Monday, October 11, 2004
Lecture Hall, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Registration and refreshments:
Welcome: Andras Szanto, 9:45-9:55 a.m.
Opening Comments: Allan Jalon, 9:55-10:05 a.m.
Opening Remarks: Michael Rosenthal, Professor of
English, drawing on Nicholas Miraculous,
his just completed biography of Nicolas Murray Butler. 10:05-10:20
Bourne at Columbia, Bourne in the World
Theatrical Interlude, scene I, 10:25-10:40 a.m.
The Historical View” 10:40-12:15 a.m.
Casey N. Blake, Professor of History at Columbia University, and
author of Beloved Community: The Cultural Criticism of Randolph
Bourne, Van Wyck Brooks, Waldo Frank, and Lewis Mumford
Robert Westbrook, Professor of History at the University of Rochester
and author of John Dewey and American Democracy
Leslie Vaughan, Author of “Randolph Bourne and the Politics
of Cultural Radicalism.”
Jonathan M. Hansen, Author of “The Lost Promise of Patriotism:
Debating American Identity, 1890-1920”
Chris Lehmann, Features editor at New York Magazine and former senior
book editor for the Washington Post Book World
Christopher Phelps, Associate professor of history at The Ohio State
University and is currently serving as the Fulbright Distinguished
Chair in American Studies at the University of Lodz, Poland. He
is the author of Young Sidney Hook and an article on Randolph Bourne
entitled "Bourne Yet Again: A Genealogy of Errors" published
in the journal New Politics.
A panel of historians examines the big
Bourne subjects of culture, identity and power. They will look at
the conflict between Bourne and John Dewey, his teacher at Columbia,
and the object of his searing criticism in “Twilight of the
Idols,” “A War Diary” and other essays sparked
by Dewey’s argument that the pragmatic ideal of spreading
democracy justified America’s entry into World War I. Dewey
is not studied that much anymore, certainly not to the extent that
most undergraduates at a school like Columbia would have much awareness
of him. He was a giant of his age and the Bourne story cannot be
told without understanding him and his generation of intellectuals.
Who was Dewey? How did he affect Bourne and how does Bourne affect
our memory of him? The themes explored in this panel include Bourne
as an admirer and a rebel, as a passionate student of prominent
teachers he respected who then became a ground-breaking definer
of American youth culture. What was he saying, as an observer of
culture in general? What was his place, in his generation of intellectuals
wrestling with the rapidly changing nature of the country just after
the turn of the century? What, exactly, is his sense of American
progress? How should we look back today on “Trans-National
America” and other Bourne essays on American culture and identity
at the start of the 20th Century, as immigrants flooded New York
and changed the idea of being American? How did Bourne, the young
writer, become Bourne, the establishment-challenging public intellectual
who wrote “War and the Intellectuals,” about the public
intellectual’s responsibility to stand apart and question
political power? What importance does Bourne have to conversations
today about the make-up of American society? What is the relationship
between his work on the development of national culture and his
writing about war, the responsibilities of intellectuals and the
fate of democracy?
Break for lunch: 12:15-1:30
Theatrical Interlude, scene
II, 1:30-1:45 p.m.
Many Bournes” 1:45-3:15 p.m.
Allan M. Jalon,
Freelance journalist, mostly on literary and cultural topics, has
written for the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and many
other newspapers and publications. A National Arts Journalism Fellow,
Paul K. Longmore, Professor of History at San Francisco State University
and author of Why I burned my book and other essays on disability.
Paul S. Miller, Professor of Law at the University of Washington
School of Law and former Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment
Nicole Wallack, Associate Director of Columbia’s Undergraduate
Writing Program and specialist on the history of the essay.
Barbara Probst Solomon, Author of seven books include prize-winning
"Arriving Where We Started,” professor at Sarah Lawrence,
and correspondent of El Pais. Solomon is also the winner (’04)
of Spain's prestigious literary award "Antonio de Sancha."
One notable and essential part of Bourne’s
literary identity is the wide circumference of his interests, the
mobility of his curiosity as he moved from subject to subject, his
almost prophetic (the word has been used) ability to grasp some
sense of what will be important in the future. Yet in some areas
we are just starting to understand how the different subjects that
Bourne focused on affected his writing overall and how they relate.
This has been true for his examination on the lifelong experience
of disability in his searchingly candid yet encouraging essay “The
Handicapped: By One of Them.” It has become a touchstone for
many interested in understanding themselves and others, but how
does it help us understand him and his work overall? What gives
the essay its power for those with a wide variety of disabilities,
as well as people who might not consider themselves disabled? To
what degree does it provide a background for the movements toward
fair employment rights and general social acceptance and improved
conditions for those who are disabled? Where does it fit in the
development of the essay, to the extent that it was included in
an important recent anthology of the best essays of the 20th Century?
And what explains the qualities of Bourne’s writing overall
– from the sweeping political pieces to his book reviews?
He openly talked about how social interaction affected him as a
writer. His correspondence and his essays reflect the importance
of his personal and literary relationships with women. How were
Bourne’s ideas formed -- by conversation, by friendship, by
his social difficulties as a disabled man, by his relationships
with men and women, including some of the most interesting political
radicals and literary figures of the early 20th-century? How do
they fit into a picture of the whole writer? This panel will also
consider Bourne and The Bournians. Who are these people who have
taken up his memory across the decades and what was his influence?
We consider one in particular, Dorothy Norman, editor of The Bournian
literary journal of the 1940s, “Twice-a-Year.”
15 minute break
Theatrical Interlude, scene
II, 3:30-3:45 p.m.
Today” 3:45-5:15 p.m.
George Packer, Staff writer for The New Yorker and author of Blood
of the Liberals.
Benj DeMott, Writer and editor for the radical newspaper First of
the Month and three-time recipient of the Find for Creative Communities.
Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism and Sociology at Columbia University
and editorial board-member of Dissent and The American Scholar.
Michael True, Author of “An Energy Field More Intense Than
War: The Nonviolent Tradition In American Literature.”
Fred Dewey, Director of Beyond Baroque, the leading literary arts
center in Los Angeles, writer, and
community activist. He is also the great grand-son of John Dewey
and a long-time student of
his relative’s work and his times.
Bourne re-emerges at times of crisis.
Before and even during World War II, he was republished in the journal
Twice-A-Year and elsewhere. During the Vietnam era, anthologists
rediscovered him. Now, his words and his face are in publications
from In These Times to the New York Times.
What do his reappearance and his specific
insights reflect about our contemporary times? This panel looks
at how Bourne’s thought and language, especially the war essays
and “The State,” do (or do not) apply to today’s
debates about interventionism and dissent, as seen from journalistic,
literary and activist perspectives. How do Bourne’s insights
frame our thinking about Iraq headlines and the other developments
since 9/11? The themes of Bourne’s essay “War and the
Intellectuals” seemed to have unusual resonance for many today,
as writers and journalists, including “liberal hawks”
and “anti-war” liberals, help to guide the debate about
war and peace. What does it mean to talk about “War and the
Intellectuals” now? What would Bourne have thought about how
today’s intellectuals and media opinion-makers have responded
to our wars? How do disagreements about war and peace today relate
to the history of such debates about other wars? How do Bourne’s
writings fit into the literary tradition of non-violence? What is
the relationship between the aesthetic aspect of that tradition
and the political discussion of specific wars and war-time policies?
Finally, how, today, do we read “The State,” Bourne’s
last, unfinished essay, in which his questions about the crisis
he sees in democracy in war-time lead him to question the nature
and future of American Democracy.
The panel will be followed by questions
from the audience and discussion.
Closing Remarks: Andras
Szanto, 5:15 p.m.
Reception: 5:30-6:30 p.m., World Room (opposite
end of the hall from the Lecture Hall)
We extend our thanks to Clark Middleton
and John Setiz for their reenactments of scenes from the life of
Randolph Bourne, drawn in part from “The Body of Bourne,”
a play by John Belleso.