Volume 10, No. 8 Duke University April 1999
Poems by Lucille Clifton
Editorial on Lomperis-Bassett Legacy
Davidson on Humanities Initiative
Donoghue on the Culture Wars
3 POEMS BY LUCILLE CLIFTON
EdNote: Lucille Clifton is Blackburn Visiting
Professor in creative writing in the Department of English in the spring
of 1999. She is the author of 32 published books of poetry and children's
literature. Among her awards are the Shelley Prize, the Juniper Prize,
the Lannon Poetry Award and two awards from the NEA. A former Poet Laureate
of Maryland, she teaches at Columbia University and St. Mary's College
To A Dark Moses
you are the one
i am lit for.
Come with your rod
and is a serpent.
i am the bush.
i am burning
i am not consumed.
if i should
to clark kent
enter the darkest room
in my house and speak
with my own voice, at last,
about its awful furniture,
pulling apart the covering
over the dusty bodies; the randy
father, the husband holding ice
in his hand like a blessing,
the mother bleeding into herself
and the small imploding girl,
i say if i should walk into
that web, who will come flying
after me, leaping tall buildings?
note, passed to superman
sweet jesus, superman,
if i had seen you
dressed in your blue suit
i would have known you.
maybe that choirboy clark
can stand around
listening to stories
but not you, not with
metropolis to save
and every crook in town
filthy with kryptonite.
lord, man of steel,
i understand the cape,
the leggings, the whole
ball of wax.
you can trust me,
there is no planet stranger
than the one i'm from.
"if I should," and "note, passed to superman" are cited from THE BOOK OF LIGHT, copyright (c) 1993 by Lucille Clifton.
THE ENDURING BASSETT-LOMPERIS LEGACY
"I can live with high standards for faculty appointments.
I can't live with double standards."
-Ole R. Holsti,
George V. Allen Professor,
I. AN ANATOMY OF SUCCESS
To properly commemorate these last days of the century, we recall today two figures of crucial importance in the history of the Duke faculty. One is proudly remembered by his name on an East Campus dormitory and a philanthropic fund; the other is officially forgotten. But though located on opposite ends of the twentieth century, their names are forever linked by reference to the most famous tenure decisions in Duke history. They are linked also by issues of academic freedom, racial politics, and faculty governance.
So far as John Spencer Bassett is concerned, in 1903 those issues played out to the credit of a unified Trinity College (later Duke) faculty who vowed to resign in a bloc if Bassett were to lose his job for having called Booker T. Washington "the greatest man, save General Lee, born in the South in a hundred years." As against keeping the Negro "in his place," Bassett countered that "the 'place' of every man in our American life is such a one as his virtues and his capacities may enable him to take." (A professor of History, Bassett was writing in the new Duke journal The South Atlantic Quarterly in October, 1903.)
Professor Bassett's antagonist in this affair was one Josephus Daniels, editor of the Raleigh News and Observer and a rabid white supremacist who often used epithets like "coon" and "nigger" in his pages. When Daniels and others demanded that Bassett be fired, the entire faculty jointly presented a letter to their Board of Trustees refusing "to yield our minds to any sort of intellectual bondage" and claiming that scholars must rather "form their own opinions from a fair examination of all available sources of information." Trinity College has earned a good reputation "because she has stood for the open mind," the faculty statement declared, and "This reputation is a priceless possession. To lose it would be a calamity, to throw it away would be unpardonable folly." In addition to this letter, President Kilgo and his entire faculty signed letters of resignation to give the Board of Trustees in the event of Bassett's dismissal.
After the trustees voted 18-7 in Bassett's
favor, the story became big news across the country. President Theodore
Roosevelt, addressing a crowd of 15,000 near East Campus, said: "You
stand for Academic Freedom, for the right of [a scholar]. . . to tell the
truth as he sees it, . . . and to give others the largest liberty in seeking
after truth." (For further information about the Bassett affair, the
book to consult is Earl W. Porter's book, Trinity and Duke, 1892-1924
-- Duke Press: Durham, 1964, from which I have cited pages 254
and 142-3.) The Duke faculty is rightly proud of the heritage bequeathed
it by the Bassett episode a century ago.
II. AN AUTOPSY OF FAILURE
In this closing decade of the twentieth century, the Timothy Lomperis case (which ended in 1994) stands in depressing contrast to the Bassett Affair. The connective hyphen that links the two episodes rests primarily upon two features they hold in common: nation-wide eminence and a set of admonitory lessons regarding faculty-administration conduct. Concerning the first point, national eminence, the Lomperis case evoked no equivalent to President Roosevelt's address, but it did attract widespread media attention. On June 9, 1994, the Wall Street Journal devoted its lead editorial to the case, citing the tenure denial as "symptomatic of much that is deeply wrong at Duke and in the academy in general." That judgment in turn evokes the second point, the set of admonitory lessons which we shall enumerate herewith in loosely chronological order.
It is not our purpose here to reckon
with the spite, treachery, envy or other such factors that have been alleged
in this case, nor are we at all interested in specific individuals who
surfaced at various points in the coils of its unfolding. We focus instead
on professional misjudgments that serve as generic markers of Lomperization
for every department and program with tenuring authority. From the rich
compost whose fragrance marks the aftermath of the affair, we filch up
a dozen General Questions for lessons in faculty deportment. To wit:
Question 1: A Tainted Jury Pool?
As a former soldier who volunteered
for a second tour of duty in Vietnam, Professor Lomperis was not a man
to be easily intimidated by mere academic infighting. Perhaps that was
his fatal mistake. Several years before his tenure came under review, when
he served on a department committee with several distinguished senior colleagues,
he argued against their position and the department at large accepted his
argument. Shortly thereafter, one of the two seniors angrily told him in
effect that "assistant professors who make waves don't make professors."
Unless Lomperis, who reported the incident, is shown to be a liar -- which
no one has alleged -- shouldn't this colleague have recused himself from
this tenure review, or if not, shouldn't the University have disqualified
him? Isn't it evident that the system's failure to account for the
possibility of vindictive retaliation tainted this tenure review from the
Question 2: Great Teaching + $1.00 = Cup of Coffee?
Just before Lomperis's final dismissal
from the University, some 916 students signed a petition requesting that
Lomperis get tenure. In the Duke Chronicle (6/16/94), Education
professor Joseph DiBona wrote that during his advising sessions, "every
student I asked - not just some, but every student - said that
Lomperis was the best teacher he had at Duke University." In an otherwise
weak candidacy, this sort of achievement would not suffice for tenure,
but doesn't it contradict our professed teaching values to give it virtually
no credit in an otherwise very strong candidacy?
Question 3: Who's the Judge?
During the course of the affair, the President of Duke University said Lomperis should get tenure. The Dean of Faculty - whose own scholarship overlapped with Lomperis's field of interest -- said he should get tenure. The first time they voted, his department review committee unanimously recommended tenure. And, in the aftermath of the case, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees said the tenure denial left Duke wide open to a lawsuit.
In the later stages of the review,
however, a whole raft of new people moved into the scene, in every case
to Lomperis's disadvantage. A new President had several very good personal
reasons to distance herself from her predecessor's friendly consideration.
A new (Acting) Dean of Faculty cast a cold eye on Lomperis's transgression
against established academic authority. A new Chairman of the Board, along
with the Acting Provost, the Ombudsman, and the University Counsel, took
a company man's view of the issue. And a new department review committee
had a decidedly more negative cast of personnel than the earlier one. With
exactly the same dossier and a different (but equally competent) set of
evaluators, Lomperis would in all likelihood have sailed easily into possession
of tenure. As Attorney Roy M. Cohn (Senator McCarthy's hatchetman) used
to say whenever he took up a case, one question chiefly determines the
outcome: "Who's the judge?" In our sometimes corrupted courtrooms,
that is a reasonable question, but should it be paramount in our weightiest
Question 4: Who's on the Phone?
The spite, hatred, and treachery that we disdained to reckon with in an earlier paragraph come unavoidably into play in the next stage of the Bassett-Lomperis legacy. While he was still being reviewed for tenure, Lomperis applied for a job at the University of Kentucky and emerged as one of three finalists. Then, in the words of three Kentucky professors (as cited in the Wall Street Journal), something "uniquely odious" happened. With no corroborating evidence or chance to defend himself, Lomperis was represented to his prospective new colleagues as a "sexist," "racist," and "fascist" (the latter in connection with his military service in Vietnam), and his chances to get the job were doomed. The three Kentucky professors expressed a belief that these slanders were related to recent phone calls from Lomperis's department at Duke - calls whose existence was verified by department phone records.
When Professor Holsti (cited above
in my epigraph) asked the Acting Dean of Faculty to investigate this incident,
he was told that those phone calls were none of Holsti's business, the
Acting Dean's business, or Duke University's business (Durham Herald-Sun
2/8/94). Although arguably correct in legalistic terms, this answer was
morally vacant. The question is not whether there was absolute proof of
bias in the tenure process - proof that might require an unlikely
confession by a wrongdoer. The question is whether there were serious and
substantial grounds for suspicion of bias, in which case the appeal for
a new, unbiased review was justified.
Question 5: Fudging the Testimony?
Concerning those phone calls, Professor Karen Mingst of the University of Kentucky submitted the following affidavit:
"During the period in which Dr. Lomperis was under consideration by my department, a colleague and friend of mine ... came to me and told me he had received a call or calls from Dr. Lomperis's colleagues at Duke University. . . to the effect that 'the people at Duke tell that Lomperis is a racist and a sexist.'. . . The reported statements of unidentified Duke faculty, that Lomperis was a 'racist' and 'sexist,' were repeated to numerous other Kentucky faculty. . . . In my opinion, the reported statements of Duke faculty. . . influenced the vote of our faculty [on the Lomperis job candidacy, which was defeated by one vote]."
If, yielding the argument, we were to say that the phone calls actually were none of our business, the fact remains that the following redaction of Professor Mingst's statement is undeniably our business. It appears in the Report to the Duke Trustees that preceded their dismissal of Lomperis's appeal: "According to Karen Mingst, a member of the Kentucky search committee, the negative comments regarding Lomperis. . . were generated in the course of his interviews at Kentucky" ("Report to Trustees," p. 13). Three questions: (1) Am I the only one who sees this description of Professor Mingst's testimony as contradicting her actual testimony? (2) Did this befuddlement of the issue affect the Trustees' dismissal of the Lomperis appeal? (3) If so, shouldn't this mistake be corrected?
Question 6: Double Standard?
At Duke the threshold of tenure has
typically comprised a first book published by a reputable press along with
several journal articles and a prospective second book. At the time of
his review, Lomperis had a couple of journal articles plus three books
in print, including a 1984 volume on the Viet Nam war that has achieved
the rare distinction for an academic book of never going out of print.
(Most academic books are soon remaindered.) A greatly distinguished scholar,
Samuel Huntington (a chaired professor at Harvard and former president
of the American Political Science Association), has called it "the
best single volume on the Viet Nam war." Ordinarily, that record should
have sufficed for tenure, particularly since it substantially exceeded
the publication record of several persons sitting in judgment on the candidate.
But his colleagues decided his tenure would depend on his fourth book.
Question: was this an equitable standard?
Question 7: The Phantom Contract (Another Phone Call?)
That fourth book, a sweepingly magisterial comparative analysis of nine civil wars -- from Greece in 1946 to the Shining Path movement in Peru in the 1990s -- had tentatively been accepted by the Yale Press at the outset of the Lomperis review. Mysteriously, however, that tentative acceptance eventually turned into rejection, despite the changes Lomperis made to accommodate the press's wishes. About that curious development, a Duke graduate who tried to buy the book from the Yale Press wrote the following statement:
"I believe that the Yale Press fully intended to publish From People's War to People's Rule as late as the fall of 1993. When I called Lomperis's editor to ask when I could get a copy of the book, he praised the manuscript, noting that it received excellent reviews, and said it would be published in the spring of 1994. But when I called back in the spring he said that it had been decided not to publish. He refused to give any reason for the decision. I believe this is unheard of when an agreement to publish already exists. . . . The Trustees, I believe, should be asking: What happened at Yale?"
What did happen at Yale? At every such turn,
isn't it curious how incurious this review process was -- especially in
light of the earlier phone calls to Kentucky? And didn't Yale's tentative
acceptance indicate that the ms. would probably be published elsewhere
(as it soon was, at the UNC Press)?
Question 8: The Party of Unsound Method?
In judging the merit of scholarship, no argument is more vulnerable than the insistence that someone has failed to respect the latest trends in academic thinking. (In my own field of literary study, permutations of "theory" frequently have the shelf life and nutritional value of last month's leftovers.) But that is how a Lomperis colleague explained the tenure denial in a public letter: "Lomperis never really engaged his work with current 'frontiers' of . . . theory. . . . His work was more historical" (Duke Chronicle 12/10/92). Leaving aside Lomperis's relation to "theory" (which some scholars said he used well), the insistence that being "historical" is a losing proposition -- that one must instead engage with current debates in the field despite their irrelevance to one's work -- is a sort of intellectual bullying meant to force conformity upon young scholars. In fact the same colleague in the same statement exempted himself from this abuse of intellectual authority -- "I personally may have my cynical judgment about current international relations theory," he observes -- but "professors who want tenure have to play by these rules." Question: Is freedom of thought a luxury reserved to tenured faculty?
Question 9: Which Scope Is That?
The foregoing colleague went on to say that "when outsiders in [his discipline] were asked to rank him with other people of his generation. . . , he tended to be off the scope." Which is to say, no acknowledged experts could be found to verify Lomperis's first-rate status as a scholar. (Every scholar is likely to encounter negative judgments; the question is whether positive ones can be found to outweigh them.) But how wide-ranging was the department's selection of expert consultants? We have already noted Samuel Huntington's statement that The War Everyone Lostand Won, which has never gone out of print, is "the single best volume on the Vietnam War."
Concerning Lomperis's next book, From People's War to People's Rule (University of North Carolina Press: 1996), Huntington wrote: "This is social science at its best, combining penetrating theoretical analysis, exhaustive empirical research, and relevant implications for policy." Another former President of the American Political Science Association (who read and accepted the ms. for the UNC Press) called it "a significant contribution to knowledge." Peter Katzenstein, a chaired professor at Cornell, called it "a wonderful book. . . nuanced and subtle. . . one of the most interesting things I have read on intervention [in civil wars]." Other distinguished scholars who praised the book include Robert Jervis, a chaired professor at Columbia, and Sam Sarkesian, of Loyola University in Chicago, who called the book "a comprehensive and in-depth study and analysis" which is "an important contribution to the literature." After its publication, From People's War also won a couple of academic awards and brought Lomperis a lecture /discussion tour to places like Oxford and Columbia Universities along with a session on C-Span.
In sum, that's not too bad a performance for an assistant professor going for tenure. In fact, from having observed tenure decisions at Duke for thirty years, I'd have to say that this total publication record would have easily sufficed for any candidate I have known about - unless, of course, the experts in Lomperis's corner all belonged to the Party of Unsound Method for having flouted the "frontiers of theory." His Duke colleagues could not have known about the success of this book in advance, of course, but isn't it a pity that when mistakes of this sort are made, the will to correct them seems so limited?
Question 10: Do Promises Matter?
In the face of the foregoing multiple mischance, all Lomperis ever asked for was a new, unbiased review by outside experts. Toward the end, that is exactly what the University Counsel promised in writing as follows:
"The provost will recommend that a special ad hoc committee be appointed to consider all information. . . relevant to [the Lomperis candidacy]. . . . There can be no question that this re-evaluation will be fair, complete, and comprehensive."
The occasion of this promise was a letter to the Trustees explaining that they could abandon their own intention to provide a new, unbiased review now that the Administration had promised to do it. This review did not happen.
Question 11: A Closed Loop?
The fact that no such review ever took
place, along with the Provost's denial that it should take place, led to
a Faculty Hearing Committee's ruling that the Provost was in error and
that Lomperis was entitled to a new, unbiased review. What followed may
have been the oddest feature of the whole screwball affair. To resolve
the impasse between the Faculty Hearing Committee and the Provost, the
final authority was handed back to that same Provost, who quite naturally
ruled himself to have been correct in his judgment. The concern of a Trustee
(in fact he was Chairman of the Board) that the University was wide open
to a lawsuit proved needless only because the candidate could not afford
a lawyer to battle the high-powered phalanx of University attorneys. After
Lomperis had left the campus (he is now chair of his department at Saint
Louis University), the faculty corrected this obvious defect in the appeals
procedure. But isn't it a shame that the sacrificial victim whose case
instigates reform cannot benefit from it?
Question 12: A Race/Gender Gap?
It is a dead certainty - on which
you could bet your life, your lifelong income, and your immortal soul --
that no program or department on this campus would have dared to deny tenure
to a woman or a person of color with Lomperis's record of achievement in
teaching and scholarship. And if, most improbably, a department did so
move, there is no way the Administration would have permitted the case
to go forward to a federal judge's scrutiny, with its attendant publicity.
So an institution that began this century nobly refusing to discriminate
against Booker T. Washington for his physical characteristics ended the
century condoning the impact of Lomperis's white male body as a decisive
factor in his tenure case. That is the final meaning of the Bassett-Lomperis
III. THE ENDURING LEGACY
In the October 1994 Faculty Newsletter, my predecessor Roger Corless wrote: "It is too soon to tell whether [the Lomperis case] will become as famous as the Bassett case, but it is certainly attracting national attention." O ye of little faith! Most certainly the Bassett-Lomperis legacy will achieve-- has achieved -- permanent fame as a representative anatomy/autopsy of faculty success and failure. Of course the success part is easier to remember, what with Bassett's name on a dormitory and philanthropic fund, but we doctors of philosophy understand better than most the instructive value of failure. Looking back from the century's end, our thoughts linger over the Lomperis episode because it is surely axiomatic that a university faculty would be the last entity that would want to forget the past and thus be condemned to repeat it. . . . Question 13: Isn't That So?
THE DUKE HUMANITIES INITIATIVE
including The John Hope Franklin Seminars
for Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities and The John
Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary Studies
Sponsored by John W. Strohbehn, Provost
William H. Chafe, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Cathy N. Davidson, Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary
As part of our ongoing effort to place Duke University at the cutting edge of research, analysis, and interpretation in the area of interdisciplinary studies, we have embarked on a Duke humanities initiative, a strategic plan for the humanities with outreach to the social sciences and to faculty who work on the ethics, history, and theory of science. This humanities initiative will attempt to set an intellectual agenda for the future, building upon Duke's proven commitments to make bridges across disciplinary boundaries and focus intellectual resources on those questions most pivotal to carrying forward knowledge in the humanities, the social sciences, and the professions.
The humanities initiative begins with a four-year program of focused seminars -- the John Hope Franklin Seminars for Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities. These Franklin Seminars are designed to promote faculty and institutional development through productive, creative, collaborative thinking in strategic areas vital to Duke's presence on the national and international scene. From this sound intellectual and institutional base, we will develop a permanent interdisciplinary center, to be designated the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary Studies (or possibly the Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies).
Among its many functions, this permanent Franklin Center will extend and transform the Franklin Seminars from a primarily internal meeting ground into a place where Duke scholars convene with visiting external fellows and postdoctoral students from across the nation and around the world to tackle the most pressing and most compelling issues of the day. In particular, the Franklin Center will encompass the Franklin Academy of Arts and Letters, an honorary society designed to celebrate the achievement of distinguished African Americans in the arts and the humanities.
In addition, the Franklin Center facility
could contain faculty and departmental offices for some of Duke's most
innovative and interdisciplinary humanities and social science units, as
well as new interdisciplinary programs that will arise out of the Franklin
Seminars, such as the Program for Inter-American Studies or the Institute
for Global Studies in the Humanities. It could also house a number of area
studies programs, and possibly such diverse collaborative ventures for
faculty, advanced graduate students, and professional students as the University
Scholars Program or the Bass Society of Fellows. In short, the John Hope
Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary Studies will be a significant, adventurous,
and inspiring intellectual crossroads from which to chart future directions
and create intellectual leadership with impact across the entire university.
Background of this Proposal:
This proposal represents a coming together
of separate initiatives into a robust effort that, we believe, represents
Duke University at its best. The result is a plan that has pooled the energies,
resources, and vision of university interests in the humanities, African
and African American Studies, and international studies into a comprehensive
plan for innovative, interdisciplinary studies across the University. In
particular, we note the invaluable contributions made by a self-appointed
group of senior black staff and faculty who, beginning in 1995, committed
themselves to this vision.
By naming several of our initiatives after Dr. John Hope Franklin, we are honoring one of the nation's most courageous and thoughtful intellectual leaders. James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History, Dr. Franklin has already given Duke University his invaluable papers that chart many of the key social directions of American life in the twentieth century. By bestowing Franklin's name on the Seminars and the Center, we pay tribute to his legacy. Additionally, his name reminds us of Duke's strenuous efforts, as a southern university with national and international stature, to be an intellectual leader (not simply a policy voice) in discussions of race and race relations. The Franklin Center thus honors Dr. Franklin while also capitalizing on our own intellectual investment in this area so vital to the future of American thought and life.
PHASE I: Fall 1999-2003
The John Hope Franklin Seminars for Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities
The Franklin Seminars will be fully operational by Fall of 1999 and will run for four years. Their chief aims are faculty development and institutional enhancement. The Franklin Seminars provide one-semester release time to faculty and year-long participation in an invigorating faculty seminar that serves two interlinked goals: first, time for individual thinking and writing; second, time for collaborative institutional efforts (internal planning and external funding) that will result in new programs that solidify Duke's unique and important offerings in the humanities. The Seminars will concentrate on areas where Duke is strongest. They will bring together some of our distinguished senior faculty, promising junior faculty, and advanced graduate students for collective, collaborative research and thinking.
--To foster collaboration, collectivity, and cross-fertilization of ideas through networking, dialogue, information exchange, and sharing of current research;
--To provide one semester of release time and one year of membership in the Franklin Seminars for selected faculty doing research and teaching on each year's topic;
--To galvanize these faculty and ancillary faculty and graduate students through workshops presented by distinguished visitors, as well as by Duke's own seminar participants;
--To focus on the institutional and pedagogical aspects
of each year's topic so that Duke may launch future fundraising, grant
support, and institution-building initiatives in these areas.
Each year, one or two faculty will be appointed by the Provost and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences to serve as director(s). The director should be chosen for intellectual leadership, group communication skills, and field of interest (i.e., the director should be expert in the topic at hand).
During the first year, and given that these Seminars will be fully functioning by Fall of 1999, the initial participants will be selected by the Provost and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in consultation with a faculty advisory board. In subsequent years, an announcement will be made to the full faculty indicating the director, topic, and application requirements for the seminars for the following year. Fellows will be selected by the director(s) and a faculty advisory board, in consultation with the Provost and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Six to eight faculty each year will be invited to participate in the Franklin Seminar. Fellowships will consist of a one-semester release from teaching duties to pursue intensive research and writing, and a year-long participation in the Franklin Seminar. Where appropriate and feasible, advanced graduate students (ABD's or new Ph.D.'s) who have proven themselves to be first-rate teachers may be appointed to teach courses for faculty on research leave. They will be given the honorific title "Franklin Seminar Distinguished Teaching Fellow" and will be invited to participate in the Franklin Seminars.
Until there is a permanent center, Franklin Seminar faculty will continue to work in their own offices. They will participate in the collaborative life of the Seminars by attending several workshops each semester, including in the semester in which they are not on leave. They will present a working paper to the Seminar for one of the sessions and will participate in the workshops offered by other faculty participants and distinguished visitors. They may also be invited to present their work in the year's final symposium that will include Duke faculty and graduate students and invited speakers. The Franklin Symposium will be organized by the Franklin Distinguished Teaching Fellows and will be open to the public.
Throughout the year, the director of the Franklin Seminar will also encourage discussion about the institutional and pedagogical possibilities of the seminar. S/he will work with Duke's grant officers towards developing proposals for outside funding that will sustain the work beyond the seminar year and will work with Duke's administrators to understand long-term programmatic possibilities for Duke.
In addition to the Franklin Seminar
Distinguished Teaching Fellows, three graduate students in earlier stages
of their careers will be selected each year to be research assistants for
the Seminar faculty. They will also be invited to attend the workshop sessions.
Fall 1999-Spring 2000: Seminar on the Americas
Specific topic: "Race and Nation-Building in the Americas"
Begun as a response to the Cold War, American studies became -- over time -- an ever widening panorama of approaches towards culture, social discourse, and intellectual productivity. Now is the time to transform that concept once more, moving in the direction of a program in America studies with a full interplay of cultures from Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the United States being explored within an environment open to the newest approaches to cultural studies and definitions of nationality. Co-directed by Janice Radway and Alberto Moreiras, this seminar will bring together core members of that program. Duke is rich in faculty leadership in interdisciplinary studies of the Americas. John Hope Franklin and Cathy Davidson are past presidents of the American Studies Association while Radway is the current president of ASA and Bill Chafe the current president of the Organization of American Historians. Under Karla F. C. Holloway, African and African American Studies is one of Duke's most exciting new intellectual units, and the home of Contours, a new interdisciplinary journal.
Finally, Duke already has a strong joint Latin American studies program with the University of North Carolina, a program that has particular strengths in the social sciences. Building upon this foundation, nine scholars in Latin American studies recently prepared a Rockefeller Foundation grant proposal on the Americas that, among other objectives, would promote greater interaction between humanists and social scientists working on the U.S. and Latin America. This Franklin Seminar would immediately lend support to this active group comprised of scholars from African and African American Studies, Anthropology, English, History, the Literature Program, Sociology, and Romance Studies. If their proposal is successful, the first year of the Franklin Seminar would lead into the three-year Rockefeller funding cycle. Institutionally, this seminar should lead to the creation of an Inter-Americas Studies Program that redefines the nature, scope, and purpose of "American studies."
Fall 2000-Spring 2001:
Religion, Race, and Globalization
Extending the first Franklin Seminar both globally and historically, this Seminar will endeavor to deepen our national conversation about "race" by exploring the historical, global dimensions of how ideas of racial superiority were first disseminated. Spearheaded by Bruce Lawrence and Walter Mignolo, distinguished theorists of global studies in the humanities, the second Franklin Seminar will explore fundamental issues that structured the world in the past five hundred years, starting with the transition from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic as a new commercial center. This moment was part and consequence of the expansion of Christianity as it came to be the first global system for classifying the various "non-Western" peoples of the world. People in the Americas, in Asia, in the Near East, and in Africa were conceived according to a Christian world view.
From the sixteenth to the end of the
twentieth century, the tense relations between ethnicity and racism have
to be understood in terms of the complexity of religion, Western expansion,
and nation-building around the globe. Once again, Duke's position in being
able to change the intellectual conversation on global dimensions of race
is preeminent. Institutionally, this seminar could lead to a fruitful collaboration
with our neighboring institution, the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill, which is currently embarked on a parallel global humanities initiative
that, strikingly, does not overlap with Duke's strengths but, rather, provides
the perfect complement (in such areas as performance theory, media studies
and communication, and Buddhist studies). Institutionally, the establishment
of a cooperative Duke-UNC Institute for Global Studies in the Humanities
could allow for a productive pooling of resources in areas too costly for
either university to sustain independently (including in the lesser-taught
languages, world religions, global/comparative communications and media
studies, and international cultural studies).
Fall 2001-Spring 2002: Mapping Gender,
Across Continents and Histories
Gender studies is in a key transitional moment at Duke now that we have established three tenure lines in the Women's Studies Program. Also, given the recent decision of Jean O'Barr, Margaret Taylor Smith Director of Women's Studies, to step down as director in 2001, we will soon embark on a search for her successor. Building upon Duke's fifteen-year commitment to women's studies, we are about to take the program to the next level of national prominence. Institutionally, this Seminar builds on a global feminist initiative already in place and is strategically timed so that the new director (slated to be on campus in Fall of 2000 and to assume the directorship in Fall 2001) can bring together Duke's most brilliant theorists of gender from departments and disciplines around the university, including in the sciences, social sciences, in public policy, and in the law, business, and medical schools.
Additionally, this gender component
will complement the global initiatives in the social sciences at Duke,
including concurrent global initiatives in the social sciences (funded
by Mellon and Ford) where more attention to gender has been seen as a desirable
goal by principal investigators and participants. Through such institutional
structures as Duke's new Institute for Child Policy and its successful
Center for Health Policy, Law, and Management, this Franklin Seminar can
also be a meeting place for theorists and policy investigators concerned
with women and men in a global context. [N.B.: Depending on when
the new Director of Women's Studies arrives on campus, years 3 and 4 of
the Franklin Seminars might well be transposed.]
Fall 2002-Spring 2003:
Theories of the Mind
After devoting three years to international
humanities initiatives with outreach primarily towards the social sciences,
in the fourth year the Franklin Seminar will consolidate Duke's exciting
new work in cognitive neuroscience by focusing on the philosophy of the
mind. While this seminar should, ideally, also have international contributions,
its focus will be on the history and theory of science, the history of
ideas, intellectual history (western and non-western philosophical traditions),
and theories of the relationship between the mind and the body, including
ways that those relationships are being challenged by new technologies
and new media. This will provide the perfect transitional seminar, especially
if the next step is a move to a permanent site, and the opening of the
John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. It will draw from
distinct and different segments of the faculty -- including those in philosophy,
psychology, economics (science studies), literature, computer science,
mathematics, and other areas -- while still carrying on intellectual leadership
in areas supported by the previous seminars (including investigation of
how theories of mind support social agendas through ethics, eugenics, race-based
theories of I.Q., and so forth). Institutionally, this seminar helps
to support the humanities portion of Duke's important new cognitive neuroscience
program as well as initiatives in the area of new information technologies.
Evaluation of the success and impact
of this program will be ongoing. We will assess the program in terms of
individual faculty intellectual growth and productivity, pedagogical import,
and institution building. Specifically, we will evaluate whether these
Seminars have aided the university in obtaining additional external funding
(always scarce and extremely competitive in the humanities); in creating
new, clear, and useful ties between the humanities, social sciences, sciences,
and the professional schools; and in having long-range institutional benefits,
both programmatic and pedagogical. At the third year mark, the Provost
will appoint a formal review team to make a full assessment of the humanities
initiative and make recommendations for what features of the Franklin Seminars
should be retained and what changed as this initiative evolves into a permanent
Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. The fourth year of the Seminars
will thus also be a time when a formal faculty and administrative committee
should be formed to guide the transition to the Franklin Center.
Phase II: Start time, Fall 2003
The John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary Studies
After four years of intellectual and institutional enhancement under the auspices of the Franklin Seminars, we will be ready to create a permanent center for the humanities at Duke. The John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary Studies will pay tribute to Dr. Franklin's indelible intellectual legacy. It will serve as an umbrella for a series of initiatives that reflect and carry forward ongoing themes embodied in the life of John Hope Franklin, and in particular Duke's strength in interdisciplinary studies. As with the Franklin Seminars, the Franklin Center conceives of the humanities in the broadest sense, as a multifaceted way of thinking through values and issues that permeate American life. This Center is conceived as integral and foundational to programs across the university and is informed by ideas and concerns in the social sciences, the sciences, and the professional schools.
This second phase of the humanities initiative is still in its earliest planning stages. Much thought must be given to how a permanent center can be established, under what organizational structure, in what particular facility, and contiguous with which other programs. The possibilities for this Center are exciting. A permanent physical space would perform the unique intellectual task of bringing together the kinds of interdisciplinary departments and programs, as well as some international programs, that could be most enriched by proximity with one another. Rightly conceived and carefully planned, the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary Studies could combine features of Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study and Harvard's Barker Center. What would it mean for our university if some of its most innovative interdisciplinary units came together in a think tank, in a space separate from their constituent disciplinary homes, in a space free of turf considerations? This is a new concept -- and a bold one.
Among the programs that might be housed together in a permanent center are such proposed humanities programs as the John Hope Franklin Academy of Arts and Letters (an honorary society), the Program for Inter-American Studies, the Institute for Global Studies in the Humanities, or the Institute for French and Francophone Studies. A variety of international and area studies programs could also share this space. Interdisciplinary programs from other divisions across the university that might move into such a center are the various social science initiatives on globalization and democracy; a possible new center for environmental and health law and policy; or programs in ecology, demography, new information technologies, and other social and political issues that demand complex thinking from and interactions with a wide variety of disciplinary perspectives.
It is also possible that some major interdisciplinary departments -- including African and African American Studies -- might decide to move to this intellectual hub. With good dining facilities, seminar and conference rooms, a gallery and exhibition space, and a lecture hall with media capabilities, the Franklin Center could become an exemplary interdisciplinary and international research center. Indeed, the Center could become the jewel in the crown of Duke's many initiatives (the University Scholars Program; the Bass Society of Fellows; The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Writing; or the Focus Program) designed to enhance the intellectual quality of all Duke campus life and underscore the link between teaching and research.
Now is the right time for these interrelated initiatives. We have inaugurated several programs designed to encourage faculty to have an ever-more invested interest in undergraduate education in addition to their research and graduate teaching responsibilities. We ask them to assume greater shares of governance and administrative burdens (within Duke and within their professions). At the same time, external grant support (particularly for humanists) continues to shrink, and it becomes harder and harder for humanities faculty to find time to do their own research and writing. The Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary Studies offers our faculty six months or a year in a Center that nourishes them solely as intellectuals. Inspiring and productive, residence at the Franklin Center provides far more than the typical sabbatical since it is not only release time but also enriched time. It allows faculty to return to the classroom -- and to their normally demanding academic lives -- with new ideas, enhanced and invigorated by interdisciplinary collaboration.
The proposed Center will become one of Duke's chief recruitment and retention weapons as more and more of our prominent faculty are tempted by raids from other universities, including our black faculty who are frequently the target of these raids. It will help all our faculty to keep up to date with the most important work in the field by allowing them the chance to do research and to discuss that research and writing with their most interested and exciting colleagues in a variety of disciplines.
Ideally, the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary Studies will be a place, at Duke and nationally, where humanists, social scientists, and scientists -- from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Graduate School, and from all of Duke's professional schools -- come together to consider the philosophical and historical complexities of some of the most pressing issues facing our society. The Franklin Center will provide a space in which to think about and discuss these issues in the most vigorous, thoughtful, challenging, and significant way.
REPORT FROM THE KULTURKAMPF
EdNote: Professor Donoghue, the author of some 27 volumes of literary criticism and scholarship in British and American literature, is a familiar name to readers of the New York Review of Books, the NYTBR, the Times Literary Supplement, and similar publications.
A CEASE-FIRE IN THE CULTURE WARS?
--by Denis Donoghue
Henry James Professor of English
New York University
It may be true that the "culture wars" are over. There are reports of a "general lessening of theoretical polemical fervour." Ideological conflicts have shifted from universities to high schools, public and private. Instead of quarreling about the canon of literature, many high-school teachers are preoccupied by the appalling conditions they have to face, problems of discipline, guns, drugs, violence, urban dread. But if the universities are quiet, who won the war, and why are we not celebrating? I am ready to believe that young scholars, weary of the toil of battle, have given up quarreling about theoretical issues and are pursuing their studies on the assumption that whatever theoretical framework they need is adequately in place. If it is widely supposed that all such frameworks are in any case merely "constructed" rather than innate, natural, or otherwise privileged, then any one of them is just as employable as another. Or each of them is good for a particular job and may be replaced by another one for the next assignment.
But it is my impression that the wars are not over. There has been a cease-fire, which may well be permanent, but only in the sense that the disputants have given up fighting with their opponents and have resorted to another strategy. Each of them -- and they are many -- has withdrawn from the arena and set up a local constituency, a gathering of the faithful. Feminism, as a case in point, has made for itself a place apart, where it conducts its business for the benefit of its adherents and doesn't bother strangers. This strategy requires for its success several enabling institutions: journals given over to feminist issues, regular conferences where feminists address one another and refine their rhetorical skills, courses in colleges and universities, anthologies to cater to the interests of the group. The publication of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women was a crucial strategic event. There is now somewhere for feminists to go to be together for a while. Students can assemble around the book; the appropriate discourse can begin. The designation of college courses as separate entities makes these procedures easier. Many interests that were once in conflict with other interests are now pursued separately, on the understanding that each of them concerns the members of its group and no one else. They are organized like sects within the Christian community. Presbyterians don't trouble Methodists so long as Methodists don't interfere with Presbyterians. The quarrels that flare up now are between one adherent and another: the wars are civil wars.
I can't imagine that anyone regards this as an entirely happy outcome, but it was inevitable. Cultural formations deal with disputes not by resolving them but by enlarging the field, making a separate space for those who refuse to accept the official designation of areas and sites. Lines of demarcation are opportunistically drawn so that people can decide where they want to live. They can choose their neighbors on probable ideological considerations. These devices make life easier: at last we are enjoying a truce, if not permanent peace. No issue has been resolved, but the provision of separate spaces has the effect of making the issues seem not quite as incorrigible as they were in the bad old years. Each group has room to breathe.
I should be content with these arrangements. It is a blessing that my professional life proceeds free from the noise of ignorant armies clashing by night. But I am not entirely content. I wish the war had ended in the victory of one party, preferably that of my friends. I would like to have seen something achieved, some issue resolved, if only to make the turbulence and the accusations of bad faith appear to have been worthwhile. Lacking a resolution of our quarrels, I am not convinced that it is time to put away the weapons. Even now, so late in the professional day, I find myself staying awake to be ready for the next theoretical assault. But often, when morning comes, I conclude that many continuing issues trouble me now only in their practical consequences.
I haven't lost my zeal for the disputes of theory: they are -- or I thought they were -- disputes among rival systems of belief, issues of life if not of death. I still hope to break a theoretical lance occasionally. But I have come to think that disputes of theory are best engaged as disputes about our ways of reading and interpreting. The idea of arguing with Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson, Edward Said, Annette Kolodny, J. Hillis Miller, Stephen Greenblatt, and Stanley Fish about their theories of literature has not lost its charm, but it might be more worthwhile to ask adepts of feminism, Marxism, Deconstruction, the New Historicism, and Cultural Studies what they think they're doing when they read literature. I have come to feel that theories matter only when they coerce someone's way of reading a book. Then they matter a lot.
--Cited from Denis Donoghue, The Practice of Reading
(Yale U. Press: 1998, 34-36)
from Harper's Index:
Chance that an American fell asleep at the wheel last year: 1 in 4
Estimated portion of the value of the currency circulating in Russia that is in U.S. dollars: 1/2
Ratio of highway spending Congress passed last May to the cost of gold-plating one lane of the U. S. interstate system: 2:1
Number of credit-card solicitations mailed to Americans last year: 3,000,000,000
--Harper's Magazine 8/98 (13)
SCIENCE FOR LAYPERSONS:
LIFE SPAN OF A PROTON:
"The proton's lifetime is still not known, but a new, more stringent lower limit has been found by the Super-Kamiokande underground detector in Japan. . . . The research team. . . concludes that protons persist for at least . . .100 billion trillion years."
-Scientific American 1/99 (30)
LIVES OF A HOUSEFLY:
"The average number of bacteria on a single fly is about 1 million."
-Discover (3/99, 76)
The Faculty Forum is published monthly by the Academic Council of Duke University.
Editor: Victor Strandberg (English).
Editorial Advisory Board: Matt Cartmill (Biological Anthropology & Anatomy), Howard Clark (Biomedical Engineering), Buford Jones (English), Seymour Mauskopf (History -- on leave), and Kathy Rudy (Women's Studies).
The purpose of the Faculty Forum is to provide an opportunity for faculty members to discuss topics of common interest. The FF therefore welcomes, and indeed depends on, contributions by faculty members. Contributions may be published anonymously, but the editor will need to know the identity of all contributors so as to authenticate the contribution and permit appropriate editing procedures. We welcome fact, opinion, and creative whimsy from across the wide range of Arts & Sciences and Professional Schools -- book reviews (new or reprinted), short essays, serendipitous items from random reading, and voices from the eternal kulturkampf.
Contributions of every kind should be sent, in both print and (if lengthy) computer disk, to the editor,Victor Strandberg, in 315 Allen Building. Voicemail is 684-3976; no objection to calls at home, 919-489-5531. E-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org FAX (English department) is 919-684-4871. The deadline for submissions is about the 25th of each month.