The Faculty Forum

Vol. 10 No. 2 October 1998

"It is hard to be finite upon an infinite subject, and all subjects are infinite." --Herman Melville



Guest Editorial: Holsti on Critics of Clinton

Gavins. Murphy, Ross, Smith on Behind the Veil

Clark on the Electronic Book

Zipkin, Letter about Vesilind essay

Hall, Letter about Map of China

Possum (Passim): Voices from the Kulturkampf

The OIC Report: An American Classic

"The Tragedy of King Leer"

Ferret's Deconstructions: Walt Whitman

Parrot's Recitations: Victor Hugo

Editorial Policy


1. Full Academic Council Minutes from 1991 to the present are located at

2. Dean William Chafe's Address to the Arts and Sciences Faculty, which was published in the September 18, 1998 number of the Duke Dialogue magazine, may be accessed on the web. See the Duke Dialogue entry on the Duke home page.

Guest Editorial


--by Ole R. Holsti (Political Science)

President Clinton's draft dodging and sexual misbehavior have gone a long way toward vindicating his most vocal opponents, including Representatives Chenoweth, Hyde, Gingrich, and Burton; syndicated columnist George Will; and pro-life activist and Paula Jones adviser Susan Carpenter-McMillan. A cynic might accuse the critics of hypocrisy, but that would be wholly unfair because we have compelling evidence to the contrary.

Helen Chenoweth is best known as the defender of the heavily armed "survivalist" groups that made Idaho one of the strongest bulwarks of defense against the black helicopters of the United Nations. An eloquent critic of the President, she called him a "scum bag" last spring. Recently she admitted having had a long-term affair with a married man, but she has assured us that her case is "different" from that of the President.

Henry Hyde, chairman of the committee that will consider impeachment of the President, had a long affair with the married mother of three children. The woman's former husband recently called Hyde a hypocrite, but surely that is a biased judgment. Although Hyde was 43 years old when the affair ended and it resulted in breaking up a family, he has assured us that his actions were merely a "youthful indiscretion." Surely that is a more balanced description than that of the cuckolded husband. Although Hyde voted to make public all of the Starr report and grand jury testimony by President Clinton, his demand that the FBI investigate the sources of information on his "youthful indiscretion" is surely a disinterested act of statesmanship.

Gingrich appears to share a remarkable number of experiences with the President, including evasion of military service and difficulties with marital fidelity. Published sources cite his affair with campaign volunteer Anne Manning while Gingrich was married to his first wife. He later divorced his first wife while she was battling cancer, trading her in for a younger model. Gingrich would be the first to admit that his case was also "different" from that of the President. Given his stature as Speaker of the House, his judgment on this question should certainly be sufficient to lay the matter to rest.

Dan Burton, who has taken a back seat to none in the intensity of attacks on the President's behavior, recently admitted to a long affair in which he fathered a child. Burton, who is conducting an investigation of Clinton's fund raising, has repeatedly said that his case is "different." Moreover, he should certainly gain our admiration for now letting the child know who his father is, albeit more than a decade after the fact. "Better late than never" surely applies to this case.

George Will, whose elastic concept of journalistic ethics has given that noble profession a black eye, has focused most of his columns since 1993 to attacking the President. Even when writing about baseball, a game about which he is an acknowledged expert, he has found a way to skewer the President. Will, a Vietnam-era draft dodger, has a marital history that uninformed critics might describe as less than noble. Perhaps someday he will enlighten us with a column about his visit to give a commencement address at Duke in which he reveals whether his traveling companion was his lawful wedded wife. But Will is much too modest to write columns about himself; were it otherwise, he would no doubt explain with his usual compelling logic why his draft dodging and marital record are "different" from Clinton's.

Susan Carpenter-McMillan has served as a key adviser in Paula Jones's sexual harassment suit against the President. She thus has been an important player in the Clinton scandal, because the Jones suit served as Kenneth Starr's point of entry into the Lewinski affair. An unyielding opponent of abortion under all circumstances, Carpenter-McMillan has repeatedly attacked the President's pro-choice position. When it was revealed that Carpenter-McMillan has had two abortions, one as a USC coed and another after marriage, she pointed out that her case was different" and strictly "a private matter." After all, bearing an unwanted child can wreck a coed's social life; that point alone should justify allowing her just this one exception to her principled opposition to a pro-choice option for others.

In summary, we are fortunate that all of these visible and vocal Clinton critics and protectors of public morals have clarified so eloquently why their actions were not really like those of our miscreant President. That is good news indeed because it absolves them all from wholly unwarranted charges of hypocrisy.

John Hope Franklin Research Center Welcomes

the Addition of Behind the Veil

--by Blair L. Murphy

The Franklin Center

The holdings of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American Documentation will be greatly enriched this fall by the opening of the records of Behind the Veil: Documenting African-American Life in the Jim Crow South. Behind the Veil, an oral history collection, spearheaded by Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies and co-directed by Duke professors William Chafe, Raymond Gavins and Robert Korstad, is a broad-based effort to correct historical misrepresentation of the African American Experience during the period of legal segregation. Teams of researchers conducted interviews with elder African Americans to document their lives during a time when racial lines crisscrossed the southern landscape. The interviews reflect not only the terror, hardship and frustration of this period of second-class citizenship, but also the individual and collective struggles of black southerners to survive and prosper in spite of the policies of white supremacy. This collection of interviews, documents and photographs will be housed in the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections library as part of the Franklin Research Center.

Since its founding in November of 1995, the John Hope Franklin Research Center has served as a repository for African and African American studies and documentation at Duke University. By drawing on the rich record of African American experience already held by the Special Collections library and through the ongoing process of collecting new materials that enrich the library's current holdings, the Franklin Research Center is emerging as a foremost center for studying African American life in the Jim Crow era. The Franklin Research Center is home to over twenty diverse manuscript resources that detail the political struggles, civic work and family relations of African Americans during the era of southern segregation. Some paper collections are large and provide sharp insight into the shape of black business and civic life during the first half of the twentieth century. For example, the Asa and Elna Spaulding Papers contain approximately 36,000 items which chronicle the lives of two of Durham, North Carolina's most prominent and influential black citizens. Other collections like the Blunt Family Papers outline how black families maintained community and personal identity during periods of tremendous change.

In addition to these paper collections, the library is home to rare oral history collections and photographs that provide substantive insight into the texture of black life in the Jim Crow South. The Franklin Center provides an on-line collection guide to current twentieth century holdings. Future acquisitions including the papers of distinguished historian John Hope Franklin and the development of a rare book collection of turn-of-the-century African American autobiography will further enrich the Center's resources for chronicling black life during this critical era.

The addition of the records of Behind the Veil enhances the strength of one of the major collection areas of the Franklin Research Center. Behind the Veil, which encompasses over 1200 taped interviews, hundreds of photos, and documents from over twenty communities in ten southern states, is remarkable both for its size and its scope. As one of the largest efforts to chronicle black life during the Jim Crow era, the collection provides rich documentary evidence of the shape of everyday black life, the importance of black institutions, and the contours of both the formal laws and informal rules that restricted southern life. Behind the Veil is a groundbreaking historical effort that is bolstered by the diverse holdings and on-going collection efforts of the Franklin Research Center. The Franklin Research Center welcomes this tremendous addition to its holdings. For more information, please contact the Franklin Center at 660-5922, e-mail, or visit the Franklin Center on-line at

Celebrating the Opening of Behind the Veil

--by Paul Ortiz

On November 10, 1998, the "Behind the Veil: Documenting African American Life in the Jim Crow South" Oral History Collection will officially open for public and scholarly use. The Behind the Veil Collection will be housed at Duke University's John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American Documentation at the Special Collections Library. Based at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, the Behind the Veil project started in 1991 when scholars from all over the country gathered to review the status of historical research on African American life in the US. and to help set the agenda for a massive oral history undertaking to recover the neglected stories of the Jim Crow era.

The opening ceremony will begin at 5:00 P.M. at the Mary Duke Biddle Rare Book Room at Perkins Library on Duke's West Campus. A panel of scholars will discuss the origins of Behind the Veil, and the Collection's significance. Panelists will include project directors Dr. William H. Chafe, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Raymond Gavins, Professor of History at Duke, and Paul Ortiz, a doctoral candidate in history at Duke who serves as the project's research coordinator.

To celebrate the Collection's opening, The John Hope Franklin Center is also presenting a photography and audio exhibit at Perkins Library. The exhibit will feature photographs and interviews from the Behind the Veil Collection. The audio portion features live recorded interviews with African American elders narrated by acclaimed vocalist Lois Dawson. This public exhibit will open Monday, November 2nd and run the entire month of November.

The Behind the Veil Collection is the fruit of three summers' worth of oral history by teams of graduate students from Duke and institutions from across the United States. From 1993 to 1996, these research teams interviewed black elders in diverse African American communities throughout the South about their lives during the era of legal segregation. Research sites encompassed rural, urban and small towns throughout the region. Sites included: Durham, New Bern, Charlotte, Enfield and Wilmington, North Carolina; Birmingham and Tuskegee, Alabama; Albany, Georgia; New Iberia and New Orleans, Louisiana; Summerton, St. Helena and Orangeburg, South Carolina; Tallahassee, Florida; Fargo and Magnolia, Arkansas; LeFlore County, Mississippi and the Mississippi Delta; Memphis, Tennessee; Norfolk, Virginia; and Muhlenburg County, Kentucky. Researchers not only conducted interviews but also collected documents, and copied thousands of African American family photographs that are a significant part of the Collection. The Collection includes over one thousand three hundred life history interviews and will be a major resource for students and scholars studying African American life from the late nineteenth century to the end of the first half of the twentieth century.

The project also developed a collaborative relationship through a research consortium of scholars from historically black colleges and universities such as North Carolina Central University, Johnson C. Smith University, Jackson State and Clark Atlanta universities as well as LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tennessee. These institutions also piloted new curricula for graduate and undergraduate research seminars on life in the segregated South. Locally, these seminars have been offered at Duke and North Carolina Central University and have been taught by Drs. Beverly Jones, Raymond Gavins and Bob Korstad.

During the field work phase, researchers were hosted and guided by academic as well as community-based institutions including the Black Archives at Florida A & M University in Tallahassee, Florida, Scott's Branch "76" Foundation in Summerton, S.C. and the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. Copies of interview tapes and biographical papers collected in each location are housed at local community and university repositories throughout the South.

Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities with matching funds from the Ford Foundation and the Lyndhurst Foundation, the Behind the Veil Project research office is located at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. It is co-directed by Duke historians William Chafe, Raymond Gavins and Robert Korstad. For more information, please call Paul Ortiz, research coordinator at 660-3651.

Reflections of Behind the Veil Researchers: Ortiz, Ross, and Smith


This summer I interviewed a one hundred and four-year-old African American gentleman in Gainesville, Florida who told me that Emancipation Day was the single most important holiday in the Black community when he was growing up. During the Jim Crow era in Florida, African American communities in the state set aside May 20th as the time to celebrate the day that they had earned their freedom. May 20th was a day to hold a grand picnic and to organize entertainment and games for the young. The celebrations paid homage to the older members of the community as well. Elders who survived slavery would be honored on May 20th and given a place on the program to discuss the horrors of slavery as well as the hope of freedom. Black communities used Emancipation Day as a way to remind themselves where they had come from, how they had collectively fought for their freedom, and how they dreamed of a better future.

The experience of conducting Behind the Veil interviews has taught me the importance of remembrance during the era of Jim Crow. Black and white southerners dueled over the meanings and memories of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction and even the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as surely as they dueled over the everyday operation of segregation. Black and white communities even observed diametrically opposing holidays because their interpretation of their "common" history was so radically different.

For example, Black communities organized "Decoration Day" ceremonies that honored African Americans who had fought in the Union Army during the Civil War. In Florida, thousands of escaped slaves fought in U.S. Army infantry and cavalry units and served as scouts, spies, river pilots and other auxiliary roles in the Civil War. On Black Remembrance days, this service to the Union cause was celebrated and honored as proof that African Americans had earned their freedom. Emancipation was not simply something that had been "granted" to them by a distant federal government. As the last generation of former slaves and Civil War veterans aged and began pass away, African American communities engaged in deep debates over the lamentable tendency of the young to forget the sacrifices of earlier generations.

At the same time, white politicians and economic elites in the South were busy erecting monuments and tributes to slave holders who had fought to preserve slavery and the Confederacy. Whites commemorated their own days: the birthday of Robert E. Lee; a "Decoration Day" that acknowledged Confederate veterans; ritual observances of the deaths of Confederates icons such as Jefferson Davis. (Today in Virginia, white and Black citizens are given the options of honoring on the same day the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson.)

To African Americans, the cultural productions of Jim Crow--the endless stock of postcards, books, parades, ceremonies, etc. that propped up white supremacy while dehumanizing Black bodies and identities--were evil. Indeed, one of the flash points of Jim Crow was a cultural struggle over the meaning of American history. African Americans argued that slavery had been dehumanizing, while most professional historians argued that it had been a "benevolent" institution. Black communities paid solemn tribute to Reconstruction-era Black leaders who died in the early 1900s, while white politicians vilified Reconstruction as a hopelessly corrupt era. African American communities celebrated heroes and heroines who displayed qualities of independence, race pride, and resistance to Jim Crow norms; white lecturers celebrated African Americans who exhibited the opposite traits: for example, the mythical "Black Mammy" of slavery.

Conducting Behind the Veil interviews also taught me that the transition from slavery to freedom in America was tenuous and has never been fully completed. Many of the people we interviewed spoke of debt peonage, forced labor, political disfranchisement, one-party rule in the South, lynching, impoverished schools, poverty wages, labor repression and other mechanisms of domination as if they had occurred only yesterday. There is no intellectually honest way of characterizing Jim Crow America as "democratic" or even "separate but equal." Some of the informants I interviewed even mentioned the reappearance of garment sweatshops in contemporary America as an example that the U.S. is still unwilling or unable to survive without slave labor.

The interviews of the Behind the Veil Collection also stand as a decisive blow against the "Caste" school of American race relations. In this interpretation, formulated by sociologists of race in America, race relations in the South were viewed as being relatively static and unchanging. Scholars ascribed "racial

ideology" to "timeless" attitudes held by white southerners towards African Americans. As dissenting sociologist Oliver Cox pointed out however, in a deft criticism of Gunar Myrdal's American Dilemma, a caste system implies an absence of resistance. The interviews in the Behind the Veil Collection are replete with incidents of African American resistance to Jim Crow, incidents that occurred long before the coming of the modern Civil Rights Movement. Such resistance demonstrates that African Americans never widely accepted Jim Crow and that the system of segregation always by definition depended upon the threat of force (lynching, political violence, church burnings, whitecappings, etc.) to sustain itself. This was not a static, caste society; in fact, it was a society constantly at war with itself.

African American elders teach other lessons in this Collection: the necessity of struggle, the tenuous and fragile nature of democracy, and the importance of being able to smile at your most powerful enemy and walk away with your dignity intact while planning to live and fight another day. As scholars begin to seriously analyze the interviews of the Behind the Veil Collection, entirely new interpretations of American history will surface. Finally, new generations of Americans will pay homage to the sacrifices of the "many thousands gone" who redeemed the Nation from its worst sins.

Paul Ortiz,

Research Coordinator

Behind the Veil


"But Mr. Ross, why do we have to learn about this stuff?" a young woman's voice queried from the back corner of the classroom. "I mean, that stuff doesn't happen anymore right? What's that go to do with us?"

I smiled (because I loved it when my students asked questions), surveyed the sea of thirty-five black and brown young people crowded together in that Alameda, California high school classroom, thought about the nearly all-white Advanced Placement US history class next door, and answered her inquiry.

The ghosts of southern Jim Crow segregation continue to haunt, in the elusive form of institutional racism, America's present. Many young Americans, through no fault of their own, cannot fathom the relevance of the era to their own lives and experiences, however. Too far removed -- geographically and historically -- from the terror, violence, and dehumanization that characterized life in the South, a generation's burgeoning social consciousness has had the evil specter of Jim Crow swept under the historical rug by celebratory textbooks championing sanitized aspects of the modern black freedom struggle. This interpretation superficially covers the irrational psychic and physical brutality inflicted by whites upon blacks and the myriad ingenious and community-based ways in which blacks responded to and resisted Jim Crow. Worse, it poisons the minds of America's youth with the misconception that the nation's racial ills had been cured by their parent's generation.

In a way that the woefully inadequate high school textbooks cannot begin to address, Behind the Veil documents the richness and complexity of black life during this neglected period of American history. Soliciting the personal narratives of local people from diverse regions and backgrounds throughout the South, the oral history project captures the multifaceted ways in which blacks lived, endured, failed, and thrived in segregated communities, urban and rural. The interviews, in addition, paint a vivid picture of the internal political, cultural, and generational struggles prevalent in black communities. Countering popular prevailing notions of an undifferentiated homogenous mass of black humanity, Behind the Veil transforms blacks from passive objects into active subjects, rescuing them from the margins of American historiography, and challenging historians to wrestle with black opinions and actions when writing about America. The dynamic collection should serve as an invaluable and provocative resource for those interested in black life and oral history, and, especially for those of us who undertake the enormous responsibility of sharing with America's youth the controversies, tragedies, and triumphs of America's past and its pertinence to their daily personal struggles.

Christopher Ross,

Research Assistant

Behind the Veil


Perhaps the most obvious strength of Behind the Veil is its vast resources: the depth and variety of the collected life histories has provided me with a never-ending supply of information and inspiration. Below the surface of the material holdings in the collection, however, has been the personnel I've been fortunate enough to work with. Ever since my first day on the project two years ago, I've been extremely lucky to work with a highly dedicated group of graduate research assistants and undergraduate volunteers. The camaraderie and intellectual exchange I've enjoyed being associated with the project has helped motivate me in my own work and has also brightened the task of graduate school. Others will certainly write about the collection's depth and uniqueness and this too continues to amaze and instruct me, but without the human resources I've been happy to work with the past two years on a daily level, Behind the Veil would not be what it is: a very human, dynamic, and ever-expanding project with sincere and lofty goals.

Arthur Smith,

Research Assistant

Behind the Veil

A Comment on BTV's Educational and Scholarly Significance

--by Raymond Gavins (History), Co-director of Behind The Veil

Segregation, or Jim Crow, had its origins in antebellum America and powerfully shaped race relations after the Civil War. In the South, where its customs and laws targeted ex-slaves and their descendants, Jim Crow achieved hegemony by the 1890s and reigned until the 1960s. Although crucial in America's long narrative on race relations, the Age of Jim Crow has never been studied and taught as widely as the slavery and civil rights periods. BTV will help to redress this scholarly and pedagogical imbalance. The nature of segregation, its links to enslavement and to desegregation, how it was enforced, how blacks endured and resisted it--building "a world that white people hardly knew and understood even less"--frame the thematic guidelines that we follow as codirectors, research coordinator, graduate and undergraduate assistants of the project. Coworkers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Afro-American Studies Programs, and historic preservation groups are indispensable in BTV's documentary approach.

Our central purpose is to recover oral histories, family photographs, personal papers, and other sources for enlarging knowledge of the African American experience during the Jim Crow era. We especially seek to interview elderly informants who lived through that time, lest the opportunity to preserve their memories is lost. The many interviews processed to date reflect critical differences by factors like age, education, gender, occupation, religion, region, racial climate, and political outlook. Thanks to the BTV and Special Collections Library staffs, researchers, students, teachers, and others can begin using these audiotaped stories next month. BTV also aims to publish a general study, select narratives, and document readers exploring black aspirations, ideologies, strategies, and struggles. Another aim is to develop educational resources for course guides, heritage projects, and exhibits on communities and institutions.

Oral testimony provides rich insight into black agency, including strong values of freedom, pride, self-help, and solidarity in face of color caste and the threat of violence. For example, Mrs. Lillie Pierce Fenner (1907- ) recalls her family's search for fair treatment in Halifax County, North Carolina. "We never had no land of our own. We'd sharecrop with the white people," she remembers. "We moved around. We moved around different places. . . . Seemed like my daddy and the man he worked with couldn't agree on different things. So he would get up and move somewhere else. We'd stay there for awhile until it looked like we couldn't agree and then he'd get up and move somewhere else." Farming tobacco, her father and mother managed to send their eight children to school. Fenner did not attend beyond third grade, but a sister attended college. Meanwhile, farm families built support networks. Fenner states: "My daddy was a member of the lodge called the Knights of Gideon and they would go to the lodge at night, he and my mama. It was some kind of meeting. . . . When somebody would pass in the family they would give them a certain portion of money to help them." During illness "the people in the community would come and see about you. They would carry you to the doctor. . . bring you something to eat or wash your clothes." Thus did they retain a sense of dignity and survive--within the shadow of the plantation.

Electronic Books Have Arrived

--by Howard G. Clark (Engineering)

The new electronic books are going to alter the way our universities and libraries and indeed our whole culture work. Since the development of computers, visionaries have talked about a paperless era where electronic media would supplant printed material. This has increasingly come to pass in office communication and letter writing, although the use of paper continues to rise. Anyone who has tried to read a book from a desk-top computer screen knows that this is much less acceptable than a printed book. Many people confronted with a long computer file simply print it out and read the printed material. All this is about to change.

Several companies are planning to begin marketing e-books in the next few months. I imagine those who can will try to hit the Christmas season market. I have information about the Rocket e-Book from NuvoMedia and the SoftBook from SoftBook Press, but there is a conference in Gaithersburg, Maryland for Oct. 8-9, 1998, sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) where a dozen organizations are on the program. So, I believe that there will be a variety of competing formats for e-books. Presumably NIST is trying to see what sort of industry standards can be adopted, which should be a help to users. I was fortunate to be accepted as a tester for the Rocket e-Book, and through the good offices of Brian Kenna, a well connected electrical engineering undergraduate, I was able to spend a few days with a SoftBook. Neither of these products is on the market yet, but they soon will be.

The new electronic books weigh about as much as a paper book. The Rocket eBook weighs about one pound and the SoftBook weighs about three pounds. They can be handled in the same way as a paper book, sitting in an easy chair, lying in bed, or at a classroom desk. The difference is that one electronic book (e-book) can hold several thousand pages of text and illustrations. The Rocket eBook works with a PC. Books are downloaded over the internet via a PC into memory; it takes only a couple of minutes per book with an ethernet connection, longer with a modem. The SoftBook works without a PC It is only necessary to plug it into a phone jack. A built-in modem lets you make a selection and completes the download. Most of the books in print are already in digital format, because this is the way they are prepared for printing. So it will be possible that between deciding to purchase a book and receiving it, only about fifteen minutes will elapse. Of course, this new format will only be successful if the publishers cooperate.

The innovation that will make these books a success is that the books are downloaded from the internet encrypted. In the case of the Rocket Book the text can only be decrypted by the reader's e-book. The publisher will charge a credit card for the download, and the encryption protects against piracy; i.e.., you may lend your ebook with a book on it, but you can't copy the book to someone else's rocket book. With their intellectual property protected, the publishers will have every incentive to market through electronic media. You may send a Rocket e-book edition back to a PC and thence to a storage disk, but it will be in encrypted form and can only be read by sending it back to the e-book.

A Jazz drive disk will hold a thousand or more books and take up a fraction of an inch of a half-height shelf space. The SoftBook with optional memory will hold between 50,000-100,000 pages of text. When the memory is near full you will delete material, but redownloading is offered at no cost. The Rocket e-Book screen is excellent, bright and crisp, but it only displays about a half page of a usual paper book. Pages advance very rapidly with the push of a button (no scrolling). The reader may select large or small type. A friend, who has intermediate stage cataracts, reads printed pages with difficulty, but is able to read the contrasty Rocket e-Book screen relatively easily. The reader may book mark, enter notes into the text, highlight text, and search for phrases. The backlit screen can be read in bed without additional light. The batteries last about twenty hours between recharges.

The SoftBook screen is larger, about the size of a usual paper page. It has most of the same features. The screen is bright enough, but it is sensitive to the angle from which it is viewed. Battery life between recharges is about five hours. Neither product has disk drives or fans. There are no moving parts, and the only sound is from the clicking of the button that turns the pages.

The present version e-books are not designed for libraries, but the implications of the technology are profound. Electronic books might even ameliorate the Library of Congress/ Dewey Decimal System controversy. I suppose there might be opposition to converting the Perkin Library stacks to a bowling alley, but the requirements for new and archival space would be greatly reduced.

Duke might do well to sell the bookstore while there is still a market. With this new technology there would never be a shortage of text books since more could be down loaded in minutes. There would be no surplus inventory to ship back and no initial shipping charges. The more profitable aspects of a bookstore such as tee-shirt and coffee mug sales would be unaffected, of course, but backpacks for books should go the way of buggy whips.

Color and high quality half-tone illustrations are not available now but are promised for the near future. The present e-books have some problems, but they look to an outsider like things that can be easily fixed through software. For example, the Rocket e-Book does not give page numbers, but the SoftBook does. Despite some tongue-in-cheek comments above, they will not replace all paper, but they will change the way books are distributed in a way almost as profoundly as Guttenberg's innovation.

Publishers have the power to embrace this new medium or slow it down. The e-book itself will cost a few hundred dollars; if downloading books is not considerably cheaper than buying a paper copy the incentive will not be as strong to switch to electronic media. Of course, marketing strategies could shift the sales price, i.e., give away the e-book and charge more for the down loads. I am sure that Encyclopedia Britannica is making a lot more money selling the CD ROM for $100 than they did when it was $800. Conversely, the publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary just don't get it. They could make much more with a $100 CD ROM than they are making with a price near $1,000. Revised editions could be prepared more easily and sold to a more receptive market. Early reports are that the Rocket book will sell for about $500 and the SoftBook for about $300, but the SoftBook will require the purchaser to sign a contract to buy books at the rate of $20/mo. I haven't found any information about how much the download editions of a book will cost. Perhaps the decisions have not been made.

I have a friend who sails to distant islands. He will have the capability of selecting from hundreds of thousands of books and either downloading from a satellite or waiting for a telephone connection in his port. Of course, a printed set of the OED is a good supplement to the keel, so not everything is positive.

Screen displays and flash memory, the essential hardware in an e-book, are getting lighter, cheaper, faster, and generally better. This means that in the near future e-books will be much improved over the present exciting first editions. Does this mean you should wait for the improved models? You decide for yourself, but I plan to buy one of the early models and trade up when the time comes. I am very enthusiastic about these new developments. (I do not have a financial interest in any of these products.)


To the Editor:

I'm writing in regards to the September 1998 issue of Faculty Forum, in which there is an insert box that says to notify the editor of any errors so that they may be corrected before (or even shortly after) the issue goes online. One error I've noted is in your map of China. While it is a very informative map, I do believe it to be incorrect in certain aspects, the most apparent of which is the city of Lhasa, in the SouthWestern region of what is listed as China.

In my experience, the city of Lhasa is actually located in the country of Tibet: Can you inform me otherwise? I do hope that this misrepresentation will be able to be corrected in time. The efforts of the citizens of Tibet have not gone unnoticed by my eye, and I am aware that there is currently (and has been for the last 50 years) a Chinese occupation of Tibet, although it is still a separate country.

If you would like more information on the country of Tibet and its inhabitants, including information on the Chinese occupation of Tibet, you can visit the following websites at your leisure:

Thank you again for your attention to this matter.

It is appreciated.


James Hall


To the Editor:

P. Aarne Vesilind's article, "Angry Old Professors" (FF, February 1998), expresses just what's wrong here at Duke. It's about time someone had the guts to a. . . well, to call things by their right names.

What's wrong here at Duke is that certain self-centered administrators offer cushy deals to certain self-centered professors, like "Henry Gates," as Vesilind calls him. People "who are paid huge sums of money for doing nothing but bringing in research dollars which are then subsidized by undergraduate tuition. These eminences. . . are often treated with excessive generosity, given special assignments, and granted special favors just so they will stay and not leave for greener pastures."

Now, Professor Gates did leave years ago for Harvard, which offered him an even cushier deal, I presume, but the whole thing still rankles. True, Gates is a remarkably productive scholar. He writes vast numbers of books and articles, and some people say they are learned, innovative, influential--all that sort of thing. So what? If Harvard offered me a cushy deal like his, heck, I would be just as creative. And I'm sure they would, if they thought there was any chance I would accept it. Which I most certainly would not. No, I would stay put, just like Vesilind, "serv[ing] faithfully our students and the university."

Getting angrier and angrier, every day.

--Paul H. Zipkin

The Fuqua School of Business

POSSUM (Passim)

Random Readings & Culture Studies



[EdNote: A colleague sent us this Internet item. The bracketing of nothing in the journal's title is intentional, not an error.]

IN[]VISIBLE CULTURE: An Electronic Journal for Visual Studies

The purpose of In[]Visible Culture is to provide a forum for critical approaches to the production and analysis of cultural objects. The journal features essays and art projects that address contemporary issues within visual studies. In an effort to encourage lively discussions and debates, the publication entertains the wide spectrum of methodological and disciplinary approaches (including, postcolonial, feminist, marxist, psychoanalytic, and queer theories) being applied to the study of visual culture.

As the journal's title suggests, the discourse of the visible continually negotiates the limits of what can be visually perceived. In order to further these discussions, the journal also features work that addresses the problematics raised by, among other things, the notion of ocularcentrism, claims for a "pictorial turn" in discourse, and the opposition of word and image.

You are invited to subscribe and/or submit work by writing:

Mario A. Caro,

Editor, In[ ]Visible Culture

424 Morey Hall

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"The Communist Party, USA today announced the transfer of its financial portfolio from Merrill Lynch, effective immediately."

--Harper's Magazine 8/25 (25), citing a 1997 press release of the CPUSA


"It is a commonplace among writers to need extreme arousal. For instance, Martin Buber. . . . He kept pornography on the lecture stand with him, in order to excite him to a greater performance as a lecturer. He would be talking about 'I and thou' and there he would be, shuffling through his papers, looking at explicit photographs of naked women."

--Adam Gopnik, quoting his psychiatrist in The New Yorker 8/24 & 31 (116)


The September 1998 Discover magazine has items on two Duke researchers. Frederick Nijhout (18-19) has found evidence of prenatal competition among body parts, which supports a theory of Darwin's. And Knut Schmidt-Nielsen's latest book, The Camel's Nose: Memoirs of a Curious Scientist is called "a noble and generous" account of his exceptionally adventurous and fruitful life in the biological sciences (96-97).


"In 1874 a pharmacist in London. . . boiled morphine together with ascetic anhydride, producing a substance with immensely powerful narcotic properties. By 1898 a pharmacist at the Bayer Laboratories in Germany noted the amazingly powerful effects of the substance as a painkiller, and Bayer accordingly marketed it under the name deemed suitable for a drug of such heroic qualities'heroin.'"

-- Jonathan Spence, in NYTBR 8/26/98 (8)

EdNote: The following item was sent our way by a Duke colleague with an interest in speech and language.

The FF welcomes other points of view on this topic.


--by Stephen Katz, Associate Professor of Sociology

Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

Postmodernism has been the buzzword in academia for the last decade. Books, journal articles, conference themes and university courses have resounded to the debates about post-modernism that focus on the uniqueness of our times, where computerization, the global economy and the media have irrevocably transformed all forms of social engagement. As a professor of sociology who teaches about culture, I include myself in this environment. Indeed, I have a great interest in postmodernism both as an intellectual movement and as a practical problem. In my experience there seems to be a gulf between those who see the postmodern turn as a neoconservative reupholstering of the same old corporate trappings, and those who see it as a long overdue break with modernist doctrines in education, aesthetics and politics. Of course there are all kinds of positions in between, depending upon how one sorts out the optimum route into the next millennium.

However, I think the real gulf is not so much positional as linguistic. Posture can be as important as politics when it comes to the intelligentsia. In other words, it may be less important whether or not you like postmodernism than whether or not you can speak and write post-modernism. Perhaps you would like to join in conversation with your local mandarins of cultural theory and allpurpose deep thinking, but you don't know what to say. Or, when you do contribute something you consider relevant, even insightful, you get ignored or looked at with pity. Here is a quick guide, then, to speaking and writing postmodern.

First, you need to remember that plainly expressed language is out of the question. It is too realist, modernist and obvious. Postmodern language requires that one uses play, parody and indeterminacy as critical techniques to point this out. Often this is quite a difficult requirement, so obscurity is a wellacknowledged substitute. For example, let's imagine you want to say something like, "We should listen to the views of people outside of Western society in order to learn about the cultural biases that affect us". This is honest but dull. Take the word "views". Postmodernspeak would change that to "voices", or better, "vocalities", or even better, "multivocalities". Add an adjective like "intertextual", and you're covered. "People outside" is also too plain. How about "postcolonial others"? To speak postmodern properly one must master a bevy of biases besides the familiar racism, sexism, ageism, etc. For example, phallogocentricism (malecentredness combined with rationalistic forms of binary logic). Finally "affect us" sounds like plaid pajamas. Use more obscure verbs and phrases, like "mediate our identities''. So, the final statement should say, "We should listen to the intertextual multivocalities of postcolonial others outside of Western culture in order to learn about the phallogocentric biases that mediate our identities''. Now you're talking postmodern!

Sometimes you might be in a hurry and won't have the time to muster even the minimum number of underlinings and anything else your computer (an absolute must to write postmodern) can dish out. You can make a quick reference chart to avoid time delays. Make three columns. In column A put your prefixes; post, hyper, pre, de, dis, re, ex, and counter. In column B go your suffixes and related endings; ism, itis, iality, ation, itivity, and tricity. In column C add a series of wellrespected names that make for impressive adjectives or schools of thought, for example, Barthes (Barthesian), Foucault (Foucauldian, Foucauldianism), Derrida (Derridean, Derrideanism).

Now for the test. You want to say or write something like, "Contemporary buildings are alienating". This is a good thought, but, of course, a nonstarter. You wouldn't even get offered a second round of crackers and cheese at a conference reception with such a line. In fact, after saying this, you might get asked to stay and clean up the crackers and cheese after the reception. Go to your three columns. First, the prefix. Pre is useful, as is post, or several prefixes at once is terrific. Rather than "contemporary building", be creative. "The Pre/post/spatialities ofcounterarchitectural hypercontemporaneity" is promising. You would have to drop the weak and dated term "alienating" with some well suffixed words from column B. How about "antisociality", or be more postmodern and introduce ambiguity with the linked phrase, "antisociality/seductivity". Now, go to column C and grab a few names whose work everyone will agree is important and hardly anyone has had the time or the inclination to read.

Continental European theorists are best when in doubt. I recommend the sociologist Jean Baudrillard since he has written a great deal of difficult material about postmodern space. Don't forget to make some mention of gender. Finally, add a few smoothing out words to tie the whole garbled mess together and don't forget to pack in the hyphens, slashes and parentheses. What do you get? "Pre/post/spacialities of counterarchitectural hypercontemporaneity (re)commits us to an ambivalent recurrentiality of antisociality/seductivity, one enunciated in a de/genderedBaudrillardian discourse of granulated subjectivity''. You should be able to hear a postindustrial pin drop on the retrocultural floor.

At some point someone may actually ask you what you're talking about. This risk faces all those who would speak postmodern and must be carefully avoided. You must always give the questioner the impression that they have missed the point, and so send another verbose salvo of postmodernspeak in their direction as a "simplification'' or "clarification'' of your original statement. If that doesn't work, you might be left with the terribly modernist thought of, "I don't know". Don't worry, just say, "The instability of your question leaves me with several contradictorily layered responses whose interconnectivity cannot express the logocentric coherency you seek. I can only say that reality is more uneven and its (mis)representations more untrustworthy than we have time here to explore''. Any more questions? No? Then pass the cheese and crackers.

The OIC Report As Literature


"What is this thing called 'The Report'? A four-hundred-and-forty-five page book, among other things-a 'narrative,' as its authors proudly call it. . . . What we had been promised-and what the authors received a forty-million-dollar advance to deliver-was a work in the spirit of DeLillo or Ellroy, or even Melville: an epic study in evil and its pursuit, sweeping from Little Rock to Washington and back again in waves of bad faith and intricate deceit. That book, however, has quietly been allowed to disappear, and the book we have been given turns out to be the endlessly reiterated account of a few personal interludes. Maybe American classics are just like that.

"It is American, too, in regarding a banal bourgeois theme with a rising sense of horror. Like Poe far more than like Melville, this text-whose tone recalls 'The Tell-Tale Heart' (the throbbing organ that keeps the narrator uneasily awake) and 'The Cask of Amontillado' (all those windowless rooms!)-uses an obsessional voice to tell us what is, in all other ways, a relentlessly ordinary story of adultery. A supposedly dispassionate account of a man's sins becomes so overwrought that the reader gradually realizes that the point of the story is not that the hero is wicked but that the narrator is mad.. . . . . . . .

"The book's epilogue becomes increasingly frantic. The narrator's voice intrudes, postmodernly, insisting that the hero is guilty because of his unwillingness to cooperate in the creation of the text. In a strange way, the narrator begins to compete with the disappointed lover. He, we realize-another postmodern touch-has taken her voice: 'This office extended six separate invitations to the President to testify.' Why won't you respond to my requests? Why won't you return my phone calls? You do everything you can to avoid me. And, finally, I will not be ignored. The plaint of the rejected mistress has become the cry of the rejected disciplinarian (Clinton 'spurned six invitations to testify'). Hell, our chagrined hero learns, hath no fury like a woman scorned. . . except that of an independent counsel spurned.'

--Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker 9/29/98 (39-42)


(--by Andy Myer)

EdNote: The Tragedy of King Leer, below, was sent to the FF by John Staddon, hot off the Internet.

Whose words these are I do not know

A name is on the script below

He may have writ the words seen here

Myself believes 'twas Chris Marlowe ...

Scene 1. A forest glen. Enter Witch Tripp and Kenneth of Starr

Witch Tripp:

Double, double, Webster Hubble,

I think I got the Creep in trouble.

Eye of Newt, strap of bra,

Could it be he broke some law?

Praise this broth utmost ephemeral

Heavens! I left out my Essence of Emeril!

Hark! Who trespasses so near?

Kenneth of Starr:

'Tis I, the Inquisitor. What news?

Witch Tripp:

Things proceed with quickening speed, m'lord.

The maiden Lewinsky, so deeply embroil'd, is now join'd by the Lady Willey in like pursuit.

Daily tightens the noose around the king.


Would that it were so, but he hath good counsel, and more moves than a chess board. His public, well pleas'd with good news of the economie, doth o'erlook much.


How may I serve you next?


I have need of acts damnable and facts verifiable.

Else he may elude me yet.


His dog Buddy, freshly neuter'd, may bear his master harsh reproach. He may consent to wearing a collar of our invention, to survey the king at his ease. Dogs are much accustomed to insects. What's one more bug?


Good hag, I rely on you completely. I must away.

(Exeunt Tripp and Starr)

Scene 2. The king's antechamber

Duke of McCurry:

My Lord! I needs must speak with you most urgently! The castle is assaulted on all sides!

King Leer:

What would I not give for an hour's peace!


An army of reporters is settled at thy gate. They are press in name and press in deed, for they press me daily, nay, hourly for some explanation from thy lips.


Who is there among them?


Lords Jennings, Brokaw, Rather, Geraldo of Rivera and a host of others. Methinks I spied the van from Hard Copy.


You cut me to the quick. Do they not know that I am chaste?


They insinuate that thou hast chased too often.


Never have lies been so artfully stack'd against a pure soul. Where is the Lady Hillary?


Her secretary doth report that she is lock'd in her bath, saying over and over, "Why can I not wash my hands of this guy?"


Oh, cursed fate! I must be the most solitary mortal in all creation. Never have I betrayed m'lady's trust.



(Enter messenger)


Good king, steel thy nerve. I bring a missive from Kenneth of Starr, the Grand Inquisitor.


Was ever a man as Starrcross'd as I? Why does this man conspire to afflict me thus? My hand is unsteady. Read it to me.


Let me see. He offers you his regards, blah, blah, blah, then doth subpoena you to appear at his chamber at Friday next, to forswear again that thou tookst no liberties with the wench Jones, who withdraweth not her claims against you.


I have already so sworn!


It would seem, m'lord, that the woeful tale of Lady Willey rekindles old flames.


I kiss'd the woman on the forehead, as a sign of my regard. Never was a king so expos'd!


Truer words were ne'er spoken.


I cannot think on't further. Leave me to my own counsel.

(Exeunt Messenger and McCurry)


To be forthright, or not to be forthright, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or just bag the whole thing and teach law at a junior college.

(Enter Courtier)


My liege, you are late for an appointed meeting.


What's this?


You were to interview a new assistant at the stroke of two. She seems most capable, and with rare intellect for one so young and fair.


Well tell her I will see her anon, and on, and on.


A most clever jest, my king.


Let us not tarry further.

(Exeuent Leer and Courtier. Enter Buddy, from behind a chair).


So dearest reader, I bid adieu.

Me seeth I have much to do.

And so it comes to this pretty pass

To see if the king doth get some ... class.

FERRET: Transgressive Deconstructions


1. "(he) roots like a pig among a rotten garbage of licentious thoughts." --THE NEW YORK TIMES (l856)

2. "We leave this gathering of muck to the laws. which . . . must have the power to suppress such obscenity. . . . We do not believe there is a newspaper so vile that would print confirmatory extracts." --THE NEW YORK CRITERION (1855)

3. "Is this man with the 'barbaric yawp' to push Longfellow into the shade. . .? We, who are not prudish, emphatically declare that the man who wrote page 79 of the Leaves of Grass deserves nothing so richly as the public executioner's whip." -THE LONDON CRITIC (l855) [EdNote: Page 79= "A Woman Waits for Me."]

4. "We can conceive no better reward than the lash for such a violation of decency as we have before us. . . .The author . . . must be some escaped lunatic raving in pitiable delirium. " --THE BOSTON INTELLIGENCER

5. "You speak of Mr. Whitman. I never read his book but was told that be was disgraceful." --EMILY DICKINSON, in letter of 1862.

6. "Nobody can force us to drink from a polluted bucket a maniac has filled." --THE HARVARD ADVOCATE (student literary magazine)

7. "After the dilettante indelicacies of . . . Oscar Wilde, we are presented with the slop-bucket of Walt Whitman. The chief question raised by this publication is whether anybodyeven a poetought to take off his trousers in the marketplace." --THE NEW YORK TRIBUNE (1881)

8. "Walt Whitman is one of the deities to whom the degenerate and hysterical . . . have been raising altars. . . . For his fame, he has to thank (his) bestially sensual pieces. He is morally insane." -- --MAX NORDAU, Degeneration (1893)

9. "A mass of stupid filth." --R. W. GRISWOLD), The Criterion.

10."Whitman is poetry's butcher.Huge, raw collops slashed from the rump of poetry, and never mind the gristleis what Whitman feeds our souls with." --SIDNEY LANIER (c. 1880)

11. "Whitman's attitude is monstrous because . . . it outrages the taste. It is the little nursery rhyme of 'open your mouth and shut your eyes.'" --HENRY JAMES, 1865

12. "(Whitman has) fouled with excrement the doorstep of civilization."



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, 489-5531. E-mail is FAX (English department) is 919-684-4871. The deadline for submissions is about the 25th of each month.