4.0362 Texas Comp. Controversy (4/102)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Mon, 6 Aug 90 22:09:44 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0362. Monday, 6 Aug 1990.

(1) Date: Lun, 06 Aug 90 09:09:21 SET (20 lines)
From: Michel Pierssens <PIERSENS@FRP8V11>
Subject: Texas Freshman Comp

(2) Date: Fri, 03 Aug 90 21:05:27 EDT (9 lines)
From: TEBRAKE@MAINE (William H. TeBrake)
Subject: Texas controversy

(3) Date: 03 Aug 90 22:02:03 EST (23 lines)
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: Texas Writing and Multiculturalism

(4) Date: Mon, 06 Aug 90 16:46 PDT (50 lines)
Subject: Re: 4.0358 Texas Controversy, Part II

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Lun, 06 Ao­ 90 09:09:21 SET
From: Michel Pierssens <PIERSENS@FRP8V11>
Subject: Texas Freshman Comp

Prof Slatin is (understandably) touchy about the UT writing problem and
that may obscure his perception of other people's reactions to his state
ments. Isn't indicative of a failure to communicate effectively and
convin cingly (what freshman comp is supposed to be about -- at least

When people disagree with your views does that mean that they are
reactionaries or that your arguments lack rhetorical strength? A one
paragraph badly argued point will always be too long. Prof Cahalan
rejoinder suffers (in my view) from another type of rhetorical weakness:
the recourse to quotes from Authorities. What strength can there be in
a trivial quotation by Terry Eagleton? The end result is that, even
though ideologically sympathetic with Prof Slatin's general outlook,
his way of arguing his point makes me doubt its value. Here's proof of
my good faith: give me an effective essay on the UT controversy and I'll
publish it in SubStance (which I edit at Uof Wisonsin Press).
(2) --------------------------------------------------------------18----
Date: Fri, 03 Aug 90 21:05:27 EDT
From: TEBRAKE@MAINE (William H. TeBrake)
Subject: Texas controversy

Keep doing what you are doing, John Slatin, and I, for one, will
contribute to a fund to pay your malpractice insurance. I'm pleased to
see that UT Austin still has people with the courage to take on the
cultural conservatives.
William TeBrake (Ph.D. Texas, 1975, in history)
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------26----
Date: 03 Aug 90 22:02:03 EST
From: James O'Donnell <JODONNEL@PENNSAS>
Subject: Texas Writing and Multiculturalism

From: Jim O'Donnell (Penn, Classics)

The Texas flap sounds to these jaded ears like nothing so much as an
internecine struggle within the local thought police to see who will
control the official ideology. Shouldn't the function of academic
discourse be to demolish ideology wherever we find it? Replacing old
ideologies with new ones, or defending old ones against new ones, is a
sterile game at best, better left to politicians and other lower life

No right-winger I, but *experto credite, Teucri*, the idea that Greece
and Rome are somehow part of the majority culture in America at this
time is a *sheer* fantasy. Nothing easier than to teach them
multiculturally, and 90%+ of classicists known to me, including
outrageous right-wingers, do so. Is it fair to instance the institution
that wanted to introduce a non-western culture requirement and then at a
very late stage had to change the name hurriedly to `diversity
requirement' when they noticed they had included `Hispanic' as a
`non-western' culture?
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------213---
Date: Mon, 06 Aug 90 16:46 PDT
Subject: Re: 4.0358 Texas Controversy, Part II (1/82)

Dear John Slatin: I just read your remark about the Am Lit Honors
course petition at Ann Arbor in 1972. I am astonished. I left in
1954, with the Ph.D., on DH Lawrence, maybe the 2nd thesis to be done in
the States! But among the first few. I had no idea UoM had backslid so
far! Ridiculous!

I shant take up your heated reply; but I do wonder how it is that folk
who wish to teach their fresh comp students to think usually want to do
it with texts they think their students will get excited about?
Malcolm X and suchlike. It was Soul on Ice a while back, but Cleaver is
a nono today because he came back and said Algeria was superracist. He
should have read early Baldwin, who preferred the States to
Europe...until he got older and went to live in europe etc and write
about whites and gaiety...a ruined mind, from the 70's on. Not his
fault perhaps, as is it ever? But...John, the firebrands who want to
take kids out of high school in the States where they have had next to
zilch by way of thinking, and lots of anti-thought in the culture from
tv and movies, and start them in hot topics are perhaps thinking of
their own recent awakenings. I think one could do even more damage to
reactionaries with Homer, with Ecclesiastes, with job , with Alex Pope,
and certainly a hell of a lot more awakening with house of 7 gables,
with scarlet letter, with moby dick, with Huck Finn, with Confidence Man,
with even H James and Faulkner and Fitzgerald, and such like.
Socrates is always a good bet, symposium. Thinking can be taught well
where the emotions are not directly, but indirectly engaged, so that
examples from contemporary life can be brought to bear to connect!
Passage to India will do it. But the polemics of the current decades are
usually pretty confused and confusing. There are post war books, but
from Daddy's or say Grandpa's youth (I keep forgetting I am past 60).
YOu want them to think? Machiavelli. Use indirection, and keep the
Dean guessing because you are using bona fide classics. gulliver's
tales. C'mon! Subversion can be the Federalist papers even. Critical
subversion of nonthinking reaction. Otherwise one falls into the
feverishness of agitproplithink. 1984 will always work! It takes you
into Europe and the betrayal of all hopes by the murder of the
idealists by the CP in Spain. C'mon. Dos Passos will do fine for that.
But there are also essayists: Freud and Jung and Koestler et al.
Bernard Shaw will do. the 19th century is not that bad: Meredith's
novel on LaSalle, the socialist who was knocked off by the Commune and
Commune-ists. Darwin should upset them. Even Eddington or Einstein.
The frame of reference ought to be big enough to excite their
imaginations, not local with Nam or whatever. Dreyfus, Mein Kampf, you
name it. World politics, not local stuff. Otherwise we are still at
the Alamo, no? I love the older things...then the instructor will make
the necessary connections, not the Deans, etc. Indirection and
subtlety count. Kessler here at ucla.