By a coincidence, I read Alex-Thai Vo‘s article in the Journal of Vietnamese Studies a couple of days before my Great Books classes met to discuss the first half of The Prince. The article is titled Nguyễn Thị Năm and the Land Reform in North Vietnam, 1953, and I browsed over it when it came out last spring, only to “save” it for later because it is quite long. Funny, but last week I was merely looking at several JVS articles for examples of formatting and mechanics, not anything specifically in the content. But I got hooked quickly and read the article in entirety. It was one of those happy distractions and, possibly, fruitful later too.
I just had a really good semester in the classroom, the best at Pepperdine. In the first two years, I had some good classes and even three or four great ones: “great” means you cannot ask for more. But for each semester there was at least one class out of three or four (depending on the semester) that was average at best or, at least once in my first year, quite sub-par. Well, not this fall. If the third time is the charm in trying most things in life, then the third year might be my charm in full-time teaching.
Here is part one.
“As nearly the same time as the discovery of alcohol,” writes Fernand Braudel in the first of his three-volume work on capitalism from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century,
Europe, at the centre of the innovations of the world, discovered three new drinks, stimulants, and tonics: coffee, tea, and chocolate. All three came from abroad: coffee was Arab (originally Ethiopian); tea, Chinese; chocolate, Mexican.
This two-part reflection was inspired by my Great Books classes in the last two years, and by this photo from my Pepperdine colleague Donna Plank. Norman Rockwell’s classic illustration “Freedom From Want,” which I showed in the American history survey class last week, reminded me to finish these posts before Thanksgiving. Gobble gobble!
With two exceptions, all of my non-academic jobs have involved foodstuffs to some extent.
Continue reading “Reading about food & drink #1”
Along with three Pepperdine colleagues, I participated in a faculty panel at a gathering of a Lilly Graduate Fellows cohort in Malibu on August 3 of this year. Academic in setting, the atmosphere nonetheless leaned towards the personal. So were the reflections from the panel, mine included. My appreciation goes to my Great Books colleague Jane Rodeheffer for the invitation, and to Michael Ditmore for comments on an earlier draft of this still half-baked reflection.
Continue reading “Cradle Catholic – ridiculous phrase; who invented it?”
Thinking about this list of “top ten Vietnamese songs of war,” I’ve had the hardest time with the songs in the middle of the list. But I knew exactly which song to begin the series and which one to end it.
For a starter, it is hard to find a better tune than Quê Hương Chiến Tranh – Country At War – if only for the title. Few titles in South Vietnamese music on war are as succinct or straightforward as this one, for it names the most significant experiences among twentieth-century Vietnamese: war and nation.
It’s New Student Orientation, and earlier today I had the pleasure of meeting students assigned to my Great Book I sections, plus their parents in a separate meeting. I showed both groups the following video about the same class a year ago.
I hope you’ll get a kick watching even though (or because) it highlights activities other than discussion, which constituted the bulk of class time. “I love the discussion that occurs in this class,” wrote a student in the course evaluation, “This class is essentially many intelligent people gathering to discuss ideas and perspectives.”
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