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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

New Discoveries

Having recently gone through a Nick Drake appreciation phase (courtesy Musicmatch Jukebox), I'm now on to Nick Lowe, who is actually quite good. As legions of people who are hipper than me have discovered, his work in the 90s was excellent. I wonder why I never discovered it at the time, particularly since I was busy snatching up every alt country CD I could find. I, of course, also endorse his late 70s-early 80s solo work. The Brinsley Schwartz stuff is pretty good too, altough harder to come by.

The upshot of all this is that I have come to realize that stylistically, I don't really appreciate popular music that sounds more modern than mid-80's roots rock. I feel like I should seek out the cutting edge of today's music or at least buy some old Massive Attack CDs, but my heart is just not in it.

Oh well.

Posted by Catfish DuBois

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Ignorance on Display

Sometimes I think the above would be a better title for this blog. I have begun a cautious foray into literary criticism and like just about everyone, I am interested in the odd debate over the "canon." So far, I have read some of Terry Eagleton's work, who seems to argue that literature be replaced with a study of rhetoric. I have also begun to look at Harold Bloom's work, who seems to argue that we can locate a sort of Western Canon by paying attention to which works have proved most influential to subsequent writers. This seems more defensable to me than an apeal to abstract aesthetic standards. Still, it seems likely that determining influence may be a bit circular. How do decide which writers are important enough to bother with tracing their aesthetic geneology. I'ld appreciate any suggestions from folks familiar with literary criticism about where to look next in my attempts to understand the debate over the canon.

Posted by Catfish DuBois
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Little Boxes

As my suburbs class is winding down, I'm begining to question some of the assumptions that I had going into it. Originally, I had designed the course to be interdisciplinary in the sense of looking at the same issues or phenomenon (in this case the suburbs) through different disciplinary lenses. These lenses ended up being history, literature/film, and poltical science. The tie in was the question "how did the post 1945 suburbs change America socially, politically, and culturally." In some ways, the course has been a success, but like all interdisciplinary endeavors, it threatens to require too little attention to each disciplinary assumptions. In particular, I feel like the literature section of the course has suffered, partically because my training is weakest in the area, but also, because it is much different methodologically than social history or political science.

When I designed this course, I specifically did not want it to be an American studies course. That is, I did not want to seemlessly integrate different disciplinary perspectives, nor did I want to rely on cultural studies methods. Instead, I hoped to stress how different discplines could attack a problem in different ways, with different advantages and limitations. This, I think, has come through ok in the parts that focused on history or political science (I also threw in a bit of sociology by throwing in Herbert Gans' _The Levittowners_). Anyway, I would be interested in hearing anyone elses experiences regarding the planning of interdiciplinary courses. See below for a sketch of the course outline:

Week One--Introduction, comparing US and European suburbs
Week Two--Historical Origins of suburbs through gov. subsidy and industry innovations
Week Three-Social life in 1950s mass suburban developments (Levittowns)
Week Four--Early social commentary on suburbs (1950s)
Week Five--The suburban short story (cheever)
Week Six--Feminism and the suburbs
Week Seven--Return of the Surburbs (Suburban film and fiction in the 1990s)
Week Eight--Suburban residence and politics (qualitative investigation)
Week Nine--Suburban residence and politics (quantitative investigation)
Week Ten--Political Consequences of suburban segregation

Posted by Catfish DuBois
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