We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Let the dead French theorists lie. Instead, literary scholars can become guides to the physical reality of the past. If you think about it, that's what we've been doing in class for the last hundred years: explaining how to pronounce "Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?" in Early Modern English, for instance, or describing a Boeing B-17 to help students understand Randall Jarrell's poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner." Once ordinary people note that we're doing something useful again, they might stop looking at us like we're nuts. And maybe we'll even get some jobs back.
Are the kids so uninformed that they don't know who a ball turret gunner is? Wish I had time now to discuss this essay, but I don't.
Yes, they are.
Military history of all ages is pretty much ignored in most schooling. I asked a teenager what war we fought with the Sherman tank and he guessed Vietnam. He also had no idea what war General Sherman himself fought. Some history books show a 50/50 representation of images of men and women, which means they can publish pictures of all of the Presidents, because that would use up their "male" allotment.
Heck, I always thought [i]The Grapes of Wrath[i] piece was a description of the Joads crossing Death Valley. Literatureists place way too much emphasis on literary allusion, since in order to recognize one, you have to have read [i]a lot of books[i] of a specific genre, and only truly literate people have done that.
I read Dante's Inferno several years ago- for the first time. There were a number of allusions of Dante's contemporaries in the various stages of Hell. The notes helped out.
Another aspect of the past is speech. One reason that Willa Cather's My Antonia enchanted me was some of its references to speech patterns that may now be forgotten- or nearly all forgotten. There was a reference to "baching it," [a bachelor running a household] a term I had heard only my grandmother use. The book also reproduced the speech patterns of Czech immigrants, which rang true with what I had heard in my childhood from Slavic immigrant grandparents of my peers.
My reaction while reading My Antonia was not one of archeology of speech but rather- the people in the book speak like people I knew. Conclusion: to a degree, this book is about people I knew, about a society I had roots in.