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Humanities

Fall 2002

A common reader: Overcoming inertia

I’d like you to meet someone. He’s a vulnerable fellow, rather too open to the joys and despairs of deep remembering. His life, therefore, is disordered but rich, evocative but dangerously reflective. He gets along, he thinks too well, he cuts corners, he sighs great sighs. Wisteria blooms and withers while he gouges his summer with indolent harrow thrusts. He regrets memory’s hold on him, yet memory, a vast overgrown archive, secrets vital news. He has a hunger there to lose himself, and a trough of youth to do it in. The luxuriant foliage thins with the approach of life’s winter, clarity trumps extremes and, … » More …

Spring 2002

A salon of their own

Good conversation should bring about a transcendental melding of minds and dissolve class and ideological differences.

The funniest things Washington State University historian Steve Kale ran across in researching his latest book were the accounts of how much early 19th-century French women hated going to England. For England was much like the provinces. In other words, it was not Paris.

On social occasions, English men and women would eat dinner together, but not talk much. Afterwards, the men would retire to the salon, where they would smoke cigars and talk politics. English women would drink tea and chat. “The French women,” says Kale, “found it … » More …

Spring 2002

The liberal art of judgment

Effective judgment asks us to go beyond ourselves, beyond our assumptions, and beyond the comfort of our traditions.

With little effort, we can now garner information about any part of the globe, society, legal system, health care remedy, religious belief, scientific discovery, business product, or service almost instantly. But having all this information does not guarantee that we’ll use it effectively or wisely. That requires judgment. And the responsibility for instilling judgment lies largely with the university.

Two basic ingredients assure that our universities develop and preserve judgment: faculty committed to and supported in their efforts to seek truth and discover new knowledge, and a … » More …

Spring 2002

Feminae Romanae!

“. . . but Roman women rule the Romans”

Femina gladiatrix?  Femina medica?

Historians typically ascribe household or family roles to women of ancient Rome or ignore them altogether. Accounts of male emperors, male military leaders, male scholars, and male religious leaders traditionally shape the history of the Roman Empire.

However, by carefully scouring standard classical texts like Livy, Tacitus, and Cicero and sifting through archaeological records of inscriptions on tombstones, statues, and buildings, Washington State University history professor Kathryn Meyer and science fiction writer and former WSU librarian Mary Jane Engh have found examples of female counterparts to all those … » More …

Spring 2002

The Peking Cowboy

A short story by Alex Kuo; illustrations by David Wheeler. He wanted to tell the story in the third person, but it came out in the first; he wanted to tell it in the past, but it came out happening in the now; even if he wanted to, he could not change a word of it, its sequence and language clarifying its own shape and direction in his voice. » More ...