Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ever more just, every day

Some version of this likely is going on my syllabi this fall.

As a fiftysomething Southern white man, I am inevitably associated, by history and current events alike, with the most toxic elements of American society, including the fascists now literally on the march across our nation. Because my silence in the face of such horrors might imply complicity, and because merely cutting-and-pasting our university’s anti-discrimination policies would not be personal enough or strong enough, I hereby affirm to all my students, and to their friends, families and loved ones, that I abhor white supremacy, racism, sexism, nativism and misogyny, and that I work daily to be a mentor, friend, advocate and ally for all my students, including women; people of color; students who are queer, lesbian, gay, bi, trans, undecided, intersex and asexual; immigrants and the children of immigrants, including the undocumented; and people of all religious faiths and of no religious faith at all. Dr. Cornel West reminds us, "Justice is what love looks like in public." I pledge my support as we work to make our classroom, campus, community and nation ever more just, every day.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

New sale: "The Devil's Whatever" will be in The Book of Magic, ed. Gardner Dozois (Bantam, 2018)

I just sold a new novelette, "The Devil's Whatever," to Gardner Dozois for his upcoming Book of Magic anthology, which I believe will be a 2018 Bantam hardover with new work from Eleanor Arnason, Elizabeth Bear, John Crowley, Kate Elliott, Matthew Hughes, Megan Lindholm, Garth Nix, K.J. Parker, Rachel Pollack, Tim Powers, Ysabeau Wilce and Liz Williams, among others. I'm honored to be included. 
 
"The Devil's Whatever" is my third Pearleen Sunday story, after "A Diorama of the Infernal Regions" (2007) and "The Dragaman's Bride" (2009); it also is a sequel to "Beluthahatchie" (1997), the first story I wrote at Clarion West 1994. All three of those earlier stories likewise were bought by Gardner Dozois, whose encouragement has been invaluable to me, these past 20-plus years.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Man Against Myth by Barrows Dunham (1947)

On my groaning bookcases devoted to pseudoscience, urban legends and folklore in general, a battered first-edition hardcover, without dust jacket, has sat for years, since I blindly retrieved it from a library giveaway table: Man Against Myth by Barrows Dunham (Boston: Little, Brown, 1947).

I could use a higher-res cover image.
I finally plucked it off the shelf, at random, and read it. Dunham devotes a chapter apiece to 10 common beliefs that he argues are not only erroneous, but active obstacles to social progress. After I read the book, I learned the author became a cause celebre a few years later, when he refused to testify before the Un-American Activities Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was fired by Temple University, where he had been on faculty, and prosecuted for contempt of Congress; though acquitted, he did not teach again for many years. 

Here are Dunham’s chapter titles, listing the beliefs he seeks to rebut:
1. That you can’t change human nature.
2. That the rich are fit and the poor unfit.
3. That there are superior and inferior races.
4. That there are two sides to every question.
5. That thinking makes it so.
6. That you cannot mix art and politics.
7. That you have to look out for yourself.
8. That all problems are merely verbal.
9. That words will never hurt me.
10. That you cannot be [both] free and safe.


(Originally posted on Facebook, Aug. 4, 2017. Bud Schultz's 2012 photo of Dunham is here.)