Allen Porter Mendenhall

Archive for the ‘News and Current Events’ Category

What Crisis? Law as the Marriage of Science and the Humanities

In Academia, Arts & Letters, Humanities, Jurisprudence, Law, Law-and-Literature, Legal Education & Pedagogy, News and Current Events, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Philosophy, Scholarship, The Academy on March 12, 2014 at 8:45 am

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This week the Association for the Study of Law, Culture & the Humanities convened to consider this question: “How will law and humanities scholarship fare against the pressure of the science and technology paradigm that has now permeated the institutional frameworks of academia?”  The question implies an adversarial relationship between science and the humanities, or law-and-humanities.  The division between science and the humanities as academic disciplines, however, is not yet 150 years old; it is misguided to pit “law-and-humanities” (a signifier that did not exist a few decades ago) against the “science and technology paradigm that has now permeated the institutional frameworks of academia” (another quotation from the conference program).  We do not have to go back to Plato or Aristotle or Galileo or Descartes or Spinoza or Da Vinci or Locke or Hume or Rousseau or Kant or Newton or Adam Smith or Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson or Thoreau to see that what we call the humanities has not, traditionally, been divorced from the sciences—that, in fact, the humanities and the sciences are mutually illuminating, not mutually exclusive.

In America, more recently, the classical pragmatists—in particular C.S. Peirce and William James—sought to make philosophy more scientific, and in this endeavor they were mimicking the logical positivists in Britain.  Some of the most famous minds of the 20th century worked at the intersection of the humanities and science: Freud, Einstein, Michael Polanyi, Karl Popper, Jacques Lacan, F. A. Hayek, and Noam Chomsky, to name a few.  Lately we have seen scientific thinkers as wide-ranging as Steven Pinker, E. O. Wilson, Jared Diamond, and Leon Kass celebrate or draw from the humanities.

A review of the conference abstracts suggests that most presenters will be considering this question from the political left, but their concerns are shared by many on the right, such as Roger Scruton, who recently took to the pages of The New Atlantis to address this topic in his article “Scientism in the Arts and Humanities.”  Nevertheless, forcing the separation of science and the humanities does not strike me as prudent.

By encouraging the humanities to recognize its scientific heritage and to recover its scientific methodologies, the academy would be correcting decades of wandering.  Science is indispensable to the humanities, and vice versa; the two work in concert.  The findings in one influence the findings in the other.  Evidence of this reciprocity in the context of legal studies is especially striking in America during the late 19th and early 20th century, when the law often was associated with scientific disciplines rather than with the humanities.  At this time, the theories of Charles Darwin and his progeny helped to explain the common law tradition while influencing the way that law was taught in law schools and examined by judges and most notably by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The scientific paradigms in vogue among legal thinkers at the turn of that century were neither uniform nor monolithic.  For instance, Christopher Columbus Langdell’s push to make legal education more scientific was different from Holmes’s use of Darwinism to describe the common law.  Rather than teasing out the distinctions between various scientific approaches to the law during the late 19th and early 20th century America, however, I would look at these scientific approaches as part of the same general project and as a reminder of how the humanities and the sciences can participate to bring about theoretical and practical insights.  It might be that, of all disciplines, law is the most revealing of the participatory nature of science and the humanities and, therefore, provides the best justification for instrumental and scientific approaches to humane studies.

There are groups within the humanities that resent the scientific disciplines for the funding and privilege those disciplines enjoy in the academic marketplace, but at least part of this resentment is misplaced.  The fault lies partially with the scientists who mistake merit for value: it is not that the sciences enjoy more funding and privilege because they have more merit—the academy is not a meritocracy—but it is that they have more value to consumers and the public writ large.  It may well be that the humanities have more merit, but unless consumers begin to value merit, the meritorious will not necessarily prevail in the market.  

Michael Blumenthal Publishes “Just Three Minutes, Please,” with West Virginia University Press

In America, American Literature, Arts & Letters, Books, Creative Writing, Essays, Humanities, Law-and-Literature, Literature, Michael Blumenthal, News and Current Events, News Release, Poetry, Politics, Writing on March 5, 2014 at 8:30 am

Just Three Minutes, Please

West Virginia University Press is pleased to announce the publication of Just Three Minutes, Please: Thinking out Loud on Public Radio, by Michael Blumenthal.

In these brief essays, Blumenthal provides unconventional insights into our contemporary political, educational, and social systems, challenging us to look beyond the headlines to the psychological and sociological realities that underlie our conventional thinking.

What’s wrong with the contemporary American medical system? What does it mean when a state’s democratic presidential primary casts 40% of its votes for a felon incarcerated in another state? What’s so bad about teaching by PowerPoint? What is truly the dirtiest word in America?

These are just a few of the engaging and controversial issues that Michael Blumenthal, poet, novelist, essayist, and law professor, tackles in this collection of poignant essays commissioned by West Virginia Public Radio.

C.K. Williams, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet proclaims that Blumenthal has “The intellect of a scholar, the sensitivity of a poet, the objectivity of a professor of law: it hardly seems possible that so many virtues can be embodied in one book of short talks.”

Dalton Delan, Executive Producer of In Performance at the White House for PBS, declares: “David Sedaris and Ira Glass have a brother from another mother, and his name is Michael Blumenthal. His soulful NPR essays are profound thought-clouds from one of America’s finest poets.”

As a widely published poet and novelist, Blumenthal brings along a lawyer’s analytical ability with his literary sensibility, effortlessly facilitating a distinction between the clichés of today’s pallid political discourse and the deeper realities that lie beneath. This collection will captivate and provoke those with an interest in literature, politics, law, and the unwritten rules of our social and political engagements.

Michael Blumenthal is a Visiting Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Immigration Clinic at West Virginia University College of Law. A former Director of Creative Writing at Harvard University, he is the author of eight books of poetry, as well as All My Mothers and Fathers, a memoir; Weinstock Among The Dying, a novel; When History Enters the House, a collection of essays; and “Because They Needed Me”: The Incredible Struggle of Rita Miljo To Save The Baboons of South Africa, a book-length account of his work with orphaned infant chacma baboons in South Africa. His first collection of short stories, The Greatest Jewish-American Lover in Hungarian History, is forthcoming.

To order this book, visit wvupress.com, phone (800) 621-2736, or visit a local bookstore.

Just Three Minutes, Please: Thinking out Loud on Public Radio by Michael Blumenthal
March 2014 / 120pp / PB 978-1-938228-77-3: $16.99/ ePub 978-1-938228-78-0: $16.99

Best Books of 2013

In Arts & Letters, Books, Fiction, Humanities, Literature, News and Current Events, News Release, Novels, Writing on December 30, 2013 at 8:45 am

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Several publications have announced their list of the best books of 2013, and readers of this site will be interested in the results.

The New York Times, The Ten Best Books of 2013

The New Yorker’s Best Books of 2013 Part I

The New Yorker’s Best Books of 2013 Part II

Huffington Post’s Best Books of 2013

NPR’s The Best Books of 2013

Barnes & Noble’s Best New Books of 2013

Salon’s What to Read Awards: Top critics choose the best books of 2013

Amazon’s Best Books of 2013

Business Insider’s 10 Best-Loved Books of 2013

Goodreads Choice Awards 2013

Publisher’s Weekly, Best Books of 2013

TheWeek.com’s Best Books We Read in 2013

io9’s The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2013

The 2013 USA Best Book Awards

The Washington Post’s Best Books of 2013

The New Republic’s Best Books of 2013

Mother Jones’s Best Books of 2013

The Daily Beast’s The Best of the Best Books List 2013

The Kindle Book Review’s 2013 Book Awards

BBC Culture’s Top 10 Books of 2013

Hudson Bookseller’s 2013 Best Books of the Year

LibertarianChristian’s Top 10 Libertarian (and Christian) Books of 2013

History Today’s Books of the Year 2013

CNN Readers’ Favorite Books of 2013

Economic Policy Journal’s Top Book Picks of 2013

 

Literature and Liberty: Essays in Libertarian Literary Criticism

In Arts & Letters, Austrian Economics, Books, Economics, Emerson, Fiction, History, Humane Economy, Humanities, Imagination, Justice, Law-and-Literature, Liberalism, Libertarianism, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, News and Current Events, News Release, Novels, Philosophy, Politics, Property, Rhetoric, Shakespeare, The Novel, Transnational Law, Western Civilization, Western Philosophy, Writing on November 15, 2013 at 8:46 am

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My forthcoming book, Literature and Liberty: Essays in Libertarian Literary Criticism, is now available for pre-order here at Amazon.com or here at Rowman & Littlefield’s website.  From the cover:

The economic theories of Karl Marx and his disciples continue to be anthologized in books of literary theory and criticism and taught in humanities classrooms to the exclusion of other, competing economic paradigms. Marxism is collectivist, predictable, monolithic, impersonal, linear, reductive — in short, wholly inadequate as an instrument for good in an era when we know better than to reduce the variety of human experience to simplistic formulae. A person’s creative and intellectual energies are never completely the products of culture or class. People are rational agents who choose between different courses of action based on their reason, knowledge, and experience. A person’s choices affect lives, circumstances, and communities. Even literary scholars who reject pure Marxism are still motivated by it, because nearly all economic literary theory derives from Marxism or advocates for vast economic interventionism as a solution to social problems.

Such interventionism, however, has a track-record of mass murder, war, taxation, colonization, pollution, imprisonment, espionage, and enslavement — things most scholars of imaginative literature deplore. Yet most scholars of imaginative literature remain interventionists. Literature and Liberty offers these scholars an alternative economic paradigm, one that over the course of human history has eliminated more generic bads than any other system. It argues that free market or libertarian literary theory is more humane than any variety of Marxism or interventionism. Just as Marxist historiography can be identified in the use of structuralism and materialist literary theory, so should free-market libertarianism be identifiable in all sorts of literary theory. Literature and Liberty disrupts the near monopolistic control of economic ideas in literary studies and offers a new mode of thinking for those who believe that arts and literature should play a role in discussions about law, politics, government, and economics. Drawing from authors as wide-ranging as Emerson, Shakespeare, E.M. Forster, Geoffrey of Monmouth, Henry Hazlitt, and Mark Twain, Literature and Liberty is a significant contribution to libertarianism and literary studies.

The Politics of Paternalism

In America, American History, Conservatism, Humanities, Jurisprudence, Law, News and Current Events, Politics, Southern History on July 3, 2013 at 8:45 am

Allen Mendenhall

This first appeared here at The American Spectator.

One of the Supreme Court opinions everyone is buzzing about — last Monday’s decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case involving that school’s affirmative action program — will not be monumental in our canons of jurisprudence.

The petitioner, Abigail Noel Fisher, a young white woman, applied to the university in 2008 and was denied admission. She challenged the decision, arguing that she would have been admitted under a colorblind system. The high court has now remanded the case back to the Fifth Circuit, holding that the lower court failed to properly ascertain whether the affirmative action program was the most narrowly tailored means to achieve the university’s diversity goal. In legal terms, the Fifth Circuit had failed to subject the program to “strict scrutiny.” Thus, additional litigation lies ahead; the case is not even over.

What will be remembered from Monday’s proceedings, though, is Justice Thomas’ concurrence, which treats affirmative action as paternalism — a word he implies but doesn’t use explicitly, at least not here.

The dichotomies “liberal” versus “conservative,” “left” versus “right,” complicate rather than clarify issues such as affirmative action. A better choice of words, if a dichotomy must be maintained, is “paternalism” versus “non-paternalism.” Viewing diversity in this light, as Justice Thomas does, enables us to understand and appreciate the forms that racism and discrimination take.

Those forms often are paternalistic: Person A assumes to understand the plight of person X and undertakes to care for and control him as a father would his children. Even if X were one day to achieve relative equality with A in real terms — opportunity, education, earning capacity — this dominance would persist so long as A views X as a needy inferior, and so long as X allows that presumption to persist.

Thomas’s concurrence places such toxic ideas under a microscope, and exposes the ironic double standards of those who resort to paternalism. For instance, the bulk of his concurrence describes how the university’s arguments in favor of affirmative action are the same or substantially similar to those once used to justify racial segregation and even slavery. “There is no principled distinction,” Thomas writes, “between the University’s assertion that diversity yields educational benefits and the segregationists’ assertion that segregation yielded those same benefits.”

Likewise, he adds, “Slaveholders argued that slavery was a ‘positive good’ that civilized Blacks and elevated them in every dimension of life.” Advocates of slavery and segregationists both argued, in other words, that their policies bettered the conditions of Blacks and minimized racial hostility on the whole. The form of these racist arguments is now being used to justify state discrimination through affirmative action programs.

The segregationists argued that integrated public schools would suffer from white flight; proponents of affirmative action argue that universities will suffer from a lack of diversity if discrimination is not allowed.

The segregationists argued that blacks would become the victims of desegregation once white children withdrew from public schools en masse and that separate but equal schools improved interracial relations; proponents of affirmative action likewise argue that minorities will be the victims if affirmative action programs are deemed unconstitutional and that diversity on campus improves interracial relations.

The segregationists argued that separate but equal schools allowed blacks to enjoy more leadership opportunities; proponents of affirmative action likewise argue that affirmative action programs empower minorities to become leaders in a diverse society.

The segregationists argued that although separate but equal schools were not a perfect remedy for racial animosity, such schools were nevertheless a practical step in the right direction; proponents of affirmative action likewise argue that it, although not ideal, nevertheless generates race consciousness among students.

In the face of these surprising parallels, Justice Thomas maintains that “just as the alleged educational benefits of segregation were insufficient to justify racial discrimination” during the Civil Rights Era, so “the alleged educational benefits of diversity cannot justify racial discrimination today.”

He should not be misunderstood as equating affirmative action with the discrimination unleashed upon blacks and other minorities throughout American history. Although he acknowledges that affirmative action does harm whites and Asians, he is chiefly concerned with how such discrimination harms its intended beneficiaries: above all, blacks and Hispanics. “Although cloaked in good intentions,” Thomas submits, “the University’s racial tinkering harms the very people it claims to be helping.” He adds that “the University would have us believe that its discrimination is…benign. I think the lesson of history is clear enough: Racial discrimination is never benign.”

Why aren’t affirmative action programs — which Justice Thomas at one point refers to as “racial engineering” — benign? He gives several reasons: They admit blacks and Hispanics who aren’t as prepared for college as white and Asian students; they do not ensure that blacks and Hispanics close the learning gap during their time in college; they do not increase the overall number of blacks and Hispanics who attend college; and they encourage unqualified applicants to graduate from great schools as mediocre students instead of good schools as exceptional students. Moreover, Justice Thomas cites studies showing that minorities interested in science and engineering are more likely to choose different paths when they are forced to compete with other students in those disciplines at elite universities. What Justice Thomas considers most damning of all, however, is the “badge of inferiority” stamped on racial minorities as a result of affirmative action.

Just one small personal example: When I was in law school, a few of the guys in my study group began comparing professors, as students do regularly, and they were quite open in their opinion that our black professor could not have been as intelligent, because she had benefited from affirmative action programs. Read the rest of this entry »

The Best Novels and Plays About Business: Results of a Survey

In Arts & Letters, Humanities, Literature, News and Current Events on June 12, 2013 at 8:45 am

Edward W. Younkins

Edward W. Younkins is the founder of the undergraduate major in Political and Economic Philosophy at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. He is also the founding director of the university’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) and Master of Science in Accountancy (M.S.A.) programs. In addition to earning state and national honors on the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exams, respectively, Dr. Younkins also received the Outstanding Educator Award for 1997 from the West Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants. Professor Younkins has written a number of articles in free-market-oriented journals and is the author of Capitalism and Commerce: Conceptual Foundations of Free Enterprise (2002) and Flourishing and Happiness in a Free Society (2011).

My Koch Research Fellows, Jomana Krupinski and Kaitlyn Pytlak, and I conducted a survey of 250 Business and Economics professors and 250 English and Literature professors. Colleges and universities were randomly selected and then professors from the relevant departments were also randomly selected to receive our email survey. They were asked to list and rank from 1 to 10 what they considered to be the best novels and plays about business. We did not attempt to define the word “best” leaving that decision to each respondent. We obtained sixty-nine usable responses from Business and Economics professors and fifty-one from English and Literature professors. A list of fifty choices was given to each respondent and an opportunity was presented to vote for works not on the list. When tabulating the results, ten points were given to a novel or play in a respondent’s first position, nine points were assigned to a work in the second position, and so on, down to the tenth listed work which was allotted one point. The table below presents the top twenty-five novels and plays for each group of professors. Interestingly, fifteen works made both top-25 lists. These are noted in bold type.

Business and   Economics Professors

 

English and   Literature Professors

1.   Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

457

1.   Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller

282

2.   The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand

297

2.   Bartleby: The Scrivener, Herman   Melville

259

3.   The Great Gatsby, F. Scott   Fitzgerald

216

3.   The Great Gatsby, F. Scott   Fitzgerald

231

4.   Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller

164

4.   The Jungle, Upton Sinclair

143

5.   Time   Will Run Back, Henry Hazlitt

145

5.   Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis

126

6.   The Jungle, Upton Sinclair

136

6.   Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet

121

7.   The Gilded Age, Mark Twain and   Charles Dudley Warner

95

7.   The   Rise of Silas Lapham, William Dean Howells

98

8.   Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet

89

8.   American Pastoral, Philip Roth

85

9.   God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Kurt   Vonnegut, Jr.

57

9.   The   Confidence Man, Herman Melville

75

10. Other   People’s Money, Jerry Sterner

57

10. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand

75

11. Bartleby: The Scrivener, Herman   Melville

55

11. A   Hazard of New Fortunes, William Dean Howells

66

12. A Man   in Full, Tom Wolfe

48

12. The Octopus, Frank Norris

65

13. Babbitt, Sinclair Lewis

47

13. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

62

14. The Man   in the Gray Flannel Suit, Sloan Wilson

43

14. Nice   Work, David Lodge

62

15. Rabbit is Rich, John Updike

41

15. The Big   Money, John Dos Passos

59

16. Major   Barbara, George Bernard Shaw

39

16. The Gilded Age, Mark Twain and   Charles Dudley Marner

58

17. Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens

33

17. Rabbit is Rich, John Updike

55

18. The Goal,   Eliyahu M. Goldratt

33

18. Seize   the Day, Saul Bellow

55

19. The   Driver, Garet Garrett

32

19. Mildred   Pierce, James M. Gain

54

20. Executive   Suite, Cameron Hawley

32

20. The   Financier, Theodore Dreiser

53

21. The Way   We Live Now, Anthony Trollope

32

21. Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens

51

22. American Pastoral, Philip Roth

29

22. Sometimes a Great Notion, Ken   Kesey

45

23. The Octopus, Frank Norris

29

23. The   Last Tycoon, F. Scott Fitzgerald

44

24. Sometimes a Great Notion, Ken   Kesey

28

24. The Moviegoer,   Walker Percy

43

25. North   and South, Elizabeth Gaskell

27

25. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Kurt   Vonnegut, Jr.

39

 

Auction Announcement: William Spratling and William Faulkner, Sherwood Anderson and Other Famous Creoles: A Gallery of Contemporary New Orleans

In American History, Arts & Letters, Books, History, Humanities, Literature, News and Current Events, News Release, Southern History, Southern Literary Review, The South, Writing on April 5, 2013 at 8:45 am

Famous Creoles

William Spratling and William Faulkner, Sherwood Anderson and Other Famous Creoles: A Gallery of Contemporary New Orleans, published by Pelican Bookshop Press, New Orleans, 1926, first edition, first issue, number 217 of 250, bound in green boards, with label on front cover, interior of back cover with a label printed “Rebound in L’ATELIER Le Loup” and dated in ink “1986”.

Provenance: From the collection of Stephanie Durant, by descent from the collection of Ray Samuel.

A special copy of a rare and fragile book described by The Booklover’s Guide to New Orleans as “one of the great literary curiosities in the city’s history.” The book comprises Spratling’s drawings of himself, Faulkner, and 41 of their acquaintances–artists, musicians, academics, preservationists, and socialites, “artful and crafty ones of French Quarter” with some of their uptown friends and patrons. One was novelist Sherwood Anderson, and Faulkner’s introduction parodies Anderson’s style.

 

The note above is taken from the catalog description of an extraordinary book that will be sold at auction on April 19.  The book has been given by Stephanie Durant of New Orleans to be sold for the benefit of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the sale will be conducted by the New Orleans Auction Galleries, which will donate its commission to the museum as well.

This copy is uniquely valuable because it is signed by 41 of the 43 persons included,

in a few cases with personal notes to its original owner. (See below for a complete list.) That number of autographs is certainly a record: The only other copy I know with more than a dozen or so is one with 31, and it was stolen from a Charlottesville, Virginia, bookshop some time ago.

The catalog description is accurate as far as it goes, but there is a great deal more to be said about this odd little book, written by two young men who went on to become arguably the greatest American novelist and the greatest Mexican silver designer of the twentieth century.  Those depicted include both figures well-known at the time, like writer Grace King and artist Ellsworth Woodward, and some who would become well-known later, like artist Caroline Durieux and writer Hamilton Basso. The title, an obscure joke, refers to a book of caricatures entitled The Prince of Wales and Other Famous Americans, by Vanity Fair cartoonist Miguel Covarrubias (to whom Famous Creoles is dedicated). The “Pelican Bookshop Press” was a fiction: Spratling and Faulkner paid a local printer to produce 250 copies. Spratling (though, note, not Faulkner) signed and hand-tinted some images in 50, mostly for the friends who were included. There was a second printing of 150 copies, somewhat less valuable on the rare book market. The book was not at all sturdy, and it is not unusual to find copies that have been repaired or, like this one, rebound. Many copies have presumably fallen apart and been discarded. Musician Harold Levy’s hand-tinted copy was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The original owner of this particular copy, Stella Lengsfield Lazard, signed her name in ink on inside front. In 1926 Mrs. Lazard was 43. Her husband, Henry Calme Lazard, was a stockbroker related by blood and marriage to several distinguished mercantile and financial families in New Orleans and elsewhere. The couple had one grown son, and lived with her parents uptown on St. Charles Avenue.  (Her father was a successful cotton factor.)

Mrs. Lazard had literary, historical, and musical interests.  In 1925 she wrote a series of feature articles for the Times-Picayune on the mayors of New Orleans, and a few years later she served as narrator for a weekly musical program on WDSU radio, “Sweet Mystery of the Air,” featuring a trio of local musicians: harpist, violinist, and tenor.  To judge by the inscriptions in her copy of Famous Creoles, she was friends with a number of those included.  For instance, one reads, “To Stella, the star, from the stellar Helen Pitkin Schertz”; Flo Field wrote “Love to my old staunch [?] friend”; and William “Cicero” Odiorne, who was in Paris, wrote “When are you coming over?”

Others who did more than simply sign their names include writers Sherwood Anderson and Roark Bradford; artists Conrad Albrizio, Marc Antony, and Virginia Parker Nagel; Tulane cheerleader Marian Draper; and Lillian Friend Marcus, managing editor of the Double Dealer magazine. The presidents of Tulane and of Le Petit Théatre, A. B. Dinwiddie and Mrs. J. O. Nixon, simply added their institutional affiliations.  Natalie Scott just signed the page with her picture on it, but a note in Mrs. Lazard’s hand identifies a building shown in the picture as the Court of Two Sisters (which Miss Scott owned).  One amusing addition: On an almost blank page Arthur Feitel, a 34-year-old bachelor architect, wrote “Me, too” and signed his name.  Feitel, whose picture was not included, was a Tulane graduate who had studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts; he would later serve as president of both the Art Association of New Orleans and the board of the Delgado Museum.

Only two “Famous Creoles” did not sign Mrs. Lazard’s book. One is easily explained. By the time the book appeared Ronald Hargrave was pretty much incommunicado; he was painting in Majorca, and he never returned to New Orleans. But the other missing signature is that of William Faulkner. It seems to me that Mrs. Lazard went to a great deal of trouble to track down people to sign her book (William Odiorne signed it, and he was in Paris), so it is almost inconceivable that she didn’t ask Faulkner. He must have refused to sign, possibly just out of general cussedness — he was known for being moody and sometimes difficult, and he didn’t sign the 50 copies that Spratling hand-tinted either. In addition, however, Faulkner didn’t care for “artsy” uptown people he thought were dilettantes (unlike Spratling, who enjoyed their company), and he may have viewed Mrs. Lazard as one of them. Whatever the explanation, in some ways Faulkner’s absence may actually be more interesting than a perfunctory autograph would have been.

Mrs. Lazard’s copy was eventually acquired by Stephanie Durant’s father, J. Raymond Samuel, a well-known historian, collector and (in his retirement years) dealer in books and art. On his death the book passed to Mrs. Durant, who has now generously given it to benefit the Ogden Museum.

 

–John Shelton Reed, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

Author of Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s

 

Inquiries about the auction should be directed to :

 

Jelena James

New Orleans Auction Galleries                                                        <jelena@neworleansauction.com>

801 Magazine Street                                                                          800-501-0277
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130                                                        504-566-1849

 

“Famous Creoles”

(with ages in 1926)

Signed Lazard copy

Conrad Albrizio, 27

New York-born, serious artist, Spratling’s neighbor, Arts and Crafts Club

stalwart

Sherwood Anderson, 50

“Lion of the Latin Quarter,” eminence gris, generous to respectful younger

writers

Marc Antony and Lucille Godchaux Antony, both 28

Love-match between heiress and lower-middle-class boy, local artists

Hamilton “Ham” Basso, 22

Star-struck recent Tulane grad, aspiring writer, good dancer

Charles “Uncle Charlie” Bein, 35

Director of Arts and Crafts Club’s art school; lived with mother, sister,

and aunt

Frans Blom, 33

Danish archeologist of Maya, Tulane professor, colorful resident of

Quarter

Roark Bradford, 30

Newspaperman, jokester, hit pay dirt with Negro dialect stories

Nathaniel Cortlandt Curtis, 45

Tulane architecture professor, preservationist, recorded old buildings

Albert Bledsoe Dinwiddie, 55

President of Tulane, Presbyterian

Marian Draper, 20

Ziegfeld Follies alum, Tulane cheerleader, prize-winning architecture

student

Caroline “Carrie” Wogan Durieux, 30

Genuine Creole, talented artist living in Cuba and Mexico, painted by Rivera

Flo Field, 50

French Quarter guide, ex-journalist, sometime playwright, single mother

Louis Andrews Fischer, 25

Gender-bending Mardi Gras designer, named for her father

Meigs O. Frost, 44

Reporter’s reporter; lived in Quarter; covered crime, revolutions, and arts

Samuel Louis “Sam” Gilmore, 27

Greenery-yallery poet and playwright, from prominent family

Moise Goldstein, 44

Versatile and successful architect, preservationist, active in Arts and

Crafts Club

Weeks Hall, 32

Master of and slave to Shadows-on-the-Teche plantation, painter, deeply

strange

R. Emmet Kennedy, 49

Working-class Irish boy, collected and performed Negro songs and stories

Grace King, 74

Grande dame of local color literature and no-fault history, salonnière

Alberta Kinsey, 51

Quaker spinster, Quarter pioneer, indefatigable painter of courtyards

Richard R. Kirk, 49

Tulane English professor and poet, loyal Michigan Wolverine alumnus

Oliver La Farge, 25

New England Brahmin, Tulane anthropologist and fiction-writer, liked

a party

Harold Levy, 32

Musician who ran family’s box factory, knew everybody, turned up

everywhere

Lillian Friend Marcus, 35

Young widow from wealthy family, angel and manager of Double Dealer

John “Jack” McClure, 33

Poet, newspaper columnist and reviewer, Double Dealer editor, bookshop

owner

Virginia Parker Nagle, 29

Promising artist, governor’s niece, Arts and Crafts Club teacher

Louise Jonas “Mother” Nixon, 70

A founder of Le Petit Theatre and its president-for-life, well-

connected widow

William C. “Cicero” Odiorne, 45

Louche photographer, Famous Creoles’ Paris contact

Frederick “Freddie” Oechsner, 24

Recent Tulane graduate, ambitious cub reporter, amateur actor

Genevieve “Jenny” Pitot, 25

Old-family Creole, classical pianist living in New York, party girl

Lyle Saxon, 35

Journalist, raconteur, bon vivant, host, preservationist, bachelor

Helen Pitkin Schertz, 56

Clubwoman, civic activist, French Quarter guide, writer, harpist

Natalie Scott, 36

Journalist, equestrian, real-estate investor, Junior Leaguer, social

organizer

William “Bill” Spratling, 25

Famous Creoles illustrator, Tulane teacher, lynchpin of Quarter

social life

Keith Temple, 27

Australian editorial cartoonist, artist, sometimes pretended to be

a bishop

Fanny Craig Ventadour, 29

Painter, Arts and Crafts Club regular, lately married and living in

France

Elizebeth Werlein, 39

Suffragette with colorful past, crusading preservationist,

businessman’s widow

Joseph Woodson “Pops” Whitesell, 50

Photographic jack-of-all-trades, French Quarter eccentric,

inventor

Daniel “Dan” Whitney, 32

Arts and Crafts Club teacher, married (two) students, beauty

pageant judge

Ellsworth Woodward, 65

Artistic elder statesman, old-fashioned founder of Newcomb art

department

Did not sign Lazard copy

William “Bill” Faulkner, 29

Needs no introduction, but wrote the one to Famous Creoles

Ronald Hargrave, 44

Painter from Illinois formerly active in Quarter art scene,

relocated to Majorca

 

From Dixie Bohemia: A French Quarter Circle in the 1920s,

© 2012, LSU Press.

This Fall at the New American Shakespeare Tavern in Atlanta

In Arts & Letters, Atlanta, Humanities, Literature, News and Current Events, News Release, Shakespeare on September 10, 2012 at 8:45 am

Allen Mendenhall

When my wife and I can get a babysitter, we love going to the New American Shakespeare Tavern on Peachtree Street in Atlanta.  The Tavern, as it is affectionately called by regulars, is offering the following performances this fall:

All’s Well that Ends Well

Measure for Measure

Macbeth

Titus Andronicus

All who live in and around Atlanta, and who appreciate Shakespeare, ought to visit the Tavern for a guaranteed night of fun and good acting.  Click here to support the Tavern.

Joyce Corrington Publishes You Trust Your Mother

In Arts & Letters, Creative Writing, Fiction, Humanities, News and Current Events, News Release, Novels, Writing on July 23, 2012 at 8:45 am

Allen Mendenhall

Joyce Corrington, a friend and supporter of this site (see here, here, and here), has just released the final installment of the New Orleans mystery series begun by her and her late husband John William Corrington.  Learn more about this book, You Trust Your Mother, at Joyce’s website.

Review of “Teaching Law and Literature”

In Arts & Letters, Book Reviews, Fiction, Humanities, Jurisprudence, Law, Law-and-Literature, Literary Theory & Criticism, Literature, News and Current Events, Novels, Pedagogy, Teaching, Writing on April 24, 2012 at 8:33 am

Allen Mendenhall

Teaching Law and Literature.  Austin Sarat, Cathrine O. Frank, and Matthew Anderson, eds.  New York: Modern Language Association, 2011.  vii + 507 pp.  $25, paper.

What began as a coordinated, idiosyncratic project in American and British law schools has become a common component of curricula in English departments across the globe.  Law and literature as a subject and as a movement has gained purchase over the last three decades.  Inaugurated in 1973 with the publication of James Boyd White’s The Legal Imagination, which highlighted, among other things, the affinities between legal and literary rhetoric, law and literature has splintered into so many narrowed foci that today it is just as common to see courses like “Law in Late 19th Century American Literature” as it once was to see courses called, quite simply and broadly, “Law and Literature.”

To celebrate and explain this movement, The Modern Language Association (MLA) has released Teaching Law and Literature, an edition with forty-one essays by some of the most prominent scholars in the field, including none other than White himself.  Although law and literature has enjoyed ample funding and has become the subject of an increasing number of journals and conferences, not enough work has been done on the pedagogical aspects of the discipline.  Put another way, the discipline has yet adequately to address the question of how professors ought to teach the interplay of law and literature to students.

That is a gap that this book seeks to fill.  According to editors Austin Sarat, Cathrine O. Frank, and Matthew Anderson, Teaching Law and Literature  “provides a resource for teachers interested in learning about the field of law and literature and how to bring its insights to bear in their classrooms, both in the liberal arts and in law schools.”  Despite that stated goal, the book is weighted toward undergraduate education, and the editors admit as much in their introduction.

At a time when American law schools are under fire for admissions scandals and fabricated data, professors of law and literature—and law professors interested in humanistic and jurisprudential approaches to law teaching—would do well to turn their attention to undergraduates.  When budget cuts and faculty purging befall the legal academy, as they likely will, law and literature (and its various offshoots) will be the first curricular elective to suffer.  A discipline whose proponents struggle to articulate its purpose—will a course in law and literature help law students to pass a bar exam or to become better lawyers?—may not survive the institutional scrutiny of deans, administrators, and alumni associations.

Yet it is the urgent quest for validation that makes law and literature such an important subject.  At its core, law and literature is about grand questions: Why study literature at all?  What use do novels, plays, poems, and the like have for the general public and for the practical, workaday world in which lawyers serve a necessary function?  Might the recurring themes of justice, fairness, and equality expressed in canonized texts from disparate cultures and communities point to something recognizable and distinctive in the human condition?  And are there paralyzing limits to specialized knowledge of periods and genres when so many law and literature scholars, working out of different traditions and trained in supposedly autonomous disciplines, arrive at the same or similar generalizations regarding human experience?

One such generalization, interestingly enough, is that complicated relationships between people—whether based in race, gender, class, or whatever—ought to be understood in terms of ambiguity and contingency rather than certainty and absolutes, and that simple answers will hardly ever suffice to illuminate the nuances and contradictions of any given phenomenon, especially law.  That law is too often reduced to blackletter, blanket rules is not lost to writers of imaginative literature, who, many of them, have used law and legal institutions to enable critiques and explorations of complex social and philosophical problems.

It is little wonder, in light of the compatibility between literary and legal rhetoric or hermeneutics, that a Maryland appellate judge recently wrote in his concurrence that “[t]his case is E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India all over again.  Something happened up there at the Marabar Caves.  Was it an attempted rape?  Was it some form of hysteria triggered by strongly ambivalent emotions imploding violently in a dark and isolated catacomb?  Or was it some unmappable combination of the two as moods and signals shifted diametrically in mid-passage?  The outside world will never know.”  Here is a judge employing a work of literature to demonstrate a point about the limitations of human knowledge.  Law provides topoi in countless works of literature, and works of literature, as this judge apparently recognizes, can supply context and profundity to the deforming routines and desensitizing rituals of everyday law practice.  Without following the judge through to the end of his reasoning, one can sense in his lines a stark awareness of the incapacity of human faculties and hence the perspectival nature of what the philosophers call “justice.” Read the rest of this entry »

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