Rot, Riot, and Rebellion: Mr. Jefferson’s Struggle to Save the University that Changed America is the fascinating history of the early days of the University of Virginia and how the institution’s survival was hardly a foregone conclusion. The book has recently received good reviews from both the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal and is now the subject of a feature in the University of Virginia Magazine. In the following piece, coauthor Carlos Santos considers how Thomas Jefferson’s insistence on separation of church and state extended to the university he founded, a radical idea in a time when religious instruction was central in higher education.
Critics considered Thomas Jefferson’s unorthodox views of Christianity evil as hell fire. Political enemies dubbed him an “audacious howling Atheist.” Ministers called him a tool of French secularism, while others argued that declaring for Jefferson was declaring for no God.
Elected president in 1800, tradition holds that the women of New England hid their Bibles in wells, convinced that Jefferson, aided by his atheistic allies, would fuel bonfires with the Good Book.
It’s been way too long since we have run a piece by Mr. and Mrs. Dog author Donald McCaig. Many of you have read his series of posts about a little sheepdog named Fly (including this one…and this one). In this latest piece, human understanding runs up against dog understanding. Guess who’s smarter.
At the first Sturgis National Finals SDT trial hosts had decorated the field in a patriotic motif. The fetch, drive, and crossdrive panels were vivid red, white, and blue. Which created a problem for the sheep. Put yourself in their wool: here they’d been living quiet sheepy lives on some butte somewhere, been snatched up, loaded into large aluminum trailers (from which no sheep had ever returned), and plopped down in unfamiliar pens (“Where are we, Martha!!!”), until they and three others were taken by a mounted cowboy and a couple dogs and spotted for an unknown dog to suddenly appear and take AWAY!
Before you say no thanks, just know that this exotic approach to Thanksgiving is being proposed by Jeffrey Greene, who has already introduced us to the elusive pied de cheval oyster and foraging in the Carpathians. The man knows his food. Like those earlier pieces, this one grew out of research for his next book, on wild edibles.
While Henry James observed famously in a letter that “it’s a complex fate, being an American,” and James Baldwin struggled to define what being American even means, I rarely ponder quandaries of national identity, even living here in France. However, it’s a complex fate for anyone to explain the codified American phenomenon called Thanksgiving. My mother, in her eighties, assiduously observes American Thanksgiving, though she lives in a remote canal village in Burgundy and is obliged to make a special order for a whole turkey, usually available in France only at Christmas.
Deborah McDowell, director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute, talked to our local NBC affiliate about her new book, The Punitive Turn: New Approaches to Race and Incarceration. Drawing its content from a conference hosted at the University of Virginia in 2009, the book not only addresses prison growth and its consequences, but also presents statistics that force us to wonder who benefits when so many people are behind bars.
As part of this year’s University Press Week, we are proud to join 36 other university presses in a blog tour that will touch on some of the most pressing issues in our industry. Blogging along with us today are Harvard University Press, Stanford University Press, the University of Texas Press, Duke University Press, Temple University Press, and the University of Minnesota Press. A schedule for the entire week is here. Today’s theme is the future of scholarly publishing, so we turned to Holly Shulman, who served as editor of The Dolley Madison Digital Edition, the first publication under our electronic imprint, and coeditor of Rotunda’s latest title, People of the Founding Era.
This week Iran sat down with representatives from the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany—as part of the P5+1 meeting—to discuss plans to scale back its nuclear program. It is hoped that the talks result not only in a plan acceptable to all parties but a new openness in communication between Iran and the world. So far the signs have been positive. R. K. Ramazani, renowned Iran scholar and author of Independence without Freedom: Iran’s Foreign Policy, already contributed some thoughts on new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, and now he looks more closely at Iran’s relations with the United States.