Opening the 2014 S-USIH on Thursday October 9, is a plenary entitled, The Ideology Problem in Teaching and Scholarship. Among the panelists is a surprise addition, Rick Perlstein, author most recently of The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise […]
The 2014 USIH Conference schedule is almost ready for release! In the meantime, we wanted to draw attention to few of the events we have planned: On Thursday night, the conference will open with a plenary on THE IDEOLOGY PROBLEM […]
We are pleased to announce our selection of Ajay K. Mehrotra’s Making the Modern American Fiscal State: Law, Politics, and the Rise of Progressive Taxation, 1877-1929 (Cambridge University Press, 2013) as this year’s winner of the S-USIH annual book award […]
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One thing that has become abundantly clear over the course of this novel is that there is nothing holding “the group” together apart from the school tie. Chapters Eleven and Twelve, our reading for today, both concern Polly Andrews, whose blue-blood family lost their money in the stock market crash and who have been making do by operating a farm. She is herself working as a nurse technician, and lives quite modestly. She seems to have the least in common with the other women of the group—no longer even bonded to them by the rawer facts of class privilege, even if she retains a fair amount of cultural capital—although that is itself debatable. None of the women are kindred spirits, at least not in an organic or spontaneous way.
Yet few readers, I imagine, question the naturalness of the novel’s central conceit, at least none who count among their lifelong friends college roommates or first-year floor-mates. The story of mismatched pals whose connection is explained only by this circumstantial bond is easily accepted because it is true to life. I remember seeing the film Sideways, which stars the unlikely pair Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church as two former college roommates who reunite for a tour of the wine country in northern California, and thinking, yes, that makes sense. For the generation who could have read The Group in college, the classic film The Big Chill told much the same story. (more…)