Class went well. We

June 17, 2003


Class went well.

We talked about political partisanship in the Jacksonian era, marches and songs and such. We talked about North and South and how the two sections differed. We watched Uncle Tom's Cabin, from where Augustine St. Clair says he intends to free Tom through where Simon Legree gives his talk about working slaves to death in 2 years and then buying more.

The students were hit hard by Tom, harder than I expected. I am perhaps a little cold towards evidence of racism in the historical past. Felicia Rashad and company did a good job of re-creating the powerful emotional appeals of a 19th-century Tom show, and if you did not know what was coming it could well be very effective and very very shocking.

None of them had read UTC before. If, feh, what is her name? 's critique of the texts used in American educational systems is accurate none of them would expect to encounter UTC in high school. UTC is the great 19th-century novel, it is a powerful piece of melodrama. It is not a comfortable novel for a 21st-century sensibility even though many of the plot decisions were made to make the novel more comfortable for a 19th-century audience.

Speaking of novels, I had some junk reading today. I read David Weber's Honor of the Queen to celebrate sending in chapter 3. It is a good, solid space opera. Weber set out to write Horatio Hornblower in space, and he did a good job with it. I noticed that between the first book and the second he cut back on some of the more ridiculous homages to the Napoleonic navy - the 13 year old midshipmen on the interstellar space ship was taking things a bit too far.

After teaching I read Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Gold. It was more homage to the Napoleonic era. This was the second Sharpe novel that Cornwell wrote, although it is about a third of the way through the chronology. Sharpe is a more interesting character here than he is in the books Cornwell wrote later - I can tell that Cornwell is still figuring out the man, his voice, and his style. By the later books Corwnwell is practically writing by numbers; Sharpe is set, Sharpe is painted in broader, simpler strokes, Sharpe has more interior monologues and yet fewer interesting choices.

I might be overstating that, but it is what my tired mind wants to say. I was sleepy on the drive to the military base - WHY does that drive make me dangerously tired? No nap today, but coffee in the morning and a soda while I graded in the CC library lounge. I think I can sleep now. I will take the hound out and try.

And so to bed.

Posted by Red Ted at June 17, 2003 11:43 AM | TrackBack