Updated August 11, 2002
My third year as an English professor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke turned out to be very special. In May, I was honored with an Outstanding Teaching Award from my colleagues all over campus. On the heels of that experience came another highlight of my career as a teacher. After months of preparation, Lisa and I took 23 North Carolina Teaching Fellows on a trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the first student trip we had ever planned. Both Philadelphia and the students turned out to be wonderful, and we enjoyed the experience so much that we planned a similar trip to Boston for 2001.
Our daily lives were busy and fun, as well. We spent our Monday evenings square dancing, our spring afternoons enjoying the outdoors, and every day enjoying Essie.
April: About year ago, we received an invitation to come and square dance at a club here in Laurinburg. Although neither of us had promenaded or do-sa-doed since elementary school, we accepted. For the first few weeks, the caller used to step up to us and drop little bits of square-dance trivia. "Did you know," he would begin, bypassing any attempt at casual conversation, "that square dancing burns more calories than water skiing?" I showed the appropriate amazement. A little later that night or the following week, he would corner one of us again. "For people in their 80s," he would say, "square dancing is the number-one contributor to a healthy mind." I don't remember the exact facts, but none carried much weight with me--an exercise fanatic still decades away from retirement. If Charlie had known me better, he would have said, "You will learn something new every week."
For someone who loves to learn, that promise would have been the best enticement anyone could have offered, and it would have been true. Since joining the club, we have learned something new--and sometimes four or five new things--at most of the meetings. We still have a long way to go. After all, thanks to Charlie, we know that square dancing has more than 4,000 steps, about 3,998 more than we learned back in elementary school. Still, at least for me, there is something very satisfying about hearing the words "flutter wheel" or "load the boat" and knowing exactly what to do. On top of that, we have made some wonderful new friends and had a lot of fun. We even have attended a few regional dances and performed at a local rest home on Valentine's Day.
Of course, there is a price to education, and we have paid it. Through
my 12 years of public schooling and even my college years, I had largely
avoided it, but eventually my luck ran out. I'm talking, of course, about
hazing, square-dancing's secret sin. On the night of our graduation, the
night when we would earn our green-and-white name tags, we endured a harrowing
initiation ceremony that involved, among other things, wearing cardboard boxes
while we performed the "box circulate" and going through an entire
dance with blindfolds on while a pan of shaving cream reportedly was in the
center of the square. Now we know why all those octogenarian square
dancers are so sharp. They have to be.
May: When it comes to flying kites, I've had as much success as Charlie Brown. The last attempt ended when I--in a misguided and, to be honest, unintentional attempt to give the kite its freedom--let the string run out. Nevertheless, Lisa, as any good friend should, has more confidence in me than I have in myself, and this Easter I found another kite in my basket. She suggested that Essie and I fly it together.
About a week later, as if on cue, there came a sunny, blue, warm, and breezy day, a day for flying kites if ever there was one. It was, in fact, May 1, May Day. There must have been something in the air because Essie, who knows virtually nothing about kites, could talk about nothing else. "I want fly kite," she kept saying. As a matter of fact, so did I. Lisa had an exam in her cooking class that day, so Es and I set out on our own, driving over to St. Andrews College campus and finding an open area. Essie sat patiently in her car seat while I assembled the kite, and minutes later we were soaring, all three of us. Only kids are supposed to feel the way I felt that afternoon, first watching Essie holding the string and beaming, then flying the kite myself and beaming a bit myself, at least on the inside.
Anyone who knows about Charlie Brown's trouble with kites also knows the villain in the saga, perhaps the only villain in the Peanuts chronicles: the kite-eating tree. After a few minutes of bliss, I met that tree. I had let the string out too far--an old habit--and our kite had dived right into its waiting mouth. Already feeling like a kid, I climbed the tree, the first I had scaled in a couple of decades, and shook the branch violently while a man who had noticed our plight yanked on the string. The tree's jaws, though, were clamped shut. I returned to earth and set the man free. Then I yanked some more. At this point, I had little to lose. Then another miracle occurred: a branch broke, and the kite came down.
Extra cautious, I launched it again 50 yards from the nearest tree. By now, Essie had moved on to other things, but I spent several more minutes airborne, experimenting with various techniques and dreaming that I just might become a kite aficionado. Whether I will I doubt, but what mattered then was not what I would become, but what I was--flying.
May: Early this morning we heard a bleat. Essie, who was still adjusting to sleeping in her little youth bed, had woken up again. As she often does, she came into our room and stood next to our bed. Meanwhile, I went into her room, got down next to her bed, and called for her. Several times that night already, Lisa had done the same, trying to help her go back to sleep. This time, though, I heard little footsteps and went back into our room. Essie had taken my place in our bed. Through the darkness, I could make out a smile on her face.
For all the talk about dirty diapers and late-night feedings, no one ever told us about these moments, the thousand little joys that make you keep falling more deeply in love with a child. No one prepared me for being in the other room and hearing Essie sing along with "A Whole New World" from Aladdin, usually coming in on the last word of each line: ". . . world . . . view . . . star." No one told Lisa how she would feel when Essie, seeing a vest on a hanger, started saying "nay-buh, nay-buh," and then paraded happily along with her mom to the tune of "Mr. Roger's Neighborhood": "Won't you be my nay-buh?" Neither of us was ready for her favorite interjection--"Oh my goodness!"--or her various little quirks, including her habit of shaking a sipper cup to make sure it contains enough juice or milk to make it worth her effort.
For a long time, it seemed that everyone--friend and stranger alike--who saw
us with Essie would confide, "They grow up so fast." It hasn't
seemed that way for me. Despite this warning--or perhaps because of it--I
have enjoyed our new life with Essie frame by frame, savoring each moment as it
May: Thanks to two people who nominated me, as well as a host of others I have acknowledged below, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke has presented me with one of its five Outstanding Teacher Awards this year. Such an honor would be welcome at any time, of course, but it felt especially satisfying this year because, as I wrote in the teaching portfolio I submitted to the Awards Committee, I entered a lot of new territory and ultimately, I hope, took my teaching to another level. For starters, I taught a number of courses for the first time: ENG 343: The American Novel, ENG 346: Aspects of the English Language, ENG 455: Directed Study, and two online sections of ENG 203: Introduction to Literature. I also revised my composition courses so that the students now research, write, and design projects for publication on All American, a site I publish on the World Wide Web. Later this month, I will lead my first student travel experience, a weeklong trip I call "Philadelphia in the Life of America." Finally, I have adjusted my overall approach to teaching to include much more one-on-one interaction in the form of conferences, individual progress reports, and portfolio presentations. The greatest thing a person can ask of a job, perhaps, is the opportunity to fulfill a calling. This year, more than any other, I have felt that opportunity and tried to seize it. To be honored for that effort is the icing on the cake.
Unlike the Grammies and Academy Awards shows, the UNCP Faculty Banquet does not provide time for acceptance speeches. Thus, unless something pans out with this project that Clint Black has asked me to work on, I never will have a public opportunity to thank all the people who have supported me. Nevertheless, if you are reading this, there is a good chance that I owe you thanks. Mom, Dad, and Lisa, you continually make me feel as if I can do anything, and you have always put your money--and time and energy--where your mouths are. Other family and friends, especially Lisa's family, you have helped make my life a joy. Esprit, thanks for giving me the time to work on my teaching portfolio. Colleagues--especially those in the Department of English, Theatre, and Languages, I cannot express how deeply I appreciate the atmosphere you create at UNCP. There may not be a more supportive, congenial, and upbeat faculty, as well as administration, anywhere in America. It is no wonder that this university tops the UNC system in students' evaluations of teaching. Finally, students, you make my teaching work. Because my teaching philosophy emphasizes student involvement, my success depends on you. You have risen to this challenge, as well as the scores of more tangible ones I pose to you every week, and have succeeded beautifully.
May 15-21, 2000: Only the world's greatest optimist or the world's biggest fool would pile his wife, his two-year-old daughter, and 23 college students he doesn't know into three vans, drive eight hours to a city he has never seen, and spend a week herding them through all of the attractions. I'll let you decide which I am. But first you have to hear the whole story.
I came up with the idea for Philadelphia in the Life of America several months ago after I heard about the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Junior Enrichment Experience. Teaching Fellows are outstanding students who receive four-year college scholarships in return for agreeing to teach at least four years in a North Carolina public school. During the summer between their sophomore and junior years in college, these students participate in a Junior Enrichment Experience of their choosing. Some work for the Special Olympics, for example, while others volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Many sign up for one of the trips that the program offers.
When I heard about the Junior Enrichment Experience, I thought I saw a great opportunity. As a teacher, I enjoy broadening students' experience. As a person, I love to travel. It looked like a perfect match. Having never been to Philadelphia, I went to work planning a trip there and advertised it to Teaching Fellows all over the state. To my surprise, more than 20 students signed up for it. I was excited. As the trip approached, however, I started to worry a little. Although the two vans Lisa had rented were supposed to carry 15 passengers apiece, the quarters might have been cramped for the 23 students, Lisa, Essie, me, and all of our luggage. We could take our van, as well, but that meant allowing one of these strangers to get behind the wheel of our month-old Honda Odyssey. I imagined the news coverage of our fantasy trip turned sour: "English professor's negligence leaves three dead," something like that. I worried also that Essie, not yet a seasoned traveler, would drive the students nuts on the eight-hour drive to Philly. As an undergraduate, I had gone to Indiana University--a renowned "party school"--and even worked as a resident assistant, and I knew how wild some college students could be. What if some of those students were going on this trip? What if some of them just plain had a lousy attitude and would taint the experience? In short, I began to wonder what I had gotten myself into.
Before we had even reached Philadelphia, my fears had dissolved. These students were wonderful! In fact, in their maturity, flexibility, and patience, they were even a little hard to believe. When my van ran out of gas in a seedy portion of Petersburg, Virginia, they laughed and made jokes about the experience. Later, when I dragged them all to the Rodin Museum and found it closed for renovation, they spent 30 minutes taking every possible photograph of themselves in front of a reproduction of The Thinker in front of the museum. There were other mishaps, as well. Not accustomed to driving a van as tall as this one, I nearly redesigned its roof in a shallow underground parking garage. As I creeped under the concrete beams and metal pipes, my shotgun leaned out the window and gleefully informed me I had just missed one pipe fitting by "millimeters." One night, I took the students on my van on an unannounced and unplanned tour of Philadephia's ghettos before I realized that I was going the wrong direction. Through it all, the students laughed and reminded me of what a good time they were having. Our student driver, Anna Williams, was impeccable--and tireless. Over the course of a trip to, from, and around Philadelphia, she drove more than 800 miles. Finally, far from getting annoyed with Essie, the students entertained her on the vans while Lisa and I drove, and they played with her throughout the trip. One student, a birth-to-kindergarten major named Crystal Lynn Lee, even asked to take Essie to the Please Touch Museum, where Essie had the time of her life. Indeed, watching this student and the others interact with Essie was one of the highlights of the trip for me. Two students, Rorie Marlowe and Emily Anthony summed up the whole experience perfectly when they described it as an "extended family vacation."
It was an amazing week. With our combined energy and enthusiasm, the 26 of us turned Philly upside down and squeezed it dry. I won't even attempt to cover everything we saw, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted. Even my list of highlights is long, though. One of the main reasons I chose Philadelphia is its history, and we took in plenty of it at sites such as Independence Hall, where Benjamin Franklin and others adopted the Declaration of Independence and signed the Constitution. Some of us also visited the Liberty Bell and the Graff house, a reconstruction of the building where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence. On my own, I took in several artifacts and sites related to one of my heroes, Benjamin Franklin. At the Franklin Institute science museum, for instance, I saw a Franklin stove, a glass armonica built according to his design, and a lightning rod believed to be one he constructed or used. Outside I visited the original site of his house, his grave, and the site on 10th and Market streets where he is believed to have conducted his famous kite experiment, in which he demonstrated that lightning is a form of static electricity. Thanks to two wonderful tour guides from the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, we also got a taste of modern Philadelphia as we took a driving tour through the city's busy and incredibly narrow--take it from the person who had to negotiate them in an oversized rental van--streets. Discussing Philadelphia's rich history of immigration and settlement, the tour guides showed us the Italian Market, sites related to the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal church, and several other places, ending our tour in Chinatown, where we had dim sum for lunch. We also got an eyeful at the Philadelphia Museum of Art--famous for its enormous front staircase, which Rocky Balboa ran up in Sylvester Stallone's first movie. We were even more impressed by what we found inside: a Gothic chapel, a Buddhist temple, a Japanese tea house, several gorgeous suits of armor, Shaker furniture, beautiful cloisters situated around a peaceful courtyard, and, of course, scores of paintings.
I was delighted by the way the students responded to the parts of the trip I had planned. Jenn Stumpf, Adam Rugg, and Corrie Davis all glowed as they talked about the Museum of Art, and Donald Barringer and Alycia Crews proudly showed off the educational toys they had bought for their future students at the Independence Historic Site gift shop. Several raved about authentic eighteenth-century fare and atmosphere we experienced at City Tavern, a reconstruction of the building where some of the country's founders once congregated. Even more exciting, though, was hearing the students talk about the adventures they had sought and experienced when I gave them opportunities to explore Philadelphia on their own. They could have been making a commercial for lifelong learning as they talked about shopping in the city's famous Fabric Row or watching a production of La Cage aux Folle at the Walnut Theatre, the country's oldest. One student, Brian Smith, even talked me into accompanying him to a concert, where I got my first taste of an avante-garde jazz trio called Modesky, Martin, and Wood.
and I have had a vacation or two where we felt that a black cloud was following
us around. Had the students and I entered this trip with a different
attitude, we might have felt that way about this trip, especially when our gas
ran out or we got lost. Instead, we saw the black cloud, but we just
waited for it to pass. An anecdote comes to mind. On the morning we
were scheduled to visit Independence Historic Park, where we would have to walk
outside from site to site, the skies were menacing. Several students
alerted me that rain and even thunderstorms were predicted. We drove into
the city anyway and stuck to our plan. That day, we added to our
experience such things as lunch at City Tavern, demonstrations of
eighteenth-century printing, and visits to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell,
and several historic churches. Some of us even went to a Philadelphia
Phillies-St. Louis Cardinals baseball game and saw future hall-of-famer Mark
McGwire hit two home runs. The storms never came. Even if they had,
I think I know how we would have responded: "Yeah, we got soaked, and the
van slid into the Delaware River, but look at this great picture I took of the
Liberty Bell being struck by lightning!"
Lori Wolz: I had an absolutely wonderful time on the trip! I really enjoyed everything, especially the Museum of Art and watching the production of Les Miserables. I got to meet some wonderful Teaching Fellows from other colleges, and was able to spend quality time with my friends from NCSU. We did have a few unsuspected twists on the trip, but oddly enough they only made the trip more exciting. All the activities you planned were both educational and fun, from touring where Ben Franklin resided to walking into the crazy shops on South Street. I think we experienced all Philly has to offer--the ethnically diverse neighborhoods, the beautiful skyline of downtown, the open air markets, the historical buildings, and (in Anna's van) even the seedy side of town, thanks to my own misreading of the map and bad directions. I think I can speak for several of the group when I say that you guys chose some wonderful restaurants for us to eat at as well. I have to admit that was one of the greatest parts--although I can't limit myself to choose one favorite (it's between City Tavern and the Dockside Brewery!) You and Lisa were wonderful leaders on the trip, and made it successful. I also enjoyed having Essie along--she is a bright, beautiful child and was very well behaved the entire time. Thank you so much for taking the time and energy to plan such a wonderful trip, and for taking us along.
Crystal Lynn Lee: What can I really say about our trip? It was one unexpected adventure after another. Just because things didn't go as planned doesn't mean we didn't have a good time. It was quite the opposite! It was the unexpected adventures that really made the trip all it was. I must say that I was worried when we ran out of gas in VA. I think we all were and I was wondering what I had gotten myself into, but after that....I was still wondering what I got myself into (but it was a good thing) Unlike other trips I've been on in groups this one I really came away with allot more than a headache and an empty wallet. I feel that I got to know people, and their personalities. It was truly wonderful and if I had it to do all over again I wouldn't want it anyother way. I must also say that people handled my exsesive talking very well. As far as my most memorable moment goes it is really hard to say but I think my most memorable moment was sitting outside of Walnut theater, waiting for Mark for a number of others, and singing show tunes while people looked at us like we had lost our minds. Then getting up off the steps thinking that Mark was finally here only to see it was some other van full of kids. It was a great time. I will always remember Philly as one of the great trips of my college career
Whit Barrier: The trip up North was actually really fun. The people in Philly seemed really nice and the town was kept in good shape. I was impressed by how well the trip went; yeah there were the darker moments, and I'm an idiot so I forgot a coat, but overall I'd have to say that kind of trip would be worth doing again. Good luck with any future plans that include a trip like this again!
Lori Beiles: The trip to Philly was a wonderful experience!!! I have to say that it was the best thing I have ever done with Teaching Fellows. I was a little scared at first because I knew no one else from Carolina was going on the trip, and I though no one would want to hang out with me and that I would have the worst week of my life. Boy was I wrong!!! Not only was everyone extremely nice and friendly, they were all funny too! I was so glad that the group made me feel welcome even though they did not know me from their Teaching Fellows programs. And even though the trip had some ups and downs, we bonded through them all. I feel that we all made friendships that will last for a long time, even if the only time we ever see each other is at Teaching Fellows events. I think it was the fact that we all got along so well that made the trip a success. I think I knew that Philly was going to be a great trip from the very first day when we ran out of gas in Petersburg, Va. I can remember Mark saying "I'm pushing the gas peddle and we're not going anywhere"...I was a little scared then, but when Lisa laughed at him for five minutes for running out of gas, I knew that this was going to be one interesting trip! Everything that we did was great - from going to the museums, to China Town, to the Italian Market, to all of the wonderful restaurants that were planned. The restaurants were what surprised me the most becuase I thought it would just be fast food every day. But Lisa did a wonderful job of picking out diverse and tasty places to eat! I was so happy that I got to experience the history as well as the culture of Philadelphia. I am eternally grateful to Mark and Lisa for planning such a wonderful trip, and to Essie for being a little bundle of joy (that loved getting attention from us =) But I think the one thing I will always remember from this trip was how all of us, despite out differences, got together and made the trip a great Junior Enrichment. It was the students, Mark, Lisa, Essie, and the organized planning of Mark and Lisa that made the trip unforgettable. I had such a wonderful time that I made my own web page for the trip off my personal homepage. I would love for everyone to visit it and sign my guestbook so that I can have Philly memories to last a lifetime!!! http://www.unc.edu/~lbeiles/main.htm Good luck to everyon in the future!!! You guys are the best!!! Lori =)
Mark Canada: To my delight, Philadelphia turned out to be an ideal place to indulge in what I call "moving experience," a hobby that combines travel and exercise. On Saturday afternoon, I went for an hour-long jog that followed the footsteps of two famous self-made Philadelphians: Benjamin Franklin and Rocky Balboa. My experience began at the Bourse shopping center, where I snacked on two baguettes in an effort to emulate Franklin, who wrote in his autobiography of purchasing two "puffy rolls" on his arrival in Philadelphia. After dropping off my gear in the van I was driving, I headed to the spot where I estimated that Franklin, a 17-year-old boy on his own, had in 1723 landed at Philadelphia and set off to make his way in the world. Following his route up Market Street, I tried to imagine the city of his era while also taking in the modern-day version before my eyes. Along the way, I passed the site of the newspaper office where his grandson, Benjamin Franklin Bache, had published the controversial Aurora.
After taking in other sights--including the stately Philadelphia City Hall, which I could see several blocks ahead--I turned right on 10th Street and ran through the heart of Chinatown. It has been perhaps 20 years since I watched the original Rocky movie, and I don't remember the exact scenes of his jog through downtown Philadelphia, but I knew that I was experiencing this colorful, lively city up close, just as he had. I passed dozens of storefronts, for example, as well as the striking Cathedal of Sts. Peter and Paul, the huge fountain at Logan Circle, the historic Walnut Theatre, Declaration Square, numerous outdoor sculptures, and Washington Square, the burial place of many Revolutionary War soldiers. Of course, the high point--both literally and figuratively--was the magnificent Philadelphia Museum of Art, which lies about three miles from my starting point at the Delaware River. Like Rocky, I raced up the dozens of steps and even shared in some of his exhilaration along the way.
To extend the educational experience of this trip, I asked each student to read a book related to the art, culture, history, or science of Philadelphia. Here are the reports:
by Virginia Spate
Oscar Claude Monet was born in Paris in 1840. When Claude was 5 years old, his family moved to Le Havre. Monet studied with the landscape painter Eugene Boudin when he grew older. Boudin exposed him to the "en plein air" technique, which took the painter into the field and out of the studio. The painter had to experience nature, not rely on others or the painter's memories. Monet's first known painting was "Landscape at Rouelles." Monet moved back to Paris to study painting in 1859, two years after his mother died. Monet's first son was born in 1867, and Camille Doncieux became his bride in 1870. In 1883, Monet moved to Giverny. He bought a house there in 1890, where his garden inspired many of his famous paintings. At the Exposition Universelle of 1900, Monet was seen as one of the greatest painters in the French tradition. Monet was a terrific artist and colorist. He researched and experimented all his life. Light, its effects, and nature were all parts of his experiments. The Musee d'Orsay holds five of Monet's twenty "Cathedrals." Each painting in the series explored the differing light and shadow at different times in the day. Monet worked on and perfected each painting until the canvas was thick with paint. Each painting became a snapshot of a specific moment after Monet had perfected it. Monet worked on the exhibit of "Cathedrals" from 1893-1895. This amount of dedication and perfectionism on one exhibit demonstrates the care and skill Monet took with all of his work. Impressionism is defined as "crude colors; sketchy techniques; their fragmentation of traditional narrative, didactic or moralistic modes of representing contemporary life, and their demand that the spectator participate in their process of creation" (Spate 92). Most critics disliked the Impressionists' use of unconventional colors. One critic said that "Monet exhibits a collection of landscapes lit up by fireworks" and said that their canvases were "a shimmering chaos of brutal brushwork" (Spate 117). The Impressionists frequently used blues, pinks, and yellows. In 1882, the critics made a turnaround and started to understand the Impressionists' work. One critic said Monet was a "great lanscapist whose eye seizes with surprising fidelity all the phenomena of light" (Spate 150). Monet was one of the foremost Impressionists, and his work is still studied and revered. Even critics who didn't like other Impressionists exclaimed the virtues of Monet's work. "Monet is not only the most exquisite of the Impressionists, he is also one of the true contemporary poets of the things of nature; he does not simply paint it, he sings it; a lyre seems hidden beneath his palette" (Spate 150).
Summary by Corrie Davis, student, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
by Ruth Butler
Last year I chose to fulfill one of my electives by taking an Art History class, which covered art produced from the time of the Renaissance to the present. I have always had a great appreciation for visual arts ever since I was young, and I felt that this class would be very interesting. As we began to learn about the nineteenth century artists, I was disappointed that we only briefly discussed the sculpture of Auguste Rodin. When our professor put samples of work on the screen, it was evident that Rodin had a style unlike sculptors before him, and in most cases, a different style in art history led to a new movement or perspective on art. That is why I chose to learn more about the sculptor and where his inspiration came from.
Auguste Rodin grew up in Paris, along with his father, Jean-Baptiste, his mother Marie, and his sister, Maria. He had a very special bond with his sister, even though the two of them were complete opposites. Rodin could be seen as a dreamer and eloquent, whereas his sister was to the point and organized. As the two of them grew older, Maria entered a convent and then passed away in 1862, when Rodin was twenty-one. His sister's death proved to be a great tragedy in his life, and some say that it led to the fact that he could never find a true companion/soul mate.
Rodin was no stranger to hard times. In France, in order to be recognized as a successful artist, one must attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Believe it or not, the sculptor passed the drawing competition, but failed three times to pass the sculpture competition. Although this was a great failure, he never gave up and continued with his work. Rodin's style was indeed different, and he often used subjects in crude or uncomfortable positions. At the time, his innovation was not considered ideal for sculpture, though. His determination and love for art helped him to continue with his training, and in 1865 he began to exhibit his work in the Salon. The Salon at the time was exhibiting more contemporary styles which were both accepted and criticized. At the same time, he met a young woman named Rose Beuret, who then became his first lover. She gave birth to his son when she was twenty, and after four more sons, they married later on before they died in 1917.
Rodin's work consisted of commissioned works, gifts, and miscellaneous pieces. One of the greatest pieces that he was commissioned to create were "The Gates of Hell," which was meant for the Musee des Arts Decoratifs. As he prepared for their exhibition, he and Claude Monet became close friends. Other works such as "The Kiss," "The Thinker," and monuments to Victor Hugo and Balzac are some of his more famous works. He had a great admiration for Victor Hugo and based "The Thinker" on one of Hugo's statements about Dante and the human intellect.
At the turn of the century, Rodin ventured to make his work known in the Americas. By this time he established himself as one of the greatest sculptors of the time, and even though it was a gradual introduction, Americans in general were appreciative of the naturalistic form of his art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art was highly responsible for making his work famous, and the interest in his work has yet to die out.
There is a quote that could describe Rodin in a great way; he once said, "I'm tired and I've lost the sense of balance--I'm not as experienced in life as I am in sculpture." Rodin was greatly immersed in his work and often did not have as smooth of a life. Many women entered and left, and he often fell victim to scandal. He fell ill in 1917, went into a coma on th 16th of November, and died a day later. Even though he was a lonely man and had few great relationships, he still produced works that set the tone for modern day sculpture of the twentieth century. I look forward to seeing the Rodin Museum and learning more about this famous artist.
Summary by Jenny Koch, student, North Carolina State University
by Thomas J. Archdeacon
From the early seventeenth century, people have looked to this country as a place to escape persecution of all kinds. Immigrants have flocked to America to start new lives with a promise of freedom and hope. Thomas J. Archdeacon's book, Becoming American: An Ethnic History, explores the history of immigrants in America. The book moves in chronological order, beginning with the early 1600s and ending with the 1980s. Archdeacon details the events in the founding of America and describes the ethnic groups here today. He explores the problems these groups have encountered throughout their history and deals with the idea of ethnic assimilation.
Thomas J. Archdeacon explains the importance of Philadelphia in the colonial era of America in the first chapter, "The Formative Period, 1607-1790." Pennsylvania was founded in 1682, when William Penn established a colony for Quakers to practice their unique religion. Directly after being formed, the colony of Pennsylvania grew as a very diverse group of European immigrants sought refuge there. Most of this new group came from Great Britain, but an array of others settled there as well. German Mennonites, led by Daniel Francis Pastorius, came as a small group in the late seventeenth century, but grew in size rapidly. Both Mennonites and Quakers have similar religious beliefs. The populations of these two religious groups controlled the area of Philadelphia for many years.
Later in the book, Archdeacon details theories of ethnic assimilation--the idea that certain groups have conformed to "fit in" with the rest of society. He presents the argument that America is such a diverse country because of the long history of immigrants from many different cultures coming together and interacting. He supports the idea that the country is truly a "melting pot," with many different ethnic groups and cultures, some that have blended together to form new groups altogether.
Summary by Lori Wolz, student, North Carolina State University
by Thomas J. Archdeacon
The United States, over the past four hundred years, has essentially become the melting pot of the world. We have fast become the collection point of a variety of races, ethnic backgrounds, and religious groups. Thomas Archdeacon addresses how these groups came to the United States and what their reasons for immigration were. By combining various beliefs and practices that were taken from the Old World, a New World was gradually being formed. Once the immigrants were in the United States, their cultural backgrounds and experiences blended with that of others who were fleeing oppression or simply seeking a new life in a country that they could call their own. The first migration into the United states in the 1600's left many European settlers coming in contact with Native Americans. The Indians, being the earliest of settlers, saw the land of the United States in a different way than any of those who would follow in the years to come. The Native Americans experienced America as the untouched, unspoiled resource that it originally was. Those who followed the Native Americans experienced the country in different ways, each one a little changed from those who came before them. As the influx of Europeans began, the goal of the settlers became to change the New World to fit some of the ways and practices of the Old World lifestyle. However, eventually, over time, immigrants assimilated and have begun to mesh more as one body of people rather than so many distinct and separate groups. Since the final mass immigration in the 1900's, it is seen that many of the immigrants have become quite Americanized in the way that they act and live. Yet, it is important that we remember that although America is a melting pot population, it is comprised of a variety of immigrants, not merely those who were seeking refuge from oppression.
Summary by Cortney Robinson, student, Meredith College
by Elizabeth Drinker
Elizabeth was a Quaker in Philadelphia and as a female in the 1700s and early 1800s she exceeded many of the boundaries that were set for women of that time. Her diary shows many of the female experiences, included significant links to marriage, children, and domesticity. Elizabeth had four specific phases of her life including her youth and courtship, being a young wife and mother, middle aged crisis years, and her role as a grandmother. In her unmarried years she was offered more mobility and a less strict regiment of roles. She held her family in high regard and especially her sister Mary. Both of her parents died when she was very young. In 1971 Elizabeth entered another phase, marrying Henry Drinker. They had 5 surviving children and a multitude of grandchildren. Her diary encompasses all aspects of her family from her husband, her sister, her children and grandchildren, to her servants. She was very concerned about all of her children's health and well being and implied that this had stemmed from her parents' death and her anxiety over that. Elizabeth was also known for developing and mixing her own medicines. She especially cared about the medical state that her servants were in. Drinker was also very interested in nature and the outside world. She tended to be classified as an upper class white woman, and attempted to serve the role. She sewed and embroidered. The abridged version tends to omit some of the sights and sounds of Philadelphia, but it does mention the many church bells, the fire alarms, burning buildings, the carriage accidents. This Philadelphia woman could be considered a model woman in the eighteenth century, living a typical upper class white woman's lifestyle.
Summary by Kelly Fish, student, Meredith College
by W.E.B. DuBois
The Souls of Black Folk was written by W.E.B. DuBois in 1903. It is probably the most well known of all books written by DuBois concerning African American culture. It focuses on the problem of color as it existed in the United States around the turn of the century.
DuBois begins by telling the story of the emancipation of the slaves and describing several of the struggles they encountered in trying to place themselves as free people in white society. The Freedmen's Bureau, founded by Pierce, was the beginning of a large-scale relief effort which, although was greatly needed, could only make small strides in the great destitution of the freedmen in the South. In the end, it set up schools, assisted freedmen in the buying and selling of land, and administered justice in all areas of daily life in which the freedmen needed assistance.
DuBois spends a whole chapter on Mr. Booker T. Washington. Some people applaud Washington for his lack of confrontation and his choice to quietly succeed in America despite his status, while others ridicule his silence as a "lack of manhood." DuBois chooses to criticize. He agrees that Washington should be commended for his convictions about things such as "Thrift, Patience, and Industrial Training," yet DuBois strongly opposes apologies for injustices against the African American race, not highly valuing the right to vote, and the toning down of the effects of caste distinction.
DuBois continues in his book to describe the African American culture of the time. In his own words, he describes the differences between black and white as something that is separated by a veil. It is his hope that through the rest of the book he will be able to give readers a glimpse behind the veil. He does this by sharing things about religion, the continual struggle of master and man, and the search for identity which so many freedmen encountered.
DuBois ends with a song with the words, "Let us cheer the weary traveler." It is as if he believed that the African Americans who lived through slavery and suppression need to be cheered and comforted because they have endured much. They are the weary travelers and they deserve rest.
Summary by Emily Anthony, student, Appalachian State University
by Pauline Maier
According to Pauline Maier, author of American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, in late April of 1775, John Hancock and Samuel Adams set out from Massachusetts as delegates for the Second Continental Congress. The congress' session was to be held on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, if Great Britain had not "redressed the grievances" of the colonies by that particular date. Both men ventured to Philadelphia with much trepidation, fearing "reproach" from other congressional delegates for Massachusetts' hasty actions of self-defense against the British in the Battle of Lexington and Concord. Soon, however, their fears were laid to rest when, as they joined other delegates traveling to Philadelphia, their journey became a "triumphal procession" with "sympathy and support" from spectators numbering in the thousands. Grandly, the delegates arrived in Philadelphia and found two hundred men waiting to protect them.
As soon as the Second Continental Congress convened, the delegates found themselves "knee-deep" in a quagmire of decisions, and soon the congress began to serve as a national government, with decision-making power limited to the delegates' instructions from their respective colonies. Among the various items on the congress' agenda, were military considerations, like Fort Ticonderoga and the Battle of Bunker Hill, trade decisions, and the construction of new governments in the colonies. However, there was one major decision that shortly loomed over the delegates--whether to reconcile with Great Britain or to declare their independence. Initially, nearly every, if not all, delegates advocated reconciliation with Great Britain, and to some even the notion of independence was ludicrous. Many feared Great Britain's military might, and many feared the colonies would not receive support from other nations. However, when George III pronounced that the colonies were indeed in a "state of rebellion" and issued the Prohibitory Act, which prohibited trade with the "North American colonies" until after the "present Rebellion" and essentially declared the colonies enemies to the crown, the delegates saw no hope for reconciliation. However, this did not conclude the lasting debate between those who wished to remain loyal to Great Britain and those delegates who advocated independence.
When the delegates saw no other alternative than to separate from Great Britain, they realized that to procure support they would need to formally declare their independence. With this in mind, the congress selected a Committee of Five to draft the formal declaration. The committee consisted of Thomas Jefferson, who had impressed the delegates with his draft of the Declaration of Taking Up Arms, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, and Robert Livingston of New York. Interestingly, Thomas Jefferson, a committee member who would soon prove tremendously important, had just returned to the congress from a long stay at his home in Virginia and truly did not want to be in Philadelphia. Jefferson would have rather been in Virginia helping his fellow Virginians create a new government.
Eventually, the committee gave primary responsibility for the draft to Jefferson. Among the many reasons Jefferson received primary responsibility was the fact that "having the Declaration written by a Virginian and a Southerner rather than a New Englander..., would demonstrate that support for the Independence went far beyond the 'radical' children of th Puritans..." (100). Interestingly, the Declaration of Independence was drafted in approximately two or three days, with Jefferson "sandwiching" it between various other duties that the congress needed to address and finish. He did consult John Adams and Benjamin Franklin as he was drafting the document, and he appeared to have taken ideas from the preamble to the Virginia Constitution and the English Declaration of Rights, among others.
On June 28, 1776, Jefferson and the committee submitted the draft of the Declaration of Independence to the "Committee of Whole" to consider. The congress analyzed the word choice and phrasing of the document carefully, making revisions periodically. Consequently, as the editing session concluded, congress had eliminated a reference to ending slave trade and had shortened Jefferson's list of twenty-one grievances against George III to nineteen. Naturally, Jefferson was "angered by the immense editing" and become "miserable."
Initially, the Declaration of Independence was "disregarded" for simply what it was--a formal declaration of independence. However, it would undertake a transformation from "a justification of revolution...to...a moral standard by which day-to-day policies and practices of the..United States of America...could be judged" (154). For example, Republicans began to "celebrate" the Declaration of Independence, and many began to argue over the authenticity of the draft. Some, primarily Federalists, argued that Jefferson must have copied the language and ideas of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence from North Carolina, for it allegedly pre-dated the Declaration of Independence. One observes that the responsibility of who wrote the Declaration of Independence was worth fighting for and the writer worth extolling. Additionally, many started to revere the United States' Founding Fathers and revere the Declaration itself. People began to refer to it in religious terms, and groups started to use it in "seizing the moral high ground of public debate" in order to achieve gains in their lives and the lives of others. Groups like women, abolitionists, and especially slaves, touted the phrase that "all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...
The generations following the Founding Fathers have placed the Declaration of Independence among the most "sacred" documents of the United States of America. They have transformed a formal declaration to end a "regime" into a document to "lay down principles to guide and limit the next government." Yet, despite the Declaration of Independence's sanctity, many wonder if it deserves the pre-eminence it has been granted today.
Summary by Nicole Martin, student, University of North Carolina at Pembroke
by Gerald W. Johnson
A soldier, a sailor and an empire builder, Sir William Penn grew up in England and became a great helper to the King during his time. As a favor, the king granted Penn land in the New World. Upon arrival Penn came across the Indians. He approached them differently than the Spaniards and other English. He respected them and their concepts of land ownership. This proved beneficial to him, for he avoided a lot of conflict by trying to keep the peace. Penn decided to put his colony, called Pennsylvania, a few miles below the fortieth parallel. This act caused grief for Penn’s northern neighbor, lord Baltimore, because this spot served as Baltimore’s northern border. Penn’s way of reasoning again saved him from confrontation again, and because of his abilities, Philadelphia, the capital of Pennsylvania, became known as a place where the rule of reason is greatly accepted. He decided to let his land have a rule of religious tolerance, and this area became a safe haven for those not believing in the traditional views. Quakers, for example, fled to this area to practice their beliefs without being punished.
Because of the wide tolerance, Philadelphia quickly became a melting pot for the New World. Quickly it became the center of the country, serving as a great American trading center and a friendly meeting ground for states before the Revolution. There was great evidence of the mixture of cultures within the city. The city was very neat, for it had not been built upon a fallen city. Independence Hall, which served as a State House, was built by Andrew Hamilton, and reflects English styles and ways of life. The Bank of Pennsylvania, built by Benjamin H. Latrobe, and Strickland’s Bank of the United States both reflect Greek culture. With such differences in culture, Philadelphia served as a development area for art, music, and architecture in America. Cousins William Rush and Charles Wilson Peale founded the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; this was the first of its kind in America. Philadelphia became a city of commerce quickly as well. There were many shipping exports as well as having ports for imported goods. Oliver Evans developed the high-pressured steam engine and John Fitch developed the steamboat in Philadelphia, and both fed the economy greatly by helping transportation.
Philadelphia had many governmental functions as well. Before the Revolution, Independence Hall served as a State House and meeting ground for the writers of the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution was also drawn up here. When the Revolutionary War was over, Philadelphia was home to the first government. Philadelphia was also home to both the First and Second Bank of the United States. Once America grew, the capital was moved, and Pennsylvania’s governmental history became just that. Fortunately, the memory of this great place lives on.
Summary by Jennifer Metz, student, University of North Carolina at Pembroke
by Jim Bishop
The Birth of the United States was about how the United States came into existence. The book focused on this topic from two different angles. The first came about by taking the reader through a step-by-step process of daily events during the meeting of the Second Continental Congress, from July 1 to July 4, 1776. Bishop also concentrated on why the states felt they had to come together in a section Bishop calls “The Road to Independence.”
As Bishop takes the reader through the events that occurred on the given days, he actually brings out the characteristics of the different representatives of the states. Bishop did not focus on the good qualities only. He brought out the bad qualities of all the individuals as well. A prime example of this was Thomas Jefferson. Bishop shows that Thomas Jefferson was a great and eloquent writer. However, Bishop also shows that everyone knew Jefferson was a poor speller by illustrating the fact Jefferson had to have many other people proof read his drafts of the Declaration of Independence for spelling mistakes.
Bishop’s second angle focuses on the reasons for the developing of the United States. Of course, Bishop pointed out taxation without representation, unjustified acts by British Parliament, and many other causes for separation. However, Bishop brings out a very good point in his book about timing. The colonists could not afford, physically or financially, to separate from England any time prior to when it actually happened. When separation occurred, the colonies were all in positions to handle themselves and function adequately as independent states, but not against England individually. Bishop theorized and illustrated that if the colonists would have tried before the time they did, they probably would have failed.
Bishop’s book showed the birth of a nation from a realistic point of view, instead of a dramatized view, by making the founding fathers seem human and possessing both good and bad qualities. These men knew that they could not live under England’s shadow and still grow. They decided that separation was the only way to avoid this, and Bishop did an excellent job portraying this fact.
Edited by Helen Gere Cruickshank
John Bartram was born in 1699, ninety-two years after the first permanent English colony was built in America. His son, William Bartram, was born forty years later, in 1739. Between them, most of the early American continent was explored, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the Mississippi River. They became the foremost American botanists, and led the way for the exploration of territory beyond the early settlements.
The journal accounts of John and William Bartram provide a unique look at colonial America. The stories written of their travels are exciting. One often forgets that before Europeans settled here, a vast wilderness stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The hazards faced by the Bartrams ranged from a lack of trails, renegades, and unknown Native Americans to life-threatening diseases, such as malaria and yellow fever. The fact that they survived these hardships is evidence of their tenacity and love of discovering the wonders of nature. Their contributions include the discovery of over 320 native plant species, specimens of which they sent to England for formal classification. Moreover, their journals provided information concerning birds, reptiles, insects, soil conditions, and Native American culture.
Locally, both John and William Bartram spent a great deal of time in North Carolina. John Bartram is credited with finding the Venus's flytrap, which he called "tipitiwichit," while traveling through the Cape region. His son, William, actually lived in North Carolina for some time. After his schooling, William moved from Philadelphia to work in North Carolina as a trader. The contributions of each are numerous, and because of their journals readers can learn about the early American wilderness, even today.
Summary by Jeremy Hart, student, North Carolina State University