Gender and Language — Revisiting Advice I Posted in 1998

When I was in college and active in a Catholic student group, I remember noticing that a second edition of the hymnal Glory and Praise rewrote lyrics, replaced many generic references to “men” or “brothers” with synonyms like “all” or “fam’ly” (elided to two syllabus).  Sometimes this meant rewriting the rhymes, or occasionally leaving a line that referred to “brothers” and “sons” and adding a parallel verse that addressed “sisters”…

Dr. Seuss Racism Controversy: A Dr. Seuss Expert Unpacks the Author’s History With Racism, Sexism

Nobody is banning, cancelling or censoring Dr. Seuss. Here’s some great context on why the Seuss estate is voluntarily retiring six titles that contain offensive racial stereotypes. One of the themes across Seuss’ work is the use of exotic, national, racial, and ethnic others as sources of humor. I don’t think he meant that with malice, but to use someone’s nationality or race as a punchline doesn’t land well, especially…

No, Dr. Seuss is not being “banned” or “censored” — but Dr. Seuss Enterprises is voluntarily retiring six books that contain racist stereotypes

It’s nothing new that Theodore “Dr. Seuss” Geisel used racist stereotypes, particularly in his wartime political cartoons. I’m seeing social media chatter from people who a few days ago were up in arms about the gender of a potato (which was overblown, manufactured hype) and who are now leaping to the defense of Dr. Seuss, who is (according to the memes) being “banned” or “cancelled.” In fact, it was the…

Most Americans have a high opinion of the humanities, and 81% use at least one humanities-related skill on the job

While some survey respondents were unfamiliar with the term “humanities” (apparently guessing that it had to do with the study of the human body), once they were given the definition “studying or participating in activities related to literature, languages, history, and philosophy,” most respondents had a high opinion of the subject. Predictably, people who were educated at liberal-arts colleges were the most favorable towards the humanities, but science and engineering…

Fun and Games with Samuel Beckett and Pict.

Beckett’s masterpiece Waiting For Godot was once famously described as ‘the play where nothing happens – twice.’ First produced in French and then re-written by Beckett into English, it remains one of the most significant plays of the twentieth century. Beckett described it as a tragi-comedy: it has as much comedy within the characters and the plot as it does tragedy, and is, perhaps, the ultimate play concerning the human…

Why Computers Will Never Write Good Novels

If it were possible to build a digital novelist or poetry analyst, then computers would be far more powerful than they are now. They would in fact be the most powerful beings in the history of Earth. Their power would be the power of literature, which although it seems now, in today’s glittering silicon age, to be a rather unimpressive old thing, springs from the same neural root that enables…

Radio Golf ( #AugustWilson #CenturyCycle, 10 of 10)

August Wilson’s Century Cycle >  Spoiler-free scene breakdown Premiered: 2005; Broadway 2007 Setting: 1997; office of Bedford Hills Redevelopment Co. Small cast — just 5 actors. I.i (Office of Bedford Hills Redeveloment, Inc.) Mame is unimpressed with the tin ceiling Harmond is excited about, saying it won’t do for a campaign office. He wants to put his campaign office in the Hill District, where he’s from, but the professional and…

Nellie Bly: A Race Against Time | Heinz History Center

On Nov. 14, 1889, Bly waved goodbye to family and friends from the New Jersey Hoboken Pier aboard the Augusta Victoria steamer. Traveling by steamships and trains, her journey sent her around the world from America to England, France, Italy, Egypt, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, China, Japan, and back to a port in San Francisco. She then traveled by train across the U.S., with four major stops including Harrisburg, Pa., before arriving back in New Jersey on Jan. 25, 1890.

A Career-Aligned Major Isn’t Enough

I’ve taken over teaching the English department’s relatively new career focus sequence, so I’m more than usually invested in these ideas. It’s time for faculty and administrators to be blunt: postgraduation success, more than ever, requires a demanding curriculum that includes extensive writing, facility with data and statistics, and extensive opportunities for collaboration and critical thinking. What the pandemic should have taught us is that we need to double down…

Enjoyed watching the restored version of the hugely influential 1927 sci-fi movie #Metropolis

Enjoyed watching the restored version of the hugely influential 1927 sci-fi movie #Metropolis I hadn’t seen any of the 20m or so of restored footage. Added main title music was good, but repetitive and not always emotionally aligned with the story. The print was very clear, with crisp details. Nothing like the version I saw 25 years ago on VHS. The recovered footage was grainy but still welcome. The choreography…

King Hedley II ( #AugustWilson #CenturyCycle, 9 of 10)

August Wilson’s Century Cycle >  Spoiler-free scene breakdown Premiered: 1999; Broadway 2001 Setting: 1985; backyard of row houses; Pittsburgh Hill District Prologue (starry night) Stool Pigeon, clicking ham bones, monologues to an offstage cat (which belongs to Aunt Ester). “The story’s been written. All that’s left now is the playing out.” I.i King (30s), ex-con with scarred face, plants seeds; his mother Ruby (60) asks him about getting a phone…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

Having a rough day. But in a span of about 24 hours, three former students reached out to thank me.

One former student said I’m the only adult male in their life who ever supported their creative efforts. A second former student posted an essay on social media, describing bouncing back from alcohol and cocaine addiction, and after mentioning several life-savers, mentioned me in the final line of the essay — thanking me for teaching them how to write. A third former student thanked me for the “Dystopia in American…

Jitney ( #AugustWilson #CenturyCycle, 8 of 10)

August Wilson’s Century Cycle >  Spoiler-free scene breakdown Premiered: 1982; Broadway 2017 Setting: 1977; Becker’s cab station, Pittsburgh Act I.i (morning?) Youngblood accuses “old man” Turbo of cheating in checkers; Turbo accuses Fielding of drinking his gas money; Youngblood turns down a grocery run, which Turbo takes; Youngblood gets defensive at Doub’s silent look; Shealy the numbers runner describes seeing the face of the one woman he loves in all…