Out 171
Greece: The Journey In 187
Changing 201
A Renaissance Man 207
Mr. Right at Last 212
What the Receptionist Received 224
Talk of the Town and “Sketch” Due by 5:00 on Friday 11/2

Week XI  (November 6, 8)
The Complete New Yorker (August 1974)
August 5, 1974
August 12, 1974
August 19, 1974
August 26, 1974
Mehta, Remembering Mr. Shawn’s New Yorker, 1-194
A Story in The New Yorker
The Sighted Book
From Eliot House to the Picasso
Embarking on a Dangerous Profession
Jackknife Ben
Talk of the Town and “Sketch” Due by 5:00 on Friday 11/9

Week XII (November 13, 15)
The Complete New Yorker (March-April 1987)
March 9, 1987
March 16, 1987
March 23, 1987
March 30, 1987
Mehta, Remembering Mr. Shawn’s New Yorker, 195-414
Flight of Crook-Taloned Birds
Pinning the Butterfly
Under a Tolerant Roof
Early Tremors and Shocks
The Succession Problem
“Being Honor Bred”
Talk of the Town and “Sketch” Due by 5:00 on Friday 11/16

Week XIII (November 20)
The Complete New Yorker (September-October 2001)
September 17, 2001
September 24, 2001
October 1, 2001
October 8, 2001

Week XIV (November 27, 29)
The Complete New Yorker (August 2008)
August 4, 2008
August 11,2008
August 18, 2008
August 25, 2008 
Week XV (December 4)
Digital Film Festival and Discussion

Final Projects Due on Friday, November 30th by 10:00 p.m.
[g] Guarded RF

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