The following guest post is by Louis F. Cooper, longtime reader and commenter who contributed to the blog’s Roundtable on U.S. Foreign Policy and the Left in 2014.
This year marks the fortieth anniversary of Michael Harrington’s The Vast Majority: A Journey to the World’s Poor (Simon and Schuster, 1977). The leading American democratic socialist of his time, Harrington (1928-1989) is best known for his 1962 book The Other America, which drew renewed attention to poverty in the United States and argued eloquently for a “comprehensive” assault on it.  In The Vast Majority, Harrington joined the debate about the Third World (or the global South, as we now say) and the issues of global poverty and inequality. Despite having become dated in some ways, The Vast Majority still bears reading. Among other things, the book is notable for its candor: it admitted the complexities of the problems, their resistance to easy solutions, and insisted nonetheless that steps toward a more just global order were both possible and morally necessary. (more…)
I teach regularly at a prison in Only, Tennessee. I post about it sometimes. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the experience more than usual, probably because for the first time I’m carpooling with a philosopher friend of mine who has started teaching ethics out there. We talk about any number of things, but invariably discuss pedagogy and the men we teach. It helps that I’ve had some of his students in some of my classes in the past, so we compare notes. I’ve also been following and rereading the posts of our own Holly Genovese on prison writing, which has got me thinking more seriously about prisoners as intellectuals. Thank you, Holly, for reminding all of us that we need more intellectual histories of incarcerated women and men.
On Saturday afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence tweeted out the following: “Before summer’s out, we’ll repeal/replace Obamacare w/ system based on personal responsibility, free-market competition & state-based reform”.
Before summer’s out, we’ll repeal/replace Obamacare w/ system based on personal responsibility, free-market competition & state-based reform pic.twitter.com/JzCyxX9kJb
— Mike Pence (@mike_pence) June 24, 2017
The invocation of “personal responsibility” led many people to respond with examples of people whose health conditions cannot, under any reasonable set of circumstances, be considered their “personal responsibility.” How, they asked, is taking away Medicaid from children born with underdeveloped organs or costly but ultimately surmountable complications an example of promoting “personal responsibility?”
My son was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for a week after his birth, so this is not a hypothetical question for me. My wife and I would not have been able to afford that week of excellent care on our own, and while my son may have been stable enough to have survived if we had to bring him home earlier, I don’t see how putting him at a heightened risk of dying would have taught anyone involved “personal responsibility,” at least as most people understand the phrase. There must be something else going on beneath this rhetoric. What would Mike Pence have said to me if the worst had happened? (more…)
Two recent essays have caught my eye in recent days, forcing me to think even harder about the importance of history to modern political and cultural debates. Both illustrate to me the reason why recent history is such a crucial aspect of the historical profession. While it is often easy to use comparisons to the nineteen-sixties when talking about the chaos of modern politics—and we should all brace ourselves for next year, which will mark numerous fifty-year anniversaries for the calamitous events of 1968 (you were warned)—or the “malaise” of the nineteen-seventies, it is time to also think about historicizing the nineteen-nineties. Events in that decade say as much about our current predicaments as much as referencing the Cold War, the Civil Rights/Black Power era, or the “Age of Reagan” of the eighties.
Perhaps because last year was an unusually good one for film, the movie Christine largely fell under the radar. Christine is a biopic about Christine Chubbuck, the local TV newscaster in Sarasota, Florida, who shot herself in the head during a newscast on July 15, 1974, becoming the first person to ever commit suicide on live television. Chubbuck’s suicide became a national news story at the time, helped inspire Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay for Network (1976), and was, oddly, also the subject of another film that was released last year, Kate Plays Christine.
The film Christine manages to avoid two obvious potential pitfalls of a film about Christine Chubbuck: pat biopic clichés and a lurid focus on Christine’s death. In fact, very little is known about the real Christine Chubbuck. Footage of her suicide, though rumored to exist, has never surfaced. Very little footage of her other television work apparently survives. And the private Christine Chubbuck remains a mysterious figure. Christine‘s screenwriter Craig Shilowich has compared the process of writing the character of Christine to the Jurassic Park‘s imagined recreation of dinosaurs from drops of blood found in insects encased in amber.
Out of the shards of available material about Chubbuck’s life, Shilowich, director Antonio Campos, and Rebecca Hall, who plays Christine, managed to create a subtle and searing portrait of mental illness. Shilowich imagined Christine‘s title character as both bipolar and, perhaps, suffering from a form of borderline personality disorder. Hall plays her in a way that is simultaneously off-putting and deeply sympathetic. But in addition to being an effective character study, Christine is also a film that explores a particular milieu at a particular time, a local TV newsroom in the mid-1970s. And I am going to focus on Christine‘s image of the 1970s in this post. (more…)
We are very pleased to publish the schedule for the 2017 S-USIH Conference, which will be held October 26-29, 2017, at the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center.
All conference participants must be S-USIH members. You can join here.
You can secure hotel reservations at the conference rate of $159.00 per night by using this reservation link.
In July we will be posting a link for conference registration (separate from S-USIH membership.) The conference registration fee will be $125.
In the meantime, if you are scheduled to participate in this year’s conference, please take a moment to check the listing for your panel/presentation. Your name/affiliation(s) as listed below will appear in the same format on the published conference program. If you need to make any corrections, please email firstname.lastname@example.org no later than July 31, 2017.
2017 USIH CONFERENCE SCHEDULE