Dr. John Roberts discusses aging and decline in John Updike’s writing in our Faculty Fellows Seminar on Health, Well-Being, Healing
By Saralyn McKinnon-Crowley
Last week’s Faculty Fellows Seminar in “Health, Well-Being, Healing” focused on questions of dying and, specifically, how new life-prolonging technologies compel one to rethink what it means to die. Dr. John Robertson of the School of Law presented his current research on Left Ventricular Assistance Devices (LVADs) and the later poetry and prose of John Updike. Dr. Robertson is especially interested in Updike’s short story “The Full Glass”—written shortly before Updike’s own death in 2009—about aging and decline. Updike’s protagonist reflects on a small detail of his daily life, filling his bedtime glass of water, to think about the end of life without directly confronting the experience of dying. Dr. Robertson’s work-in-progress on this material is entitled “Writers at the End—John Updike’s ‘The Full Glass,’” which he hopes to publish in the journal Literature and Medicine. Although “The Full Glass” does not address machines or surgical implants (such as LVADs), Updike’s writing reflects on the quality of life from the perspective of an elderly man.
Young Israeli and Palestinian Leaders on Modeling Difficult Dialogues
By Wendy Fernandez
Each semester, the Humanities Institute hosts a Public Forum as part of our Difficult Dialogues program, designed to foster dialogue-based learning on campus. On February 13th in the Texas Union, the HI hosted a panel discussion with Creativity for Peace, a non-profit organization that trains young Palestinian and Israeli women to be peacemakers in their communities. The organization hosts a three-week summer camp in Santa Fe, NM that teaches these young women how to dialogue across cultural and sociopolitical lines for the purpose of fostering peace.
The panel included Dottie Indyke, Director of Creativity for Peace, and four Young Leaders with the organization ready to share their stories. Indyke opened the panel discussion, clarifying that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is not primarily a religious war between Palestinian Muslims and Israeli Jews, but is, rather, primarily a struggle for rights to the land. The Israel-Palestine conflict is most commonly traced back to the end of World War II, when, in response to the immigration crisis in Europe with regard to Holocaust survivors and Jewish refugees, the Jewish People’s Council, in cooperation with the newly formed United Nations, established the Jewish state at the site of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Areas of Palestine were partitioned off for Jewish settlement. The conflict over shifting boundaries can be seen today in the suicide bombings, raids, and demolitions that afflict both Israel and Palestine.
Dr. Laurie Green discusses the politics of race, hunger, and poverty in 1960s America in HI’s Faculty Fellows Seminar on Health, Well-Being, Healing
By Clare Callahan
In 1967, BobbyKennedy toured the Mississippi Delta and, as the story goes, “discovered” hunger in America. This is where Dr. Laurie Green’s new book project—“The Discovery of Hunger in America: The Politics of Race, Hunger, and Poverty, 1967-1977″—begins. Dr. Green’s rich and complex study looks at the politics of hunger, specifically how hunger became integrated with racial discourse, during this ten year period. Last week’s Faculty Fellows Seminar on “Health, Well-Being, Healing,” focused on an important thread in Dr. Green’s work-in-progress: the testimony by liberal doctors at the 1967 hearings held in Jackson, Mississippi by the Senate Subcommittee on Employment, Manpower, and Poverty. These hearings followed from Bobby Kennedy’s tour of the Mississippi Delta, the publicity around which triggered a burst of attention to hunger and malnutrition in the U.S. Addressing the impact of hunger not only on the physical body but also on brain development and mental health, Dr. Green is particularly interested in how these doctors’ testimony influenced a discourse on race and social behavior at the time. That many of the individuals who had testified at the 1967 hearings in Jackson were also voting rights activists and labor activists, many of whom had lost work as a result of the mechanization of the cotton industry, led Dr. Green to realize that the question of health was fundamental to her work on civil rights and the struggle for freedom.
Social mobility—where an individual rises above his or her social and economic origins—is a key feature of the American Dream. Today, education, particularly a college education, is the means through which a person “works hard” to “get ahead.” The individual stands to benefit from both the skills and the credential gained through higher education, reaping higher earnings and prestige through new opportunities.
But does higher education only offer private returns? Or does society—the public—stand to gain something from an individual attaining more education? This question is at the heart of the constant battle over state budgets across the country. Educational allocations have been among the first on the chopping block in the name of fiscal conservatism. The narrative that pursuing a college degree is the best way to advance one’s career bolsters support for the usefulness of higher education, but also undermines the understanding that public higher education serves the greater good.