Hannah Arendt, “Reflections on Violence”

It is, I think, a rather sad reflection on the present state of political science that our language does not distinguish between such key terms as power, strength, force, might, authority, and, finally, violence—all of which refer to distinct phenomena. To use them as synonyms not only indicates a certain deafness to linguistic meanings, which would be serious enough, but has resulted in a kind of blindness with respect to the realities they correspond to. Behind the apparent confusion lies a firm conviction that the most crucial political issue is, and always has been, the question of Who rules Whom? Only after one eliminates this disastrous reduction of public affairs to the business of dominion will the original data concerning human affairs appear or rather reappear in their authentic diversity.

Source : The New York Review of Books, February 27, 1969 Issue

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W.H. Auden, “Shakespeare”

Category : Classroom, Students, Writing

Auden gave the following mimeographed final examination in his Saturday afternoon class for the students taking the course for credit in the fall term. Part B of the examination, which Ansen wrote in by hand with the comment “unexpected,” was dictated by Auden in class.

Lecture and Exam, The New School (1946)

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James Baldwin, “The Creative Process”

Category : Arts, Students, Writing

Perhaps the primary distinction of the artist is that he must actively cultivate that state which most men, necessarily, must avoid; the state of being alone. That all men are, when the chips are down, alone, is a banality—a banality because it is very frequently stated, but very rarely, on the evidence, believed. Most of us are not compelled to linger with the knowledge of our aloneness, for it is a knowledge that can paralyze all action in this world. There are, forever, swamps to be drained, cities to be created, mines to be exploited, children to be fed. None of these things can be done alone. But the conquest of the physical world is not man’s only duty. He is also enjoined to conquer the great wilderness of himself. The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.

Source: Creative America, Ridge Press, 1962.

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James Baldwin, “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?”

Category : Race, Students, Writing

St. Paul de Vence, France – The argument concerning the use, or the status, or the reality, of black english is rooted in American history and has absolutely nothing to do with the question the argument supposes itself to be posing. The argument has nothing to do with language itself but with the role of language. Language, incontestably, reveals the speaker. Language, also, far more dubiously, is meant to define the other – and, in this case, the other is refusing to be defined by a language that has never been able to recognize him.

Source: The New York Times (29 July 1979)

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James Baldwin, “Notes of a native son”

Category : Race, Students, Writing

On the 19th of July, in 1943, my father died. On the same day, a few hours later, his last child was born. Over a month before this, while all our energies were concentrated in waiting for those events, there had been, in Detroit, on of the bloodiest race riots of the century. A few hours after my father’s funeral, while lay in state in the undertaker’s chapel, a race riot broke out in Harlem. On the morning of the 3rd of August, we drove my father to the graveyard through a wilderness of smashed plate glass.

Source: Beacon Press, 1955.

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James Baldwin, “Price of a Ticket”

Category : Race, Students, Writing

My soul looks back and wonders how i got over – indeed: but I find it unexpectedly difficult to remember in detail, how I got started. I will never, for example, forget Saul Levitas, the editor of The New Leader, who gave me my first book review assignment sometime in 1946, nor Mary Greene, a wonderful woman, who was his man Friday: but I do not remember exactly how I met them.

Source: Collected Essays  (1985)

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Anatole Broyard, Kafka was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir

Category : Classroom, Students, Writing

My life, or career, in Greenwich Village began when Sheri Donatti invited me to move in with her. Invited is not the right word, but I don’t know how else to describe it. I had just come out of the army and I was looking for a place I could afford when I met Sheri at a party. She had two apartments, she said, and if I understood her way of talking, she was suggesting that I might come and look at one of them.

Source: NY: Random House, 1993: chs. 1-4

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Anatole Broyard, “A Portrait of the Hipster”

Category : Race, Students, Writing

As he was the illegitimate son of the Lost Generation, the hipster was really nowhere. And, just as amputees often seem to localize their strongest sensations in the missing limb, so the hipster longed, from the very beginning, to be somewhere. He was like a beetle on its back; his life was a struggle to get straight. But the law of human gravity kept him overthrown, because he was always of the minority—opposed in race or feeling to those who owned the machinery of recognition.

The hipster began his inevitable quest for self-definition by sulking in a kind of inchoate delinquency. But this delinquency was merely a negative expression of his needs, and, since it led only into the waiting arms of the ubiquitous law, he was finally forced to formalize his resentment and express it symbolically. This was the birth of a philosophy—a philosophy of somewhereness called jive, from jibe: to agree or harmonize. By discharging his would-be aggressions symbolically, the hipster harmonized or reconciled himself with society.

Source: Partisan Review (June 1948).

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“Dynamic Symmetry” Student notes and drawings

Category : Arts, Design, Students

Source: New School Archives (1926)


Allan Kaprow, “The Legacy of Jackson Pollock” (1958)

Category : Arts, Students

The tragic news of Pollock’s death two summers ago was profoundly depressing to many of us. We felt not only a sadness over the death of a great figure, but also a deep loss, as if something of ourselves had died too. We were a piece of him: he was, perhaps, the embodiment of our ambition for absolute liberation and a secretly cherished with to overturn old tables of crockery and flat champagne. We saw in his example the possibility of an astounding freshness, a sort of ecstatic blindness.

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Gerda Lerner, “Placing Women in History: Definitions and Challenges”

Category : History, Students, Women

In the brief span of five years in which American historians have begun to develop women’s history as an independent field, they have sought to find a conceptual framework and a methodology appropriate to the task. The first level at which historians, trained in traditional history, approach women’s history is by writing the history of “women worthies” or “compensatory history.” Who are the women missing from history? Who are the women of achievement and what did they achieve? The resulting history of “notable women” does not tell us much about those activities in which most women engaged, nor does it tell us about the significance of women’s activities to society as a whole.

Source: The Majority Finds its Past (1981)

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Gerda Lerner, “Woman as Slave”

Category : History, Students, Women

Historical sources on the origins of slavery of slavery are sparse, speculative and difficult to evaluate. Slavery seldom, if ever, occurs in hunting/gathering societies but appears in widely separated regions and periods with the advent of pastoralism, and later agriculture, urbanization, and state formation. Most authorities have concluded that slavery derives from war and conquest. The sources of slavery commonly cited are: capture in warfare; punishment for a crime; sale by family members; self-sale for debt and debt bondage. Slavery is the first institutionalized form of hierarchical dominance in human history; it is connected to the establishment of a market economy, hierarchies, and the state. However oppressive and brutal it undoubtedly was for those victimized by it, it represented an essential advance in the process of economic organization, an advance upon which the development of ancient civilization rested. Thus, we can justifiably speak of  “the invention of slavery” as a crucial watershed for humanity.

Source: The Creation of Patriarchy (1986)

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