- Richard Rodriguez at the Sesquicentennial symposium on "Migration: Past, Present, and Future" (pg. 26)
- "Fellow citizen," one freshman's journey to a naturalization ceremony (pg. 32)
- Scenes from the naturalization ceremony (pg. 32)
- "The Future of Catholic Periodicals"—a panel of editors discusses (pg. 40)
- Bishop Robert McElroy's talk on "The Challenge of Catholic Teaching on War and Peace in the Present Moment" (pg. 42)
- Peter Fallon at the Greater Boston Intercollegiate Undergraduate Poetry Festival (pg. 48)
- "Mile 21: The day after," scenes from the April 16 Mass for Healing and Hope (pg. 10)
- "Anniversary moments," capturing the range of Sesquicentennial events (pg. 32)
- Close-ups of early diplomas (Holy Cross's and Boston College's) and the University's current one (pg. 13)
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“In her time,” “Dustbowl days,” “The cage,” “The bOp,” “Joyce’s way,” “The artist’s way,” “Promoting from within,” “Facing family history”
In her time
Re “Urban Legend,” by William Bole (Fall 2010): The battered cover of my copy of Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities has been repaired more times than I can remember. Thirty-five years after the late Joseph Flanagan, SJ, and Dean Richard Keeley introduced me to the writings of Jacobs, I still review the notes written in the margins from their co-taught PULSE course. And I have taught Jacobs’s timeless classic in my own PULSE course, “Boston: An Urban Analysis,” since 1980.
The University owes a debt of gratitude to Dean Keeley. A wary Jacobs was reluctant to connect with anyone in academe. It took nine years of his writing letters and making phone calls before she agreed to meet with him in Toronto. Keeley’s quiet, dignified manner convinced Jacobs of the value of having her meet his students. As a result, large groups of students and faculty listened to Jacobs’s lectures and then laughed with her over dinner.
David Manzo ’77
The writer is a lecturer in the philosophy department.
“Urban Legend” brought back fond memories of my first reading Death and Life as an undergrad—and probably talking about it at the time with my roommate, Dick Keeley. But here’s a quibble you might appreciate: The photograph on page 18 is almost certainly misdated as 1961. The clothing is out of sync with that date. The boots on Sontag and the woman next to her weren’t common until later (even in Greenwich Village); ditto for the frayed bellbottoms on the woman at left. Moreover, there weren’t anti-draft demonstrations that early.
James M. O’Toole ’72, Ph.D.’87
The writer holds the Clough Chair in History. And he is correct—the year was 1967.
I find great irony in the fact that you commemorate (for the right reasons) the life and writings of Jane Jacobs, after showing visuals of the Dustbowl being dismantled with a solo tree left standing. I’m referring to “Land Use” by Seth Meehan in the same, Fall 2010, issue. If Ms. Jacobs were alive, do you think she would support this historic land being reduced to the size a football field? My guess is not, given that Mr. Meehan failed to note the most important Dustbowl event: the tens of millions of footsteps of the best and brightest students, faculty, and staff in the country.
John Liesching ’90
East Greenwich, Rhode Island
Whoops! It appears that Seth Meehan’s timeline of important Dustbowl events skipped over one: the gathering in April 2005 of more than 1,000 members of the Boston College community in protest of the University’s nondiscrimination policy, which, to this day, does not afford full and equal protection for gay and lesbian students, faculty, and staff.
The Dustbowl protest received special coverage in the Heights and a front-page story in the Boston Globe. It was considered the largest demonstration at Boston College during the past two decades.
If Mr. Meehan can mention a 1988 student protest against the prohibition of kegs and cases of beer in dormitories, certainly BCM can afford some column space for the hundreds of students and faculty who have persisted in a fight for equality on campus.
Cynthia Frezzo ’07, New York, New York
Nicholas Salter ’07, Princeton, New Jersey
In response to the “tales from the Dustbowl” piece, I think of the time, back in spring 1984, when I was walking along that path with Anne McHugh ’85 on the morning after she triumphed as the lead in the Boston College Dramatics Society production of Dark of the Moon. Someone had given Anne congratulatory flowers as we descended the steps from the adjacent Quad. For the entire walk along the green to McElroy, we were met with smiles for Anne and “wows” for what a wonderful performance she gave.
Gee, no one mentioned me and all those thankless chorus roles I played through the years. Oh well. For that day, the Dustbowl was my college version of the red carpet.
Mark Murphy ’84
Ben Birnbaum’s column on censoring (“Bookbinders,” Fall 2010) reminded me of something that happened when I was a junior at Boston College during the 1962–63 school year. The University had applied for a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and an investigating team was on campus.
When the team members went to look at the library, they went down into the stacks and found “the cage,” in which books on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum were kept. Apparently, they went berserk and said that the school would never get a chapter unless the cage was eliminated. I recall that the books remained in the cage, but the padlock was removed, so we could check out anything we wished, even Milton’s Areopagitica, a stirring defense of intellectual freedom.
Pascal de Caprariis ’64, MS’66
As a BC bOp! alumnus and a total fanatic of big band jazz, I am thrilled to see increasing recognition and outlets for both (“Upbeat,” by Jane Whitehead, in Summer 2010). Though this music is increasingly difficult to find on “the dial” (for those who still have a dial), Seb Bonaiuto has done a fantastic job of keeping the ensemble and genre alive and up front at Boston College and in the surrounding community.
Adam Shulman ’07
Cos Cob, Connecticut
Re “Bloom’s Way” by Matthew Battles (Fall 2010): As an undergraduate at Boston College, I read James Joyce’s Ulysses, and later again I suffered through that (more than) 250,000-word phantasmagoria at Trinity College, Dublin. I also took Bloom’s circuitous odyssey through the streets of Dublin city.
Ulysses captivates the academic mind, but the thinking man will search its contents and never come within sight of an idea. Joyce is a naturalist who sees no divinity in man or order in the world. Life to him is just a stream of impressions of an individual mind in isolation.
Since the 19th century a mysticism of the imagination has become a kind of substitute for the Holy Spirit in a world divorced from reality.
Students who seek to solve the riddle of Ulysses should read a magnificent essay by Paul Elmer More titled “James Joyce,” in More’s New Shelbourne Essays (1928–36).
Patrick J. Walsh ’82
The artist’s way
Angelina Hawley Dolan’s interesting studies of how people evaluate the quality of visual art (“Taste Test,” Fall 2010) miss, it seems to me, one crucial element: texture.
Dolan presented abstract expressionist and abstract-expressionist-like paintings by adult artists, children, and animals to a variety of subjects for evaluation on a computer screen; the paintings were thus reduced to their surface color patterns. However, works of abstract expressionism often depend for their artistic effect on texture, including brushwork and techniques such as encaustic. In some paintings, the materiality of the medium is almost more important than the surface pattern—for instance, in Mark Rothko’s black-on-black canvases (his 1964 No. 8, for example), or his black-on-purple No. 2, in which the colors are hardly distinguishable. Such paintings depend for their artistic affect on three-dimensionality, on the play of light from different angles, or the appearance of peeling, say, the suggestion of time, and movement. While patterns by pre-school children or chimpanzees may look professional on a computer screen, the materiality of the original works will likely betray their amateurism.
Cezar Ornatowski, MA’80
San Diego, California
Promoting from within
The Somoza identified in “Distance Education” by Elizabeth Graver (Fall 2010) as dictator of Nicaragua in the 1960s and 1970s was Anastasio Somoza, the third in the family line to hold that title. Anastasio was a classmate of mine at the Millard School in Washington, D.C., in 1942–43. The students there were mostly sons of U.S. Army and Navy officers, plus 10 or 12 sons of Central and South American dictators or generals. Millard operated as a post–high school prep for West Point and, indeed, Anastasio went on to graduate from West Point before assuming command of the Nicaraguan army. Some critics said this command was his graduation present.
John M. Geaghan ’49
Menlo Park, California
Facing family history
Puzzling over placement of “The Slave Trade” (from David Northrup’s book The Diary of Antera Duke) in BCM Fall 2010, but intrigued by the detail, I recalled a related personal incident from 45 years ago: My grandmother was the family genealogist, and we often talked of our proud family heritage during visits to her farm in Louisiana. When I brought my northern fiancée (Maureen Reilly ’65) down to meet the relatives, Grandma asked Maureen if she would like to see the records. She brought out old antebellum ledgers. I was more stunned than Maureen was to read the likes of “June 14, 1845, sold Toby to the Johnsons, and his wife Matilda to the Smiths,” and embarrassed by the detail and my own naiveté.
Recently I have learned of two resonant accounts: Catherine Sasanov’s 2010 book, Had Slaves, which follows her discovery of family slaveholding in Missouri and tracks her research through legal documents to identify the 11 “owned” by the family; and a documentary film by Katrina Browne, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North (2008), in which family members seek to understand how their shipping family profited from the slave trade out of seaports in the Northeast. Their details, and Professor Northrup’s, clarify history.
George Comeaux ’65
North Easton, Massachusetts
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