K (a PhD candidate at UCSD in political science) has been in town visiting this weekend as you might have noticed from some of the earlier posts. He’s planning a dissertation around political theory arising from the 18th cen. in France and elsewhere during the Enlightenment. (K, if you deign to step away from your professorial podium and read my BLOG you can correct me and fill in the glaring gaps in this description).
He started talking about Rushdie’s latest book The Enchantress of Florence:
The book has received mixed reviews but K liked it a lot, in fact as much as Satanic Verses. Apparently Machieveli has a role in the book, which led me to think fondly of the NYU Alumni weekend 2008 at which George Shulman and Lisa Goldfarb led a really great seminar on The Prince.
Since I am on the cusp of reentering graduate school and am coping with the culture shock that naturally occurs when one is embarking on such an intense practice in an intimate setting, I have been reflecting a lot on my undergraduate academic work, which was so meaningful to me. In fact, I’ve never stopped thinking about my work at NYU. George Shulman (http://www.nyu.edu/gallatin/about/faculty-bios.html) and the coursework I did with him, is one of the main reasons my undergraduate experience continues to hold meaning for me in my post-graduate life.
George is a great guy and has a new book out: “American Prophecy: Race and Redemption in American Political Culture.”
The book is not yet available on amazon but can be ordered directly from the University of Minnesota Press:
The book is extremely timely given our current political climate and upcoming election, though it wasn’t planned as a comment or critique as such. I highly recommend George’s work to anyone interested in understanding what “America” is, how power is created and upheld in our society, how the the language of prophecy combined with the ever-looming subject of RACE in America has given way to examples of truly democratic politics in our flawed republic. If we study the work of our American prophets through Shulman’s book, from Frederick Douglass and Henry Thoreau to Martin Luther King, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison, we may be one step closer to true liberation for all. I hope Senator Obama takes heed. (Though the job is big and I don’t think it’s appropriate to put on any one man’s shoulders. Much less do I think it is his responsibility as an African-American/Black politician to redeem our country through a campaign for the presidency. Rather, I think it might be useful to him to understand the power he holds, and the tradition of prophetic language that could make him a successful politician. I demand that he read this book no more than I demand the rest of you out there to do so).
I’m still trying to figure out how George’s work, which I appropriated as my own task as an undergraduate, informs, prepares, or contrasts with my more recent inquiry into teaching 6th-12th-graders in urban public schools. Frankly, political theory seems like small potatoes when facing the anxiety of actualizing change for American adolescents–our material future. I too have selected a big job. I hope you don’t expect me to redeem our children and our schools single-handedly, though that might be wishful thinking. Too much is expected of educators in our country, and they are given too little respect. That is true from early education to the university. I hope I can get these kids to the point where they can read George’s book themselves.