Archive | September, 2007

Jessica Valenti Addresses Her Acolytes

25 Sep

“May the Spirit of the Blogosphere bless you and keep you safe from Ann Althouse, or at least her readers from your comment fields.”

Okay, so that’s not what’s going on here. In actuality, she’s talking with Devon Ward-Thommes and Rachael Lyons, the non-fiction and poetry editors, respectively, of George Mason’s feminist literary journal, So to Speak, after her Fall for the Book talk. It was a good introduction to modern feminism for a lot of the freshman women (and men) in the audience, who were either just beginning a Women’s Studies course or interested in learning more about her book. There was even a Power Point presentation and everything! (Including a mention of this great rock n’ roll camp for girls). Rock on young feminist women, rock on.

Feministing At George Mason

24 Sep

Tomorrow, George Mason’s Fall for the Book Festival will host the talented author, blogger, and feminist Jessica Valenti at 1:30 in the Johnson Center Cinema. If anyone out there in Blog Land has any questions for the mind behind Feministing, leave them in the comments section and I’ll try to ask them, as long as they don’t make me look stupid. For example, you could ask if she ever runs into Garance Franke-Ruta, and if Garance ever mentions you. Of course, that’s just a suggestion–feel free to ask your own questions.

Canon Talk, Now With 20% More 80s References

24 Sep

Michael Bérubé, he with the best-named-endowed-professorship (366 career wins!), applies his nuclear-force Humanities intellect to the Debate That Won’t Die (sorry Mike), and calls Ross Douthat out in the process:

Perhaps the sorry state of contemporary canon-commentary is best exemplified by Ross Douthat, who picks up the NAS study and writes, “obviously, having Morrison and to a lesser extent Woolf in that group is somewhat depressing.” Obviously, you just gotta love the “obviously.” In a stroke, five of the most accomplished novels from the high-modernist era—Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, The Waves—have now been so pwned by Ross Douthat!

If you read the whole thing, you can essentially skip all of your English classes¹ for the next week; you become that much smarter.

¹ Except of course, my class. Aw, who am I kidding, you weren’t planning on showing up anyway.

Real Foodies Don’t Eat Lean Cuisine

21 Sep

By Alicia Feuillet

I am a Foodie. I read the Washington Post Food section every Wednesday. The most exciting piece of mail I get is the month’s new Bon Appétit. I had to buy a new bookshelf just for my cookbook collection. I have thrown more dinner parties before the age of 25 than most people will in a lifetime. I cook nearly everyday of the week. In the hierarchy of importance, food is juxtaposed with politics.

I take my self-proclaimed Foodie status to heart, but last week I was incorrectly (in my mind) labeled a Food Snob. But then I thought, what exactly is the difference between a Food Snob and a Foodie? After much thought, I realized there are actually three groups: Food Snobs, Food Slobs, and Foodies. Continue reading

Canon Fight! or What Became of the Epic Poem

20 Sep

I’m more than a bit tardy to the literary canon back-and-forth between young Zeitlin and Mike Meginnis, but I was busy with things associated with a graduate program focused on literature and writing (he said knowingly, suggesting actual expertise–for once).

A couple quick points about literary forms to set the stage, suggest some problems, then onto my central argument. First, it’s interesting that both discuss the evolution of the novel next to the largely defunct epic poem. The biggest factor in the demise of the latter was the introduction of the former; as literature progressed, people became more accepting of “mere prose” as a literary genre. Realistic novels began to supplant poetry as the medium for communicating narratives, as the Romantic tradition pushed poetry to the more introspective lyric mode, a mode which tends to dominate poetry today. We don’t read epic poems today because we’ve made a greater distinction between poetry and prose than was made in the past.

From the Greeks we received the idea of poetry as the essential mode of literature–prose was for newspapers and pamphlets. But this turn is as much cultural and aesthetic as it utilitarian; I don’t want to belabor the invention of the novel as an “evolutionary” step in narrative. Strictly speaking, one can write a narrative as easily understood in poetry as one could in prose (it just wouldn’t rhyme as much and would be less recognizable to readers today). The complicated category of prose-poetry comes to mind here, and demonstrates how hard it can be at times to list criteria that makes a work “definitely a poem” or “definitely prose.” But I don’t want to stray too far the core debate. Continue reading

The Soft Bigotry of Conservative Expectations

17 Sep

Jonah Goldberg makes note of a conservative/libertarian blogging contest for college students (for which he is a judge) sponsored by America’s Future Foundation. If you win, you get $10,000, as determined by a panel of notable right-leaning/libertarian bloggers. This is from the press release:

– Jonathan Adler of The Volokh Consipracy
– Radley Balko of The Agitator
– Robert Bluey of The Heritage Foundation and
– Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online
– Mary Katharine Ham of
– Megan McArdle of

To enter, and for the complete set of rules, college bloggers canvisit There bloggers can enter their site for consideration. The deadline for entries is December 31, 2007. From the entries, AFF will choose ten finalists. The panel of seven judges will then track the blogs between January and April and will then choose a winner.

So far, so good. Seems like a nice little contest, if your political sympathies align with America’s Freedom Foundation, you have a blog, and are enrolled in college. But then AFF had to go and include this: Continue reading

The Reasoning Behind American Exceptionalism

14 Sep

k8080.gif I’ve been working my way through American Execptionalism and Human Rights in between teaching and classes, and thinking how strange and unconvincing discussions of America’s role in the international order must sound to foreigners.

I was right. Opino Juris has a post examining the varieties of American exceptionalism, and the commenters aren’t having any of it. Nothing revelatory here, considering the invasion of Iraq and subsequent bungled construction and sectarian conflict. The more interesting question is: how do Americans reconcile their position–from a strategic and ethical standpoint–as opposed to appeals to patriotism?

At the strategic level, the realist rationale is pretty self-evident, and likely the controling rationale for many Americans: an America unbound by international law is free to pursue its interests. It’s about self-sufficiency. The moral critique is likewise a simple narrative for Americans: it’s easier to be sanguine about the use of power when you look at your friends and neighbors and say, “These are fundamentally good people; they’re not war mongers and they make up our military and government.”

But I think John McGinnis might have an answer: Continue reading