“U.S.A. is the slick of a continent. U.S.A. is a group of holding companies, some aggregations of trade unions, a set of laws bound in calf, radio network, a chain of moving picture theatres, a column of stockquotations rubbed out and written in by a Western Union boy on a blackboard, a publiclibrary full of old newspapers and dogeared historybooks with protests scrawled on the margins in pencil, U.S.A. is the world’s greatest rivervalley fringed with mountains and hills. U.S.A. is a set of bigmouthed officials with too many bankaccounts. U.S.A. is a lot of men buried in their uniforms in Arlington Cemetery. U.S.A. is the letters at the end of an address when you are away from home. But mostly U.S.A. is the speech of the people.” -John Dos Passos, preface to U.S.A.
I met with my good friend James Shelley to discuss Albert Memmi’s The Colonizer and the Colonized, a book published in the 1960s which, I think, still has great resonance today.
I have a long standing interest in putting together a small reading & discussion group devoted to the subject “Life in the Suburbs.” It would be a group where fiction, non-fiction, film, and photography are read, watched, viewed, and discussed. I think it would encompass work done on Canada & the United States, where suburban life first took off.
If anyone is interested in this idea please feel free to message me. I think it could be quite a bit of fun.
Here is a sample of some of the books my students and I have been reading lately. I’m immensely proud of them for undertaking all of these:
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
A Complicated Kindness, by Miriam Toews
A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth
Logicomix, by Apostolos Doxiadis & Christos Papadimitriou
Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ecological Imperialism, by Alfred W. Crosby
The Birth of Tragedy, by Friedrich Nietzsche
Selections from The American Political Tradition, by Richard Hofstadter
In all cases my students have enthusiastically embraced these challenging readings. I could not be more proud of them.