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Week of August 29, 2004

In Greensboro, N.C., the Woolworth where lunch-counter sit-ins began in 1960 is to become a museum. Photo by John Loomis for The New York Times
Photo by John Loomis for The New York Times
In Greensboro, N.C., the Woolworth where lunch-counter sit-ins began in 1960 is to become a museum.

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: August 17, 2004
Latest Update: August 30, 2004

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Topic of the Week:

Answerability and Social Change: A Counter-Counter-Revolution

August 17, 2004

A narrative of personal memory:

I wanted to start off this Fall semester with the Woolworth Counter. It has more than memories for me. It reaches all the way down to my toes and reminds me of what scares me to death. I had only recently left the South, New Orleans, where, as college students, we were threatened with arrest or suspension or whatever, because we brought Black students from Xavier University to meet with us at Tulane at our campus Methodist church. I didn't mean to start a revolution. I certainly didn't mean to get in serious trouble. I was scared to death. I liked the young people who met with us from Xavier. We went to visit them in their homes. They were just like us. One of their mothers made us meringue cookies. That was the first meringue cookie I ever had. That's a long way from revolution. So what was all the fuss about?

Why does that Woolworth counter still make me feel the fear? Can I even find a way to let you know what that fear was like? Well, I'm going to try this semester. And then I'm goint to try to share with you all the theory and philosophy and methodology that have helped me in an effort to understand that fear, how I was made to feel it, how the world I lived in coped with it, how it changed, some, ever so slowly, and sometimes violently, and how it left somewhere an ice cold shard of fear that the image of that Woolworth counter evokes.

First of all, the image of that counter is so true, so much like what it really looked and felt like. I had sat at such counters so many times, like almost everytime my mom and I went shopping. But John Loomis didn't place it in that casual social context. He shot it isolated, alone, like a Hopper, just the signifier, all by itself. That makes me people it with my memories. So in my memory I look down the counter and see myself and my mother and all the rest of us packed elbow to elbow eagerly sharing our finds with one another. But why are we here, now? How does that past happy, relaxed scene fit into the New York Times today? I look again into that mental video of my past. We're all white. (Althoug there was a time in New York when the Irish were not considered "white." Curran is an Irish name.) And the New York Times is reminding me, up front and personal, today, that I was a living, breathing part of the system that guaranteed that we were all white at that counter.

I didn't mean to. Cause that, segregation, I mean. I would have shared the counter happily with the young black people I had met. But I didn't notice that they couldn't sit with me. And did it matter, that I had met them? Knew them? How much else did I not notice? I never thought of sitting at the Woolworth Counter as a privilege. I mean, it was a lunch counter. No big deal. Unless your government had a law that made it illegal for you to sit there, and friends like me didn't even notice that you weren't there. All it takes for dominance and control to reign is that I don't notice, that I forget that sitting at a lunch counter is a privilege, preserved unto some, forbidden unto others.

We will touch upon administration, safety nets, law, privilege, answerability and the Other, accountability and to whom, throughout all our courses and topics all semester. The crux of the issue will always be "What am I to think or believe or do when the Other can answer, just like me, and when the Other and I share a very small globe?"

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Open Access Discussion Threads

Fall 2004

It will take a while to transfer all the discussions from the last years over to the newly structured site. But new discussions will be threaded, and included on the Index of Threaded Topics.

Freeing the Feminine Other:

Hypertext Gallery Exhibit from Spring 2003


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Link on Section Titles for Hypertext Poem and Different Sections of Table of Contents.

First Hypertext Poem for Fall 2004

Requiem for Racer: A Favorite Cat

Academic Support

Using Academic Language Effectively

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and Careers

  • Resumes:

  • Letters of Recommendation:

    • Letters of Recommendation: How to get me to respond to your request. Many of you need letters. If you will follow this format, I can do them quickly and make them good.
    • Dog Letters If you do not give me adequate information, but do manage to get my attention, you may end up with a dog letter. That is a letter that says that you work well with people, that you are enthusiastic, that you persist at getting things done, and that everyone likes you. Of course, my dog gets along well with people, brings his ball to them, is enthusiastic, and persists at getting them to take his ball. Everyone likes my dog. That's a dog letter. It's so general it could be about my dog. jeanne

  • Reports and Studies on Employment and the Job Market


Photo by Barton Silverman/The New York Times

Wambach, left, with Julie Foudy after Wambach's overtime goal gave the United States a 2-1 victory.

The Olympics:

Just whose responsility is it when scoring officials screw up in a contest as respected as the Olympics? Gymnastics Group Asks Hamm to Give Up Gold NY Times article by Juliet Macur. Backup.

Shared Reading on Teamwork and Fair Play.

That Was Fun! Sneaky Strokes and Good Dogs

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