Category Archives: Essays/Readings

This category describes readings of any kind for either teachers or students.

The New Yorker Defends AOC

[Here’s something from Diane Ravitch’s Blog that seems perfect for a repost during Women’s History Month 2019.]

Diane Ravitch's blog

This is a great article by New Yorker editor David Remnick about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It is almost funny how she has rattled the GOP. They hate, hate, hate her. Is it her youth, her idealism, her beauty, her brains? Is it because she has a heart and they don’t? Is it because she has a soul and they don’t? She frightens them. I worry for her safety.

David Remnick writes:

Sebastian Gorka, late of the Trump Administration, stood before the annual gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference last week and made plain the inner frenzy of a party that must place…

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The Weekly Text, March 8, 2019

I don’t want to let Women’s History Month 2019 pass without posting something related to Alice Walker. To that end, here is a reading Ms. Walker’s novel The Color Purple and a vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet to accompany it. These, I was pleased to see, were of no small interest to the young women in the classes I currently teach.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review

Djuna Barnes

(1892-1982) American novelist and short-story writer. For many years a resident of Europe, Barnes was the author of three experimental plays produced in 1919-1920 by the Provincetown Players: Three from the Earth, An Irish Triangle, and Kurzy from the Sea. Ryder (1928) and Nightwood (1936) are her best-known books. The latter, with an introduction by T.S. Eliot, is an experimental novel dealing with the Parisian artistic underground. After the publication of Nightwood, however, Barnes became a recluse. She published only one play and two poems after this, the main reason for her lack of fame today; in her time, she was extremely influential. The Antiphon (1958) is a surrealistic play in blank verse. Her Selected Works appeared in 1962. In 1983, soon after her death, Smoke and Other Early Stories was published for the first time. Interviews (1985), a collection of newspaper and magazine conversations with celebrities presents forty portraits of varied people and is illustrated by Barnes’s own drawings.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Black History Month 2019: Coda

Earlier this week, NBC News ran this surprisingly frank and cogent piece on Black History Month. Under any circumstances, and particularly those in which I’ve spent the past 16 years working, I’ve never found satisfying the idea of a single month for Black History; as this feature rightly observes, in the not particularly humble opinion of Mark’s Text Terminal, Black History is United States History.

James Baldwin

(1924-1987) American novelist and essayist. Baldwin’s first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, about the religious awakening of a fourteen-year-old black youth, was based closely on Baldwin’s own experience as a young storefront preacher in Harlem. His subsequent novels, including Giovanni’s Room (1956), Another Country (1962), Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone (1968) and If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), are movingly written accounts of emotional and sexual suffering and growth, often played out against the background of social intolerance toward freely expressed sexuality (particularly homosexuality) as well as racism. Baldwin was a distinguished essayist whose nonfiction works include Notes of a Native Son (1955), Nobody Knows My Name (1961), and The Fire Next Time, all passionately angry indictments of an American society that institutionalizes race discrimination. In his own protest against inhumane conditions, Baldwin left the U.S. at twenty-four to live in France, where most of his work was written; he returned to America in 1977. He also wrote plays, such as The Amen Corner (1955), Blues for Mister Charlie (1964), and One Day, When I Was Lost (1973), a script based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Baldwin’s sixth novel, Just Above My Head (1979), is a thirty-year saga of a group of Harlem friends whose individual odysseys through wars, poverty, and the civil rights struggle bring them to various fates. In 1985 he published The Price of the Ticket: Collected Non-Fiction, 1948-1985, and in 1986, Evidence of Things Not Seen, an analysis of racism in the light of the Atlanta murders of black children.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

 

Claude Browne

(1937-2002) American writer. Brown’s reputation rests primarily on his best-selling autobiographical novel, Manchild in the Promised Land, which depicts his upbringing in Harlem, experiences in a succession of correctional institutions, and eventual escape from the ghetto when he goes to college. The Children of Ham (1976) is a collection of sketches of a group of Harlem adolescents and their attempts to survive in a living hell dominated by heroin.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

 

Miles Davis and Fusion Jazz

When I was in high school, one of the ways one exercised one’s will to power was to possess more, and deeper, cultural knowledge. This was particularly true of music. The more obscure and unlistenable prog-rock band and recordings one could find, the more social capital one possessed. I won’t bore you with the details of this; if I mentioned the names of some of these rock groups, you almost certainly wouldn’t know them. That’s how arcane this knowledge was and is, and how ephemeral and transient the music turned out to be.

That was never true, however, of one of the masterpiece albums a friend of mine played for me when I was about 16. Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew is simply a seminal album: it broke new ground, and still sounds fresh and innovative today. It also gave rise to a new genre of music–jazz fusion, or fusion jazz–depending on which word one wants modifying the other.

Here is a reading on Miles Davis’ invention of and contributions to fusion jazz with a vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet to accompany it. I’ve found students with even a modest interest in music find this material interesting.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.