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The Enlightenment

Although the intellectual movement called “The Enlightenment” is usually associated with the 18th century, its roots in fact go back much further. But before we explore those roots, we need to define the term. This is one of those rare historical movements which in fact named itself. Certain thinkers and writers, primarily in London and Paris, believed that they were more enlightened than their compatriots and set out to enlighten them.

They believed that human reason could be used to combat ignorance, superstition, and tyranny and to build a better world. Their principal targets were religion (embodied in France in the Catholic Church) and the domination of society by a hereditary aristocracy.

Background in Antiquity

To understand why this movement became so influential in the 18th century, it is important to go back in time. We could choose almost any starting point, but let us begin with the recovery of Aristotelian logic by Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century. In his hands the logical procedures so carefully laid out by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle were used to defend the dogmas of Christianity; and for the next couple of centuries, other thinkers pursued these goals to shore up every aspect of faith with logic. These thinkers were sometimes called “schoolmen” (more formally, “scholastics,”) and Voltaire frequently refers to them as “doctors,” by which he means “doctors of theology.”

Unfortunately for the Catholic Church, the tools of logic could not be confined to the uses it preferred. After all, they had been developed in Athens, in a pagan culture which had turned them on its own traditional beliefs. It was only a matter of time before later Europeans would do the same.

The Renaissance Humanists

In the 14th and 15th century there emerged in Italy and France a group of thinkers known as the “humanists.” The term did not then have the anti-religious associations it has in contemporary political debate. Almost all of them were practicing Catholics. They argued that the proper worship of God involved admiration of his creation, and in particular of that crown of creation: humanity. By celebrating the human race and its capacities they argued they were worshiping God more appropriately than gloomy priests and monks who harped on original sin and continuously called upon people to confess and humble themselves before the Almighty. Indeed, some of them claimed that humans were like God, created not only in his image, but with a share of his creative power. The painter, the architect, the musician, and the scholar, by exercising their intellectual powers, were fulfilling divine purposes.

This celebration of human capacity, though it was mixed in the Renaissance with elements of gloom and superstition (witchcraft trials flourished in this period as they never had during the Middle Ages), was to bestow a powerful legacy on Europeans. The goal of Renaissance humanists was to recapture some of the pride, breadth of spirit, and creativity of the ancient Greeks and Romans, to replicate their successes and go beyond them. Europeans developed the belief that tradition could and should be used to promote change. By cleaning and sharpening the tools of antiquity, they could reshape their own time.

Galileo Galilei, for instance, was to use the same sort of logic the schoolmen had used–reinforced with observation–to argue in 1632 for the Copernican notion that the earth rotates on its axis beneath the unmoving sun. The Church, and most particularly the Holy Inquisition, objected that the Bible clearly stated that the sun moved through the sky and denounced Galileo’s teachings, forcing him to recant (take back) what he had written and preventing him from teaching further. The Church’s triumph was a Pyrrhic victory, for though it could silence Galileo, it could not prevent the advance of science (though most of those advances would take place in Protestant northern Europe, out of the reach of the pope and his Inquisition).

But before Galileo’s time, in the 16th century, various humanists had begun to ask dangerous questions. François Rabelais, a French monk and physician influenced by Protestantism, but spurred on by his own rebelliousness, challenged the Church’s authority in his Gargantua and Pantagruel, ridiculing many religious doctrines as absurd.

Michel de Montaigne

Michel de Montaigne, in a much more quiet and modest but ultimately more subversive way, asked a single question over and over again in his Essays: “What do I know?” By this he meant that we have no right to impose on others dogmas which rest on cultural habit rather than absolute truth. Powerfully influenced by the discovery of thriving non-Christian cultures in places as far off as Brazil, he argued that morals may be to some degree relative. Who are Europeans to insist that Brazilian cannibals who merely consume dead human flesh instead of wasting it are morally inferior to Europeans who persecute and oppress those of whom they disapprove?

This shift toward cultural relativism, though it was based on scant understanding of the newly discovered peoples, was to continue to have a profound effect on European thought to the present day. Indeed, it is one of the hallmarks of the Enlightenment. Just as their predecessors had used the tools of antiquity to gain unprecedented freedom of inquiry, the Enlightenment thinkers used the examples of other cultures to gain the freedom to reshape not only their philosophies, but their societies. It was becoming clear that there was nothing inevitable about the European patterns of thought and living: there were many possible ways of being human, and doubtless new ones could be invented.

The other contribution of Montaigne to the Enlightenment stemmed from another aspect of his famous question: “What do I know?” If we cannot be certain that our values are God-given, then we have no right to impose them by force on others. Inquisitors, popes, and kings alike had no business enforcing adherence to particular religious or philosophical beliefs.

It is one of the great paradoxes of history that radical doubt was necessary for the new sort of certainty called “scientific.” The good scientist is the one is willing to test all assumptions, to challenge all traditional opinion, to get closer to the truth. If ultimate truth, such as was claimed by religious thinkers, was unattainable by scientists, so much the better. In a sense, the strength of science at its best is that it is always aware of its limits, aware that knowledge is always growing, always subject to change, never absolute. Because knowledge depends on evidence and reason, arbitrary authority can only be its enemy.

The 17th Century

René Descartes, in the 17th century, attempted to use reason as the schoolmen had, to shore up his faith; but much more rigorously than had been attempted before. He tried to begin with a blank slate, with the bare minimum of knowledge: the knowledge of his own existence (“I think, therefore I am”). From there he attempted to reason his way to a complete defense of Christianity, but to do so he committed so many logical faults that his successors over the centuries were to slowly disintegrate his gains, even finally challenging the notion of selfhood with which he had begun. The history of philosophy from his time to the early 20th century is partly the story of more and more ingenious logic proving less and less, until Ludwig Wittgenstein succeeded in undermining the very bases of philosophy itself.

But that is a story for a different course. Here we are concerned with early stages in the process in which it seemed that logic could be a powerful avenue to truth. To be sure, logic alone could be used to defend all sorts of absurd notions; and Enlightenment thinkers insisted on combining it with something they called “reason” which consisted of common sense, observation, and their own unacknowledged prejudices in favor of skepticism and freedom.

We have been focusing closely on a thin trickle of thought which traveled through an era otherwise dominated by dogma and fanaticism. The 17th century was torn by witch-hunts and wars of religion and imperial conquest. Protestants and Catholics denounced each other as followers of Satan, and people could be imprisoned for attending the wrong church, or for not attending any. All publications, whether pamphlets or scholarly volumes, were subject to prior censorship by both church and state, often working hand in hand. Slavery was widely practiced, especially in the colonial plantations of the Western Hemisphere, and its cruelties frequently defended by leading religious figures. The despotism of monarchs exercising far greater powers than any medieval king was supported by the doctrine of the “divine right of kings,” and scripture quoted to show that revolution was detested by God. Speakers of sedition or blasphemy quickly found themselves imprisoned, or even executed. Organizations which tried to challenge the twin authorities of church and state were banned. There had been plenty of intolerance and dogma to go around in the Middle Ages, but the emergence of the modern state made its tyranny much more efficient and powerful.

It was inevitable that sooner or later many Europeans would begin to weary of the repression and warfare carried out in the name of absolute truth. In addition, though Protestants had begun by making powerful critiques of Catholicism, they quickly turned their guns on each other, producing a bewildering array of churches each claiming the exclusive path to salvation. It was natural for people tossed from one demanding faith to another to wonder whether any of the churches deserved the authority they claimed, and to begin to prize the skepticism of Montaigne over the certainty of Luther or Calvin.

Meanwhile, there were other powerful forces at work in Europe: economic ones which were to interact profoundly with these intellectual trends.

The Political and Economic Background

During the late Middle Ages, peasants had begun to move from rural estates to the towns in search of increased freedom and prosperity. As trade and communication improved during the Renaissance, the ordinary town-dweller began to realize that things need not always go on as they had for centuries. New charters could be written, new governments formed, new laws passed, new businesses begun. Although each changed institution quickly tried to stabilize its power by claiming the support of tradition, the pressure for change continued to mount. It was not only contact with alien cultural patterns which influenced Europeans, it was the wealth brought back from Asia and the Americas which catapulted a new class of merchants into prominence, partially displacing the old aristocracy whose power had been rooted in the ownership of land. These merchants had their own ideas about the sort of world they wanted to inhabit, and they became major agents of change, in the arts, in government, and in the economy.

They were naturally convinced that their earnings were the result of their individual merit and hard work, unlike the inherited wealth of traditional aristocrats. Whereas individualism had been chiefly emphasized in the Renaissance by artists, especially visual artists, it now became a core value. The ability of individual effort to transform the world became a European dogma, lasting to this day.

But the chief obstacles to the reshaping of Europe by the merchant class were the same as those faced by the rationalist philosophers: absolutist kings and dogmatic churches. The struggle was complex and many-sided, with each participant absorbing many of the others’ values; but the general trend is clear: individualism, freedom and change replaced community, authority, and tradition as core European values. Religion survived, but weakened and often transformed almost beyond recognition; the monarchy was to dwindle over the course of the hundred years beginning in the mid-18th century to a pale shadow of its former self.

This is the background of the 18th-century Enlightenment. Europeans were changing, but Europe’s institutions were not keeping pace with that change. The Church insisted that it was the only source of truth, that all who lived outside its bounds were damned, while it was apparent to any reasonably sophisticated person that most human beings on earth were not and had never been Christians–yet they had built great and inspiring civilizations. Writers and speakers grew restive at the omnipresent censorship and sought whatever means they could to evade or even denounce it.

Most important, the middle classes–the bourgeoisie–were painfully aware that they were paying taxes to support a fabulously expensive aristocracy which contributed nothing of value to society (beyond, perhaps, its patronage of the arts, which the burghers of Holland had shown could be equally well exercised by themselves), and that those useless aristocrats were unwilling to share power with those who actually managed and–to their way of thinking,–created the national wealth. They were to find ready allies in France among the impoverished masses who may have lived and thought much like their ancestors, but who were all too aware that with each passing year they were paying higher and higher taxes to support a few thousand at Versailles in idle dissipation.

The Role of the Aristocrats

Interestingly, it was among those very idle aristocrats that the French Enlightenment philosophers were to find some of their earliest and most enthusiastic followers. Despite the fact that the Church and State were more often than not allied with each other, they were keenly aware of their differences. Even kings could on occasion be attracted by arguments which seemed to undermine the authority of the Church. The fact that the aristocrats were utterly unaware of the precariousness of their position also made them overconfident, interested in dabbling in the new ideas partly simply because they were new and exciting.

Voltaire moved easily in these aristocratic circles, dining at their tables, taking a titled mistress, corresponding with monarchs. He opposed tyranny and dogma, but he had no notion of reinventing that discredited Athenian folly, democracy. He had far too little faith in the ordinary person for that. What he did think was that educated and sophisticated persons could be brought to see through the exercise of their reason that the world could and should be greatly improved.

Rousseau vs. Voltaire

Not all Enlightenment thinkers were like Voltaire in this. His chief adversary was Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who distrusted the aristocrats not out of a thirst for change but because he believed they were betraying decent traditional values. He opposed the theater which was Voltaire’s lifeblood, shunned the aristocracy which Voltaire courted, and argued for something dangerously like democratic revolution. Whereas Voltaire argued that equality was impossible, Rousseau argued that inequality was not only unnatural, but that–when taken too far–it made decent government impossible. Whereas Voltaire charmed with his wit, Rousseau ponderously insisted on his correctness, even while contradicting himself. Whereas Voltaire insisted on the supremacy of the intellect, Rousseau emphasized the emotions, becoming a contributor to both the Enlightenment and its successor, romanticism. And whereas Voltaire endlessly repeated the same handful of core Enlightenment notions, Rousseau sparked off original thoughts in all directions: ideas about education, the family, government, the arts, and whatever else attracted his attention.

For all their personal differences, the two shared more values than they liked to acknowledge. They viewed absolute monarchy as dangerous and evil and rejected orthodox Christianity. Though Rousseau often struggled to seem more devout, he was almost as much a skeptic as Voltaire: the minimalist faith both shared was called “deism,” and it was eventually to transform European religion and have powerful influences on other aspects of society as well.

Across the border in Holland, the merchants, who exercised most political power, there made a successful industry out of publishing books that could not be printed in countries like France. Dissenting religious groups mounted radical attacks on Christian orthodoxy.

The Enlightenment in England

Meanwhile Great Britain had developed its own Enlightenment, fostered by thinkers like the English thinker John Locke, the Scot David Hume, and many others. England had anticipated the rest of Europe by deposing and decapitating its king back in the 17th century. Although the monarchy had eventually been restored, this experience created a certain openness toward change in many places that could not be entirely extinguished. English Protestantism struggled to express itself in ways that widened the limits of freedom of speech and press. Radical Quakers and Unitarians broke open old dogmas in ways that Voltaire was to find highly congenial when he found himself there in exile. The English and French Enlightenments exchanged influences through many channels, Voltaire not least among them.

Because England had gotten its revolution out of the way early, it was able to proceed more smoothly and gradually down the road to democracy; but English liberty was dynamite when transported to France, where resistance by church and state was fierce to the last possible moment. The result was ironically that while Britain remained saturated with class privilege and relatively pious, France was to become after its own revolution the most egalitarian and anticlerical state in Europe–at least in its ideals. The power of religion and the aristocracy diminished gradually in England; in France they were violently uprooted.

The Enlightenment in America

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, many of the intellectual leaders of the American colonies were drawn to the Enlightenment. The colonies may have been founded by leaders of various dogmatic religious persuasions, but when it became necessary to unite against England, it was apparent that no one of them could prevail over the others, and that the most desirable course was to agree to disagree. Nothing more powerfully impelled the movement toward the separation of church and state than the realization that no one church could dominate this new state.

Many of the most distinguished leaders of the American revolution–Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Paine–were powerfully influenced by English and–to a lesser extent–French Enlightenment thought. The God who underwrites the concept of equality in the Declaration of Independence is the same deist God Rousseau worshipped, not that venerated in the traditional churches which still supported and defended monarchies all over Europe. Jefferson and Franklin both spent time in France–a natural ally because it was a traditional enemy of England–absorbing the influence of the French Enlightenment. The language of natural law, of inherent freedoms, of self-determination which seeped so deeply into the American grain was the language of the Enlightenment, though often coated with a light glaze of traditional religion, what has been called our “civil religion.”

This is one reason that Americans should study the Enlightenment. It is in their bones. It has defined part of what they have dreamed of, what they aim to become. Separated geographically from most of the aristocrats against whom they were rebelling, their revolution was to be far less corrosive–and at first less influential–than that in France.

The Struggle in Europe

But we need to return to the beginning of the story, to Voltaire and his allies in France, struggling to assert the values of freedom and tolerance in a culture where the twin fortresses of monarchy and Church opposed almost everything they stood for. To oppose the monarchy openly would be fatal; the Church was an easier target. Protestantism had made religious controversy familiar. Voltaire could skillfully cite one Christian against another to make his arguments. One way to undermine the power of the Church was to undermine its credibility, and thus Voltaire devoted a great deal of his time to attacking the fundamentals of Christian belief: the inspiration of the Bible, the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, the damnation of unbelievers. No doubt he relished this battle partly for its own sake, but he never lost sight of his central goal: the toppling of Church power to increase the freedom available to Europeans.

Voltaire was joined by a band of rebellious thinkers known as the philosophes: Charles de Montesquieu, Pierre Bayle, Jean d’Alembert, and many lesser lights. Although “philosophe” literally means “philosopher” we use the French word in English to designate this particular group of French 18th-century thinkers. Because Denis Diderot commissioned many of them to write for his influential Encyclopedia, they are also known as “the Encyclopedists.”

The Heritage of the Enlightenment

Today the Enlightenment is often viewed as a historical anomaly, a brief moment when a number of thinkers infatuated with reason vainly supposed that the perfect society could be built on common sense and tolerance, a fantasy which collapsed amid the Terror of the French Revolution and the triumphal sweep of Romanticism. Religious thinkers repeatedly proclaim the Enlightenment dead, Marxists denounce it for promoting the ideals and power of the bourgeoisie at the expense of the working classes, postcolonial critics reject its idealization of specifically European notions as universal truths, and postructuralists reject its entire concept of rational thought.

Yet in many ways, the Enlightenment has never been more alive. The notions of human rights it developed are powerfully attractive to oppressed peoples everywhere, who appeal to the same notion of natural law that so inspired Voltaire and Jefferson. Wherever religious conflicts erupt, mutual religious tolerance is counseled as a solution. Rousseau’s notions of self-rule are ideals so universal that the worst tyrant has to disguise his tyrannies by claiming to be acting on their behalf. European these ideas may be, but they have also become global. Whatever their limits, they have formed the consensus of international ideals by which modern states are judged.

If our world seems little closer to perfection than that of 18th-century France, that is partly due to our failure to appreciate gains we take for granted. But it is also the case that many of the enemies of the Enlightenment are demolishing a straw man: it was never as simple-mindedly optimistic as it has often been portrayed. Certainly Voltaire was no facile optimist. He distrusted utopianism, instead trying to cajole Europeans out of their more harmful stupidities. Whether we acknowledge his influence or not, we still think today more like him than like his enemies.

As we go through his most influential work, The Philosophical Dictionary, look for passages which helped lay the groundwork for modern patterns of thought. Look also for passages which still seem challenging, pieces of arguments that continue today.

More study guides for 18th and 19th Century European Classics

Questions about India, Hinduism, & Buddhism

Answers to questions about Hinduism

 

Are Hindus frowned upon if they do not meditate often, or does the concept of “puja” compensate for this?
Meditation is only one form of puja, by no means mandatory. Many Hindus never meditate. You meditate because you feel it is beneficial to you, not because it is required. People who didn’t live with you would have no way of knowing whether you meditate or not, so it’s not a matter of social pressure.

Why are gods and goddesses in artwork depicted as “scary” but not thought of?
If you needed a bodyguard to fight off bullies for you, you’d pick somebody scary-looking, right? That’s what Kali/Durga is like. Note that the Christian God can also be “scary”–the book of Revelation portrays him in some pretty frightening ways. People often prefer to worship gods who have a great deal of power, even if that power is viewed as dangerous.

Taj Mahal Temple, how was it built, when, why, etc.?
Technically the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum, or elaborate tomb, rather than a temple, built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned 1628-58) in the memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal, in the 17th century, after the period covered by our course (which is why I didn’t show you a picture of it). Although we think of it as typically Indian, it is typically Mughal architecture, influenced strongly by Islamic Persian architecture and bears little resemblance to indigenous Indian Hindu temples. You can learn more about it on the “My India” site.

What is the point of building waist-high temples?
It’s an act of devotion on the part of someone who can’t afford a full-scale building, or for a very minor god who doesn’t qualify for one. You don’t have to be able to enter a temple to worship at it.

Are Indians then strict vegetarians? How do they feel about eating other animals if cows are so respected?
About 20 percent of Indians are vegetarians, including all Jains. It is common enough in India so that on menus the meat selections are often labelled “non-veg.” I have known vegetarian women married to meat-eating husbands. I have no idea how common this pattern is.

Are these the people that have the stones in their forehead? If so did they do it way back when?
If you’re thinking of Hindu gods with stones in their foreheads, that’s a Western stereotype perpetuated by hundreds of adventure stories. Many Indians mark their foreheads with a dot of paint either for religious or caste reasons or just because they find it attractive. Sculptures reflect the same fashion. Rarely a jewel might be substituted for the paint dot, but I’ve never seen one.

Who was the most significant religious leader in the history of India? Who brought religion to India?
Religion in India to too ancient and diverse in its origins to be said to have had a “founder.” There’s no one like Moses or Jesus or Muhammed identifiable in relationship to Hinduism. India gave birth to religions which were exported elsewhere. I suppose the Buddha is the most significant religious leader in terms of his world influence, but in the long run Buddhism dwindled to a minor faith in India.

Why do only reincarnated gods have strange skin colors?
Vishnu and his avatars, particularly Krishna, are often shown with blue skin to suggest their identity. But Kali is also often shown with dark skin. And demons come in all sorts of colors, but they aren’t gods, strictly speaking.

Are there any female gods in Hinduism?
Each major god has a female consort. I showed you images of Vishnu with Lakshmi and Shiva with Parvati. There are a number of powerful demon-fighting goddesses often overlapping with each other called “Kali,” “Durga,” and other names. Saraswati is also a popular goddess who is regarded as the spouse of Brahma. Click here for more information.

Are women and men treated as equals?
From a Western point of view Hinduism discriminates strongly in favor of men and against women. Gender roles are strictly defined. However, it’s worth noting that India has had a female head of state (Indira Gandhi) and that the head of the Congress Party right now is her daughter-in-law. There are many female professionals in India, but generally the average woman in India has far fewer opportunities and protections than the average woman in the U.S. or Europe.

Is the Indian culture known to like the female form?
If this refers to the female body, voluptuous female figures are common in Hindu religious sculpture, often featured on the facades of temples. Unlike the Greeks, ancient Indian sculpture revealed male and female figures equally. However, modern Indians are relatively modest, and until recently films were extremely prudish in what they could show, with lots of “wet sari” scenes being as revealing as they got.

Why are the women represented with either poverty or sex? What are they trying to say with that?
In all cultures heterosexual men have tended to identify women with sexuality, but I showed you pictures of several of the consorts of the gods who are certainly not associated with poverty, nor are they particularly sexy. Sita, Rama’s consort, is a classic example. She is the stereotype of the faithful wife.

What are the major roles of the wife?
This is a huge subject. India has a reputation in the West of being rather hard on women, with wives being strictly subordinate; but within the large extended traditional family, older wives exercise a great deal of power and authority over other family members, particularly younger wives. For a detailed portrait of this sort of family relationship, see the documentary film Dadi and Her Family (you can get extra credit for watching it). This power lapses, however, with the death of their husbands. Few cultures treat widows more poorly than does the Indian one, which helps to explain why many women were willing to commit sati on their husbands’ funeral pyres in the past (the practice has been outlawed for over a century and a half). Modern Indian women are often highly assertive, with Indira Gandhi being the outstanding example of a powerful woman in modern times. She derived her fame from being the daughter of India’s first premier rather than from her marriage. Modern upper class Indian families often feel it is important for their daughters to be well educated to attract a good husband. It is not uncommon for an MA degree to feature in matrimonial ads. On the other hand, thousands of women are killed annually in India by greedy families of grooms who are disappointed by the amount of dowry they have received from the bride’s family. This practice is strictly a crime, has no religious basis, and is not connected with sati. For a site dealing with many issues relating to Indian women, see Women of India.

Why are Hindus allowed to sacrifice animals? I’m not sure I understand it because in their culture they have souls just like people.
In fact, Hindus rarely sacrifice animals. Most sacrifices involve colored powders, incense sticks, flowers, fruit, etc. But occasional animal sacrifices are justifiable just as war is: this life is both illusory and impermanent. The goat sacrificed at the temple of Durga in Calcutta while I was there was supposed to have fulfilled his dharma by this death and go on to a better existence in the next life. Can Hindus first be born as Brahmins or do they have to start at the bottom?
It’s difficult to know where “the start” is. Human beings can’t think back that far. All beings alive today have been continuously reborn for many millennia. I don’t know whether there were “original Brahmins” at the origin of the world or not.

Can untouchables be reborn?
Yes indeed. The whole system of untouchability rests on the belief in reincarnation. Untouchables were assured that their lowly status had been earned through bad karma from previous lives but that if they followed their untouchable dharma in this life they would be able to escape it in the next.

If everyone spends their lives trying to become a Brahmin, eventually wouldn’t there begin to be large number of Brahmins?
Remember that pious Brahmins who achieve Moksha are continually being removed from the system, and former grasshoppers and such are being reborn as Vaishyas.

How come there is so many rich and so many poor and not so many in the middle class?
You might be surprised to learn how polarized American society is in this regard; but it’s true that the vast bulk of Indians are and always have been poor. This was also true of almost all ancient cultures. In recent times a combination of overpopulation, land-shortage, and mismanagement of the economy by anti-development governments have contributed to this poverty. However, India is developing strikingly at present–not as furiously as China, but still quite impressively. There is a very sizable middle class.

If people are reborn over and over again then are new people (new souls/spirits) crated? If not, then how is it that the world population is growing?
Only in recent times has the world population grown at a fast enough rate to be noticeable. For long periods it has hardly grown at all, so this sort of question just didn’t come up. Remember that all living beings, including insects, are involved in the cycle of rebirth, so the total number of human beings alive isn’t the only relevant statistic. Ultimately all atman is one. Individual souls are a temporary illusion created out of a single unity–the brahman. It is infinite and inexhaustible.

Are the kings and rulers worshiped and close to Moksha?
Occasionally a ruler has been regarded as a god, but less so than in many other cultures. Hinduism is unique is granting a higher status to the priesthood (the Brahmins) than to the warrior-kings (Kshatriyas). It is the duty of kings to defend and protect Brahmins, but they are seldom Brahmins themselves.

Why do you sometimes see Hari Krishna followers in the airport and why do they give you flowers and try to give you books? Maybe just like any other religion looking for converts?
These are followers of the modern International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Yes, this is their missionary activity, similar to the way that Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses go door-to-door seeking converts. Airports are sheltered public spaces where they can encounter a wide variety of people. They have been banned from many of them, however; and a while back decided for a while to abandon this approach since they were alienating more people than they attracted, but I’ve noticed them back at it recently.

If Indians are Aryans, why are some of them so dark?
Indians use the term “Aryan” to label certain lighter-skinned Indians whose ancestors are now often thought to have been barbarians who emigrated into India millennia ago from Central Asia and conquered the darker Indians, often called “Dravidians” in contrast. Dravidians are supposed to have been the original inhabitants of the subcontinent (and probably the inventors for the Indus culture). All this is very controversial in modern India, with many groups seeking to deny the whole theory of the Aryan invasion. The two groups have obviously intermarried over time and all sorts of shades occur, with the darker skins prevailing more as you move south. Hitler’s use of “Aryan” to mean blonde Nordic types was a twisted variation on this Indian nomenclature.

Was there any form of racism or discrimination in the Indian culture since some were darker than others? Was darker skin seen as being less or inferior?
The concept of caste generally overrides any concept of “race” as such, but there is a traditional discrimination in favor of the light-skinned Aryans over the dark-skinned Dravidians. But this is complicated by geography: Southern Indians tend on average to be much darker than northern ones. In matrimonial ads women are often described as having a “wheatish” complexion–light brown–and there is still a lot of prejudice against dark skin. Movie stars and models almost invariably have light skin. But India is not neatly divided into “black” and “white.” There is a host of fine distinctions, only some of them related skin color; but color is definitely one basis for discrimination.

Why do some Indians wear turbans?
Most turban-wearing Indians are Sikhs, followers of a traditional religion which developed in the fifth century BCE. They are an important minority in modern India. The men are not supposed to cut their hair, so they bind it up in a turban. They are also not supposed to trim their beards, and many of them wear a sort of net “beard bra” as well to keep it out of the way.

What is the difference between Hindus and Indians?
Some Hindus would argue that there is no difference; but in fact people whose origin is India as defined geographically by the Indus River and the Himalayas in the north and by the seas in the other directions can be called Indians (even after they emigrate), but only those who adhere to Hindu religious practices are Hindus. Many Indians are Muslims, Sikhs, Parsees, Jains, Buddhists, Christians, and followers of other faiths. There are even Indian Jews.

What was the main form of entertainment in India?
I would say story-telling, mostly based on Hindu tales like the Ramayana. But song and dance have always been very popular too. In modern India the overwhelmingly most popular form of entertainment are the splashy musical films churned out in huge quantity by the Bombay film industry (“Bollywood”).

Did the Greek theater ever influence Indians’ entertainment?
The origins or Indian theater are much more obscure than those of Greek theater. Some Indians claim their theatrical tradition to be the oldest in the world, but the earliest evidence we have dates from almost a thousand years after its Greek origins. It probably evolved separately, since Greek drama had been long forgotten at that time and had to be reinvented even in Europe in the Middle Ages.

How long has India been a democracy?
Since 1947.

The deities in the Hindu religion are very different than Western deities. Is there any reason that they had such fantastic forms?
They’re not so much more fantastic than–say–the Egyptian gods; but their attributes are widely understood as expressing various spiritual truths. Almost everything about their appearance is symbolic. You can tell a lot about a god’s function and powers by looking at its image.

Why are cows so sacred?
Nobody knows when or how cow veneration began, but it is as ancient as the earliest accounts we have of India. It may have derived from the the heavy dependency of poor people on cattle to work their fields, provide milk products for a protein-poor diet, and provide cow dung for cooking fuel (still an important source of fuel today). Killing the family cow to eat it would be an act of desperation which would ultimately doom a family worse starvation from the loss of its services and products, so perhaps this sort of marginal cattle-keeping inspired veneration for the cow. There are laws against killing cows in modern India, but there have been recent reports of widespread butchery to supply the leather export market. If you killed one with your car you would probably be in big trouble–but more from a mob forming than from the police. It is Hindus rather than Buddhists who especially venerate cows, though most Indian Buddhists would certainly do so, and are often vegetarians. Cow-veneration did not travel to other countries with Buddhism, however.

What do they cook with cow dung, and how do they use it?
The dung is patted by hand into disks and sun-dried. Then the dried product is crumbled and lit with straw. It is used to cook just about everything a poor family eats: rice, flat breads, lentil dishes, etc. Richer people can afford better fuel, but at dinner time, the air in many parts of India is thick with burning dung.

Did they sacrifice the cows along with the other animals?
No. As far as we can trace it back, Hindus have venerated cows and regarded killing them as like murder. The eating of beef is viewed with horror by most Hindus, though Muslims often eat it.

Is there an overproduction of cattle because they never kill them?
Many modern Indians feel there are too many cows. There have actually been attempts to use birth control on them. These cows are not wild, and their reproduction is largely controlled by the farmers who raise them.

Did they have a problem with alligators in the Ganges River eating people while they bathe?
Alligators are a Western Hemisphere species, but I don’t believe crocodiles inhabit Indian rivers. However, turtles thrive on imperfectly created remains thrown into the river at Varanasi. I don’t know whether they ever bite living people. Most animals would be frightened away by the vigorous splashing of the bathers at the ghats.

The temples carved in the side of mountains or caves. Who occupied and cared for them? Could regular travelers stop by and stay there?
Most monasteries like these were in remote locations where travelers seldom came before modern times. I believe that the occasional traveler could probably find shelter there.

In what ways did ancient India shape a man like Gandhi?
Gandhi derived most of his philosophy from traditional Hindu and Buddhists concepts, and was especially interested in the pacifism of Ashoka. But he was a radical in choosing to reject caste, urging the remarriage of widows, and preaching nonviolence. For more on his philosophy, read his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth. In it he talks about the religious influences on his life.

How do people in the Hindu religion know when they reach moksha?
It is very difficult to know when you are ready to enter moksha. Prolonged meditation and ascetic practices are involved, as well as consulting with spiritual advisors. But if you were actually to enter moksha you would simultaneously cease to exist as a separate entity. You would become one with the brahman.

Does the religion of India affect their government?
Heavily. The founders of modern India tried to get all religions to cooperate in forming a secular state, with the Hindu liberation leader Gandhi drawing on Buddhist traditions and trying to get Hindus and Muslims to get along, and even occasionally quoting from Christian scriptures. However, Muslim leaders insisted on forming their own nation, Pakistan; and ever since Indian politics have been marked by recurrent animosity between Muslims and Hindus, with Sikhs also becoming combative at times. Currently, fanatical Hindu nationalism is at a peak in India; and liberal Indians worry about the resultant religious conflicts holding back the country’s development.

How long was the Arthasastra used?
To be truthful, we don’t know whether it was ever used. It is more important as a reflection of the values of a certain era than as an effective body of law. It may have been largely theoretical.

I saw some images of Gods in Indian paintings. These gods have blue skin color; is this color a symbol of the sky, heaven?
“Krishna” literally means “black” and he is usually depicted as being a very dark blue or black. He is often called “the dark lord.” It is true that some modern portraits show him in a brighter shade of blue and some modern interpreters have tried to connect this with the sky; but that is not traditional. “Blue-black” is much more traditional. A story tells how a vile demon tried to poison him with her breast, but he sucked her dry–to death–without damaging himself in anyway except that her poisoned milk turned him permanently blue. It is dubious that this is the original source of his blueness, however, since Vishnu and Rama are also blue.

I was unclear on what exactly Maya was. I know that it is what we fight against, but I don’t understand the meaning, purpose, etc.
Maya is simply the physical world we know it, with all its distractions, desires, and pains. The Hindu tries to see beyond the physical world to the spiritual which lies behind it and is ultimately considered more “real.” “Maya” is literally “illusion.” The world you ordinarily move in is considered an illusion. But Maya is also the illusion that your atman constitutes a separate “self.” When you overcome the illusion of Maya you will realize your oneness with the Brahman.

What is dharma?
Duiker refers to dharma as a set of laws regulating all individuals and classes in society, and calls it “the law.” Another way to view dharma is as “duty.” Each caste, gender, and stage in life has its own specific dharma, its own list of rules to obey and ideals to strive for. What is good for a Brahmin to do is not always what is good for a Kshatriya to do, and what is good for a young man to do is not always what is good for an old man to do. “Duty” is good enough for the purposes of this class, provided you understand that what your duty is depends on your caste; it is not universal.

I felt you should have talked some more on dharma and karma.
It’s really pretty simple: how well you perform your dharma (duty) determines your karma (fate). If you fulfill your dharma well, your karma will give you a good reincarnation in the next life; if you fail to perform your dharma, you will earn a bad karma and have a bad reincarnation in your next life. Hindus often blame their sufferings on bad karma earned in earlier incarnations.

Could you clarify about karma: I thought it was a good thing, but you said they have to avoid it so I’m a little confused now.
It’s reincarnation one should seek to avoid, not karma. Karma is just the inevitable result of living. You can’t avoid it. But if your karma is good enough, you may achieve moksha and be able to avoid reincarnation.

How do Hindus know their dharma; is it written down, like laws or something?
There are over 5,000 books in Sanskrit which embody various versions of the law of dharma, the most famous of which is the Laws of Manu. But you don’t have to study the law to learn your caste dharma, because you will have the same dharma as your parents and relatives, and they will tell you about it. The rules are conveyed by oral means; but sometimes you have to consult a Brahmin priest for the finer details. You can read more on this subject at http://www.san.beck.org/EC10-Social.html#5.

I am having trouble being confused by dharma and karma because they rhyme.
Here’s one way to remember the distinction. “Dharma” and “duty” both start with “D.” Your karma determines where you will go in the next life, and your car will take your to your next destination. Does that help?

What is “Brahman”?
This is actually a fairly simple concept, but one that Westerners often have difficulty grasping because it seems so alien to them. “Brahma” is the god who personifies “Brahman,” but he is not “Brahman.” Duiker calls Brahman the “world-soul,” which is a way of saying that there is one huge field of spirituality into which all individuals–even gods–eventually merge. It is the spiritual reality beyond all the illusions of “Maya.” It has something in common with the Western Heaven, but in Hinduism you don’t “go to Brahman,” you become one with Brahaman, blend with it, unite with it. Your atman is ultimately Brahman.

If you have bad karma, does that affect what you would come back as in the next life?
Yes indeed. You earn good karma by performing your dharma well, and can be reincarnated as a higher being, or acquire bad karma through bad behavior and come back as a lower being, even an animal.

Please go back over the concepts of samsara, moksha, and puja.
Samsara is simply the great wheel of reincarnation, the constant cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, from which Hindus seek to escape. Moksha is the only form of escape: merging with the brahman and ceasing to be reborn. It might loosely be called the Hindu form of “salvation.” See the next question for puja.

What is puja, exactly?
You can think of it as roughly equivalent to “worship,” but puja can take many forms: going on pilgrimages to sacred sites, meditating, praying, visiting temples, performing various rituals, etc. It is a broad term enveloping almost all the ceremonial practices of Hinduism.

I’m confused about what moksha is exactly besides stepping off the wheel of samsara. What is it supposed to achieve exactly?
“Moksha” means “release,” and signifies the release from all suffering and unity with the divine spirit which underlies all creation. It is naturally a very difficult concept for ordinary humans to grasp, and there are many different ways it is explained. Look for further references to “moksha” below to see other contexts in which it is important.

The one thing I don’t understand is the series of animals that you can be reincarnated as according to your karma.
Hindus believe all living beings are ultimately one. Not only humans have atman. If you earn bad karma, you may be reborn as a lower animal and have to work your way back up through one or more reincarnations to become human again. Some Hindus (especially many Brahmins) are vegetarians partly because of this veneration for all life as one.

I don’t understand how a spider can obtain bad karma or what the dharma would be for a spider or any other animal.
I couldn’t say specifically in the case of a spider, but a good water buffalo would be, for instance, one that obeys its master and plows well, and a bad one would be one that gored its master. But you’d have to be one to really know.

If reincarnation isn’t really that good of a thing because you haven’t done good enough and the true goal is to have moksha, but only brahmin men can do it, then why are people trying to have good karma to reincarnate themselves?
In Hinduism no one tries to be reincarnated: it just happens, to everyone–to all living beings. The immediate goal is to be reincarnated with a better karma and improve your spiritual status in your next life; the ultimate goal is to reach the highest status from which you can achieve moksha and cease being reborn. Even if Brahmin status is a long way off for your personally, it only makes sense to strive toward it in each life. Some Hindus also believe that one can achieve Brahmin status within a single life, and for them you do not need to be born a Brahmin to do so. Hindus believe that ultimately everyone will make it; but they have to try to succeed.

How does one know whether they have more “good” karma than “bad” karma? Is there any specific signs besides caste?
People tend to blame any misfortunes or sufferings on bad karma. It is generally considered a bad idea to congratulate yourself on any evidence of good karma, but obviously many wealthy, powerful people felt justified in their status by the feeling that they had earned it in a previous life.

How is reincarnation so important, not only to Hinduism, but to other world-wide religions?
Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism are the only big world-wide religions I know of that stress reincarnation. I was contrasting Hindu ideas on rebirth with Judeo-Christian-Islamic ideas of being saved in heaven. Christians use the metaphor of rebirth as a symbol for salvation (“born-again” Christians, etc.), but they don’t mean the same thing by the expression “to be reborn” as Hindus do.

Are children resurrected since they’re reincarnated people?
Resurrection is a Jewish/Christian/Muslim belief, not a Hindu one. But a child who dies is certainly believed to be reborn in the future.

What is the purpose of burning incense in Hindu culture?
Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians all burn incense to symbolize their love for the Divine. The sweet smoke going up is a sort of prayer. Some argue the smell pleases the gods.

How is love connected to death?
What I said was that sex is connected to death. When you have sex with someone, you may beget a life. When that new life (the baby) begins, it is destined some day to die. So, to be born is to die. This much is also very traditionally Western. But in Hindusim, when you die, you are on your way to being reborn as a result of your new parents’ having sex. Hence, to die is to be reborn. This is why the images of Kali and Durga I showed you often connected sexuality with death. These images incorporate this cyclical understanding of the processes of life called samsara: the great wheel of death and rebirth:sex leads to life which leads to death which leads back around to sex and more life.

What was the name of the most sacred city (by the water where people go to live out their last days?
The city is called Varanasi by its inhabitants. The British contorted this into “Benares” or “Banaras.” The most ancient and sacred precinct within the city is called “Kashi.” The temples and ghats (steps) on the shore of the Ganges River are the site of the cremations of the dead and the worship of those who come to bathe in this most sacred of all Indian rivers. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It is the ideal of every devout Hindu to visit Varanasi at least once before death, though this is not considered mandatory in the way a visit to Mecca is mandatory for devout Muslims.

I am confused about the different gods, especially Brahma, Vishnu & Shiva.
That’s not surprising. The Hindus themselves have many different stories about their gods, and often the attributes of one god will be transferred to another. I will not expect you to have them all sorted out for this class, but here are some basics.

Brahma is the creator god who brings into being the original “stuff” on which Shiva operates. Four or five thousand years ago he was widely worshiped, and was incorporated eventually into a supreme trinity of Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu; but from the 7th century onward, his worship declined. It is characteristic of many religions, such as the ancient Greek form, that the creator of the physical universe is not considered immediately relevant to the concerns of human beings, and is widely ignored in worship. However, Brahma’s image must be present in all temples devoted to Shiva or Vishnu. His female consorts are Savitri and Sarasvati (associated with a river of that name), the latter a goddess today associated with learning and the arts. Her image is often placed in schools.In some views, Brahma is the form taken by the ultimate spiritual reality of the universe. When spelled with all lower-case letters “brahma” or “brahman” refers to this spiritual reality. In Hinduism gods are derivative, subordinate to an impersonal greater spiritual realm or state. In comparison to brahma in this sense, even the gods are less “real.”

Vishnu is known as the preserver of the world, the protector, the restorer of the moral order in the world known as dharma. He is known mainly through his avatars (incarnations) who intervene from time to time in history to combat particular threats,especially Rama and Krishna. Rama is the hero of the popular epic The Ramanaya, and Krishna is the colorful (literally–he’s often portrayed as having bright blue skin!) god who is the object of the love of the gopis (cowherds’ wives) in many erotic devotional hymns. He is the god who in the Baghavad Gita explains to Arjuna why he must not let his conscience hold him back from fighting in the vast war which is the main subject of the Mahabharata. Krishna is also a flute player and dancer, and Vishnu shares these characteristics. Vishnu and most of his incarnations are dark-skinned. His consort is Lakshmi, and she is reborn as his consort to each of his avatars.

Shiva (or “Siva”) is the most popular of all the gods. Image of Shiva Nataraja. He is both a destroyer and creator of the universe, a process that takes place in enormously long cycles of time (we’ve been for the past four thousand years in just the latter part of one of these cycles). His followers are known as “Shaivites.” Hindus often combine opposite qualities in a single deity, and Shiva’s fearsome and loving sides are carefully balanced in his portayals. He has a female consort, but she takes on different names and forms. Durga and Kali are fearsome demon-slaying women, adored because they protect their worshippers against such evil forces. Parvati is usually portrayed as beautiful and loving. They had two sons, Skanda (with six heads) and Ganesh (or Ganesha), whose head was struck off by Shiva in a moment of reckless rage and replaced with an elephant’s tusk. Ganesh is the remover of obstacles and is extremely popular, with his image often being placed at the entrance to businesses.

For a great many more details and pictures of gods, see http://www.crystalinks.com/indiadieties.html.

Is Vishnu the only god that’s reborn?
No, but Vishnu has the most famous avatars, usually counted as ten altogether. One of them, Krishna, is often seen as having his own avatars as well.

OK, so Indiana Jones talks about Shiva & Kali one movie. How are those stories/myths related to actual Hindu tradition?
The 19th century “Thugs” were a type of highway robber who thought of themselves as worshipers of Kali. They’ve been gone a long time, suppressed by the British in the first half of the 19th century. Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom resurrected this antique stereotype, offending many modern Indians.

Do Hindus know what they were in their past lives? Do they know where they came from?
Some claim to, but it is not generally considered important to know what your past lives were. It is the future you should focus on. The Western obsession with reconnecting with your previous incarnations is alien to Hinduism.

Under Samsara, if the cycle is complete and the world as a physical whole and spiritual whole is destroyed does this entail the destruction of the atman? If this is true than what about the atman? If the Brahman is destroyed via samsara then how is the world created?
Neither the atman nor the brahman is destroyed. Only the physical world and its manifestations are destroyed and recreated.

Who cremates the bodies? The family? Or is there someone who has this job?
The relatives prepare the body for burning, but the ritual is carried out by the eldest son of the dead person under the guidance of a trained Brahmin priest. Traditional Hindus believe that it is important to have as many sons as possible, partly to ensure that one will survive to carry out this essential task.

I want to learn more about the effects of religion on commerce in India.
The Hindu religion makes a place for a “householder” stage in life in which it is the duty of a man to support his family. Trade and commerce can be a good way of fulfilling one’s dharma if one belongs to the correct caste. Indians have been involved with the spice and silk trades for millennia.

I would like to know more about Sanskrit.
This language goes back at least 3800 years. The oldest preserved Hindu text, the Rig Veda, is written in Sanskrit. A classical form of the language was used for literary purposes from about 500 BCE to about 1000 CE, by authors such as Kalidasa. In his time (6th century CE?) it was a learned, courtly language. (The commoners in his plays speak in prakrit–a common tongue–rather than Sanskrit.) It is a very complex language with an enormous vocabulary. It is related to Latin and Greek–and through them–to most of the languages of Europe. The study of Sanskrit has given linguistic historians powerful tools for tracing the evolution of language.

What is their way of meditation?
There is a good list of meditation techniques on this site.

What is Hinduism’s belief about suicide?
Hinduism does not generally endorse suicide for men except in the extreme case of elderly brahmins who starve themselves to death in order to achieve moksha (liberation). For centuries, widows were also encouraged to allow themselves to be burned alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands (sati); but this has been outlawed for almost two centuries and is now extremely rare. The “Hinduism Today” site is generally a great source of information about the religion, and has a useful search engine.

If a husband was killed in battle, would the wife still be burned/killed?
Yes. Theoretically they were supposed to volunteer, but there is evidence that they were often forced to commit sati.

Why did the wives feel the need to burn themselves after their husbands’ deaths?
The short answer is “tradition.” But the tradition served several purposes: it made women very eager to keep their husbands alive and spare them from any life-threatening danger; it kept women strictly subordinate–no powerful rich widows; it reinforced the view that a married woman should be totally devoted to her husband and that life without him should be worthless.

Could you explain more about yoga?
There are many systems of yoga, all aimed at helping the practitioner be freed from entanglement in the illusory world of matter and achieve spiritual release. The process includes both mental and physical exercises. Click here for an overview of yoga.

A person can die on the way to Varanasi and still be saved in the river?
“Salvation” is a very Judeo-Christian/Islamic term which strictly speaking doesn’t apply to Hinduism; but the belief I described in class is that having one’s ashes washed into the Ganges at Varanasi gains one a good deal of karma and leads to a better rebirth. The ashes of some people who die before they can reach the city are shipped there to be molded into balls, blessed, and dissolved in the river. I had never heard of this particular practice before we encountered it on the ghats in Varanasi, so I don’t know how traditional it is or how many people believe in it.

The hardest concept to grasp would be how multiple gods merge into one god. How do Hindus believe in multiple gods and yet it is one god?
I compare this to the way Catholics pray to Saints, but do not worship them as ends in themselves, but only as symbols of their worship for God. Even quite simple, uneducated Hindus usually understand that the local popular god is not the ultimate reality. Brahman is behind and beyond all specific goes. One traditional custom is interesting. In many religious festivals an image is elaborately formed of mud and straw and then carefully painted. The final ceremony is the painting in of the eyeballs, at which point the image receives many acts of puja and is treated with great respect. But at the end of the festival, the image is dumped into the river to dissolve back into its component elements, to remind the worshipers that the image is not the god. Since Gods can have many avatars, one god can be just an aspect of another god. And since all gods are ultimately created, non-eternal beings ultimately derived from the same spiritual reality (brahman) which produces human beings and animals, all can be said ultimately to be one. If you still find this confusing, consider that Christians believe God is three and one at the same time.

Do Hindus have a main superior god that they all worship?
As in the case of questions about so many Hindu beliefs, the answer is yes and no. No because as a Hindu you may devote yourself to one god or many. They are all manifestations of the divine, and none is more “real” than another. But Hindus also recognize that there is a unified spiritual reality behind all the gods, and often speak quite comfortably of “God” in the singular to describe that spiritual reality, just as some ancient Greek philosophers did.

More about the marriage process.
Like marriages around the world (including Europe before about 1800) marriages were usually arranged by the parents. A marriage is not the coming together of two individuals, but the merger of two families, with the newlyweds expected to become part of the groom’s household. Therefore the elders of the two parental households expect to have a good deal to say about the choice of partner. A brief description of Hindu marriage customs is at http://www.wedding.co.za/9806/articles/Hindu.htm. Illustrated details from the ceremony are at http://www.hinduwedding.info/marriage-ceremony.html. One essay on contemporary Hindu marriage can be found here. By the way, whether “most Indian marriages” are now arranged or not seems to depend very much on who you ask. In general more traditional village people prefer arranged marriages, but so do many sophisticated Indians living abroad.

Are Hindus ever considered dead? They are constantly re-incarnated.
Hindus believe that one’s atman dwells in a spiritual plane in between rebirths, but this is not the same as being “dead.” When one achieves moksha, one is at one with the brahma and ceases to be reborn. Eventually all atmans will achieve this state. Hinduism lacks the sense of urgency of the Judeo-Christian/Islamic tradition in which there is only one chance at salvation and an end of the world which looms in the near future in which one’s choice is to spend the ensuing eternity in Heaven or Hell.

Is there a distinct difference between Buddhism & Hinduism or are they more alike than different?
A full exploration of this question would fill volumes. From a Western perspective they look pretty similar: both seek to explain suffering, regard the physical world as illusory, embrace the idea of reincarnation and preach seeking to avoid rebirth. The practitioners of both often practice meditation. But Buddhists use the term “Nirvana” to describe the merging of the individual spirit in the afterlife, whereas “Moksha” is the Hindu term for merging with the brahman. Buddhists don’t believe you need to be of high caste to achieve enlightenment–the caste system is not nearly so important for them.

I would like to know more about the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, like, how Hindus do not eat cows, but Muslims do. Are both religions totally against each other?
We will deal briefly with this topic in lecture 25, but for now it suffices to say that it is hard to imagine two religions more different from each other than Hinduism and Islam in some ways. It is no wonder that the two have been in conflict to varying degrees ever since the Arab traders arrived in India. Hindus worship many gods while Muslims are even more insistent on monotheism than Christians (though Hindus believe there is a single, unified god behind the multiplicity of gods). Hindus believe that the gods can take on many forms, both human and animal while Muslims deny that God ever takes on any physical form at all. Hindus accept the caste system as a part of the divine plan whereas Muslims argue for universal brotherhood (though in fact many Indian Muslims observe their own parallel caste system). In a single life, only a few people achieve moksha, but any Muslim may be saved. Hindus believe in reincarnation; Muslims do not. Many important Hindu rituals must be performed by a Brahmin priest, but Muslims have no priesthood: any believer can do all that is necessary to be saved. Hindus have a rich tradition of pictorial religious art; strict Muslims prohibit the pictorial depiction not only of God but of any living being. Hindus seldom aggressively try to convert unbelievers and some believe conversion to Hinduism is impossible; it is the duty of Muslims to attempt to convert unbelievers. Hindus believe that all religions provide a path toward universal truths; Islam claims to be the only true religion (though it recognizes a special status for Jews, Christians, and Parsees as “people of the book” who are monotheists). Hinduism has many sacred texts; Islam has one. Hinduism has many varied rituals, most of them optional; Islam has a few strictly defined, mandatory rituals. Hinduism has no single “founder” whose role can be compared to that of Muhammad in Islam (he did not “found” Islam as such, but was given the revelation which modern Muslims follow). There are certain patterns that they have in common: taboo foods (pork for Muslims, beef for Hindus), bathing before prayers, pilgrimages, and the importance of charity toward the poor. Neither has an ultimate final authority like the Catholic Pope who can decide definitively on issues of belief; scholars debate religious issues and are followed according to how they impress believers with their learning and piety. During long periods of time Muslims and Hindus lived relatively peacefully side by side in India, but they were bitterly divided during the struggle for independence from Great Britain (many Indians blame the English for having deliberately fostered enmity between the two groups to keep them disunited and weak), and in the last dozen years or so conflicts have exacerbated the tensions between them. India now has an officially pro-Hindu government which tends to encourage hostility to Muslims.

Are there any different religions that can be called Hindu, like Lutherans and Baptists are called Protestants?
First of all, Lutherans, Baptists, and other Protestants (and Catholics) all belong to the same religion: Christianity. Individual churches within Christianity are often called “denominations.” But yes, there is a huge number of different faiths within Hinduism. In fact, some would go so far as to say that Hinduism is less a religion than a loose label for a group of related religions. Certainly many different faiths have flowed together to contribute to its rich history. They are often defined by the particular god toward which worship is directed: Shiva or Vishnu, for instance. For a detailed discussion of some of the main groupings see “Popular Systems of Hindu Religious Thought.” It is worth noting that while a Lutheran is not also a Baptist, there is no contradiction between being simultaneously a Saivite and a Vishnavite. It is a hallmark of Hinduism that all faiths are ultimately one, no matter how devoutly you may follow your favorite variety.

Do Hindus not eat any specific animal besides cows?
Some Hindus are vegetarians (twenty to thirty percent in modern India, more in ancient times). Upper caste Hindus are more likely to be vegetarians, and southern Indians more than northern ones. Those who do eat beef are not prohibited from eating other meats. The most commonly eaten animals are chickens, goats, and sheep–and of course fish are widely eaten where they are available. Keep in mind that before the modern era most people all over the world rarely ate meat simply because they could not afford it.

Isn’t there McDonalds’ in India?
Yes, they serve veggie and goat burgers.

What is it when Buddha statues sip milk from teaspoons?
I haven’t heard of this. There were reports a while back about images of Hindu gods exuding milk, much as statues of the Virgin Mary are seen to “weep blood” in the west. Cow’s milk is of course a sacred fluid to Hindus.

What did they (the ancient Indian people) eat if they didn’t eat beef?
India has one of the world’s great cuisines, but the common diet of poor Indians has consisted for centuries mostly of rice, various flat breads made of wheat flour, and lentils of various kinds for protein, plus “curds” made from cow’s milk.

Do they name their cows? Bathe them?
I don’t know whether the cows are given personal names, but they are sometimes ritually washed and decorated.

What happened to the children if a wife threw herself on the fire?
Remember that sati is now illegal in India and has been very rare for over a century. However, since the traditional extended Indian family shared child-rearing duties widely; orphans would almost always be cared for by someone else in the family if the mother had died, for whatever reason.

What do Hindus believe happens to non-Hindus when they die?
They will be reborn repeatedly until as Hindus they are able to step off the wheel of samsara. Thus there is no particular urgency in gaining converts in Hinduism as there is in religions which believe in only one chance to be “saved.”

What is behind the war over Kashmir between India and Pakistan, especially since both have nukes?
This gets us into the modern era covered by Gen Ed 111, but the short answer is that the majority of the population of in the part of Kashmir now in the state of India is Muslim, and they would rather join Pakistan, whereas India rejects the idea of ceding any further territory. Some Kashmiris would like to have an independent state of their own. This is one of many conflicts that followed upon the partition of India into the modern states of India and Pakistan in 1947.

Why do we have religion in the first place?
This is of course not a question that could be answered short of a very long book or series of books; but it is good to remember that “religion” is just a concept that we use to label certain patterns of thought and behavior. When Muslims or Hindus or Jews say that their religion is a way of life, they mean it literally. Religion traditionally expressed the values and customs of cultures. Only with the rise of secularism in the European Enlightenment is religion fully separated out into a distinct sphere. In the more common sense of the word, religion offers explanations for mysteries, lends authority to moral and legal codes, consolation for suffering, and hope for life after death. One way to define “religion” would be simply to lump together all the ways in which a traditional culture deals with these issues and call that its religion. However, those who try to dissolve all human beliefs and behavior into religion are overreaching: religion as traditionally understood requires belief in a transcendent level of experience which goes beyond the physical world as science describes it. The passionate dedication of a communist or a free-trader to his or her ideals may be intense, but it is a misnomer to call either of these ideologies a “religion.”

What is the government of India? Do they have a king, a president, or even a queen?
When India was not colonized by either Muslim or British conquerors, it rarely possessed any political unity. There were dynasties like the Guptas (kings), but they generally did not last long or unite the majority of Indians under a single rule. Since 1947, India has been the world’s largest parliamentary democracy. The president is elected to a five-year term by an electoral college, but is mainly a ceremonial figure. The true executive is the prime minister, chosen by the majority party or coalition in Parliament. The only queen to rule over all of India was England’s Queen Victoria during the colonial period; but Indira Gandhi (no relation to Mahatma Gandhi) succeeded her father Jawaharlal Nehru (after a brief period when India was governed by Lal Bahadur Shastri), who was the first prime minister after independence.

How come a lot of the Hindu words end with an “a”? Did it have to do with their language or religion? Or is it just coincidence?
Answer from Fritz Blackwell, History: in essence it is in the script (Devanagari) which Sanskrit uses: a short “a” is inherent in every letter (symbol), although it can be modified to indicate a long “a” (as in “father”) or any other vowel. This inherent “a” is lost in such languages as Marathi, Hindi, Nepali, even though they use the Devanagari script.

I was confused on the story of Mirabai. Why would anyone want to have their ash smeared on someone else?
This is mostly symbolic. Mirabai wants the essence of her body to mingle with the essence of the god Krishna as a symbol of their spiritual union. She is also drawing on the symbolism of the tradition of sati, in which a widow burns herself alive on her husband’s funeral pyre to be united with him in death. She is combining these two ideas: she will burn herself on a pyre before the death of her beloved as a way of uniting with him. She may also be thinking about love symbolically “burning her up.”

Is love-making a pleasureful experience or does it more signify birth of a child?
In traditional Hindu texts such as the Mahabharata, sexual pleasure is given a very high rank, so long as it is experienced within legitimate marital relationships. Hindu writers on sex emphasize women’s pleasure for more than do those of any other religion. However, there is also an anti-sexual, ascetic side to Hinduism which is associated with a later time of life, when sexual life is to be abandoned. But Hinduism lacks the attitude common in some Christian traditions of considering sex good only for the production of children. Sexual pleasure is definitely considered good for its own sake, and is a divine blessing. To a certain extent this is true in Islam as well.

What’s the meaning of “Karma Sutra?”
That’s Kama Sutra. Kama is the ancient Hindu god of love, and bears some striking similarities to Cupid: among other things he causes people to fall in love by shooting arrows at them. The Kama Sutra is a detailed treatise on different ways of making love which was written by Vatsyayna during the Gupta period. It has fascinated Westerners far more than Indians, for whom it has no particular authority. At least for the past several centuries, India has been a rather prudish culture which does not openly celebrate sexuality in the way its heritage of erotic literature and mythology might suggest. Indian film maker Mira Nair created a huge controversy when in 1997 she made a film called “Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love” which featured R-rated lovemaking in an imaginary Indian past. Nair had to go to court in an effort to get her film shown in India (in censored form), though it was shown abroad without incident. Many Indians are sensitive about their reputation as a “sexy” culture since they view Europeans and Americans as far more prone to erotic experimentation and public expression than they. Westerners have a strong tendency to eroticize all foreign cultures in a way that the people in those cultures often find demeaning. All that said, you can read excerpts from the Kama Sutra; but if you object to explicit sexual depictions in either words or pictures you should avoid this site.

If I was to be a Hindu, could I dedicate my life to Kama Sutra and gain “Good Karma,” and rebirth my way to a priest and reach enlightenment?
The Kama Sutra is not really a religious text: it’s just a lovemaking manual. But there are varieties of Tantric Hinduism and Buddhism in which sexual exercises of various sorts are said to lead to enlightenment, and they have their followers in a few scattered places in India, but they are very unusual. Most Indians are rather prudish and shocked by the notion of sexual yoga. Tantrism, by the way, is not exclusively sexual. For more information on Tantrism from a scholarly perspective, see Shiva Shakti Mandalam: The Inner Wisdom of the Hindu Trantrik Tradition.

Does India still practice the same religious aspects today? Do they believe the same things in Hinduism as you are describing here?
India is a vast and populous country with many varied beliefs. Many Indians are not particularly religious. But millions of Hindus still worship the traditional gods in the traditional ways. Caste has been greatly deemphasized in India today (though it is still influential in some rural areas), but pilgrimages, fasting, meditation, puja, etc. are all still very common.

Why did the Beatles get so interested in Hindu religion?
Like many young people in the sixties, they were attracted to Eastern traditions of meditation, etc., seeing them as less confining than Western spiritual traditions. Their immediate contact was with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the international Transcendental Meditation movement. They studied with him in 1968 at his ashram in Rishikesh, India. The tendency of Western hippies to identify meditation with psychedelic drugs was not, however, approved of by people like the Maharishi.

Is Hinduism a growing religion or is it in decline?
Although Hinduism spread to certain parts of Southeast Asia and Krishna Consciousness is prospering all over the world, it would be difficult to say that Hinduism in growing much internationally at present. However, India is undergoing a huge Hindu revival at present, with many people embracing the ancient faith with a fervor that is partly directed against the Muslim citizens of India.

Is it true that Shangri-La may have been found?
Shangri-la was a mythical Himalayan kingdom invented by James Hilton in his 1933 novel, Lost Horizon, and reflects very Western ideas of paradise: an isolated land where people live in pleasure, never age, and live forever. Nothing could be further removed from the Hindu idea of Brahman. Since Hilton just made the place up, it is difficult to imagine how it could have been “found”; but people are fond of describing various spots on earth they think are idyllic as Shangri-La.

On what basis do the Hindus believe that the world is older than the scientific community believes it is? How old do they think it is?
Abstract calculations involving various religious ideas provide the figures they use, which vary wildly. I can’t remember the specific figures I’ve seen; but they’re all pretty arbitrary by Western standards.

Many more questions about Hinduism are answered in an essay called “ How to Become a Hindu.” See also “Hinduism through Questions and Answers” and “Hindu Dharma.” A good discussion of the sacred literature of Hinduism is “Introduction to Hinduism.” Keep in mind that there is no “orthodox” Hinduism, and that what one Hindu believes another may reject. The most you can hope for is to find out what some, or many, Hindus believe. Also, most of these sources reflect contemporary Hindu thought and do not necessarily represent in every detail the common beliefs of Hindus hundreds or thousands of years ago.

Is there indifference between those who believe in Hinduism and Buddhism? Even though the religions are very similar do people get along with each other from the two religions?
Now there are so few Buddhists in India that the question seldome arises. However, in earlier times there were sometimes bitter arguments back and forth between Buddhists and Hindus. Hinduism eventually absorbed parts of Buddhism and largely replaced it in India.

Why did Buddhism grow in China compared to India now? Was their social structure more accepting of the philosophy?
In China there was no native religion of personal consolation and hope that competed with Buddhism. The Chinese people are not particularly religious, but Buddhism did flourish in times of trouble when people were not satisfied with Taoism or Confucianism, as we shall see later in the course.

What do the temples in India represent?
Most of them are just places for worship, like churches in the West. But a few are considered to mark the birthplace of a god or holy man.

What kind of housing/architecture did they have in the past?
Most Indians have lived in simple one-room mud-brick buildings like the ones I showed you in class in the photograph of a typical village. But richer people have lived in a wide variety of lavish buildings which you can find pictures of in many books on India.

What kind of weather do they get? Do they have to irrigate a lot?
India is a huge subcontinent with lots of variety, from snow-capped mountains, to steamy rain forests, to deserts, and a lot besides. But it has a generally tropical climate, with plenty of heat in most parts most of the year. A rainy monsoon season is a common feature of much of India, but in many places irrigation is also carried out.

I want to know what “Buddha” means.
The enlightened or awakened one.

Can anyone achieve Nirvana, even somebody that doesn’t believe in Buddhism?
Buddhism doesn’t have a creed that must be believed in like Christianity or Islam. It is more an attitude and a set of practices (like meditation) than prescribed beliefs. If you develop the right attitudes and behave well by Buddhist standards, you might be able to achive Nirvana. Buddhists refer to their “practice” rather than to their “faith.”

Why would Buddhists want to reach Nirvana if their souls just blow out like a candle afterwards?
Although the image of a candle blowing out is the standard one of achieving Nirvana, few Buddhists think of this state as mere annihilation. Most insist that Nirvana is not describable in human terms, but it is associated with spiritual union, a sense of boundless belonging embracing the entire universe and all living things.

Why are there so many varieties of Buddhism? There was only one Buddha, right?
Of course one could ask the same question about Christianity, but in fact the variety in Buddhisms does seem extreme. For one thing, the Buddha left no writings behind, so there are various accounts of his teachings. Buddhism evolved in the context of Hinduism, which encourages a multiplicity of beliefs. It also spread to many different cultures, embraced by people with different needs. Its generally tolerant outlook meant that there was no Buddhist Inquisition, Index, or College of Cardinals to restrict or direct belief. The fact that you can believe in millions of Buddhas (billions, actually, since some say that all humans are in some sense the Buddha) or in none and still be a Buddhist illustrates this fact.

If everyone became Buddhist and they depend on begging for a living, wouldn’t that destroy social-economic production? Or is it just Buddhist monks that must beg?
Just the monks. The farmers who feed them are supposed to benefit spiritually by supporting the monks.

How did the statue of Buddha evolve to what it is now: the “little bald fat guy”?
The Japanese paunchy figure often called a “Buddha” is actually Hotei (Chinese Pu-tai), and is a deity of good fortune. According to some beliefs, Maitreya, the Buddha of the future, will be incarnated in the form of Hotei, so that Hotei is often regarded as a Bodhisattva.

In Buddhism are there any women that are worshiped?
In many forms of Buddhism not even the Buddha himself is worshiped, but in most he and his various incarnations (Bodhisattvas) are. Some of them are female, one of the most famous being the Tara. For more information see “Female Buddha.” There is also Kuan Yin (Japanese Guanyin), the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, which became female in China. Such bodhisattvas are also sometimes depicted as male, or even as half-and-half (literally–one side of their bodies will be male, the other, female). Kuan Yin is especially associated with mercy, and is often compared with the Virgin Mary in Catholic tradition.

Where can I find more information about Buddhism, the religion?
There are many books in the library on the subject. Ask a librarian to help you. But here are a couple of good sites on the Web:

Buddhism 101 (for beginners)
Buddhist Studies WWW Virtual Library (for more advanced students)

Why did the sky-clad Jains put ash on their bodies when they are trying to be pure.
The ash symbolizes their unworldliness, unattachment to the body: as if they were pre-cremated. Certain Hindus do this as well (men only, by the way).

I would like to know their views on Christianity.
Many upper-class Indians prefer to send their children to missionary schools because they feel they get a superior education, but few of them become Christian. In recent years there have been some sensational cases of persecution and even murder of Christians in India, but generally there are too few Christians in the country to create an issue.

Hum 303 Off Campus

Humanities 303
Reason, Romanticism, and Revolution

A WebCT Course
developed by Paul Brians
3 credit hours

Course Information

Course Overview

Note: This course is no longer being offered. This page is being left on the Web so that people interested in designing similar courses can use it for ideas.

Note: Because this is a discussion class in which exchanges between students are crucial, participants should expect to set aside adequate time to do the work consistently. The minimum expected for a 3-credit class at WSU is 9 hours per week, but some students may find they need longer. This is not a “flex-time” course which can be done on your own schedule.

This on-line class is a version of a course offered as part of a sequence of courses in the humanities in Europe which are taught in the Department of English at Washington State University, Pullman, Washington. Humanities 101 covers the ancient world, 302 the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and this course the period from roughly 1750 to 1914. The period since 1914 is covered by the last course in the sequence, Humanities 304.

All are designed to be international and interdisciplinary, focusing on literary works outside of the Anglo-American tradition, on philosophy, and on art, architecture, music and–in the case of 304–film. While it helps to have some general historical knowledge of Europe before 1750, none of the other Humanities courses is a prerequisite for this one.

303 is the only one of these courses to have a descriptive subtitle that does more than indicate a period to be discussed. Obviously a course such as this cannot possibly “cover” such rich and varied material; and it has been designed to concentrate on certain crucial themes. What holds the course together is its focus on revolutionary movements and ideas which have had a lasting impact on western civilization and on the world at large. Much that we think of as “modern” began in the 18th and 19th centuries.

“Reason” refers to the French Enlightenment, that movement to use rationalism as a weapon against the forces of repression embodied in the monarchy and the church. Voltaire was the most popular if not the most influential of all the Enlightenment writers, and his Philosophical Dictionary contains lucid and entertaining presentations of all his major ideas. The rationalist tradition also influences later writers studied in this course, including especially Nietzsche and Marx. The rationalists are often associated with classical era music and neoclassical painting, which we will also explore.

“Romanticism” is the label for a literary-philosophical-artistic-musical-political movement which is often seen primarily as a rebellion against the stifling intellectualism and rigid logic of the Enlightenment, but it is much richer than that. It had a rich, multifaceted effect on Europe, more so than any movement since Christianity first swept over the area in the Middle Ages. Unlike the Enlightenment, which was at first confined principally to a few elites, it changed the way ordinary people viewed themselves, their relationships with each other, and their relationship to the natural world. It still largely shapes the way we think and feel today. It was not a simple revolt against reason in favor of emotion–though this stereotype has some truth in it–instead it was a major shift in values. No other movement in the last three centuries has affected so many different aspects of life, spread so widely, nor lasted so long.

Goethe’s Faust is the perfect work for illustrating the multifaceted, often self-contradictory nature of this movement. Reason and passion struggle together, tragedy blends into comedy, and the bounds of literature itself are stretched as a new form struggles to be born.

Much of the most popular music in the traditional concert repertory is still that which was first written in the romantic style. In some way or other, all succeeding styles either build on or react against romanticism. Neo-romanticism is a powerful force in contemporary music, in composers as different as Witold Lutoslawski and Alan Hovhaness. We will also be looking at romantic painting.

Any of the works studied in this course could be described as “revolutionary,” but Zola’s Germinal and Marx’s Communist Manifesto are especially helpful in understanding the background to the great socialist revolutions which swept across much of the world in the first half of the 20th century. In contrast, Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground stands as a cry of anguish against socialism, against rationalism, against modernism generally. Dostoyevsky’s powerful case against the notions of progress and utopia still provides major weapons for conservatives and reactionaries today. Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring are examples of revolutionary music.

Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra in a sense sums up the entire course. Infused with both rationalism and romanticism, profoundly revolutionary and anti-political at the same time, leaving influences in philosophy, psychology, theater, fiction, art and music in a bewildering variety of directions, Nietzsche’s work continues to be a powerful influence on many thinkers today.

These are some of the movements and creative minds who have made the modern world what it is. They are not buried in history, but alive in the ways we think, feel, and perceive the world around us. By understanding them, we can better understand ourselves.

All of the study guides and other materials for this class are available in the online environment WebCT. Be careful to read ahead in the syllabus so you see what assignments are coming up. Don’t wait until the night before the due date. All assignments are due by 8:00 AM Pacific Time on the Monday the week after you are supposed to have done the work, but may be turned in any time previous to that. Students whose online work is consistently late will not pass the course because they are not allowing the other participants to interact with them in the discussions.

Note that in some assignments DDP students are required to write longer minimum contributions to the threaded discussions than Pullman students to substitute for the extra writing on paper that Pullman students do and the in-class discussions they participate in.

Please be aware that although WebCT is not open to the world at large, access is being provided to a few support personnel in the library, DDP and the Center for Teaching and Learning. This warning is required by privacy regulations.

Hardware and Software requirements:

    1. All students must use a browser which supports pop-up windows for the Bridge to work, and the pop-up feature must not be turned off.
    2. Internet Explorer for the Macintosh does not work properly with WebCT. Please use a copy of the current version of Netscape (6 or later) to do your work in WebCT.
    3. To play the music in this course you will need to use a computer with a sound card and good speakers (or headphones). A fast Internet connection will help, though lower-quality, lower-speed music samples are provided for those who must dial up.
    4. To the view the art for this course you will need a color monitor.

Important note: You will want to print this syllabus out for use away from your computer, but note that not everything you need to know is on this page. You must also follow the links which explain the details of individual assignments, while working at a computer. Note that the information on each week’s assignment is also reproduced in the “Information” document in each Bridge assignment page.

Papers are submitted via My DDP at https://distance.wsu.edu/courses/submit.asp. It is your responsibility to log in here and familiarize yourself with the procedure for submitting papers well before the first due date.

Each week’s assignments are due no later than 8:00 AM Pacific Time on Monday (except for the final assignment, which is due on Wednesday of week 16), but you are encouraged to work throughout the week and to post answers to study questions well before the deadline. This is not a class in which you can scramble together a whole week’s work in one long evening just before the due date. Remember that each of these weekly assignments is the equivalent of two daily assignments done by the students on the WSU campus for which they are expected to do a minimum of 9 hours of work. Because this is an online discussion course, it is important that you keep up with the syllabus so you can be exchanging thoughts with other students on the same materials at the same time. Students who fall substantially behind will fail the course. This is very different from the flex-classes you may have previously taken through Distance Degree Programs, where you are free to set your own schedule. Be clear before you begin that you have substantial time available each week to devote to the work in this course. Because DDP students are not present for the in-class discussions and don’t do the same daily writings, they are required to write longer on-line assignments.

All assigned papers (including the research paper‚ both first and revised drafts) must be completed to pass the course.

For this course, there is a cultural event assignment involving art, music, literature, or theater of Europe from the 18th or 19th centuries. Read about this assignment now.

Goals

When you have successfully completed this course, you should:

1.     have a general grasp of major trends in Western European art history from the 17th century to World War I

2.     be able to listen with increased understanding to classical music from the same eras

3.     understand some of the basic over-arching themes in philosophy and literature of the 18th and 19th centuries.

4.     be able to discuss fairly complex and sophisticated ideas such as are treated in the works assigned

Course Outline

Due January 15
Week 11.                       Course Overview2.   Read “The Enlightenment“, then go to WebCT threaded discussion for “The Enlightenment” and do the assignment.3.  Set up your computer now to prepare to do the music assignments as explained below in the Week 3 assignments.Due January 22
Week 2

1.  Art Assignment #1 Watch the videotape: “The Art of the Western World, 5: Realms of Light-The Baroque” (Bernini, Cortona, Caravaggio, Borromini, Fischer von Erlach,Velázquez, Vermeer, Rubens, Rembrandt, etc.). Then go to the to the WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment and do the writing. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

2.   Voltaire Assignment #1. Do this assignment only after having read “The Enlightenment” in the “Materials” area. (Read the following articles from Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary: Abbé, Ame, Amour-propre, Athée, athéisme, Beau, beauté, Bien (tout est), Bornes de l’esprit humaine, Catéchisme chinois, Certain, certitude, Chaîne des évenements, Credo and try to answer as many of the study questions in the Study Guide as you can as you go along. Go to WebCT threaded discussion for “Voltaire Assignments” and write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written. Be sure to include an exploration of the “Problem of Evil” site and relate what is there to Voltaire’s writing.

3.   Read the “Knowledge or Certainty” Study Guide, watch the videotape, and do the writing assignment in the “Knowledge or Certainty” Bridge threaded discussion. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

4.   Choose your research paper topic (read the instructions online and write your choice in WebCT in the threaded discussion titled “Research topic sign-up.”). If someone else has already taken your topic, please choose another. No two students may use the same topic.

Due January 29
Week 3

1.   Baroque Music Assignment. Be warned that if you are a Macintosh user, you cannot use Internet Explorer for this assignment. Netscape works fine. Some other browsers like Safari also work. Windows users can use any recent browser. First, if you have not already done so, configure your browser for WSU library access and create your library PIN. The Distance Degree Library Services Web Site can assist you with this. Then go to Griffin and click on “Course Name” and enter “hum 303”, or use the “Course Instructor” button and enter “brians.” The first entry is a set of videotapes for use on campus. Click on the second and then click on “Humanities 303 recordings” and use your PIN and password to access the music for the Introduction to Baroque Music and the assignment on Johann Sebastian Bach. Read the online material, listen to the music, and write your responses in WebCT under “Pachelbel, Vivaldi and Handel” and “Bach.” Write 50 words minimum on each of these two assignments, and then respond to what someone else has written. You need to have a recent version of RealPlayer installed to listen to these assignments.

2.     Voltaire Assignment #2 (Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary: have the following articles read: Égalité, Enthousiasme, États, gouvernements, Fanatisme, Foi, Guerre, Liberté de pensée, Préjugés, Secte, Théiste, Tolérance, Tyrannie), using the study guide and taking notes. Then go to WebCT threaded discussion for “Voltaire Assignments” and submit your writing. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

3.  Research paper proposal and annotated bibliography (Research paper proposal and annotated bibliography due: a paragraph outlining the topic and a list of sources to be used, with comments for each explaining why the sources will be useful to you. Be sure to include all three elements: the proposal itself, the list of sources, and the comments. Submit them to me through My DDP.

Due February 5
Week 4

1.    First paper due, on Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary, 600 words, worth 10 points. Design your own topic or choose one of the following, using details from Voltaire which demonstrate your understanding of his writings: freedom, free will and determinism, religion, tolerance, government, relativism. You may argue with him, but only if you present fully all relevant evidence on both sides. You must use material from two or more articles in the Philosophical Dictionary. If you have trouble choosing a topic or are uncertain whether your topic is acceptable, ask for help! Send your paper to me via “My DDP.”

2.  Read the page about Romanticism and go to the Romanticism Bridge threaded discussion to write your comments.

3.  Goethe Assignment #1: In the Bible, Job: Chapters 1 & 2; Goethe: Faust: Introduction, Prologue in Heaven. Use the Faust study guide. Then contribute to WebCT threaded discussion for “Goethe Assignment #1.” Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

Due February 12
Week 5

1.   View the videotape “The Art of the Western World, 6: An Age of Reason, An Age of Passion” (Antoine Watteau: Departure from Cythera, Robert Adams, François Boucher, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Jean-Baptiste Chardin, Nicolas Poussin, Jacques Lemercier: Palais-Royal, Charles Perrault: Colonnade of the Louvre, Germain Soufflot: Panthéon, Giambattista Piranesi: drawings of Paestum, Jacques-Louis David: Death of Marat & The Sabine Women, Vignon: La Madeleine, Dominique Ingres: Odalisque, Jean-Antoine Gros, Francisco de Goya: The Horrors of War, Géricault, Eugène Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People, Théodore Géricault: The Raft of the Medusa) Do the writing part of this assignment in Bridge threaded discussion called “Art of the Western World, #6.” Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

2.  Mozart & Beethoven Assignment: Listen to the Mozart and Beethoven pieces in the online audio reserves. Do the writing assignment in WebCT threaded discussion called “Mozart & Beethoven.” Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

3.   Goethe Assignment #2: Faust: Night, Before the City Gate, both scenes titled “Study,” Witch’s Kitchen. Try to answer as many of the questions in the Faust study guide as you can. Then go to the Goethe Assignment #2 Bridge threaded discussion and write a minimum of 50 words about this assignment. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

Due February 19
Week 6

1.    Do women artists assignment.

2.    Goethe Assignment #3: Faust: Street, Evening, Promenade, The Neighbor’s House, Street, Garden, A Garden Bower, Wood and Cave, Gretchen’s Room, Martha’s Garden, At the Well, City Wall (study guide in the “Materials” area). Try to answer as many of the questions in the Faust study guide as you can. Then go to the Goethe Assignment #3 Bridge threaded discussion. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

Due February 26
Week 7

1.    Goethe Assignment #4: (Goethe: Faust: Night: Street in Front of Gretchen’s Door, Cathedral, Walpurgis Night, Dismal Day, The Bible: 1 Kings 21; Goethe: Faust: Night: Open Field, Dungeon, Charming Landscape, Open Country. Try to answer as many of the questions in the Faust study guide as you can. Then go to the Goethe Assignment #4 Bridge threaded discussion and write a minimum of 50 words about this assignment. Then respond to what someone else has written.

2.   Do the Romantic Music assignment in the online reserves. Do writing assigned in the “Romantic Music Assignment” threaded discussion.

Due March 5
Week 8

1.   Videotape: Verdi: La Traviata. Read the Study Guide for La Traviata and view the tape, taking notes as you watch. This production is best viewed on a large-screen television with good color and sound (preferably hooked to a stereo system, played back on a stereo VCR). Then go to WebCT threaded discussion for La Traviata and do the writing assignment, 100 words minimum. Then respond to what someone else has written.

2.    Goethe Assignment #5: Goethe: Faust: Palace, Deep Night, Midnight, Large Outer Court of the Palace, Entombment, Mountain Gorges: Forest, Rock and Desert. Try to answer as many of the questions in the Faust study guide as you can. Then go to the Faust Assignment #5 Bridge threaded discussion and write a minimum of 50 words about this assignment, and then respond to what someone else has written.

3.   Read “Realism and Naturalism.” Go to WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

Due March 12
Week 9

1.  Zola Assignment #1: Germinal: Parts 1-3. Try to answer as many of the questions in the Germinal study guide for these pages as you can. Then go to the Zola Assignment #1 Bridge threaded discussion and write a minimum of 50 words about this assignment and then respond to what someone else has written.

2.   Paper on Goethe’s Faust, 1200 words. Design your own topic or choose one of the following, remembering that you will be expected to define your topic further, since most of these are very broad: Faust and Mephistopheles , Faust and Gretchen, Thought vs. Action, Religion, Humor, Music, Magic, Classical Mythology. Again, if you have trouble choosing or defining a topic, ask for help. See instructions under “Second paper assignment.”

Due March 19
Week 10

1.  Listen to the music by women composers in the online reserves, and do the assigned writing in WebCT under “Women Composers.” Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

2.  Zola Assignment #2: Germinal: Parts 4-5. Try to answer as many of the questions in the Germinal study guide for these pages as you can. Then go to the Zola Assignment #2 Bridge threaded discussion and write a minimum of 50 words about this assignment, and then respond to what someone else has written.

Due March 26
Week 11

1.   Zola Assignment #3: Germinal: Parts 6-7. Using the study guide, read the assigned pages and take notes, trying to answer as many questions as you can. Then go to WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment and do the assigned writing there. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

2.  Read the Impressionist Art study guide. View the videotape: “The Art of the Western World, 7: A Fresh View-Impressionism and Post-Impressionism” (Courbet, Degas, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Whistler, Pissarro, Sargent, Cassatt, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh, Signac, Bernard, Toulouse-Lautrec, Valadon, Cézanne) Go to WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment and write a minimum of 50 words about this assignment, and then respond to what someone else has written.

Due April 2
Week 12

1.  Read “19th-Century Russian Literature“. Go to WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment and do the assigned writing. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

2.   Dostoyevsky: Notes from Underground: Afterword, pp. 90-203. Using the study guide, try to answer as many of the questions as you can. Then go to WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment and do the assigned writing there. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

Due April 9
Week 13

1.   French Impressionist Painting Assignment. Do the assignment and go to WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment and do the assigned writing there. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

2.    Listen to the Impressionist music in the online reserves and write about it in WebCT under “Impressionist Music.” Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

3.    The Influence of Nietzsche. Read this page and then go to WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment and do the assigned writing there. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

4. Nietzsche Assignment No. 1 (Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra: Translator’s Preface, pp. 9-54, from the beginning through “On the Flies of the Marketplace”). Using the study guide, try to answer as many of the questions as you can. Then go to WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment and do the assigned writing there. Try to focus in on specific arguments rather than giving general reactions. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

5.    Research paper due, 1200 words minimum. Re-read  “Helpful Hints for Writing Class Papers,” particularly checking to make sure you are following proper procedures for citing sources and quoting. Remember, you must cite sources for all facts and ideas, not just words quoted. Submit your paper via My DDP and post a copy in WebCT (click on the “create object” tool and use the “File” tool to post your paper).

6.    Some time during the coming week, read at least one of the other research papers that has been posted as a document and make useful comments for improving it, avoiding generalizations, and giving specific suggestions wherever possible. Give this feedback in the “Research Papers” threaded discussion. Avoid giving feedback only on a paper that has already been discussed by someone else. You may make comments on as many papers as you wish, but at least one of them should be a paper that no one else has commented on yet.

Due April 16
Week 14

1.  Listen to the 20th century music in the online reserves and write about it in WebCT under “20th C. Music.” Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

2.     Nietzsche Assignment No. 2 (Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra: pp. 54-79, from “On Chastity through the end of the First Part). Using the study guide, try to answer as many of the questions as you can. Then go to WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment and do the assigned writing there. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

 

Due April 23
Week 15

1.     Read “Introduction to 19th-Century Socialism”. Then go to WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment and do the assigned writing there. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

2.   Read Misconceptions, Confusions, and Conflicts Concerning Socialism, Communism, and Capitalism. Then go to WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment and do the assigned writing there. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

3.    Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto, Prologue, Sections 1, 2, & 4. Using the study guide for the Manifesto, try to answer as many of the questions as you can. Then go to WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment and do the assigned writing there. Write 50 words minimum, and then respond to what someone else has written.

Due WEDNESDAY May 2 Week 16
End of semester (note extended deadline)

1. Revised research paper due, if you are revising. Submit your paper using My DDP.

2.   Third paper due, on Zola’s Germinal, Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Undergrouund, Nietzche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, or Marx’s Communist Manifesto, 600 words minimum. If you wrote on one of these authors for your research paper, choose a different one to write on for this assignment.

3.Final date for cultural event report. Submit report via “My DDP.”

4. All revised papers due.

Note:
All assigned papers (including both versions of the research paper) must be completed to pass the course.

Feel free to call via the DDP toll-free number (800 222-4978) and leave messages when I am out; but e-mail may reach me more efficiently, though if it’s something we really need to discuss back and forth, you should try phoning first.

Direct phone: 509 335-5689, English Dept. phone: 509 335-2581, FAX: 509 335-2582, email: paulbrians@gmail.com

If I am not in, the phone may be answered by the automated voice mailbox service. Please leave a message including your name and phone number (speaking s-l-o-w-l-y, please).

Resources

Books

Note: Students must use the assigned translations of the books studied in this course. Outdated public-domain translations available on the Web are not adequate substitutes.

If your financial aid is delayed, borrow money if you must to buy the textbooks. You cannot begin the course without the Voltaire in hand; and other books will be unavailable late in the semester. Buy them all as early as possible. Write me immediately if you have any problems securing the textbooks at paulbrians@gmail.com

Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary, translated by Theodore Besterman

Goethe’s Faust, translated by Walter Kaufmann

Zola, Germinal, trans. Pearson (Penguin).

Dostoyevsky: Notes from Underground, translated by Andrew R. MacAndrew

Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra, translated by Walter Kaufmann. (Note Penguin also publishes other translations that are not as good–be sure to get the Kaufmann. DO NOT USE the 1892 public-domain translation by Thomas Common.)

Marx & Engels: The Communist Manifesto (International Publishers) Note: Although this edition is very cheap and the study guide is easier to use with the assigned edition, you may substitute any other edition if you wish–there is only one standard translation of the Manifesto. Various online editions are available, including one at http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm.

Online Resources

The Purdue OWL guide to MLA documentation style:

https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

Instructions for doing the research paper assignment:

http://brians.wsu.edu/2016/12/07/research-paper-assignment/

Study Guides for the above books and other resources for the study of works in this course: 

Online streaming music: available through . Under “Course Reserves” click on “Course Name” and enter “hum 303.” You will get two hits. Choose the second one: “Humanities 303 Recordings.” Click on that link, then on the assignment you want to do, and log on using your name, WSU ID number prefixed by a zero, and your Griffin PIN. To listen to the music you will need 1) a sound card in your computer, 2) good external speakers or headphones, 3) an up-to-date copy of RealPlayer, with the appropriate plug-in installed in your Web browser. You can download the RealPlayer

 

Course Work and Grading

Grades

Voltaire paper: 10 points
Faust paper: 20 points
Third paper: 20 points
Research paper: 20 points
Cultural event report: 10 points
Bridge threaded discussion contributions: 20 points
Total: 100 points.

Written assignments

Threaded discussions

For each of the reading assignments, the study guide in the Bridge contains a series of study questions which I want you to think about. It is your assignment to answer as many of these questions as you can while you read, and to write the assigned amount on each week’s reading in the The Bridge. Cover more than a couple of questions, and make sure you can discuss all parts of that week’s assignment–not just the beginning. Show that you are thinking seriously about these questions. Typically you are asked to write something of your own, then respond to at least one other person. These Bridge assignments are graded pass/fail (I will let you know quickly if you have done an inadequate one). The idea is to promote class discussion online. This is where you will be interacting with the students on the WSU campus as well. When other members of the class ask questions, try to reply to them. You are welcome to keep up the discussions we start here as long as you want, but please remember to be polite. Not everyone has the same views and assumptions. You must miss or fail no more than five of these Bridge discussion assignments to pass the course.

Contributions to the online threaded discussions will be judged by the following criteria:

  1. They must be made in a timely fashion.
  2. They must demonstrate a careful and thoughtful reading of the assigned writings, including the study guides and supplementary critical and historical material.
  3. When discussing fiction or philosophy, they must attempt to answer at least some of the questions in the related study guide (but please don’t write answers to all the study questions; leave some room for other students to contribute). Feel free to develop the discussion in other directions as well, and to relate what we are reading to other relevant topics; but remember that the minimum assignment is to demonstrate that you have read and understood both the assigned selections and the study guide.
  4. When discussing music and art, they should not dwell on what you like or dislike; instead they should express what you have learned by reading, viewing, and listening, and raise questions about the material that can promote further discusssion. Try if you can to relate this material to other material you have studied or experienced. Be sure to identify specific works you are talking about, avoiding vague generalizations.
  5. For each assignment each student is also expected to respond to one or more of the points raised by another student, saying more than “I agree” or “I disagree.” Offer examples, additional arguments, counter-arguments, comparisons, related ideas, do comparisons.
  6. Posts should act as the opening comments in an ongoing discussion, not seeking to close off debate with the last word, but inviting responses. It is perfectly legitimate to ask questions or ask for clarification of points you don’t understand.
  7. Contributions should whenever possible bring in useful comparative material from other readings, films, discussions with other people, etc.

Responses to other students’ posts in the online threaded discussions will be judged by the following criteria:

  1. Students are expected to take part continuously in discussion by making responses over the course of a week, not logging in just once a week to do everything at once. The due dates are final deadlines, but students are encouraged whenever possible to do their work earlier so that others have plenty of time to respond.
  2. You must go beyond merely agreeing or disagreeing to make substantial points.
  3. You must express yourself in civil language, avoiding insults and dismissiveness.
  4. Your posts should contribute to ongoing discussion, helping to develop ideas and themes raised in the original posts. Whenever possible try to tie together different viewpoints or make comparisons.
  5. Reponses should not be made constantly to the same individual or small group. Try to spread responses around. If challenging or difficult posts have been made, try to respond to them rather than choosing easier ones.

Short Papers:

For this course you will be required to write three brief papers. Note the length specified by your course syllabus, which does not include notes or list of sources. Minimum paper lengths are so extremely short in this class that anyone desiring a high grade would be advised to write a somewhat longer one. Any paper shorter than the minimum assigned will receive a 0 for an incomplete assignment. Except for meeting the very low minimum number of words, don’t concentrate on length, but try to make your papers as detailed, well-organized, and interesting as possible. All papers must be typed on a computer and submitted electronically. The regular papers are not necessarily research papers, and it is possible to receive maximum points on a paper without doing research for it, although papers incorporating good library work will normally receive higher grades. Suggested topics are listed on your syllabus. You should choose a topic you are particularly interested in, not try to guess what I want you to write. When I can learn something new from a paper, I am pleased. If you have difficulty thinking of a topic, first read Chapter 1 of Sylvan Barnet’s Short Guide to Writing About Literature, and if you still have problems, see or call me. I am also happy to look over rough drafts and answer questions about proposed topics. In addition, one paper per semester will be a required library research paper incorporating information gathered from scholarly books and articles (not just Web pages and reference books like dictionaries and encyclopedias). Papers must be received by 8:00 AM Pacific Time on the due date. Papers may always be submitted before the due date if you wish. There is no midterm or final examination in this class.

The following elements are taken into consideration when I grade your papers:

  1. All assigned papers must be turned in to pass the course.
  2. You must convince me that you have read and understood the book or story.
  3. You must have something interesting to say about it.
  4. Originality counts–easy, common topics tend to earn lower grades than difficult ones done well.
  5. Significant writing (spelling, punctuation, usage) errors will be marked on each paper before it is returned to you. If there are more than a few you must identify the errors and correct them and turn the paper back in before a grade will be recorded for you.
  6. I look for unified essays on a well-defined topic with a clear title and coherent structure.
  7. I expect you to support your arguments with references to the text, often including quotations appropriately introduced and analyzed (but quote only to make points about the material quoted, not simply for its own sake).
  8. You must do more than merely summarize the plot of the works you have read. See Sylvan Barnet’s Short Guide to Writing About Literature, and my “Helpful Hints” online for more information (consulting this document is mandatory, not optional, and papers will be judged according to how well they follow the guidelines in it).

Grading standards for specific letter grades:

The number of points for each paper is indicated on the syllabus with the paper assignment. For a 10-point paper:

9.5 or above=A 7.8-7.9=C+
9.0-9.4=A 7.3-7.7=C
8.8-8.9=B+ 7.0-7.2=C
8.3-8.7=B 6.5-6.9=D
8.0-8.2=B- anything below 6.5=F

Double these numbers to get the appropriate scale for a 20-point assignment.

A       Topics are challenging, often original; papers are well organized, filled with detail, and demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the topic. Examples are chosen from several portions of the work. Opinion papers are carefully argued, with detailed attention being paid to opposing arguments and evidence. Papers receiving an “A” are usually somewhat longer than the minimum assigned, typically a page or so longer, though this all depends on the compactness of your writing style–a paper which is long and diffuse does not result in a higher grade and a very compact, exceptionally well-written paper will occasionally receive an “A.” The writing should be exceptionally clear and generally free of mechanical errors. An “A” is given for exceptional, outstanding work.

B       Topics are acceptable, papers well organized, containing some supporting detail, and demonstrate an above-average knowledge of the topic. Examples are chosen from several portions of the work. Papers are at least the minimum length assigned. Opinion papers are carefully argued, with some attention being paid to opposing argument and evidence. Writing is above average, containing only occasional mechanical errors. A “B” is given for above-average work.

C       Topics are acceptable, but simple. Paper are poorly organized, containing inadequate detail, demonstrating only partial knowledge of the topic (focusing only on one short passage from a work or some minor aspect of it). Papers are at least the minimum length assigned. Opinion papers contain unsupported assertions and ignore opposing arguments and evidence. Writing is average or below, and mechanical errors are numerous. Paper does not appear to have been proofread carefully. A “C” is given for average work.

D       Inappropriately chosen topic does not demonstrate more than a minimal comprehension of the topic. Papers are at least the minimum length assigned. Opinion papers contain unsupported assertions and ignore opposing arguments and evidence. Writing is poor, filled with mechanical errors. Paper does not appear to have been proofread. A “D” is given for barely acceptable work.

F       Paper is shorter than the minimum length required. Topic is unacceptable because it does not cover more than an incidental (or unassigned) portion of the work or does not reveal a satisfactory level of knowledge . Generalizations are unsupported with evidence and opinion papers contain unsupported assertions and ignore opposing arguments and evidence. Writing is not of acceptable college-level quality. Paper does not appear to have been proofread. An “F” is given for unsatisfactory work.

Research paper

Research papers will be judged according to the following criteria besides those applied to the short papers:

  1. Coherent, well-defined topic–should be about a narrow aspect of the work under discussion and should not read like a broad encyclopedia article giving an overview.
  2. Thorough research, carefully incorporating sources the professor has approved or suggested you use. Papers neglecting to use sources agreed upon between the professor and the student will be severely graded down unless a justification is provided explaining why the source turned out not to be useful.
  3. Papers must use articles and books from the library. Papers using only Web sites are not acceptable.
  4. Papers must follow MLA citation format.
  5. Papers will be judged on clarity, unity, logic, and readability.
  6. Papers must demonstrate comprehension of the material being studied and ability to discuss it intelligently.

For more details on how to write the research paper for this class, see the page entitled “Research Paper Assignment” in The Bridge (this is not optional: you must read and use this page).

Policy Information

Tips for Collaboration and Netiquette

You are expected to read and make notes on the assigned material, meet deadlines, actively participate in the Bridge discussion activities, and collaborate with fellow class members to achieve the course objectives. Appropriate professional behavior demonstrating respect for classmates and instructors is expected.

Late Policy and Paper Revisions

Since your interaction with your classmates is crucial to this class, any initial posts in any discussion made after the due date for an activity will not be counted for grading purposes. You may always submit work before the deadline if you wish; in fact, you are encouraged to do so, and to later continue a discussion you have begun on time. The deadline is simply the final date by which you must have the week’s work done.

In rare cases involving true emergencies I will give permission to make up work in a threaded discussion, but in that case your contribution to the discussion must consist of answers to all of the study questions in the associated study guide to make up for having failed to contribute to the ongoing discussion. Generally, if you miss a discussion deadline, you just lose the credit associated with that assignment.

You may not make up a paper which you have failed to hand in on time. However, if you do hand in a paper and are dissatisfied with your grade, after consulting with me, you may revise your paper and have your grade raised if it is significantly improved. It is normal to revise the research paper at least once (first drafts very frequently get a “C” or lower. Revisions will be handled on an individual basis, and limits will be set as to the number of revisions allowed and the time allowed to hand them in. Simply substituting phrases that I have suggested to improve your writing does not result in an improved grade. You have to make the sort of substantial changes I suggest in the note I make on your paper.

Papers submitted on time may be later revised for a possible higher grade, but not submitting a paper at all will result in an immediate F in the course.

 

 

Incomplete Policy

    1. Incompletes will be granted rarely; only in the case of unexpected dire emergencies. The demands of other work or studies will not be accepted as excuses for requesting an incomplete. Students should confirm that they have plenty of free time during the period covered by the course to work intensively on it.
    2. Students who have substantially finished the course but still have a small amount of work undone when a genuine emergency arises may request an incomplete in writing from the professor.
    3. The request must be made via regular post (snail mail), must be signed and dated by the student, and must explain the reasons behind the request for the incomplete. Timelines for completion will be negotiated.
    4. Requests for Incompletes will be considered only from those students who are achieving a passing grade in the course and who have a small amount of work left to complete.

Academic Integrity

You are expected to uphold the WSU standard of conduct relating to academic integrity. You assume full responsibility for the content and integrity of the academic work you submit. The guiding principle of academic integrity shall be that your submitted work, examinations, reports, and projects must be your own work.

Plagiarism is: 1) submitting someone else’s work as your own, 2) copying something from another source without putting it in quotation marks or citing a source (note: you must do both), 3) using an idea from a source without citing the source, even when you do not use the exact words of the source. Any time you use a book, article, or reference tool to get information or ideas which you use in a paper, you must cite it by providing a note stating where you got the information or idea, using MLA parenthetical annotation. No footnotes are used in papers for this class. You do not need to cite material from classroom lectures or discussions. If you are not certain whether you need to cite a source, check with me in advance. See “Helpful Hints” and Barnet (pp. 73-86) for details on how to cite sources. Anyone caught plagiarizing will receive an “F” for the entire course (not just the paper concerned) and be reported to Student Affairs. If you feel you have been unjustly accused of plagiarism, you may appeal to me; and if dissatisfied, to the departmental chair.

Disability Statement

 

Students with Disabilities: I am committed to providing assistance to help you be successful in this course.  Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. Please visit the Disability Resource Center (DRC) during the first two weeks of every semester to seek information or to qualify for accommodations. All accommodations MUST be approved   through the DRC (Admin Annex Bldg, Rooms 205). Call 509 335 3417 to make an appointment with a disability counselor.

Library Support

All students enrolled in Washington State University distance courses can use the WSU Libraries online databases and receive reference and research assistance from the Distance Degree Library Services (DDLS). You can also borrow books and other circulating material and receive photocopies of journal articles.

Visit the DDLS Web page for library support information, including specific information and resources for select courses (see the list of courses using the drop down menu on the left hand side of the page under “Find Your Course”).

To complete work for this course, you may want to access WSU Library databases.

Go to the DDLS Web site early in the course to configure your browser and establish your PIN. You can use the step-by-step “EZ-Guide” to help you with this process.

The On-line Writing Lab

The OWL is WSU’s On-line Writing Lab. It is an asynchronous service that connects you with a trained WSU Writing tutor who will provide you narrative feedback that will help you to improve your writing. The OWL tutors are trained to respond to the conceptual and structural issues of your writing before they comment on issues of convention and correctness. Expect that the tutor’s comments will primarily be about the focus of your essay, the supporting details you have provided and the organization of those details. Tutors will comment on issues of proofreading, convention and correctness if there are obvious patterns of error, but they will not correct your essay for you. To share a piece of writing on the OWL, go to http://owl.wsu.edu, click on the instruction to Introduce Yourself (login).

E-mail

I will be returning papers and sending out occasional class announcements via e-mail using the WSU system. However, this means that you must have a valid e-mail address that you actually use in the WSU directory, though much important official mail, like library fine notices, is sent out using this system. To make sure you are listed in the directory go to http://www.wsu.edu/ and click “Find People” and search for your name (last name first, no comma).

Then click on “ADDRESS & E-MAIL” on the left-hand side of the page and click on either “Change address or phone” or “Forward my email.” If you want a free WSU e-mail account, click on “Create an e-mail account.”

If you have not received any e-mail from me by the end of the first week of class, that means you are not using e-mail properly for this course and should get in touch with me immediately at paulbrians@gmail.com

Papers will not be graded or returned via DDP. You must use these e-mail procedures to complete the course satisfactorily.

 

Syllabus for Humanities 303

Spring 2007

Instructor: Paul Brians

All of the study guides and other materials for this class are available in WebCT on the Web at https://webct.wsu.edu/  As soon as possible, you should go to this page and log in using your campus network ID and password and begin your work. Browse through the individual links to individual online readings, and other materials. Note that the dates for off-campus students sometimes differ slightly from on-campus students. The “Assignments” listed in WebCT are arranged to work with the off-campus students. On-campus students need to use the on-campus  syllabus to determine when each assignment is due; you cannot rely on the each assignment matching a week of class. Be careful to read ahead in the syllabus so you see what assignments are coming up. Don’t wait until the night before class.

Please be aware that although WebCT is not open to the world at large, access is being provided to a few support personnel in the library and Student Computing Services. This warning is required by privacy regulations.

Note that if you work only from a printed-out version of this syllabus, you will lack many important hyperlinks. Always check the online syllabus when doing your assignments.

You will need to use a computer connected to the Web to read and print out these materials. You can use the various student labs on campus for short periods by paying an hourly fee, but you will be doing so much Web work in this class that it may be worth getting a semester pass. The cheapest access to a lab on campus is the 1-credit pass/fail course, English 300. If you have a wireless laptop, it can be used in several classroom buildings on campus to access the Web, including the library; but you will need to download the VPN software which will allow you to use the campus system.

Students are responsible for reading assignments and for preparing answers to the related on-line study questions before coming to class on the dates noted. Written assignments marked with an asterisk (*) are due on the date next to or above the asterisk. Besides the short papers noted here, you must also attend and report on a cultural event relating to the European 18th and 19th centuries. A list of acceptable events will be provided in class.

There will be many students taking this class remotely through the Distance Degree Program. On-campus and off-campus students will read and respond to each other’s work. On-campus students have work due twice a week. Because Pullman students do more assignments and take part in class discussion, less lengthy contributions for some assignments are required for them. Some of the off-campus assignments differ from the on-campus ones.

January

9:  Introduction

Before class next time log into WebCT and write a brief description of yourself in the discussion titled “Introductions.” Videotape: The Art of the Western World, 5: Realms of Light—The Baroque [12395] (The Baroque: Bernini, Cortona, Caravaggio, Borromini, Fischer von Erlach,Velázquez, Vermeer, Rubens, Rembrandt, etc.). View tape in class, take notes, do assigned reading for the next class in  WebCT before coming to class.

11:  Read the “Course Introduction” Online.

Music: Pachelbel, Vivaldi, Handel. Take notes in class, do assigned writing in WebCT under Week 3: “Baroque Music.”

Read “The Enlightenment” and write at least 50 words about some aspect of the Enlightenment discussed there in the WebCT threaded discussion for this assignment in Week 1.

16:  Do this assignment only after having read “The Enlightenment” and done the assigned online writing. Using the on-line Study Guide, then read Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary: have the following articles read and notes taken about them to turn in at the beginning of class, at least 50 words covering more than one or two articles: Abbé, Ame, Amour-propre, Athée, athéisme, Beau, beauté, Bien (tout est, Bornes de l’esprit humaine, Catéchisme chinois, Certain, certitude, Chaîne des évenements, Credo). Before next time, do the assigned on-line writing for Voltaire Reading Assignment #1 in WebCT (in Week 2), and try to answer as many of the study questions in the Study Guide as you can as you go along.

18:  Film: Knowledge or Certainty [1617] Before coming to class, read the online study guide; during the film, take notes; after class, do the assigned online writing in WebCT (in Week 2).

23:  Music Lecture Videotape #2 [r472]: Bach. Do a second writing assignment in the threaded discussion called “Baroque Music_” in WebCT in Week 3, this time about the music by Bach you’ve heard.

25:  Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary: have the following articles read and notes taken about them to turn in at the beginning of class, at least 50 words: Éagalité, Enthousiasme, État, gouvernements, Fanatisime, Foi, Guerre, Liberté de pensée, Préjugés, Secte, Théiste, Tolérance, Tyrannie. Before next time, do the assigned on-line writing for Voltaire Assignment #2 in WebCT in Week 3, and try to answer as many of the study questions in the Study Guide as you can as you go along.

30:  Library session, introduction to the research paper.

February

Sign up for library research topics. Be sure to attend. This is not a general library orientation, but a specialized presentation on sources you will need to use for doing this assignment. Look at “Suggested Research Topics for Humanities 303” online before coming to class and tentatively identify two or three topics you would like to work on. You may make up your own topic with my permission. See me first.

Although it is aimed primarily at off-campus students, you will also find much useful information in the Web page “Research Paper Assignment.”

First paper due, on Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary, 600 words. Be sure to read “Helpful Hints for Writing Papers” before beginning this assignment. Design your own topic or choose one of the following, using details from Voltaire which demonstrate your understand of his writings: freedom, free will and determinism, religion, tolerance, government, relativism. You may argue with him, but only if you present fully all relevant evidence on both sides. You must use material from two or more articles. If you have trouble choosing a topic or are uncertain whether your topic is acceptable, ask for help!

1:  Read the introduction to Romanticism and do the assigned writing in WebCT in Week 4.

Using the Faust Study Guide, read Job: Chapters 1 & 2; Goethe: Faust: Introduction, Prologue in Heaven. Write notes to turn in, do online writing for Goethe Assignment #1 in WebCT in Week 4.

6:  Videotape: The Art of the Western World, 6: An Age of Reason, An Age of Passion [12396] (Antoine Watteau: Departure from Cythera,Robert Adams, François Boucher, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Jean-Baptiste Chardin, Nicolas Poussin, Jacques Lemercier: Palais-Royal, Charles Perrault: Colonnade of the Louvre, Germain Soufflot: Panthéon, Giambattista Piranesi: drawings of Paestum, Jacques-Louis David: Death of Marat & The Sabine Women, Vignon: La Madeleine, Dominique Ingres: Odalisque, Jean-Antoine Gros, Francisco de Goya: The Horrors of War, Géricault, Eugène Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People, Théodore Géricault: The Raft of the Medusa) Take notes during videotape, do online writing in In WebCT in Week 5.

8:  Goethe: Faust: Night, Before the City Gate, both scenes titled “Study.” Write notes to turn in, do online writing for Goethe Assignment #2 in WebCT in Week 5.

13:  Music Lecture Videotape #3 [r485]: Mozart, Beethoven. Take notes during presentation, do online writing before next class in In WebCT in Week 5.

Research paper proposal and annotated bibliography due: a paragraph outlining the topic and a list of sources to be used, with comments for each explaining why the sources will be useful to you. Be sure to include all three elements: the proposal itself, the list of sources, and the comments. If you have not already done so, read “The Research Paper.” 

15:  Goethe: Faust: Witch’s Kitchen, Street, Evening, Promenade, The Neighbor’s House, Street, Garden, A Garden Bower, Wood and Cave, Gretchen’s Room, Martha’s Garden. Write notes to turn in, do online writing for Goethe Assignment #3 in In WebCT in Week 6.

20:  Videotape: “The Artist Was a Woman” [VHS 18321]. Take notes during class, do online writing in the “Women Artists__” threaded discussion in In WebCT in Week 6.

22:  Goethe: Faust: At the Well, City Wall, Night: Street in Front of Gretchen’s Door, Cathedral, Walpurgis Night, Dismal Day, Night, Open Field. Write notes to turn in, do online writing for Goethe Assignment #4 in  WebCT in Week 7.

27:  Note: during the next week and a half, you have little homework other than to write your paper on Faust. This is the time that you are expected to use to also read Zola’s Germinal. Because it is a long book, you may want to start reading ahead now and not put it off until the week when it is due.

Goethe: Faust: Dungeon, Charming Landscape, Open Country, Palace, Deep Night, Midnight, Large Outer Court of the Palace, Entombment, Mountain Gorges: Forest, Rock and Desert. Write notes to turn in, do online writing for Goethe Assignment #5 in  WebCT in Week 8.

Music Presentation Online on Women Composers. Listen to the music and read the notes on Women Composers on reserve in Griffin for Hum 303 using RealAudio, take notes, and do the assigned online writing in  WebCT in Week 10. Have this assignment completed by next time (Oct. 16).

March

1:  Before class, read the Study Guide for La Traviata.

Music Lecture Videotape #5 [r521]: Romanticism: Berlioz, DVD: Verdi: La Traviata (beginning). Take notes during presentation, do online writing before next class in  WebCT in Weeks 7 & 8.

6:  Verdi: La Traviata (conclusion) [11765], beginning.

Women composers presentation. Take notes during presentation, do online writing before next class in  WebCT in Week 8.

Second paper due, on Goethe’s Faust, 1200 words. Counts 20 points. Design your own topic or choose one of the following:, remembering that you will be expected to define your topic further, since most of these are very broad: Faust and Mephistopheles , Faust and Gretchen, Thought vs. Action, Religion, Humor, Music, Magic, Classical Mythology. Again, if you have trouble choosing or defing a topic, ask for help.

8:  Read “Realism and Naturalism” and do online writing in  WebCT in Week  7. Zola: Germinal: Parts 1-3. Use Study Guide and take notes to turn in, do online writing for Zola Assignment #1 in  WebCT in Week 8.

20:  Zola: Germinal: Parts 4-5. Use Study Guide and take notes to turn in, do online writing for Zola Assignment #2 in WebCT in Week 10.

22:  Zola: Germinal: Part 6-7. Use Study Guide and take notes to turn in, do online writing for Zola Assignment #3 in WebCT in Week 11.

27:  Read “19th Century Russian Literature” and do online writing in WebCT in Week 12. Dostoyevsky: Notes from Underground: Afterword, pp. 90-123. Take notes using Study Guide, do online writing in the Dostoyevsky threaded discussion in In WebCT in Week 12.

29:  Dostoyevsky: Notes from Underground: pp. 123-203. Take notes using Study Guide, do online writing, do a second online in the Dostoyevsky threaded discussion n WebCT in Week 12.

April

3:  Videotape: The Art of the Western World, 7: A Fresh View: Impressionism and Post-Impressionism [12397] (Courbet, Degas, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Whistler, Pissarro, Sargent, Cassatt, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh, Signac, Bernard, Toulouse-Lautrec, Valadon, Cézanne), Impressionist art slides. Do the assigned writing in In WebCT in Week 13. Research paper due; 1200 words minimum. Re-read “The Research Paper” online and “Helpful HInts for Writing Class Papers,” particularly checking to make sure you are following proper procedures for citing sources and quoting. Remember, you must cite sources for all facts and ideas, not just words quoted.  20 points; required revised version due May 4.

5  Read “The Influence of Nietzsche,” taking notes, do online writing in In WebCT in Week 13. Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra: Translator’s Preface, pp. 9- 28.  Take notes using Study Guide, do online writing for Nietzsche Assignment #1 in In WebCT in week 13.

10:  Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra: pp. 28-54. Take notes using Study Guide, do second online writing for Nietzsche Assignment #1 in In WebCT in Week 13.

12:  Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra: pp. 54-79. Take notes using Study Guide, do online writing for Nietzsche Assignment #2 in In WebCT, Week

  1. Music Videotape Lecture 6 [r559]: Impressionist Music: Debussy & Ravel. Take notes during presentation, do online writing in In WebCT in Week 13.

19:  Read Misconceptions, Confusions, and Conflicts Concerning Socialism, Communism, and Capitalism. Take notes, do online writing in In WebCT in Week 15. Read Introduction to 19th-Century Socialism. Take notes, do online writing in In WebCT in Week 15.  Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto: Prologue, Section 1 . Using Study Guide, take notes, do online writing in In WebCT in Week 15.

24:  Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto: Sections 2 & 4. Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto: Section 2. Using Study Guide, take notes, do a second online writing in In WebCT in Week 15.

26: Music Lecture 7 [r569]: Early 20th Century music, Course evaluation. Write about music in In WebCT in Week 14.

May

2 Third paper due, on Zola, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, or Marx, 600 words minimum. Counts 10 points. If you wrote on one of these authors for your research paper, choose a different one to write on for this assignment. Sample topics on Germinal: Women, Changes in the Miners, Sexuality and Nature, The Mine as Monster. Sample topics on Dostoyevsky: The UM’s Assault on the Enlightenment, The Concept of Freedom, Self-Hatred, Fear of Love. Sample topics on Nietzsche (be sure to use more than one passage from the book): Relativism, Freedom, Principal Characteristics of the Overman, Nietzsche and Christianity, Romantic and Enlightenment Aspects. Sample topics on Marx: The Nature of Class Struggle, The Role of the Bourgeoisie in Transforming History, Marx’s Answers to his Critics, Advantages and Disadvantages of Communism as Described in the Manifesto.

Final date for cultural event.

All revised papers due, including revised research paper. You must attach the graded first draft to your research paper when you turn it in.

Textbooks for this course (please do not substitute other editions or translations):

If your financial aid is delayed, borrow money if you must to buy the textbooks. You cannot begin the course without the Voltaire in hand; and other books will be unavailable late in the semester. Buy them all as early as possible. If the Bookie is out, try Crimson and Gray on Bishop Boulevard. Do not substitute other translations for these.

Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary, translated by Theodore Besterman

Goethe’s Faust, translated by Walter Kaufmann

Zola, Germinal, trans. Pearson. Penguin.

Dostoyevsky: Notes from Underground, translated by Andrew R. MacAndrew

Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra, translated by Walter Kaufmann. (Note Penguin also publishes other translations that are not as good_ be sure to get the Kaufmann. DO NOT USE the 1892 public-domain translation by Thomas Common.)

Marx & Engels: The Communist Manifesto (International Publishers)

Paul Brians’ Policies Spring 2007

Please read this material carefully and save it.

Office: 202H Avery Hall

Direct phone: 509 335-5689, English Dept. phone: 509 335-2581, FAX: 509 335-2582, email: paulbrians@gmail.com

Home Page: https://brians.wsu.edu/

Common Errors in English: https://brians.wsu.edu/common-errors-in-english-usage/

If I am not in, the phone may be answered by the automated voice mailbox service. Please leave a message including your name and phone number (speaking s-l-o-w-l-y, please).

Study questions:

For each of the reading assignments, the study guide in WebCT contains a series of study questions which I want you to think about. It is your assignment to answer as many of these questions as you can while you read, and to write the assigned amount on each week’s reading in WebCT Cover more than a couple of questions, and make sure you can discuss all parts of that week’s assignment—not just the beginning. Show that you are thinking seriously about these questions. Typically you are asked to write something of your own, then respond to at least one other person. These WebCT assignments are graded pass/fail (I will let you know quickly if you have done an inadequate one). The idea is to promote class discussion online. This is where you will be interacting with off-campus distance-learning students as well. When other members of the class ask questions, try to reply to them. You are welcome to keep up the discussions we start here as long as you want, but please remember to be polite. Not everyone has the same views and assumptions. You must miss or fail no more than five of these Speakeasy discussion assignments to pass the course.

Papers:

For this course you will be required to write a series of brief papers. Note the length specified by your course syllabus, which does not include notes or list of sources. Minimum paper lengths are so extremely short in this class that anyone desiring a high grade would be advised to write a somewhat longer one. Any paper shorter than the minimum assigned will receive a 0 for an incomplete assignment. Except for meeting the very low minimum number of words, don’t concentrate on length, but try to make your papers as detailed, well-organized, and interesting as possible. All papers must be typed on a computer and printed out. If you have trouble with your printer, you may bring in the paper on a disk or send it to me by e-mail attachment. Printer problems are never an excuse for not getting a paper in on time. If you use a typing service, please proofread its work carefully; you are responsible for all errors. The regular papers are not necessarily research papers, and it is possible to receive maximum points on a paper without doing research for it, although papers incorporating good library work will normally receive higher grades. Suggested topics are listed on your syllabus. You should choose a topic you are particularly interested in, not try to guess what I want you to write. When I can learn something new from a paper, I am pleased. If you have trouble thinking of a topic, ask me for help. I am also happy to look over rough drafts and answer questions about proposed topics. In addition, one paper per semester will be a required library research paper incorporating information gathered from scholarly books and articles (not just Web pages and reference books like dictionaries and encyclopedias). For more details on how to write papers for this class, see “Helpful Hints for Writing Class Papers.” For details on how to write the research paper for this class, see the page entitled “Research Paper Assignment. Papers are due at the beginning of class on the day specified in the syllabus. Do not cut class to finish a paper. Papers may always be submitted before the due date if you wish. There is no midterm or final examination in this class.

The following elements are taken into consideration when I grade your papers: 1) You must convince me that you have read and understood the book or story. 2) You must have something interesting to say about it. 3) Originality counts—easy, common topics tend to earn lower grades than difficult ones done well. 4) Significant writing (spelling, punctuation, usage) errors will be marked on each paper before it is returned to you. If there are more than a few you must identify the errors and correct them (by hand, on the same paper, without retyping it) and hand the paper back in before a grade will be recorded for you. 5) I look for unified essays on a well-defined topic with a clear title and coherent structure. 6) I expect you to support your arguments with references to the text, often including quotations appropriately introduced and analyzed (but quote only to make points about the material quoted, not simply for its own sake). 7) You must do more than merely summarize the plot of the works you have read. See my “Helpful Hints” online for more information.

Research papers are especially graded on proper use of sources and coherence. Research papers when first handed in must be the complete product: minimum length, notes, bibliography, etc. If you want to have me look at an incomplete rough draft before the due date, I will be happy to do so. Your research should be complete before the due date for the first draft.

Late Papers:

If you think you have a valid excuse (medical, etc.) for not getting a paper in on time, let me know in advance (phone) if you can. Choosing to work on other classes rather than this one is never an acceptable excuse for handing in a paper late. Because of my make-up policy (see below), it almost always makes more sense to send in even a poorly-done, rushed paper than none at all. Papers sent in late with no excuse will not receive a passing grade. To pass the course you must hand in all assigned papers. Do not assume you will be allowed to hand in work late. Pay careful attention to due dates on the syllabus.

Revised papers:

You may not make up a paper which you have failed to hand in. However, if you do hand in a paper and are dissatisfied with your grade, after consulting with me, you may revise your paper and have your grade raised if it is significantly improved. You are required to revise the research paper at least once. Other revisions will be handled on an individual basis, and limits will be set as to the number of revisions allowed and the time allowed to hand them in. Simply substituting phrases that I have suggested to improve your writing does not result in an improved grade. You have to make the sort of substantial changes I suggest in the note I make on your paper.

Grading Policy:

Again, to pass the course you must complete all papers. The research paper and its revision especially are not optional. Note that you will not receive a letter grade on your research paper until after it has been revised in response to my initial comments on it, especially the final comments written at the bottom of your paper.

Grading of WebCT participation.

Attendance and participation in the course are measured by the contributions you make to in WebCT plus the notes you turn in at the beginning of class. Together the written contributions count as 20% of your grade. Contributions are graded on a pass-fail basis. Assume they have been counted unless I make a response to what you have written saying it is inadequate.

The number of points for each paper is indicated on the syllabus with the paper assignment. For a 10-point paper, 9.5 or above=A, 9.0-9.4=A, 8.8-8.9=B+, 8.3-8.7=B, 8.0-8.2=B-, 7.8-7.9=C+, 7.3-7.7=C, 7.0-7.2=C, 6.5-6.9=D, anything below 6.5=F. Double these numbers to get the appropriate scale for a 20-point assignment.

Voltaire paper: 10 points
Faust paper: 20 points
Third paper: 20 points
Research paper: 20 points
Cultural event report: 10 points
Speakeasy contributions: 20 points
Total: 100 points.

 

Standards for grading papers:

All assigned papers must be turned in to pass the course.

A       Topics are challenging, often original; papers are well organized, filled with detail, and demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the topic. Examples are chosen from several portions of the work. Opinion papers are carefully argued, with detailed attention being paid to opposing arguments and evidence. Papers receiving an “A” are usually somewhat longer than the minimum assigned, typically a page or so longer, though this all depends on the compactness of your writing style—a paper which is long and diffuse does not result in a higher grade and a very compact, exceptionally well-written paper will occasionally receive an “A.” The writing should be exceptionally clear and generally free of mechanical errors. An “A” is given for exceptional, outstanding work.

B       Topics are acceptable, papers well organized, containg some supporting detail, and demonstrate an above-average knowledge of the topic. Examples are chosen from several portions of the work. Papers are at least the minimum length assigned. Opinion papers are carefully argued, with some attention being paid to opposing argument and evidence. Writing is above average, containg only occasional mechanical errors. A “B” is given for above-average work.

 

C       Topics are acceptable, but simple. Paper are poorly organized, containg inadequate detail, demonstrating only partial knowledge of the topic (focusing only on one short passage from a work or some minor aspect of it). Papers are at least the minimum length assigned. Opinion papers contain unsupported assertions and ignore opposing arguments and evidence. Writing is average or below, and mechanical errors are numerous. Paper does not appear to have been proofread carefully. A “C” is given for average work.

 

D       Inappropriately chosen topic does not demonstrate more than a minimal comprehension of the topic. Papers are at least the minimum length assigned. Opinion papers contain unsupported assertions and ignore opposing arguments and evidence. Writing is poor, filled with mechanical errors. Paper does not appear to have been proofread. A “D” is given for barely acceptable work.

 

F       Paper is shorter than the minimum length required. Topic is unacceptable because it does not cover more than an incidental (or unassigned) portion of the work or does not reveal a satisfactory level of knowledge . Generalizations are unsupported with evidence and opinion papers contain unsupported assertions and ignore opposing arguments and evidence. Writing is not of acceptable college-level quality. Paper does not appear to have been proofread. An “F” is given for unsatisfactory work.

 

Plagiarism:

Plagiarism is: 1) submitting someone else’s work as your own, 2) copying something from another source without putting it in quotation marks or citing a source (note: you must do both), 3) using an idea from a source without citing the source, even when you do not use the exact words of the source. Any time you use a book, article, or reference tool to get information or ideas which you use in a paper, you must cite it by providing a note stating where you got the information or idea, using MLA parenthetical annotation. No footnotes are used in papers for this class. You do not need to cite material from classroom lectures or discussions. If you are not certain whether you need to cite a source, check with me in advance. See “Helpful Hints” and Barnet (pp. 73-86) for details on how to cite sources. Anyone caught plagiarizing will receive an “F” for the entire course (not just the paper concerned) and be reported to Student Affairs. If you feel you have been unjustly accused of plagiarism, you may appeal to me; and if dissatisfied, to the departmental chair.

Cultural Event Assignment:

Humanities 303 students will attend a cultural event relating to the 18th or 19th centuries and report on it in a 600-word paper which will be graded like the other papers in the course (worth 10 points). Announcements of qualifying events will be posted in The Birdge. Substitutions may be arranged for students not living near a site where qualifying cultural events are taking place. Let me know as soon as possible what you have decided to do for your cultural event.

Disability Statement

Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have a documented disability.  Please notify the instructor during the first week of class of any accommodations needed for the course.  Late notification may cause the requested accommodations to be unavailable.  All accommodations must be approved through the Disability Resource Center (DRC) in Administration Annex 206, 335-3417.

E-mail

I will be sending out occasional class announcements via e-mail using the WSU system. However, this means that you must have a valid e-mail address that you actually use in the WSU directory, though much important official mail, like library fine notices, is sent out using this system. To make sure you are listed in the directory go to http://www.wsu.edu/ and click “Find People,” and search for your name (last name first, no comma).

Then click on “ADDRESS & E-MAIL_” on the left-hand side of the page and click on either “Change your email destination address.” If you want a free WSU e-mail account, create an address in myWSU.

Version of January 2, 2007

All assigned papers (including the research paper—both first and revised drafts) must be completed to pass the course.

Paul Brians Vita


Paul Brians’ Vita

Education (Institutions, degrees, dates)

  • Ph.D., Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 1968
  • M.A., Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, 1966
  • B.A., Pacific University, Forest Grove, Oregon, 1964
  • Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, California 1960-62

Experience (Positions and Dates)

  • Assistant Professor of English, 1968-1977
  • Associate Professor of English, 1977-1988
  • Professor of English, 1988- 2008
  • Retired 2008-present

Professional Recognition and Honors

  • Inducted into The Quarter Century Club of WSU, 1993.
  • Burlington Northern Award for excellence in teaching, 1992.
  • “Inquiring Mind” speaker, 1990-92.
  • Faculty Library Award, 1988.
  • Member, faculty of World Civilizations 110/111 (a group of twenty faculty members selected from ninety applicants to be trained as teachers for a new world civilizations course).
  • “Nuclear War in Fiction,” invited address for History Honorary annual banquet, 1984.
  • “The New Censorship,” invited address for Holland Library Faculty Recognition Award talk, Spring, 1983
  • “Pornography and the Arts,” invited address for the Art Department Enrichment Series, WSU, March 23, 1971.

Publications

Books

  • Modern South Asian Literature in English. Greenwood Press, 2003.
  • Common Errors in English Usage. William, James, 2003. Second Edition, 2008.
  • Reading About the World, Vols. 1 & 2 (ed.). Third Edition, Harcourt Brace Custom Publishing, 1999.
  • Reading About the World, Vols. 1 & 2 (ed.). Second edition, American Heritage Custom Publishing, 1996. Contributed translations of the following selections: Anna Comnena: The Alexiad, Emile Zola: Germinal, Sigmund Freud: The Interpretation of Dreams, Ren/(c) Descartes: The Discourse on Method, Montaigne: Essay on Cannibals, Francois Rabelais: Letter from Gargantua to his son Pantagruel; adapted translations of the following: Angelo Poliziano: Quis Dabit Capiti Meo Aquam (Lament on the Death of Lorenzo di Medici), Marcus Aurelius: Meditations, The Young Woman and Her Five Lovers, from Tales from the Thousand and One Nights.
  • Reading About the World, Vols. 1 & 2. (ed.) HarperCollins Custom Publishing, 1994.
  • Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction, 1895-1984. Kent State University Press, 1987. [Refereed]
  • Bawdy Tales from the Courts of Medieval France (trans. & ed.), Harper & Row, 1975. [Refereed]

Other Publications

  • Common Errors in English Usage Daily Boxed Calendar. Wilsonville, OR: William, James, 2008.
  • Common Errors in English Usage Daily Boxed Calendar. Wilsonville, OR: William, James, 2007.
  • Common Errors in English Usage Daily Boxed Calendar. Wilsonville, OR: William, James, 2006
  • Common Errors in English Usage Daily Boxed Calendar. Wilsonville, OR: William, James, 2005.

E-Publications

  • Nuclear Texts & Contexts (1998-1995) created and made available “here
  • Study Guide for Ursula LeGuin: The Dispossessed, as a supplement to the e-book version of the novel in the following formats: Acrobat eBook Reader, Microsoft Reader, and Palm Reader, March, 2002.

Web-Based

Newsletter

  • Nuclear Texts & Contexts, issue #1, Fall, 1988 (edited and wrote most of the issue), issue #2, Spring 1989 (edited and wrote much of the issue), issue #3, Fall, 1989 (became sole editor with this issue, wrote several articles), issue #4, Spring 1990, issue #5, Fall 1990, issue #6, Spring 1991, issue #7, Fall 1991, issue #8, Fall 1992. Resigned editorship with Fall 1992 issue. Published on Web site at http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/ntc/ (2003).

Articles

  • “Let’s Clear Something Up,” columns on language usage for Blueprint magazine May-June 2007 (p. 16), June-July 2007 (p.22), and January-February, 2008 (p. 18).
  • Entries on “Nuclear War,” “Post-Holocaust Societies,” and “The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Lee Guin (1974)” in The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, ed. Gary Westfahl. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005.
  • “Good Words Gone Bad,” by Candace Murphy, Oakland Tribune, October 25, 2005, was based largely on a phone interview with me.
  • “Multimedia Made Simple, The Hard Way,” World History Connected, Vol. 1, no. 2 (May 2004); an online journal for world history teachers. http://worldhistoryconnected.press.uiuc.edu/1.2/brians.html[Commissioned article with interactive online multimedia examples]
  • “Classical Turkey,” Washington State Magazine (Fall 2003): 18-19. [Commissioned article with photographs by myself.]
  • “Annotating The Satanic Verses: An Example of Internet Research and Publication,” Computers and the Humanities 33 (December 1999): 247-264. [Refereed]
  • “Study Guide for Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz,” SFRA Review no. 242 (October 1999), pp. 6-19.
  • “Writing English by Ear,” The Editorial Eye, 21:6 (June 1998) pp. 1-4. Solicited by the editor of this newsletter for professional editors and revised by her while I was in Japan. About 60% of the article is as I wrote it. Paid contribution.
  • “Nuclear Family/Nuclear War,” in Nancy Anisfield, ed. The Nightmare Considered: Critical Essays on Nuclear War Literature. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Press, 1991. (A slightly revised version of the paper originally published in Essays in Language and Literature (Spring 1990).
  • “Nuclear War Fiction for Young Readers: A Commentary and Annotated Bibliography,” in Philip John Davies, ed. Science Fiction, Social Conflict and War. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990. [An earlier, abridged version of this article, without most of the notes and without any of the annotated bibliography, was published as “Nuclear Fiction for Children” in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1988; but I consider this the definitive version of the article.
  • “Nuclear Family/Nuclear War,” Papers on Language and Literature, 26 (1990): pp. 134-142.
  • “Atomic Bomb Day” (pp. 32-33) and “Hiroshima Day (pp. 309-311) in Read More About It: An Encyclopedia of Information Sources on Historical Figures and Events. Vol. 3. Ann Arbor: The Pierian Press, 1989 (commissioned).
  • with Vladimir Gakov: “Nuclear-War Themes in Soviet Science Fiction: An Annotated Bibliography.” Science-Fiction Studies 16(1989): 67-84. (In this collaborative effort, the research was primarily Gakov’s responsibility; but I extensively revised and edited his first draft, and helped shape and write the introduction.) [Refereed]
  • “Nuclear Fiction for Children,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 1988, pp. 24-27[Commissioned]
  • “And That Was the Future . . . The World Will End Tomorrow,” Futures, August 1988, pp. 424-433 [Commissioned]
  • “Red Holocaust: The Atomic Conquest of the West,” Extrapolation, 28 (1987), pp. 319-329.
  • “SF Summit in Moscow.” Locus, October, 1987. [Refereed]
  • “Revival of Learning: Science After the Nuclear Holocaust in Science Fiction,” Phoenix from the Ashes: The Literature of the Remade World, ed. Carl Yoke. Greenwood Press, 1987. [Refereed]
  • “Nuclear War/Post-Nuclear Fiction,” Columbiana (Winter 1987), pp. 31-33
  • “Nuclear War Fiction Collection at Washington State University, The,” College & Research Libraries News, 48 (March, 1987), pp.115-18.
  • Resources for the Study of Nuclear War in Fiction,” Science-Fiction Studies, July 1986, 5 pp. [Refereed]
  • “Nuclear War in Science Fiction, 1945-1959,” Science-Fiction Studies, vol. 11, part 3 (1984), pp. 253-263. [Refereed]
  • “Americans Learn to Love the Bomb,” New York Times, July 17, 1985 (reprinted in the U.S. and abroad through the Times News Service. This article plus two interviews provided the basis for Konrad Ege’s article, “La culture populaire flirte avec la bombe,” Le Monde diplomatique, June 1986.
  • “The Day They Tested the Rec Room,” (short story) CoEvolution Quarterly (Summer 1981), pp. 116-1234.
  • “Sexuality and the Opposite Sex: Variations on a Theme by Théophile Gautier and Anais Nin,” Essays in Literature (Spring 1977), pp. 122-137. Edited version printed in Philip K. Jason. The Critical Response to Anis Nin.Westport: Connecticut, 1996. [Refereed]
  • “Versions of Immortality,” New Venture, 4 (Summer 1976), 1 p.
  • “Paul Aebischer and the OEGab d’Oliver,’” Romance Notes, Winter 1974, pp. 1-8. [Refereed]

Translations

  • Anna Comnena: Alexiad (selection on the Crusaders originally published in Reading About the World), reprinted in Brummett, Edgar, Hackett, Jewsbury, Taylor, Bailkey, Lewis, Wallbank, Silverberg: Civilization Past and Present,10th Edition, Addison Wesley Longman, 2002. Reprinted in the 11th edition, 2004.
  • Rene Descartes: selection from Discourse on Method (originally published in Reading About the World), published on a Web site supporting the Houghton Mifflin textbook, Mosaic: Perspectives on Western Civilization, 2001.
  • Leo Africanus: selection from Description of Africa (originally published in Reading About the World) reprinted in Middle Ages Reference Library (Farmington Hills, Minn.: Gale Research, 2000) in both hard covers and on CD-ROM. Also reprinted in a book containing materials for students to practice advance placement essay writing, published by Social Studies School Service, 2004. Adopted as  an Internet History Sourcebook by the Aga Khan Humanities Project, Tajikistan, 2005. Reprinted in High School United States History for the 11th Grade Level (Pearson Prentice Hall), a set of teaching materials in paper and electronic forms, 2006. Reprinted in The Making of the Modern World (University of Houston, 2006).

Photographs

  • Photograph from Vejer de la Frontera, Spain, in Seattle Times Sunday travel section, August 10, 2008.
  • Exhibit of photographs, Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections, Washington State University, Spring 2008.
  • Two photographs (of a Roman street in Turkey and Tudor cottages near Hever Castle) used in a National Geographic Channel documentary on the history of the toilet in the series Everyday Things, Nov. 7 2006.
  • Photo of roman toilet from Ephesus, printed in an article on the history of toilets, Environmental Building News, February 2004. Reprinted by HPAC Engineering newsletter, 2004. Used in a History Channel documentary called “Modern Marvels: Sewers,” and in a nonprofit educational video for Sacramento, California wastewater treatment plant tours 2005.
  • Photo of SCUE cyber café reproduced at About.com for an article about cyber cafes, December 2004.

Review Articles

  • Carpenter, Charles A. Dramatists and the Bomb: American and British Playwrights Confront the Nuclear Age, 1945-1964. Science-Fiction Studies, Vol. 27, pp. 318-319.
  • Seed, David, ed. Imagining Apocalypse: Studies in Cultural Crisis. Science-Fiction Studies, vol. 27, pp. 364-365.
  • Sallis, James. Ash of Stars: On the Writing of Samuel R. Delany, Utopian Studies 9 (1998), 312-314.
  • Bozzetto, Roger, Max Duperray, Alain Chareye-Mejan, eds. Eros: XI Congr/Aes du Cerli (Actes du XI colloque du Cerli, Aix-en-Provence Janvier 1990), Utopian Studies 3(1992):131-133.
  • Broderick, Mick. Nuclear Movies: A Critical Analysis and Filmography of International Feature Length Films Dealing with Experimentation, Aliens, Terrorism, Holocaust and Other Disaster Scenarios, 1914-1989, IAFA Newsletter, Summer, 1992, pp. 33-34.
  • Broderick, Mick. Nuclear Movies: A Critical Analysis and Filmography,” SFRA Review, June 1992, pp. 27-28.
  • Lenz, Millicent. Nuclear Age Literature for Youth,” SFRA Review, April 1992, pp. 32-34.
  1. Bruce Franklin, War Stars: The Superweapon and the American Imagination, for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (May 1989), pp. 48-51.
  • “Tom Moylan: Demand the Impossible: Science Fiction and the Utopian Imagination.Extrapolation Fall 1988, pp. 285-288.
  • “Rambo’s Relatives,” American Book Review, March/April 1986, 2 pp.
  • Review of six volumes of nuclear war fiction, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (Chicago, IL), March 1986, pp. 50-53.
  • “Dealing with Nuclear Catastrophe,” Science-Fiction Studies (Montreal, Quebec), July 1986, 2 pp.
  • Feature review: Newman, John and Michael Unsworth. Future War Novels: An Annotated Bibliography of Works in English Published Since 1946,” Reference Services Review, vol. 13, no. 1 (Ann Arbor, MI), 1985, p. 20.
  • “The Cretan Glance,” Modernist Studies (June 1982), pp. 245-247.
  • “Anais Nin: Delta of Venus,Under the Sign of Pisces: Anais Nin and Her Circle (Columbus, OH) (Winter 1978), 4 pp.
  • Three books on French surrealism: Yearbook on Comparative and General Literature, 19 (Bloomington, IN, 1970), 4 pp.

Creative Productivity

Poetry Readings

  • Poetry for Children, 1982.
  • Contemporary Poetry for Children, 1980.
  • Sex, Dope, and Cheap Thrills (for an off-campus group), 1978.
  • Science Fiction Poetry, 1977.
  • Medieval and Renaissance Women Poets, 1976, repeated 1977.
  • Excerpts from Nikos Kazantzakis: The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, 1976,
  • My translation of Jean Tardieu’s play: The Subway Lovers, 1975.
  • James Dickey, 1972.
  • Researched, wrote and read a lengthy poem entitled “ABM ABC” as my contribution to a panel discussion of a proposed antiballistic missile system, University of Idaho, 1969.

Other creative activity based on teaching and research

  • Transferred numerous photo tours to Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, WSU Library: http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/holland/masc/paul_brians/, Fall 2007.
  • Transferred CD discography to Holland Library and updated it with many new entries, 2006.
  • Created photo tour of Spain, Summer 2006, mounted on the World Civlizations site,: http://www.wsu.edu/~wldciv/tours/spain/
  • Original photos donated to the World Civilizations image repository in the library’s Division of Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Fall 2006.
  • Also created 40-minute video accompanied by music based on Spain photos, summer, 2006.
  • Began process of transferring video series of lectures on classical music to DVD and editing them into new versions, completed Spring 2005.
  • Created photo tour of Greece, 2005.
  • Created photo tour of China, completed 2005
  • Created online tour of Vienna, Prague, and Budapest based on my own photographs and mounted it on the World Civilizations Web site and donated high-resolution copies to Holland Library’s World Civilizations Image Database, 2004.
  • Donated hundreds of my photos of China and Greece to the World Civilizations Image Database in Holland Library, 2004.
  • Created a new, greatly expanded edition of Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction, and mounted it on the Web at https://brians.wsu.edu/2016/11/16/nuclear-holocausts-atomic-war-in-fiction/, 2003. Added several entries, 2004.
  • Created a Web tour of Ireland based on my own photos, focusing on architecture and archaeological sites for the General Education program and mounted it on the World Civilizations site, Summer 2003. Many of the photos have been mounted on a searchable database by Holland Library Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections.
  • With the aid of a Co-Teach grant, I completed a digitized collection of music from the library’s CDs now being served via streaming mp3 from the library’s audio reserves collection to students in Gen Ed 111, summer 2003. Besides selecting the music, I wrote extensive annotations to help students listen intelligently to the selections.
  • Scanned and edited my photos from the WSU World Civilizations tour of India and Thailand in 1992-1993, and created a Web site displaying them, and again donated high-resolution copies to the MASC collection.
  • Converted Humanities 303 from Speakeasy to Bridge format, 2003.
  • Created and maintain searchable databases on the Web for Anglophone fiction, science fiction, feature films, and compact discs in Holland Library. My filmography has been adopted as the official filmography of the Film Studies Program, linked to their Web site, Fall 2003.
  • Created a Web tour of Turkey based on my own photos, focussing on architecture and archaeological sites for the General Education program and mounted it on the World Civilizations site, Fall 2002. A larger selection of my photos has been mounted on a searchable database by Holland Library Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections.
  • Created a history of European classical music 1750-1914, for which I digitized sound samples, researched and annotated them, and mounted the result on the Holland server as streaming audio, Spring 2001.
  • Created a survey of world music for Gen Ed 110 (World Civilizations to 1500), digitized sound samples, researched and annotated them, and mounted the result on the Holland server as streaming audio, Summer 2001. Created and distributed CD-ROM,Aeos of the source files for use by World Civ faculty.
  • Selected and annotated the fiction for a display of science fiction in the library atrium during October, 2000.
  • Wrote a brief essay entitled “‘Postcolonial Literature’: Problems with the Term” and published it on the Web, Fall 1998.
  • Created a study guide for Arundhati Roy’s novel, The God of Small Things, and published it on the Web, 1998.
  • Created a Web site concerning ancient Japanese architecture for World Civilizations using my own photographs from a May, 1998 trip, Fall, 1998.
  • Created numerous on-line resources to teach Humanities 303 as an Extended Degree Programs class, including music and art assignments to be done by distance-learning students, introductions to the Enlightenment, European Romanticism, Realism and Naturalism, 19th-Century Russian Literature, The Influence of Nietzsche, 19th-Century Socialism, and “Misconceptions, Confusions, and Conflicts Concerning Socialism, Communism, and Capitalism, ” 1998.
  • Contributed and annotated several images from my personal photographs in Paris, Greece, Rome, India and Boston to the WSU media collection, 1996.
  • Created notes for Anglophone Literature course and mounted them on the World Wide Web, 1996.
  • Created study guides for Love in the Arts and put them on the World Wide Web, 1995.
  • Converted Hum 303 packet to HTML code and mounted it on the World Wide Web, 1994.
  • Created detailed study guides to the science fiction taught in English 333, attracting substantial attention from users around the country, 1994.
  • Created syllabus with linked resources for General Education 110 and mounted it on the Web, 1994-96.
  • Created supplement to my Nuclear Holocausts bibliography and mounted it on the Web.
  • Mounted Web version of my article, “Terminator vs. Terminator: Nuclear War as Video Game“.
  • Electronically published the translations of Lyubov Sirota’s Chernobyl poetry on the Web, adding illustrations from her book and from photographs provided personally by her. Mounted Russian texts of the originals on the Web, (1996).
  • Conceived of and supervised creation of a multimedia module on the history of writing in the West, 1994.
  • Created a seven-part series of videotapes tracing the history of European classical music for use in the WHETS version of my Humanities 303 course, Fall 1993.
  • A multimedia production of Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top,” Fall 1991.
  • Created incidental music tape for WSU Theatre production of Romeo and Juliet, featuring Renaissance music, Spring 1987, with Paula Elliot.
  • As a member of the materials subcommittee of the world civilizations planning group, helped create tapes of music to be used in Humanities 110 and 111. Most of the music is from my personal collection.
  • Created and catalogued collection of Medieval and Renaissance music on compact disc for Humanities courses, 1987.
  • Reading from The Wind in the Willows, Holland Library, 1985.
  • Reading of fiction depicting nuclear war, Holland Library, 1985.
  • Arranged and provided notes for exhibition in Holland Library: “Nuclear Holocausts: Holland Library’s Collection of Fiction Depicting Nuclear War and Its Aftermath,” 1985.
  • Reading of Joan D. Vinge’s short story “Tin Soldier” at the Gaia Coffeehouse, 1982.
  • Produced and coordinated series of cable FM broadcasts for English Department, 1982-85.
  • Produced and coordinated series of cable FM broadcasts for Humanities, 1982.
  • Organized and moderated program, “The Bomb and the Arts,” for Ground Zero Week, 1982.
  • Assembled, edited, recorded, and prepared notes for programs of music by women composers and women jazz artists for Women’s Arts Festival.
  • Assembled and arranged series of science fiction radio tapes for broadcast by library cable FM system.
  • Designed and created sets of tapes and notes covering the history of music from Gregorian Chant to Stravinsky for use in Humanities courses.

Professional Papers Presented

  • “Techniques for Mixing Text, Stills, and Clips in Computer-Based Film Lectures,” Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association, October 21, 2005.
  • “The Roots of Star Wars, or Why Princess Leia Fights Like a Girl,” Science Fiction Research Association, Las Vegas, July 2005.
  • “The Irrelevance of ‘Postcolonialism’ to South Asian Literature,” South Asian Literature Association, San Diego, December 27, 2003.

Published Conference Papers

  • “Teaching about Nuclear War through Fiction,” Nuclear War Education: A Survey of Different Perspectives and Resources, ed Robert Ehrlich. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1987. [Refereed]
  • “Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction, 1945-1982,” Literature and War: Reflections and Refractions, ed. Elizabeth W. Trahan. Monterey Institute of International Studies, 1985. Note: the title assigned to this paper by the editor is incorrect. It should have been “Some Distinguishing Characteristics of Nuclear War Fiction.” [Refereed]

Pedagogical papers and talks

  • “The Roots of Star Wars, or Why Princess Leia Fights Like a Girl,” Department of English Colloquium, 2005.
  • “Teaching Wole Soyinka,” Conference on Wole Soyinka, Central Florida University, February, 2003.
  • Presentation on creating and maintaining online audio reserves for the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Music Library Association annual meeting, in Pullman, May 2001.
  • Presentation to the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Music Library Association on music resources on the Internet, Seattle Public Library, Spring 1995. This involved extensive research preparing a printed guide for use by the librarians (a copy is in my file).
  • Joint talk (with Paula Elliot) on the library research project in the World Civilizations course, invited as presenters at a workshop entitled “Colleagues in Education,” dealing with faculty/librarian collaboration, Whitman College, 1992.
  • “Multimedia in a World Civilizations Course.” A joint lecture/multimedia demonstration (with Phil Scuderi) for “Computers Across the Curriculum: A Conference on Technology in the Freshman Year,” sponsored by the City University of New York, Office of Academic Computing, New York, 1992.
  • Slide lecture on “Nuclear Chic: Nuclear War Imagery in the Popular Culture.” This slide lecture was given in various forms to twelve audiences during 1989, including four sections of English 101, T.V. Reed’s Introduction to American Studies class, the Math/English/Honors students (and repeated for that group every year annually through 1993), the Unitarian churches of Moscow and Wenatchee, the Common Ministry at WSU, and Relaxicon (a science fiction convention in Moscow). It was also delivered as an invited address at the University of California-SDavis in June, 1989, and at Seattle University in the fall of 1989. In 1990, it was given at the following conferences, for which it was refereed: The International conference for the Fantastic in the Arts, Fort Lauderdale, FL; The Science Fiction Research Association, San Diego, CA; a Soviet-American conference called “Facing Apocalypse II,” Newport, RI; and the Conference of the Consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development, Dayton, OH. It was also delivered as part of the Washington Commission for the Humanities Inquiring Mind series at the WCH annual meeting (Tacoma) and for the Beta Omicron Chapter of Epsilon Sigma Alpha (Seattle). In 1991 it was delivered at a region science fiction convention in Spokane, at a meeting of a community group in Sequim, Washington, at Whitman College, and at Yakima Community College. It was given in 1992 at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference, at Edmonds Public Library, at Eastern Washington University, Cheney, for eight visiting faculty members from Far Eastern State University, Vladivostok. In 1997 I toured three German cities giving the presentation, and in the fall of 1999 made a version of it into a Web site called “Nuke Pop.”
  • “Learning About Nuclear War Through Fiction,” Arizona Honors Academy, Flagstaff, AZ, June 1988 (invited address).
  • “Nuclear War/Nuclear Families,” Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, Spring 1988. [Refereed]
  • “Nuclear War/Nuclear Families,” Modern Language Association, Winter, 1988. [Refereed]
  • “Nuclear War Fiction for Children,” Eaton Conference on War and Science Fiction, University of California, Riverside, Spring 1988.
  • “Teaching a Pilot Section of a Freshman Course in World Civilizations,” Conference on the First Year Experience, Toronto, Fall 1988. [Refereed]
  • with Paula Elliot: “A Library Biography Project for a World Civilizations Class,” Conference on Faculty-Librarian collaboration, Evergreen State College, Fall 1988. (About 2/3 of this paper was written by Ms. Elliot.)
  • “Nuclear War Fiction for Young Readers,” International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, Houston, 1987. [Refereed]
  • “The Russians and the Nuclear Threat: Teaching About Attitudes Toward Nuclear War Using Recent Fiction,” George Mason University Conference on Nuclear War and Peace Education, 1987. [Refereed]
  • “Science Fiction and Nuclear Reality,” Seventh World Congress of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War,” Moscow, USSR, 1987.
  • “The Nuclear War Fiction Collection at Washington State University,” Northwestern Popular Culture Association, Tacoma, WA, 1987 (invited).
  • “Red Holocaust: The Atomic Conquest of the United States in Fiction,” Science Fiction Research Association, San Diego, CA, 1986.
  • “Women Authors of Nuclear War Fiction,” jointly authored with Jane Winston-Dolan, InterFace ’85, Marietta, GA, 1985. [Refereed]
  • “The Revival of Learning: Science After the Nuclear Holocaust in Science Fiction,” Fifth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, Boca Raton, FL, 1984. [Refereed]
  • “Samuel R. Delany’s Triton as a Psychological Satire,” Fifth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, Boca Raton, FL, 1984. [Refereed]
  • “Nuclear War in Science Fiction, 1945-1959,” League of Women Voters, Moscow, ID, 1984.
  • “Nuclear War in Fiction: Some Defining Characteristics,” Pullman Unitarian Fellowship, 1984 (invited). Also for Lewiston-Clarkson Ground Zero, 1984.
  • “Surrealism and Rock,” WSU English Department, 1976.
  • “Technique in Erotic Fiction,” WSU English Department, 1974.

Professional Service Outside of WSU (consulting, services on boards and panels, editing journals, etc., with year)

  • Placed “Four Seasons in the Palouse” video on YouTube, Fall 2006, viewed by 129 people by 2/3/07, featured as streaming video on the official WSU video site, Experience WSU, Summer 2006.
  • Reviewed article for possible publication in Ariel: A Review of International Literature, 2006.
  • Reviewed article for possible publication in Borderlands, 2006
  • Paid reviewer of a book manuscript for Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
  • Paid reviewer of a book manuscript for Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
  • Referee for a proposal for a conference proposal for the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy, February 2004.
  • Paid reviewer for Foresight: Modern British Science Fiction, Wesleyan University Press, 2004.
  • Reviewed manuscript for Mosaic, June 2004.
  • Paid reviewer of World History Texts: Patterns of World History, for Longman Publishers, August 2004.
  • Paid reviewer of Understanding the Bible by Stephen Harris, 6th edtion, for McGraw-Hill, October 2004.
  • Paid reviewer for John P. McKay, et al.: A History of World Societies, Sixth Edition, 2003.
  • Paid reviewer for a proposed science fiction reader for St. Martin, Aeos Press, Fall, 2002.
  • Paid reviewer for proposed postcolonial reader from Houghton-Mifflin, April 2002.
  • Paid reviewer for From Outer Space to Innerspace, McGraw-Hill, October 1995.
  • Paid reviewer of Stephen Harris, Understanding the Bible, Mayfield Press, July 1995.
  • Evaluated manuscript on science fiction and politics for University of Georgia Press, Fall 1994.
  • Outside tenure reviewer for Joseph Dewey, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, 1992.
  • Paid reviewer of sixth edition of Sylvan Barnet’s A Short Guide to Writing About Literature, HarperCollins, 1991.
  • Editor, Nuclear Texts & Contexts, 1988-1992.
  • Editor, Membership Directory, International Society for the Study of Nuclear Texts and Contexts, 1989-1991.
  • Edited and published Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the Bomb: A Bibliography of Literature and the Arts by James R. Bennett and Karen Clark
  • Consultant to grant proposal on military research, 1987.
  • Contributed to “Nuclear War: A Teaching Guide, Humanities,” by Philip N. Gilbertson, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, December, 1984.
  • Sent course syllabi and information about nuclear war research to many professors across the country responding to the Bulletin article, 1985-86.
  • WCH-funded Symposium on “Liberation Theology,” 1984.
  • Proposal to WCH, “What the Women’s Movement Means to Ethnic Women: A Current and Historical Perspective,” Consulting Humanist, 1983.
  • Proposal to Idaho Commission on the Humanities on Early Childhood Education, 1980.
  • NEH-funded grant for a WSU production of Chinese opera, 1978.
  • WCH-funded series on teaching religion in the public schools for the WSU Religious Studies Program, 1977.
  • YWCA-sponsored “Early Childhood Education,” 1976-77.
  • NEH-funded program on sex education for KSPS TV , 1974.

Committee or Administrative Service at WSU (Committee memberships, offices, with dates)

  • Faculty Status Committee, 2005-2007.
  • University Advisory Committee on Computing and Telecommunications, 2006-2007.
  • Chair, Faculty Senate Academic Integrity Task Force, 2005. Submitted final report 2005.
  • Represented Graduate School at a doctoral dissertation defense, Department of Economics, 2003.
  • Participant in the Critical Thinking Project, Summer & Fall, 2003.
  • Represented Graduate School at a doctoral dissertation defense, Department of Psychology, 2002.
  • Film Studies Steering Committee, 2001-2008.
  • Chair, Technology Subcommittee, Film Studies Program, 2001-2008.
  • Student Publications Board, 2000-2002.
  • Library Advisory Committee, 1999-2001.
  • Represented Graduate School at a doctoral dissertation defense, College of Education, 1998.
  • African Studies Committee, 1992-96.
  • Coordinating committee to plan events for observing the quincentennial of Columbus’ voyage to the New World, 1992.
  • CIR subcommittee to establish video standards for the campus network, 1992-1993.
  • Multimedia Planning Group, 1991-1993.
  • Nominations committee for Faculty Senate officers, 1990-1992.
  • Chair, Academic Steering Committee on Computing and Telecommunications, 1989-91.
  • Member, Academic Steering Committee on Computing and Telecommunications, 1988-89.
  • Planning Committee of the World Civilizations faculty, 1989-90.
  • Faculty Senate, 1987-90.
  • Committee to review applications for summer support for graduate students, for the Associate Vice Provost for Research, 1988.
  • Helped design and produce a brochure for the Humanities Core Curriculum Project, with Jo Hockenhull and Paula Elliot, Summer 1987.
  • Selected as teacher of pilot section of Humanities/World Civilizations 110: The New Stone Age to 1500, Fall 1987 and 1988.
  • Curriculum Committee of the World Civilizations faculty, Spring 1987-1990.
  • Materials Committee of the World Civilizations faculty, Spring 1987-1990.
  • NEH Faculty Group (Planning Committee for new NEH-funded World Civilizations courses), 1987.
  • NEH World Civilizations Advisory Committee, Fall, 1986-88.
  • Reinstatement Committee, 1984.
  • Academic Advising Subcommittee (Academic Affairs Committee), 1983-86; Chair, 1984-85.
  • President, WSU Chapter of AAUP, 1982-83.
  • Vice-President, WSU Chapter of AAUP, 1981-82
  • Peace Studies Committee, 1981-1985
  • Member, Religious Studies Faculty, 1980?-1990.
  • New Student Orientation, 1970-75.
  • Freshman-Faculty Weekend, 1968-74.
  • Coordinator, ASWSU Draft Counseling Center, 1972.
  • EPC Subcommittee on ROTC, 1969-70.
  • Coordinator, Humanities courses, 1972-present.

College or Division

  • Reviewer of Birgitta Ingemanson for promotion in Foreign Languages, 2007.
  • Reviewer of Prof. Zhin-Min Dong for promotion in Foreign Languages, 2004.
  • Chair, Committee to review candidates for the Sahlin Excellence in Service Award, 2000 -2002.
  • Committee to do initial planning for symposium on “Liberal Arts in the New Millennium.”
  • Represented the College at one meeting of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce committee to plan Millennium observances.
  • Division Library Committee, 1989-1993.
  • Committee to review candidates for the Mullen Award, for the Dean of the College of Sciences and Arts, 1988.
  • Evaluation of Transfer credits for Humanities courses, 1981-present.
  • Examining students in Summer Honors Reading Program.

Department

  • Director of Undergraduate Studies, 2004-2008.
  • Member, Committee on Curriculum and Planning, 2003-2005.
  • Coordinator, Humanities courses, 1970-2008.
  • English Department Library Liaison, 2001-2004.
  • Search committee, Modern British Literature search, Fall 2001-Spring 2002.
  • Committee to revise departmental evaluation forms, 2000-2001.
  • MA Exam committee 1999-2000
  • Mock job interviews with graduate students, Fall 1998.
  • Chair, search committee for creative writing position, 1998.
  • *Undergraduate Studies Committee, 1998-present.
  • Chair, Teaching and Technology Committee, 1996-present.
  • Member, Teaching and Technology Committee, 2001.
  • Chair’s Advisory Committee, Spring 1996.
  • Chair, MA Exam Committee, Fall 1992-Spring 1993.
  • MA Exam Committee, 1991.
  • Search committee, Tri-Cities position, 1989.
  • Editor, English News and Notes, 1989-1992.
  • Search committee for director of Avery Microcomputer Laboratory.
  • Undergraduate Studies Committee, 1992.
  • Library Committee, 1970-?, 1988-1993.
  • Temporary member of Graduate Studies Committee (replacing Louise Schleiner), Spring, 1988.
  • Avery Microcomputer Laboratory Policy Committee, 1988-1989.
  • Graduate Faculty member, 1988-2008.
  • Chair, Graduate Foreign Language Competency Examination Committee, 1987-2001.
  • *Preparation and distribution of publicity about the Humanities program, mostly aimed at new students, 1980-present.
  • Scholarship Committee, 1986-1992.
  • Committee to Design a New Faculty Evaluation Form, Spring 1975.
  • Freshman Composition Exemption Examination Committee, 1974-1984.
  • Committee to review requirements for English majors, 1972.
  • Committee to form a Chairman’s Advisory Committee.

Other Service at WSU

Public Lectures on Campus on Scholarly Topics

  • “The Roots of Star Wars, or Why Princess Leia Fights Like a Girl,” several times for recruiting events 2007-2008.
  • “Art of the Counter-Culture in the 1960s,” an invited illustrated address associated with the Museum of Art’s exhibition, “Art & Context: the 50s and 60s,”  Nov. 2, 2006.
  • Showing of video based on my photos of Spain, Holland Library, Nov. 6, 2006.
  • Panel on Wole Soyinka with the author participating, February 3, 2005. Also introduced Soyinka’s poetry reading the same day.
  • “The Roots of Star Wars, or Why Princess Leia Fights Like a Girl,” Departmental Colloquium, repeated for Art à la Carte, 2005.
  • Talk on My Fair Lady and English usage after a performance of the musical at Portland Center Stage, February 27, 2005.
  • ”Architecture from China,” Art a la carte presentation with Trevor Bond, based on my photographs now in the Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections World Civilizations database, 2004.
  • “Research at a Distance,” presentation for Critical Thinking Project series on English 567 course offered via distance learning. February 5, 2004.
  • Presentation of multimedia samples from my “Love in the Arts” class for WSU Preview, Spring 2000, 2001 & 2002.
  • “Three Indian Authors: Tagore, Narayan, and Desai” English Department Graduate Program Colloquium, November 28, 2001.
  • Invited presentation to the Foreign Languages Department on Internet publication and teaching (paid), April 14, 2001.
  • “Krishna, the Lover, in Art,” Art a la Carte presentation, February, 2001.
  • Organized and ran Indian film series Fall 2000, with Azfar Hussain. I helped to choose the films, secured them, scheduled them, wrote and distributed almost all of the publicity and trained Azfar in the use of the equipment to show DVDs and VHS tapes.
  • Three presentations of multimedia samples from my “Love in the Arts” class for New Student Programs, Spring, Summer, and Fall, 1999.
  • “The Chutneyfication of Literature,” readings from and remarks about recent South Asian literature, Art /* la carte series, Fall 1998.
  • “Annotating The Satanic Verses: An Example of Internet Research and Publication,” English Department colloquium, Spring 1997.
  • “Medieval Songs” multimedia presentation with Paula Elliot, for the WSU Foundation Silver Associates, March, 1997.
  • “Classic American Love Songs,” for the Math-English Honors Competition program, 1996-1997.
  • “World Civilizations Materials on the World Wide Web,” World Civilizations workshop, August, 1996.
  • Lecture on Hildegard of Bingen’s poetry as part of a Hildegard symposium sponsored by the History Club, Fall 1994.
  • Lectures to World Civilizations workshop August, 1994 on African Literature and African art and architecture (the latter using multimedia materials).
  • Presentation to visiting journalism teachers of relevant resources on the Internet, for the Journalism Department,July 1994 .
  • Presentation to World Civilization faculty workshop on teaching about the music and poetry of India, August 1993. Also participated in a panel discussion of the experiences of those of us who had gone on the WSU-sponsored trip to India in December 1992-January 1993.
  • Multimedia lecture on early African civilizations for Residence Life Staff during program “Ticket to Tomorrow: Issues for Understanding the World We Live In,” 1993.
  • Talk on my project to edit and publish the Chernobyl poems of Liubov Sirota, for visiting faculty members from Far Eastern University, Vladivostok, 1992.
  • Lecture on the history of Judaism, World Civilizations workshop, 1992.
  • Lecture on Medieval lyric poetry and music, World Civilizations Workshop, 1991.
  • Presentation on World Civilization multimedia project, Faculty Day, 1991.
  • See above, “Professional Papers Presented,” for details of presentations on campus of “Nuclear Chic.”
  • Talk on nuclear war fiction scholarship to English and Math Scholarship contestants, 1988.
  • “Strategies for Capturing Student Interest,” part of the Faculty Seminars on Effective Teaching sponsored by the WSU Faculty Development Committee, March 1988.
  • “Nuclear War in Science Fiction, ” Palouse SANE, CUB noontime series on War and the Arts, September 1987.
  • University-wide talk on my nuclear war research and trip to the Soviet Union, September, 1987 (invited, sponsored by Department of English).
  • “An Introduction to Nuclear War in Fiction,” Stevens Hall, 1987.
  • “Nuclear War Fiction for Young Readers,” to English and Math Scholarship contestants, 1987.
  • Talk on my research on nuclear war fiction, to English and Math Scholarship contestants, 1986.
  • “Underground Comix,” Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections, Holland Library, 1986.
  • “The New Censorship: Feminists and Pornography,” Invited address for Library Faculty Award Presentation, 1984.
  • “Science Fiction and Nuclear War,” (Ground Zero: “The Bomb and the Arts” Symposium, 1982.
  • “Current Feminist Science Fiction,” Women’s Center, 1978.
  • “Pornography and Erotic Art,” Sex Information Center Staff, 1979 (twice).
  • “Feminism and Science Fiction,” 1979.
  • “Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time,” Women’s Center, 1978.
  • “Science Fiction and the Idea of the American Frontier,” American Studies Group, 1978.
  • “Images of Childhood in Art and Literature,” 1976.
  • “Sex and Sexuality in Literature,” Women’s Art Festival, 1975.
  • Lectures and debates for the League for the Promotion of Militant Atheism, 1972-74.
  • “The Oppression of Women in Literature,” 1970.

Guest Lectures to colleagues’ classes

  • “Writing and Publishing Science Fiction,” for Paula Coomer’s course on writing science fiction and horror, summer, 2005.
  • South Asian Literature in English and Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey, presentation to Asia 301, February 2004.
  • Using multimedia to present music in the classroom, a demonstration involving classic American popular songs for Camille Roman, English 555 seminar, March 2002.
  • Art on Biblical Themes, for English/Humanities 335, October 29, 2001.
  • Media lecture on Krishna, god of love, for Virginia Hyde graduate seminar, April 18, 2001.
  • Art and music on Biblical themes, two lectures for English 335, Fall, 1998.
  • Presentation of Internet resources for the study of English to English 512, Fall, 1995-1997.
  • Presentations on “postcolonial” studies to English 512, Fall, 1996 & 1997.
  • Lecture on the poetry of N/(c)gritude for a minicourse on African studies, Spring 1993.
  • Lecture on women poets before 1600, for Barbara Harbach’s Women’s Studies class, 1993.
  • Talk on my project to edit and publish the Chernobyl poems of Liubov Sirota, for Susan-Wyche Smith’s English 198 class, 1992.
  • Slide lecture on love in art for Deborah Haynes,Aeo art history class, 1992.
  • See above, “Professional Papers Presented,” for details of presentations on campus of “Nuclear Chic.”
  • “Feminist Utopias,” Women’s Studies 200: Introduction to Women’s Studies, Spring, 1987.
  • “Exodus,” English 335, The Bible as Literature, Spring 1987.
  • “Nuclear War in Fiction,” for the Continuing Education evening course, “Nuclear War: Issues of the Day,” 1985.
  • “The Aftermath of World War III in Fiction,” Seminar on WWIII, Political Science 322, 1984.
  • “Women in Science Fiction,” Foreign Lang. 505, Seminar on Images of Women in the Arts, 1984.
  • “Religion and Nuclear War in Fiction, 1945-1982,” Religious Studies Seminar, 1984.
  • “Death in Children’s Books,” UNIV 280, 1982.
  • “Interracial Children’s Books,” Education Seminar, 1981, repeated for Child and Family Studies class, 1982.
  • “Contemporary Children’s Poetry,” Education Seminar, 1981.
  • “Emile Zola’s Germinal and Nineteenth-Century Radicalism,” French Civilization, 1980.
  • “Women in Erotic Art,” Women Artists Fine Arts course, 1979.
  • “Children’s Picture Books,” two lectures for English 495, 1978.
  • “Pornography and Erotic Art,” Psychology 230 (Human Sexuality); 8 times.
  • “Science Fiction and the Idea of the American Frontier,” 1979, Engl/Hist 316.
  • “Sex in Underground Comix,” 1974, English seminar on Sex in Literature.
  • “Atheism,” 1974, Philosophy 101.
  • “Science Fiction,” 1974, English 101.

Computer-oriented service at WSU

  • Installed self-designed presentations on classical art and architecture on departmental laptops for use by Humanities instructors, 2005-2006.
  • Set up and trouble-shot the departmental portable computer, Fall 1997.
  • Helped configure and make sure standards were met for classroom multimedia/computer equipment in Avery, 1997-present.
  • Proofreading and editing Richard Hooker’s on-line World Civilizations course, 1997.
  • *World Civilizations home page Web master, 1995-2005.
  • Gathered numerous resources from the World Wide Web for adding images to the WSU media collection and helped draw up criteria for adding to the collection.
  • Gathered, downloaded, and printed out large quantities of material relating to Africa for Abdoulaye Saine, chair of the African Studies Committee, 1994.
  • Gave extensive computer training to Departmental Secretary Nelly Zamora early in the summer of 1994.
  • Trained WSU News Bureau staff in using the Internet for their work, Spring 1994.
  • Presented uses of the Internet for humanists at a workshop sponsored by WSU Computing entitled “CIRcling the Globe,” 1992.
  • Instructed colleagues and departmental secretaries in using e-mail, 1992-1993.
  • Installed memory upgrade in the computer of the secretary of the Office of General Education, 1993.
  • Answered numerous trouble-shooting calls, 1986-present.

Other Service at WSU

  • Regularly requested science fiction, classical music by women and African-Americans, and films on DVD for addition to the MMR collection.
  • Maintained an informal list of information on “postcolonial” and South Asian literature for local faculty and students.
  • Donated over a hundred volumes of nuclear war fiction to the WSU library, 2005.
  • Donated over a hundred underground comic books, alternative newspapers and other ephemera from the 1960s to the WSU library Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, 2005.
  • Conceived of and helped plan for visit to campus by Nigerian author Wole Soyinka and Soyinka expert Femi Euba, funded, 2003-2004.
  • Donated over 700 slides of European art and architecture to the Department of Fine Arts slide collection, 2004.
  • Donated copies of the New York Times Book Review and Locus to the Bookie trade book department, 2000-2004.
  • Created and maintained Palouse Cultural Events Calendar, the only online source which combined events both on and off campus for Pullman and Moscow, ending Fall 2005.
  • Donated large collection of classical music and film soundtrack long-playing records and a DVD player to the Music Library, 2003.

Professional Service Outside of WSU

  • Served on review committee for best graduate student paper contest for the Science Fiction Research Association, 2006-2008, chaired committee 2008.
  • Donated 366 volumes of nuclear war fiction to the University of Iowa, 2005.

Off-Campus Lectures

  • Common Errors in English Usage, Wordstock, Portland, Oregon, November 11, 2007.
  • “Turning Web Writing into Printed Publications,” workshop at Wordstock, Portland, Oregon, November 11, 2007.
  • Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451,  invited public lecture for the Fishtrap Center, Enterprise, Oregon, February 21, 2006, repeated for King County Library System, Shoreline, Washington, Fall 2007.
  • Nuke/Pop slide lecture, Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Seattle, August 6, 2004 (paid).
  • Readings from Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, for the Pullman Historical Club, 1999. (Paid).
  • Formal debate with Douglas Wilson at the University of Idaho on the subject, Resolved: “Belief in God is necessary for a valid ethics,” Fall 1999.
  • Invited talk and debate about Christian fundamentalism at St. Andrew, Aeos College, Moscow, Idaho, Fall 1999.
  • Presentation on Rushdie research for students being recruited at Vancouver, via WHETS, Spring 1998.
  • Talk on the flood narrative as part of the Moscow Public Library,Aeos Community Enrichment Program discussion series on Genesis, Fall 1997.
  • Five presentations at the 28th annual Amerikastudientagung, Bonn, Germany (workshop for German high school teachers of American studies, invited and paid for by the American Information Service, Department of State):
  • May 8, 1997: Presentation of the film Blade Runner
  • May 9, 1997: “Future Visions: A Survey of American Science Fiction.”
  • May 9 & 10, 1997: “Teaching Science Fiction” workshops
  • May 10, 1997: “Blade Runner: The Book and the Movie”
  • May 11, 1997: “Nuclear Chic: Images of Nuclear War in American Culture” at the James F. Byrnes Institute, Stuttgart (invited and paid for by the Institute)
  • May 14, 1997: “Nuclear Chic: Images of Nuclear War in American Culture” at the Carl Schurz Haus, Freiberg (invited and paid for by the Haus).
  • For a group touring Provence, a lecture/reading on troubadour poetry, June, 1996 (paid).
  • For a group touring classical Greek sites, on the Arcadian ideal in European culture, and a two talks about and performance of brief excerpts from the Oresteia of Aeschylus, May 1993.
  • For a community study group, a lecture on Nigerian author Wole Soyinka, 1993.
  • “Children’s Nuclear War Fiction,” Seattle University, 1989.
  • “Learning About Nuclear War Through Fiction,” Seattle University, 1989.
  • “How to Argue with Christians,” Student Humanist Association, University of Idaho, 1989.
  • “Bible Abuse: The Misuse of the Bible.” Student Humanist Association, University of Idaho, 1989.
  • “Teaching a Pilot Section of World Civilizations,” Danforth Scholars Group, February 1988.
  • “Science Fiction and the Future of Government,” invited address at a Washington State 4-H conference on constitutional futures, Olympia, February 1988.
  • Talk on my research and trip to the USSR to Social Concerns Group, at University of Idaho, 1987.
  • “Nuclear War in Fiction,” two talks at Pullman High School, 1987.
  • “Nuclear War in Fiction,” Eastern Washington University, Spokane Higher Education Center, 1987.
  • “Recent Nuclear War Fiction,” Lewis and Clark College library noon lecture series, 1987.
  • “The Best Nuclear War Fiction for Young Readers,” Young Readers Group, Public Library, 1987.
  • “Atheism and Humanism,” Moscow High School, 1976-1987.
  • “Teaching About Utopias/Dystopias,” Society for Utopian Studies, Monterey, CA, 1986.
  • “Nuclear War in Science Fiction,” Moscow Science Fiction Convention, 1985.
  • “Beautiful Books for Preschoolers,” Cooperative Daycare Center, 1982.
  • “Books for Children of Single Parents,” Palouse Area Singles Group, 1978.
  • “Nonfiction Books for Preschoolers,” Community Day Care School staff, 1978.
  • “Pornography and Erotic Art,” for the Palouse Area Singles Group, 1978.
  • “The Western Background to Racism,” symposium on Racism and the Public Schools, 1978.
  • “Pornography, Obscenity and Privacy,” symposium on privacy, Pacific Lutheran University, 1978.
  • “Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time,” for the Common Ministry, 1978.
  • “Atheism,” formal debate with Professor Nicholas Gier, Philosophy Department, University of Idaho, 1973.

Off-Campus Presentations and Websites

  • Slightly revised WSU/Palouse photo tour, 2005-2006.
  • Added a number of regional photographic tours to my WSU/Palouse Web site, 2003-4.
  • Conducted a small workshop for teachers on using science fiction in the classroom, Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Seattle, August 7, 2004 (paid).
  • Created a Web tour of WSU and the Palouse aimed especially at orienting new graduate students and faculty to the area, August, 2002, at http://users.pullman.com/brians/index.html.
  • Interview on the protests against the World Trade Organization for Web-based radio station in New Orleans, 1999.
  • “Current Changes in the U.S.S.R.: A Recent Visitor’s View,” panel of Russians and Americans discussing nuclear war, sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Spokane, Sacred Heart Hospital Auditorium.
  • “Women: Planning for the Future” (Facilitator), Northwest Women’s Studies Association Annual Conference, Moscow, Idaho, 1979.
  • “Sex in Science Fiction” (chair and speaker), Moscow Science Fiction Convention, 1979.
  • “The Radical Teacher,” Conference on English Education, Portland, Oregon, 1971.

Radio and Television Appearances

  • Radio interview about Common Errors in English Usage on Youth Radio, KPFT Houston, August 14, 2009.
  • Radio panel with author David Guterson about Snow Falling on Cedars, BBC World Book Club, February 7, 2009.
  • Radio interview about Common Errors in English Usage on The Lionel Show, Air America, December 18, 2008.
  • Panelist on World Book Club interview with Wole Soyinka, BBC radio, May 2007.
  • Radio interview about “Mr. Gradgrind’s Literal Answers to Rhetorical Questions, by Scott Simon for the National Public Radio Show Weekend Edition Saturday, Fall, 2007.
  • Radio interview about nuclear war in films: “Nuclear Disarmament: An Impossible Dream?” interviewed by Margot Adler for the National Public Radio show Justice Talking, October 9, 2006.
  • Radio interview about English errors on “Wordmaster,” Voice of America, August 23, 2005.
  • Radio interview about “Common Errors in English”, KUOW, Seattle, April 26, 2004.
  • Radio interview on Stanislaw Lem,Aeos Solaris and the Tarkovsky and Soderbergh film versions of it, broadcast January 25, 2003, Radio Free Europe (translated into Russian).
  • Radio interview on Common Errors, Nashville Public Radio. 2002.
  • Radio interview on nuclear war fiction, KXLY, Seattle, 1988
  • Radio interview on nuclear war fiction, KXL, Portland, 1988
  • Appeared in a Soviet documentary about the Seventh IPPNW Congress broadcast in the Soviet Union, 1987.
  • Radio interview on trip to Russia, KXLY, Spokane, 1987.
  • Radio interview on trip to Russia and research, KPBX, Spokane, 1987.
  • Radio interviews on current trends in nuclear war fiction on KIRO (Seattle), KING (Seattle), 1985; KRPL (Moscow, ID), KXLY (Spokane), 1984
  • “Nuclear War in Fiction,” segment on”Grassroots Journal,” KWSU-TV, 1984
  • Produced programs for women’s music program on Polish composer Graznia Bacewicz and Ella Fitzgerald, KZUU-FM, 1982
  • Produced and hosted weekly show, “Radio’s Golden Age,” KZUU-FM, 1982-1984.
  • “Children’s Picture Books,” KWSU-TV, Pullman, WA, 1978.
  • “The Pagan Origins of Christmas,” KUID-FM, 1975.
  • Panel on sex education, KSPS-TV, Spokane, 1974.
  • Debate with Nicholas Gier on Theism vs. Atheism on KUID-FM, 1973.
  • Panel discussion of a new Idaho obscenity statute, KUID-TV, 1973.
  • “The New Pornography,” interview, KUID-FM, Moscow, ID, 1973.

Articles about my work

(many others not yet listed here)

  • “Speaking of English,” by Peter Monaghan, Chronicle of Higher Education, May 28, 2004, p. A6 & A8.

Miscellaneous Service

  • Donated large collection of nuclear war fiction to Holland Library, Fall 2007.
  • Donated a collection of science fiction by women authors to Holland Library, Fall 2006.
  • Exhibit of international Disney Comic books at Neill Public Library, Summer, 2006.
  • Exhibit of international Floaty Pens at Brain Education Library, Fall 2006.
  • Created a photo calendar of my regional photographs and posted it for free downloading on my personal Website, 2005.
  • Supplied photos of the McConnell Mansion in Moscow for a presentation by Kathleen Ryan of Design North to the Latah County Historical Society, July, 2005.
  • Supplied photo of Japan for Asia Program poster, WSU, 2005.
  • Identified and contributed music for presentation by Birgitta Ingemanson for the rededication of Thompson Hall, September 23, 2000.
  • Donated a large collection of comic books and other ephemera relating to nuclear war to Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections in Holland/New Library, 2000.
  • Donated over 1,000 underground comic books, underground newspapers, and other ,Aeo60s-related items to Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections in Holland/New Library, 2000.
  • Consulted with representatives of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Cooperative Extension Service about distance learning via the Web.
  • Coached soprano Karen Wicklund on the pronunciation of words in Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky for a concert, Spring 1995.
  • Spoke on career planning at New Faculty Orientation, Fall 1993.
  • Selected and prepared color photocopies and captions from slides in my collection of popular culture nuclear weapons imagery for a touring exhibit entitled “Yes, In My Back Yard?” curated by Helen Slade, opening in Richland, Washington, February 4-27, 1992. Exhibit traveled to WSU, Spring 1996.
  • *Acting, from 1990 to the present, as agent and editor for Liubov Sirota, a poet living now in Kiev, who was injured by the Chernobyl explosion. I have arranged for her poems about the disaster to be translated and published and solicited from Dr. Adolph Harash of Moscow State University an introduction, which I also had translated. Selections were read to music on the National Public Radio program Terra Infirma on April 1, 1992; the poem “Radiophobia” was published in the August 5, 1992 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association; one other poem was published in New York Quarterly, all the poems and a revised version of the introduction appeared in Calyx , Winter 1992/1993, and in Selections on Words and Healing edited by Sue Brannan Walker & Rosaly Demaios Roffman (Mobile, Alabama: Negative Capability Press). The article by Dr. Harash has also appeared in the Canadian magazine Woman’s World. I continue to communicate with Sirota from time to time. One poem was reprinted in a Calyx Books anthology of women, Aeos poetry, 2002.
  • In late 1999 I edited, annotated, and added to the site pictures from the abandoned city of Pripyat and the Chernobyl reactor by Lyubov Sirota’s son Sasha. During January 2001, edited more pictures by Lyubov Sirota herself, with her annotations translated by Birgitta Ingemanson.
  • Advised Professor Yuri Mironetz of Far Eastern University, Vladivostok, on how to design and teach a course in science fiction (the first to be offered in Russia), 1992. Supplied Prof. Mironetz with numerous books and articles to aid him in his teaching. The course was successfully given Spring, 1993.
  • Compiled and edited an anthology of literature for use in World Civilizations (Gen Ed 110), consisting of mostly lyric poetry from many cultures, with an introductory teacher’s guide written by myself. Reproduced by the General Education Office and distributed to 110 instructors at the World Civilizations workshop, Summer, 1992.

Community Service

  • Member, film committee, Kenworthy Film Society, 2002-2007. I recommended many of the films shown at this nonprofit theater.
  • Computer Services for Pullman NOW and Palouse SANE, 1980s.
  • Membership Secretary, Pullman NOW, 1986-89.
  • Secretary, Washington State Conference of AAUP, 1983-84; reelected for 1984-86.
  • “Why It Is in the Interests of Whites to Combat Racism,” talk, Pullman, YWCA, 1983.
  • Speaker for NOW on Awareness Week Panel: “How can abortion be made as unnecessary as possible?” 1983
  • Judge, Pullman Chapter of NOW, essay context, 1983.
  • Secretary, Pullman Chapter of the National Organization for Women, 1982-83.
  • “The Causes and Prevention of War,” address, Whitman College, 1980.
  • Training draft counselors for the Walla Walla Society of Friends, 1980.
  • Panel discussion on draft registration, Whitman College, 1980.
  • Talks on the draft to various campus and community groups, workshops and training sessions, 1980.
  • Class on “Religious Themes in Science Fiction,” with Rev. Roger Pettenger, Common Ministry, 1977.
  • Free University class on children’s picture books, taught six times, 1977-82
  • Annual lecture on “Atheism and Humanism” to world history classes at Moscow High School, Moscow, ID, 1976-1988.
  • Coordinator, Community Free University, 1970-present.
  • Leader of various classes in the CFU, including two dealing with literature: “Intimacy” and “Contemporary Utopias”, 1969-1971.
  • Author of a draft counseling column for the Daily Evergreen, 1970-73.
  • Draft counseling, 1968-1980.

The Unity of The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses has been attacked by many critics as incoherent, as a disorganized mixture of plots, themes, and characters. Even a cursory survey of the preceding notes reveals that Rushdie has sought to knit together the various threads of his novel by introducing a host of cross-references, repeating the names of characters, catch phrases, and images in a complex network of allusions and echoes. Yet these might be viewed as desperate attempts to give a surface appearance of unity to a basically chaotic work.

I am persuaded that The Satanic Verses is indeed unified by a related set of topics, all of them widely acknowledged in earlier criticism, but perhaps not arrayed in the way I do here. This is my personal understanding of what holds the various plots of the novel together in a way that articulates a consistent world view.

Rushdie says that novels do not lay down rules, but ask questions. In fact he claims that by asking questions, good fiction can help to create a changed world. Novels like The Satanic Verses don’t settle debates: they articulate the terms of debate and ask hard questions of the opposing sides, thereby helping to usher “newness” into the world. One of the unifying themes of The Satanic Verses is newness, or change. It attacks rigid, self-righteous orthodoxies and celebrates doubt, questioning, disruption, innovation. This much is obvious.

But Rushdie is focussing on a particular set of issues relating to rigidity and change: those identified with what is sometimes called “identity politics.” It is unfortunate that this term is primarily associated with the opponents of such politics because it so aptly sums up what feminism, Afrocentrism, gay pride, national liberation movements and a host of other causes have in common.

People who find themselves excluded or suppressed by dominant groups try by various means to find an effective voice and tools for action to create power and authority for themselves. It is these struggles that are the basic underlying matter of Rushdie’s novel. The question that is asked throughout this novel is “What kind of an idea are you?” In other words, on what ideas, experiences, and relationships do you base your definition of yourself–your identity?

People who find themselves identified as “foreigners” or “aliens” often find unwelcome hostile identities imposed upon them. The common catch-phrase in literary theory these days is “demonization,” and it is this term that Rushdie makes concrete in his novel by turning Saladin, the immigrant who is most determined to identify with the English, literally into a demon. (Of course he is also able to earn his living only by taking on the guise of a space alien.) The other immigrants who assume horns later in the novel express the same satirical view of English bigotry. But this is only the beginning of Rushdie’s exploration of the theme of identity.

In the distant past, European observers writing about people in colonized nations often distinguished between “unspoiled natives” who dwelled in childlike, ignorant innocence which was part of their charm, and others who had been “spoiled” by contact with a European civilization they could mimic but never truly master. This formula not only justified the colonial domination of colonized “children” as a form of parental concern, even charity (“the white man’s burden”), but rationalized measures taken to prevent inhabitants of the colonies from gaining the education and jobs they would have needed to rule themselves in the modern world.

Less obviously vicious but still prejudicial was a later formula according to which writing about what is now called “postcolonial” literature emphasized the position of writers from the “third world” writing in English as exiles, uprooted and stranded in alien, often hostile cultures far from home, working in a language that may not have been their own. Immigrants were called “exiles” whether they had actually been driven from their homeland or–as was much more common–they had sought increased opportunity by voluntarily moving abroad. “Exile” is a weak image, and Rushdie rejects it. His immigrants are sources of energy and creativity, busily redefining the culture of their adopted homelands.

In a more recent period, the standard formula has referred to the “center” and the “periphery.” Europe and the U.S. constitute the center, writers from nations like Nigeria, Jamaica, and India belong to the periphery. Their voices are said to have been “marginalised,” thrust from the center, forced into the margins. People using this language do so with more or less irony; but all too often it becomes just another way of saying that we should pay attention to our less fortunate fellows. The challenge of “marginalised” voices is to find the center, or shift it to themselves, seize the podium, and speak their piece.

What Rushdie does in The Satanic Verses is to reverse these terms. He challenges the English/European/white sense of identity. He rejects its claims to centrality. London is changed into an exotic land where people follow strange customs (wiping themselves “with paper only” and eating bony fish). People of traditional Anglo-Saxon stock are almost entirely absent from the London of The Satanic Verses. Instead the city swarms with immigrants: Indians, Bengalis, Pakistanis, Jamaicans, German Jews, etc. He reminds the English that they too were colonized, by the Romans and the Normans.

The only major character with a traditional English heritage is Pamela, who is striving mightily to escape that very heritage and mistakes Saladin for an exotic “alien” who can link her to India, when the main reason he is drawn to her is that she represents escape from the Indianness he is trying to flee. (This same sort of cross-purposes Indian-European relationship is also dealt with in a Raja Rao’s remarkable 1960 novel The Serpent and the Rope.) Rosa Diamond is an Englishwoman yearning to become Latin American or to be conquered by invading Normans. The bigots who beat Chamcha in the police van are all–as he notes–no more English in their heritage than he, but his color and identity as a postcolonial immigrant allows them to treat him as a complete alien.

Minor Anglo-Saxon characters are venal (Hal Valance), bigoted (the punks who spit on the food in the Shaandaar Café), tyrannical (Margaret Thatcher), or stupid (Eugene Dumsday). Rushdie has turned the tables on Anglo-Americans. Their travel writers have for generations dwelt on the failings of the benighted natives of far-off lands: it is now their turn to become a set of cartoons, to provide the background for the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the really important characters.

But Rushdie does not engage in this sort of caricature to privilege his immigrants as somehow morally superior. They are all morally flawed as well, though treated in a more complex manner. He is not saying that being from a former colony of Britain grants one any particular virtue; it is only that he is interested in focussing on such people. Of course he is perfectly aware that by doing so he is disorienting his “mainstream” English and American readers, giving them a taste of what it feels like to be bit players in a drama which is not essentially about them.

Further, he is not asking how immigrants can become “English” (in the way that Otto Cone strove to become English); he is instead asking how immigrants can create an identity for themselves in England which is richer, newer, more interesting than the traditional stereotypes associated with the old center of empire.

One traditional strategy of oppressed or marginalised groups is to try to create a sense of identity by dwelling on their shared history. Sometimes this takes the form of referring back to a historical period of suffering, as in the case of African-Americans finding a common ground in their heritage of slavery. This can be a powerful move when one belongs to a minority with a commonly recognized shared past of suffering. But this strategy has some often-noted unfortunate by-products. For one thing, it relies for its effectiveness on the hope that members of the majority group will accept the responsibility for their ancestors’ deeds. Even when majorities acknowledge the injustices of the past, guilt is not an emotion that can often motivate action to atone for those injustices. The Hindu miners in the Titlipur story who hark back to their suffering under Islamic rule to justify their attacks on the Muslim pilgrims illustrate the all too common phenomenon of historical grievances being used by one group to justify atrocities against another. Another instance in the novel is the group of Sikh terrorists who blow up the plane at the beginning. During the riot, whites emblazon their apartment houses with references to nineteenth-century wars in South Africa, posing as beleaguered English South African settlers surrounded by hostile Zulus (461). In our time Northern Ireland and the Balkans have provided vivid European examples of the deadly effects of this sort of thing.

The politics of shared grievance also focus attention on the past rather than on the future. Rushdie wants people to remember that Union Carbide’s neglect cost the lives and health of thousands of Indians in the Bhopal disaster (and he clearly wants the company held responsible), but he does not want the very identity of India to be defined only by a chain of misfortunes. The most important aspect of the Indian cultural heritage for him is its rich, creative variety. Its history is more than a mere list of the crimes committed against it by others; and he is prepared to add the crimes committed by Indians against each other to its portrait as well.

Another approach to identity politics is to hark back to a positive historical heritage instead of to a time of suffering. Thus the black Caribbean immigrants in the novel seek to emphasize an African heritage which is actually very distant from their lived experience. Chamcha mentally mocks them for singing the “African National Anthem.” The black leader originally named “Sylvester Roberts” has chosen the absurd name “Uhuru Simba” in an attempt to “Africanize” his identity. It seems clear that Rushdie shares at least some of Chamcha’s reservations about Afrocentrism in the scene of the defense rally for the arrested Dr. Simba (413-416). Choosing Chamcha as his point of view character allows him to critique the limits of such ideas even as he acknowledges the justness of their cause.

In the first chapter of the book, George Miranda and Bhupen Gandhi match Zeeny’s proud references to Indian accomplishments and her list of crimes against Indians with their own examples of atrocities committed by Indians (54-57). Bhupen ends his tirade against modern India (56-57) by asking the emblematic question, “Who do we think we [are]?”

Rushdie seems to be trying to say that Indians, like all human beings, are both victims and criminals, both creators and destroyers. He is not proposing a sort of bland homogenized theory of original sin according to which all people are equally guilty and none specifically to blame: clearly he cares passionately that wrongs be righted and criminals identified and punished. Rather he rejects both martyrdom and triumphant nationalism as inadequate foundations for a satisfactory self-identity.

Another common source of identity is, of course, religion. Who would have thought that in the latter part of the twentieth century, so many conflicts would come to be defined in religious terms? Israeli Jews vs. Palestinians, Sikhs vs. Hindus, Hindus vs. Muslims, Serbs vs. Croatians, Irish Catholics vs. Irish Protestants–we seem to be embroiled in a new age of Wars of Religion. For Rushdie, orthodox religion signifies intolerance, repressiveness, rigidity. Dumsday represents the know-nothing Christian right and the Imam fanatical Muslim extremism. The Imam’s hatred of the former Shah of Iran and SAVAK is no doubt shared by Rushdie; but his alternative is even more monstrous: a giant insatiable maw devouring the people it claims to save. It is one of the more poignant ironies of “the Rushdie affair” that Khomeni evidently died without ever realizing that the novel he had denounced contained a devastating portrait of him.

If Rushdie had only denounced such fanaticism, few in the Muslim world would have endorsed Khomeni’s fatwa. But Rushdie goes on to call into question the credibility and beneficence of orthodox, traditional Islam. Gibreel’s dreams challenge the Qur’an’s claims to infallibility, accuse Islam of the repression of women, call into question the probity and honesty of the Prophet himself.

Rushdie does not create these dreams out of a simple desire to blaspheme for blasphemy’s sake. He is following in the footsteps of the great eighteenth-century Enlightenment critics of religion like Voltaire who sought to undermine the authoritarian power structures of their day by challenging their religious underpinnings. So long as the Church endorsed slavery, the divine right of kings, and censorship, the sort of liberating changes the rationalists yearned for could not come to pass, unless the Church’s authority could be called into question. Similarly, Rushdie sees modern societies like Iran and Pakistan as cursed by religious convictions that bring out the worst qualities in their believers. (In The Moor’s Last Sigh he challenges Hindu fanaticism as well.)

The entire novel strives to break down absolutes, to blur easy dichotomies, to question traditional assumptions of all kinds. There are to be no simple answers to the query, “What kind of an idea are we?” Demons can behave like angels and vice versa. High ideals can lead people to commit terrible crimes. Love can be mixed with jealous hate. Exalted faith can lead to tragedy. Just as Rushdie strives to destroy the distinction between center and periphery, so he challenges easy distinctions between good and evil.

At the end of the novel, Saladin returns to India, finally to reconcile himself with his father. But this is no simple return to his roots. The father with whom he is reconciled is a changed man. Saladin could not have loved him until he had become the enfeebled, benign shadow of his former self on his deathbed. Part of his heritage–the lamp–proves deadly. His inheritance does not include the home he grew up in. Zeeny, who elsewhere warmly urges his Indian roots on him, has little use for sentimental attachment to Peristan. Let it make way for the new, she says. Saladin seems finally to agree. He is ready to put aside not only the “fairy-tales” of religion but his personal history as well. In the end he opts for newness, for “If the old refused to die, the new could not be born” (547).

In the end, despite the postmodern trappings of Rushdie’s narrative, the values of the novel seem remarkably traditional: belief in individual liberty and tolerance, freedom of expression, skepticism about dogma, and belief in the redemptive power of love. Lest we too quickly claim triumphantly that these are distinctively European values, Rushdie reminds us of the remarkably intelligent and innovative Mughal ruler of India, Akbar, who challenged the orthodoxies of his time and brought more than his share of newness into the world (190).

One could derive from the book a sort of existentialist morality: there are no absolutes, but we are responsible for the choices we make, the alliances we forge, the relationships we enter into. Our choices define us. We cannot shift the responsibility for our actions to God or history. “What kind of an idea are you?” is a question addressed not only to immigrants, but to all of us.

Created by Paul Brians

Table of contentshttp://brians.wsu.edu/2017/02/08/table-of-contents/

Chapter I: The Angel Gibreel

Plot Summary for Chapter I

This chapter is preceded by an epigraph from Book I, Chapter VI of Daniel Defoe’s The Political History of the Devil as well Ancient as Modern (London: T. Warner, 1726), p. 81. Defoe’s location of Satan’s abode as the air is of course highly appropriate for this novel in which the demonic falls from the air. But more importantly, the Devil is a wanderer, an image of the rootless immigrant. More details from Martine Dutheil.

The novel opens with the two main characters, Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, falling to earth because the plane they have been flying in has just been blown up by the terrorists who have hijacked it. We are then told a good deal of detail about their backgrounds, their occupations, their love affairs, and how they happened to find themselves together on the plane. Then the story of the hijacking is told, leading up to the moment of explosion which began the novel.


Page 3

Notes for Chapter I

Why do you think the novel begins the way it does?

Ta-taa! Takathun!
Syllables used in teaching traditional rhythms.

Baba
A common meaning is “old holy man,” but Rushdie points out that in this context it “means ‘young fellow,’ or even in certain contexts “mister” or “sir.” (Hindi, Urdu) (personal communication from Salman Rushdie).

If you want to get born again . . .
. . . first you have to die. See note below, p. 85 [86], note on Gramsci.

twenty-nine thousand and two feet
The height of Mount Everest, to which the height of the fall is compared on the next page. Falling is a major motif throughout the novel (Seminck 35). See, for instance, note below on p. 133 [137]. Everest from Kala Patar.

‘I tell you, you must die, I tell you, I tell you,’
Refrain from “The Whisky Song” from Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill‘s The Decline and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1930) memorably recorded by Jim Morrison as “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)” on the album The Doors.

gazal
A classical Persian poetic form. More commonly ghazal (also Urdu).

bhai
Brother (Hindi).

yaar
Friend (Hindi).

Dharraaammm
Sound of the impact of something that has fallen (Hindi).


Page 4

big bang
Refers to the explosion which astrophysicists posit began the universe.

Bostan
One of the traditional heavens of Islam, another being Gulistan (Farsi). Two famous 13th-century Persian didactic classics by Sadi are titled Bostan and Gulistan (Mojtabai 3). See pp. 31, 364 [376] & 512 [526].

Flight AI-420, blew apart without any warning
This incident seems to be a conflation of elements based on two different events. On June 14, 1985 a TWA flight was hijacked by a band of Shiite terrorists, from Athens to a series of airports, ending in Beiruit, where the plane sat on the runway until July 1, with people being released at various intervals. On June 23, 1985, Air India (AI) Flight 182, en route from Canada via London to India, crashed into the ocean 120 miles southwest of Ireland, killing all on board. Sikh separatists were suspected of having planted a bomb (see Jiwa). After the publication of the novel, on December 21, 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up by a terrorist bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all on board in a manner strikingly reminiscent of the Flight A I-420 explosion. The flight number has negative associations discussed in the second note on p. 5, below. Some Indian readers saw a parallel of this scene to a scene in An Evening in Paris (Paris Ki Ek Shyam, 1967, dir. Shakti Samanta), a Bombay film in which Shammi Kapoor descended from a helicopter singing to a water-skiing Sharmila Tagore, “Asman se aya farishta” (“An angel has descended from the sky”) (Ali 295). A chronology of hijackings. Information about Shammi Kapoor. He is the son of Raj Kapoor.

Mahagonny
See above, note for p. 3

Babylon
The capital of the Neobabylonian ( Chaldean) Empire which conquered ancient Judea and took the Jews into exile; in prophetic writings and in the book of Revelation a synonym for decadent apocalyptic evil; in first century Christian thought a metaphor for Rome, later used as a label for any great power seen as evil; in Jamaican Rastafarian thought, the capitalist world and more specifically, The United States.

Alphaville
The weirdly dehumanized futuristic city of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 film by the same name. Poster for the film.

Vilayet
Literally “foreign country,” used as a name for England (Hindi).

winked blinked nodded
Allusion to the childhood rhyme by Eugene Field, “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.” Text of the poem.

a quantity of wives . . . a sufficiency of children
Rushdie would seem to have forgotten that on p. 79 [80] it is said that the women and children were all previously released by the hijackers.

What aspects of the immigrant experience are alluded to in the bottom paragraph on this page?


Page 5

English Sleeve
The French name for the English Channel is La Manche, which means “the sleeve.”

“Oh, my shoes are Japanese . . .”
The song is “Mera joota hai japaani” from the 1955 film Shree 420 (Mr. 420), directed by Raj Kapoor, music by Shankar Jaikishen, lyrics by Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri:
Translation of the song lyrics:

My shoes are Japanese,
These pants are English
The red hat on my head is Russian
Still my heart is Indian.

(walking)
I’m out on the open road, proud-chested
Only God knows where all I might go
I’ll move onward like a raging flood.

My shoes are Japanese,
These pants are English
The red hat on my head is Russian
Still my heart is Indian.

(on camel)
Up and down, down and up moves the wave of life
Those who sit on the river bank and ask the way home are naive
Moving on is the story of life, stopping is the mark of death.

My shoes are Japanese,
These pants are English
The red hat on my head is Russian
Still my heart is Indian.

(on elephant)
There may be kings, or princes, but I am a spoiled prince
And sit on the throne whenever I desire.
My face is renowned, and people are amazed.

My shoes are Japanese,
These pants are English
The red hat on my head is Russian
Still my heart is Indian.

My shoes are Japanese,
These pants are English
The red hat on my head is Russian
Still my heart is Indian.

Based on translations by Nandi Bhatia, by permission of Jennifer Wenzel, and Poorvi Vora.

Joel Kuortti points out that Rushdie had already discussed same song in his essay, “The Indian Writer in England.” Information about Raj Kapoor.

“420” has for several decades been a negative expression in India, suggesting corruption and other forms of political villainy, because it alludes the number of a statute forbidding corrupt practices. (Aravamudan: “‘Being God’s Postman is No Fun, Yaar'” 7-8). In Midnight’s Children Rushdie says that the number symbolizes “fraud and deception” (193).

[6]

changes took place . . . that would have gladdened the heart of old Mr Lamarck
Jean Baptiste-Pierre Antoine de Lamarck (1744-1829) a French naturalist, developed the theory that characteristics acquired by living things during their lifetimes could be inherited by their offspring; an idea rejected by modern genetics.

flew too close to the sun
Refers to the classical myth of Daedalus, who tried to escape his island prison with his son Icarus using wings made of feathers fastened on with wax. But when Icarus flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and he plunged to his death in the sea. Daedalus is also the last name of the protagonist of James Joyce‘s Ulysses, a work often alluded to in The Satanic Verses. Another Joyce siteOnline version of Ulysses.

What aspects of change are discussed in the paragraph beginning “Yessir?”


Page 6

What attitudes characteristic of the two men falling are expressed by the songs they choose to sing?

lyrics by Mr James Thomson “. . . at Heaven’s command . . . .
From the first verse of “Rule, Britannia!’

When Britain first, at heaven’s command,
Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sing their strain–
Rule, Britannia, rule the waves;
Britons never will be slaves.

David Windsor points out that Thomson was a Scot (which explains why the title of his song refers to Great Britain rather than simply England). Thomson went to England in search of work and had to take lessons to change his accent; so he, like so many others in this novel, was a colonial immigrant.

[7]

Wonderland
See note below, on Wonderland, p. 55 [56].

cloudforms, ceaselessly metamorphosing
Alludes to Ovid’s Metamorphoses (1st century BC), which recounts many examples of people being transformed into other beings. Rushdie says of the Metamorphoses:

It’s one of my favourite books and after all this is a novel about metamorphosis. It’s a novel in which people change shape, and which addresses the great questions about a change of shape, about change, which were posed by Ovid: about whether a change in form was a change in kind. Whether there is an essence in us which survives transmutation, given that, even if we don’t change into, you know, cloven-hoofed creatures, there is a great deal of change in everybody’s life. The question is whether or not there is an essential centre. And whether we are just a collection of moments, or whether there is some kind of defining thread. The book discusses that, I think, it uses the idea of physical metamorphosis in order to discuss that. And so, of course, Ovid was important.

Also I thought the book itself was conceived as one which constantly metamorphosed. It keeps turning into another kind of book. Certainly, from my point of view, that was technically one of the biggest gambles. Because I couldn’t be sure that the readers would come along for the ride. It was something which could be irritating. Imagine that you’re reading a certain kind of book and you’re suddenly stuck with another kind of book.

Rushdie: “Interview,” p. 58.

Ovid’s Metamorphoses.


Page 7
woman of a certain age
Translation of a traditional French phrase used to describe a middle-aged woman.

Bokhara rug
Red rugs and carpets woven by Turkmen and Uzbeks (Kuortti).

for your eyes only
Security clearance marking for highly secret data, often abbreviated “eyes only,” also used as the title of a James Bond novel and film.

Why do you think no one can see Rekha but Gibreel?

sour nothings
The opposite of “sweet nothings:” affectionate comments; therefore these are probably curses.

saw nothing, heard nothing, said nothing
A formerly popular image consisted of three monkeys covering, respectively, their eyes, ears, and mouth. They were said to be Chinese, and called “see no evil,” “hear no evil,” and “speak no evil.”

[8]

It was you, O moon of my delight, who hid behind a cloud. And I in darkness, blinded, lost, for love.
This looks like the lyrics to a song, but the words are original with Rushdie (personal communication from Salman Rushdie).


Page 8

Al-Lat
See p. 100 [102].


Page 10

who has the best tunes?
An allusion to a reply of John Wesley when he was reproached for setting his hymns to popular tunes to the effect that the Devil shouldn’t have all the best tunes.

Why do you think Rushdie has chosen the Devil as his narrator?


Page 11

the Phantom Bug
This incident is based on an actual incident in the life of actor Amitabh Bachchan. Says Rushdie:

He had an accident on set and almost died. Well, the whole country fell into a state of shock. It was the lead item on the news for weeks: bulletins from the hospital on the hour. Rajiv Gandhi cancelled a trip abroad, came home to sit by his bedside, and so on and so on. This extraordinary event struck me as being made for a novel. Something like the death of a god, almost.

Rushdie: “Interview,” p. 52.

D. W. Rama
Depicts a famous Indian film director under an alias composed of a typical Indian name and the first two initials of the famous Hollywood director of historical epics, D. W. Griffith (1875-1948).

In what sense is reincarnation important to Gibreel?


Page 12

ekdumjaldi
Suddenly, abruptly (Hindi).

Willingdon Club golf links
This Bombay golf club would seem to have been named after one in in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

maharaj
Great lord or prince. More commonly encountered in English as Maharaja (Hindi).

Pimple Billimoria
Billimoria is a familiar name in Indian film: D. and E. Bilimoria were popular stars beginning in the silent era and Fali Billimoria directed documentaries in the 1950s. However, her first name is probably a joking pun on the name of Bombay star Dimple Kapadia. Information about Dimple Kapadia.

[13]

flibberti-gibberti
Derived from “flibbertigibbet,” a foolish or flighty woman. This sort of expression, with paired words differing only in their beginnings, is common in Urdu as well as in English (“higgledy-piggledy,” “mumbo-jumbo”) and is one of Rushdie’s favorite linguistic devices. He uses it throughout Midnight’s Children, but there are also other examples in The Satanic Verses: “glum chum,” “moochy pooch” (both on p. 249 [257]), and “tarty-farty” (p. 284). (Joel Kuortti)

temple-dancer
See below, note on temple-dancing, p. 37.

copulating Tantric figures from the Chandela period
Tantrism is a form of religion popular in Tibet and parts of northern India which sometimes involves extensive sexual imagery. Several temples at Khajuraho were built under the Chandela (or Candella) of Bundelkhand in the 10th and 11th centuries AD, covered with detailed carvings of gods, humans, and animals in all manner of sexual activities. A sample sculpture, milder than most, but not for minors.

beedis
Hand-rolled cigarettes (Hindi).

ayah
Maid (Hindi).


Page 13

saturnine
Originally, like the god Saturn: heavy, gloomy, morose. Here, perhaps suggestive of Satanic. The irony is of course that the actor with the name of an angel has the breath of a devil.

We are creatures of air, Our roots in dreams And clouds, reborn in flight.
This note left behind by Gibreel is punctuated so that it suggests an excerpt from a poem, but it is an original composition by Rushdie (personal communication from Salman Rushdie).

How does this note foreshadow what happens to Gibreel in the opening pages of the novel?

[14]

Everest Vilas skyscraper on Malabar Hill
Named after the world’s highest mountain, this is located at the highest point in the most elegant residential district in Bombay. The misspelling of “villas” may satirize the tendency for English names to be rendered with a quaint twist in India. The Rushdie family home in India is called “Anees Villa Estate.” See below, note on Solan, p. 514 [527].

Marine Drive
A coastal road running along the Back Beach of Bombay, from Malabar Hill to Nariman Point. (Kuortti).

Scandal Point
Scandal Point is located on Warden Road, now renamed Bhulabhai Desai Road (personal communication from Salman Rushdie).

Blitz
CinéBlitz, a Bombay film magazine. The CineBlitz home page.

Busybee
Nickname of Behram Contractor, editor of the Bombay Afternoon Despatch and Courier. More information on Contractor. (Kuortti)


Page 14
Reza Pahlevi
The pretentious and tyrannical Shah of Iran who hosted a lavish celebration of 3,000 years of Persian history at the ancient capital of Persepolis shortly before he was overthrown in the Islamic revolution which is to loom large later in the novel. Overview of Iranian history.

Doordarshan
The Indian national government television network.

Colaba
The Colaba Causeway on the southern part of Bombay Island contains elegant hotels, restaurants, and shops. (Kuortti).

klims and kleens
Kilims are a flat woven carpets, thinner than the traditional knotted sort, whose Farsi name is usually rendered “gleem” in the carpet trade. The implication is that Rekha aspires to connoisseurship in using these technical terms, but mispronounces them, as she does “antiques” below. More on kilims.

How is Rekha characterised in the paragraph beginning, “Who was she?” What are her main traits, and how are they symbolized here?

[15]

Lalique crystal
RenÉ Lalique (1860-1945), French designer of elegant jewelry and other precious objects for the rich.

Chola Natraj
A priceless traditional Hindu sculpture from the period of the Chola dynasty which ruled Southern India in the 9th-12th Centuries, C.E. A Natraj or Nataraja is a traditional depiction of a six-armed Shiva dancing in a ring of fire. He bears a crescent moon on his brow, has serpents entwined around him, holds a flame in the open palm of one hand, dances on a dwarf symbolizing ignorance and beats out a rhythm on a drum. He both dances the world into creation and to destruction. A Chola Natraj (Hindi).


Page 15
Rekha Merchant’s dive with her children from the Everest Vilas, imitating literally Gibreel’s figurative “dive underground” on p. 13 [14], may allude to a moment in the life of Muhammad when he was tempted to throw himself down from Mount Hira (Haykal 79). See note below on Cone Mountain, p. 92 [94]. Compare with the similar temptation during Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness (Luke 4:9).

To be born again, first you have to
See above, note on p. 3. See p. 84 [86] for the complete phrase, and below, note on p. 85.

lala
Usually a male who cares for children, but it can also mean a clerk (Hindi).

Olympians
Ancient Greek Gods who dwelled on Mount Olympus, associated here with Mount Everest, one of the tallest mountains in the world, north of India in the Himalayas, after which the lavish Everest Vilas where Rekha Merchant lived was named, and which Alleluia Cone has climbed.


Page 16
a star gone supernova
When an old star explodes it creates a brilliant new point of light in the sky as viewed from earth; the largest are known as supernovae.

theologicals
Rushdie says of these films:

the kind of religious movies that Gibreel acts in are not really called “theologicals”. They’re actually called “mythologicals”. But I just thought I’d make them more intellectual. Also, mythological movies have not really been a Bombay cinema form. They’ve, more or less exclusively, been a South Indian form and it’s Tamil cinema that has particularly gone in for them. And they have created at least one major political figure. The former Chief Minister for Tamil Nadu [actually Andhra Pradesh, just north–PB], N. T. Rama Rao started out as a person who played gods in the movies. He stood for election and he won.

For Gibreel I first transposed the South Indian form to Bombay. There are movies in Bombay where you get a deus ex machina: it is not uncommon for a god to arrive at an important moment in the plot and play a part. But, retelling the stories of the Indian tradition is not a Bombay form. So that’s one, if you like, fictionalisation.

Rushdie: “Interview,” p. 52.

More information on N. T. Rama Rao.

Krishna
When a demon attempted to suckle the infant Krishna with her poisonous milk, he survived miraculously, but turned a deep blue color. Devotional images of Krishna.

[17]

gopis
In HIndu myth, the lover-playmates of Krishna, wives of cowherds. Their devotion to him is expressed in highly sexual terms which are taken allegorically by Hindus. More information about the gopis. Another site on Krishna and the gopis.

Gautama
The historical name of the figure known as the Buddha. Protected by his parents from knowledge of death, aging and disease, he was shocked to discover at the age of seven that suffering existed and twenty-nine left his home to find a way to deal with this knowledge. The life of the Buddha.

bodhi-tree
An Indian fig tree (from the Sanskrit), ficus religosa, regarded as sacred by Buddhists because the Buddha achieved his enlightenment while meditating under one. A bodhi tree in Bodhgaya, Birhar (NE India) is said to be a descendent of the tree under which Buddha meditated (Westphal).

Grand Mughal . . . Akbar and Birbal
The Grand Mughal Akbar the Magnificent (ruler of 16th-century India), and his warrior chieftain/poet/minister who was famous for his wit. Sample stories. The Mughal Dynasty of Muslim rulers was founded when Babur invaded India in 1526 and governed much of northern India until the 18th Century. Much of the art and architecture we now associate with India, such as the Taj Mahal, actually consists of Persian-influenced Mughal-era creations. Many Hindus, especially those of lower castes, converted to Islam during this era, giving rise to families like that of Gibreel, and Rushdie himself.


Page 17
jackfruit
Large sweet fruit common in South and Southeast Asia.

Avatars
Reincarnations of a god (Sanskrit, Hindi, Bengali). Krishna, for instance, is the eighth avatar of Vishnu. Reincarnation is basic to Hinduism, both for gods and humans, as well as other living beings.

What is the meaning of the contrast made on this page between divine reincarnation and secular incarnation?

Pune of Rajneesh
A town in Maharashtra, the home and former operating base of Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh (later called “Osho”) and his cult.

Vadodara
Gujarat town now renamed Baroda.

Mumbai
The name “Bombay” probably evolved from the name of a local earth goddess, Mumba Devi, or Mumbai. In 1995 the local government changed the name of the city to Mumbai. General information on Bombay.

Ismail after the child involved in the sacrifice of Ibrahim
Refers to the Islamic version of the story contained in Genesis 22 according to which God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac; in this version it is his brother Ishmael who is involved. See also p. 95 [97].

[18]

mummyji
Affectionate term for mother, combining British “Mummy” with honorific Hindi suffix “-ji.’


Page 18

tiffins
Originally a mid-morning snack, now any sort of light meal or snack.

dabbas
Lunchboxes (Hindi), typically containing hot foods cooked at home, then delivered to the workplace by a dabbawalla, a lunch-delivery person (Kuortti).

the inflight inevitability of Walter Matthau . . . Goldie Hawn
The movie is Cactus Flower(1969).

Gandhi cap
A soft cloth hat worn by members of the Congress party, notably Jawaharlal Nehru, as a symbol of nonsectarian support for a unified India. A picture of Gandhi wearing a cap.

Santacruz
“Santa Cruz” means “Holy Cross,” Bombay was under Portuguese rule before it was given as a dowry to the British (in 1661)–but many Catholic place names remained. Both the name of the airport and the “triumphal arch” of the gateway mentioned on p. 39 are reminders of the colonial past.


Page 19

muqaddam
Leader (Hindi).


Page 20

buddha-fat
The Japanese paunchy figure often called a Buddha is actually Hotei (Chinese Pu-tai), and is a deity of good fortune. According to some beliefs, Maitreya, the Buddha of the future, will be incarnated in the form of Hotei, so that Hotei is often regarded as a Bodhisattva. See The Zany Zen: “Hakuin’s Self-Portrait in the Image of Hotei.”

BTCA
Bombay Tiffin Carriers Association (see above, p. 19 [19-20])


Page 22

green-tinged spectacles
In the original L. Frank Baum novel, The Wizard of Oz, all those who enter the Emerald City must wear green glasses, which turns out to be a ruse by the wizard to deceive people into thinking that the city is really all green. Here the spectacles reveal magic rather than replacing it. Rushdie is a serious Oz fan and authored a tribute to the film (The Wizard of Oz, London: British Film Institute, 1992). Rushdie has in common with Baum a taste for both fantasy and wordplay. Another Wizard of Oz Site. Information about the movie.

the Prophet at the time when, having been orphaned . . .
Refers to a period in the life of the Prophet Muhammed, implying that he married for money. The first of many references in the book which many Muslims find blasphemous, and which is labelled as such here by the author, though the thought is attributed to Gibreel, not Rushdie. A brief life of Muhammad.


Page 21

the final grace
The ultimate goal of pious Hindus is not reincarnation, which is technically viewed as a curse; but stepping off the wheel of rebirth (samsara) to achieve liberation (moksha). However, people not ready for moksha often find the prospect of reincarnation appealing.

phutt, kaput
Fortuitously rhyming words in (respectively) Hindi and German implying that something has ceased. (Americans spell a similar expression “pfft.”) “Phutt” originally suggested the sound of a candle-flame going out, but it can also mean “Gone!” For instance: “Oh yaar he is phut” (meaning that he has just suddenly, dramatically disappeared). . . (Hussain).

baprebap
A common exclamatory Hindi phrase, literally meaning “father of father,” but used to express a sense of amazement and wonder, among many other feelings. A rough English equivalent would be “O my God!” Often spelled “bap-re-bap.” (Hussain)

The account of his education into the supernatural is strikingly remiscent of Gabriel García Márquez’s accounts of his upbringing by a storytelling grandmother who made the miraculous seem ordinary. One of the defining characteristics of García Márquez’s work is the introduction of fantastic elements into otherwise realistic narratives in such a way that they are taken for granted. Compare García Márquez’s technique with Rushdie’s.


Page 22

How does the young Gibreel learn about Muhammad, and how does this learning relate to the account of Mahound in the next chapter?

afreets
Arabic demons (also spelled “afrits”).

djinns
In Muslim tradition, powerful spirits which can transform themselves into various shapes, also spelled “jinns,” “jinees,” and “genies” (Arabic).

sari-pallu
The loose end of a sari which is normally thrown over the shoulder (Hindi).

Gibreel is imagining himself as a new bride, with the “sari pallu” drawn over his face, about to be married off to Babasaheb Mhatre. When the new husband lifts the “sari pallu” off his new wife’s face (theoretically seeing her for the first time), it is a very erotic moment (Windsor).


Page 23

four wilderness years he failed to kiss a single woman on the mouth.
Alludes to the forty days of wandering in the wilderness which Christ underwent before he started preaching (Matthew 4:1-11) and to the fact that until recently it was forbidden in India to depict kissing on the screen.

What do the items in the list which begins at the bottom of this page have to do with this novel?

[24]

avatars of Jupiter
In Greco-Roman mythology Jupiter (Greek “Zeus” takes on many different forms, primarily in order to mate with human women, using the Indian term “avatar” (see note above, p. 17). Several of the subjects that Gibreel studies are later to become elements in his dreams. Information on Zeus’ affairs with various women.


Page 24

the boy who became a flower
The beautiful but vain Narcissus. The myth of Narcissus, as told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

the spider-woman
Arachne, who was turned into a spider for daring criticize the gods in a weaving contest with Athena. The title given her here is possibly also an allusion to Manuel Puig’s novel Kiss of the Spiderwoman, or to the 1985 movie based on it. Information about the movie.

Circe
the seductive witch in Homer’s Odyssey who transforms the crew of Odysseus into pigs. More about Circe.

Annie Besant
(1837-1933) English spokeswoman for Theosophy, a mystical philosophy heavily influenced by Hinduism. More information about Annie Besant.

unified field theory
A definition from NASA: “Any theory which attempts to express gravitational theory and electromagnetic theory within a single unified framework; usually, an attempt to generalize Einstein‘s general theory of gravitation alone to a theory of gravitation and classical electromagnetism” (NASA Thesaurus). Since no one has yet succeeded in developing such a theory, it remains as fantastic as the other elements mentioned in this list. Encyclopedia Britannica article on unified field theory.

incident of the Satanic verses
The first mention of this theme. See below, Chapter II.

butterflies could fly into young girl’s mouths
See below, note on p. 217 [223].

puranas
Ancient Hindu scriptures (400 BCE-1400 CE) derived from oral traditions surrounding the Vedas and the Mahabharata, concentrating on tales of Shiva and Vishnu (Kuortti) (Sanskrit).

Ganesh
The Hindu elephant god often associated with prosperity. Sometimes called Ganesha.

[25]

Ganpati Baba
“Lord Ganesh” (Hindi).

Hanuman the monkey king
His adventures, based on tales in the Ramayana, are extremely popular in India and throughout much of the rest of Asia. Picture of Hanuman. More information on the Ramayana.

Hong Kong
A center of production for cheap, sensational movies shown all over Asia.


Page 26

Greta Garbo
Classic film beauty of the twenties and thirties. Information on Greta Garbo.

Gracekali
Pun on “Grace Kelly,” a fifties film beauty, later the Princess of Monaco, and “Kali,” the destroyer goddess of Hindu mythology. Rushdie notes, however, that this is actually a three-way pun, alluding to another sense of “‘kali,” “a flower-bud . . . so ‘Gracekali’ could also mean ‘Gracebud'” (personal communication from Salman Rushdie). More information about Kali.

[27]

Jaisalmer
A remote town in NW Rajastan built from sandstone in 1156 by a Bhatti Rajput prince, Mahwarawal Jaisal, famous for its exquisite Jain temples and other historic buildings, from which these carved stone lattices were probably taken. Pictures and travel information on Jaisalmer. Picture of a house facade in Jaisalmer including typical carved stone screens on its balconies.

chhatri
Rounded dome (Hindi).

surely gods should not partake of alcohol
Strict Hindus abstain from alcohol, as do strict Muslims.

Aga Khan
Rushdie was probably thinking of Ali Khan, a notorious playboy of the royal family of Egypt, fond of both drink and Hollywood stars.


Page 27

lafanga
No good bum, vagrant (Hindi).

haramzada
Literally “bastard,” a scoundrel: a common term of contempt (Jussawalla: “Post-Joycean” 228) (Hindi, Urdu).

salah
Literally “wife’s brother” (Hindi, Urdu) or “brother-in-law,” but typically used as an insult, implying “I sleep with your sister.” Not to be confused with bhaenchud, which Literally means “one who sleeps with his sister;” .

[28]

Kanya Kumari . . . Cape Comorin
Cape Comorin is the southmost point of mainland India in Tamil Nadu; Kanyakumari (the more usual spelling) is named after an incarnation of Parvati; the place is the destination of pilgrimages by Hindus (Kuortti).


Page 28

Breach Candy Hospital
Located in the luxurious Breach Candy district of Bombay. Movie stars such as Amitabh Bachchan have often been treated here.

[29]

lathi-charges
Lathis are the long wooden sticks used as batons by Indian police.

The Prime Minister
Indira Gandhi.

Her son the airline pilot
Indira’s son, Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv was at school (Doon) with Amitabh Bachchan, and went to the hospital when Amitabh was injured in the real-life incident that this part of Gibreel’s life-story is based upon. (David Windsor) Information about the Doon School.


Page 29

lamb pasandas
Scallops of lamb cooked Mughal-style in a rich yogurt sauce.

[30]

forbidden foods
Pork is forbidden to Muslims. This scene has its roots in Rushdie’s life. He writes:

God, Satan, Paradise and Hell all vanished one day in my fifteenth year, when I quite abruptly lost my faith. I recall it vividly. I was at school in England by then. The moment of awakening happened, in fact, during a Latin lesson, and afterwards, to prove my new-found atheism, I bought myself a rather tasteless ham sandwich, and so partook for the first time of the forbidden flesh of the swine. No thunderbolt arrived to strike me down. I remember feeling that my survival confirmed the correctness of my new position. I did slightly regret the loss of Paradise, though. The Islamic heaven, at least as I had come to conceive it, had seemed very appealing to my adolescent self. I expected to be provided, for my personal pleasure, with four beautiful female spirits, or houris,, untouched by man or djinn. The joys of the perfumed garden; it seemed a shame to have to give them up.

From that day to this, I have thought of myself as a wholly secular person, and have been drawn towards the great traditions of secular radicalism–in politics, socialism; in the arts, modernism and its offspring–that have been the driving forces behind much of the history of the twentieth century. But perhaps I write, in part to fill up that emptied God-chamber with other dreams. Because it is, after all, a room for dreaming in.

(Rushdie: “In God We Trust” 377)


Page 30

How did Gibreel lose his faith?


Page 31

yahudan
Jew (Arabic).

brief encounter
Title of a 1945 movie about a frustrated love affair that develops when two commuters meet on a train. Information about the film.

ships that pass
An allusion to the common expression “ships that pass in the night,” meaning people who just barely miss meeting each other or have only the most fleeting of encounters. From Longfellow’s “Tales of a Wayside Inn” (1877).

[32]

Bostan
See above, note on Bostan.

Page 33

What characteristics do Saladin and Gibreel have in common?

[34]

a man with a glass skin
First reference to a repeated image, which may have been suggested by a passage in one of Rushdie’s favorite novels, Laurence Stern’s Tristram Shandy (1760, Vol.1, Chapter 23). Further comment and the passage in question. See also below, p. 169 [174].


Page 34

Achha, means what?
Bombay-talk for “Okay, what do you want?” (Hindi)

[35]

‘les acteurs ne sont pas des gens”
“Actors aren’t [real] people.” Quotation from Les enfants du paradis (The Children of Paradise), a famous French film about the theater, directed by Marcel Carné (1945). Info on Carné. Additional note by David Windsor: Contrary to what Saladin thinks, it’s not Frederick who says the lines “les acteurs ne sont pas des gens,” but Lacénaire. The complete speech is: “Des gens. Les acteurs ne sont pas des gens. Toute le monde et personne à la fois”–“People. Actors aren’t people. They’re everyone and no one at the same time.”


Page 35

Why does Saladin react the way he does to the migrant laborer’s refusal to fasten his seat belt?

Scandal Point
See above, p. 13 [14].


Page 36

Changez Chamchawala
His first name suggests that of one of the greatest plunderers in history: the early 13th century Mongol Genghis (or Chingis) Khan. Encyclopedia Britannica article on Genghis Khan.

Richard Burton
English adventurer and orientalist (in both the traditional and new senses of the term), responsible for the most popular translation the Arabian Nights into English as well as for other translations conveying a sense of the “exotic” (that is to say, erotic) East, such as the Kama Sutra of Vatasyayana and The Perfumed Garden of Sheikh al-Nefzawi. The original edition of his translation of the Arabian Nights (Benares, 1885-1888) was in 16 volumes, but there have been several subsequent editions in various formats.


Page 37

Grant Road
Now renamed “M. Shuakat Ali Road.” In the Kamathipura red light district.

Yellamma cult
Worship of a goddess similar to Kali. In the south Indian state of Karnataka, hundreds of young women are given away as “godly slave girls” in the Bharata Poornima festival. They become temple prostitutes or servants of the prostitute cult called “Servants of the Goddess Yellamma.” Many young women have been sold into Bombay brothels under the belief that they were serving the Goddess Yellamma. More information about the cult of Yellamma. Information about prostitution in India.

Dancers in the more prosaic temples of the flesh
There was a historical connection of temple dancing with prostitution, so that temple dancing was eventually forbidden by the government. Information on temple dancing.


Page 38

folly
A term used to describe an elaborate structure, often meant to imitate some ancient architectural style. Links to information on famous follies.

Triumphal arch of Septimus Severus
Dated 203 CE. In Saladin Chamcha’s paternal home in Bombay there’s a reproduction of the triumphal arch of this Roman Emperor. It draws together two themes: one, the conquest of England (Severus put down a rebellion in the colony), and two, the battle between father and son–Severus’ son Bassianus Caracalla Antonius plotted to kill him, Severus accusing him of “want of filial tenderness.” When Severus eventually died, Caracalla married his mother, and then murdered thousands of the citizens of Alexandria when they started making Oedipus jokes about him. (David Windsor) See also note on Septimus Severus, below, p. 292 [301]. A picture of the arch.

dhoti
Typical garment made of folded cloth, worn by men below the waist (Hindi).


Page 39

[40]

tinkas
Straws, slivers (Hindi).

Op Art
An art movement of the sixties characterized by geometric abstraction involving carefully chosen colors which have powerful optical effects when used together. Information on op art.


Page 40

[41]

Asimov’s Foundation
The first volume in Isaac Asimov’s extremely popular and influential series of novels depicting the decline and fall of a future galactic empire modeled on ancient Rome. Rushdie has a well-known interest in science fiction: his first published novel, Grimus, is science fiction. Information about Isaac Asimov.

Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles More about Ray Bradbury.
One of the best-selling of all SF novels, published first in 1950, and depicting the pollution and genocide brought to Mars by human immigrants from Earth.

brave new world
Refers to the title of Aldous Huxley’s famous dystopian novel. More information on Aldous Huxley.


Page 41

Tyburn tree
The gallows where executions were formerly carried out, an ominous geographical reference for Saladin’s first experience in London. The story of Changez’ surly treatment of his son in the city reflects Rushdie’s own experience with his father when he was first taken to London to school (Hamilton 94) when they stayed at the Cumberland Hotel, at Marble Arch.

Describe how Changez treats his son while they are in London and try to explain why he behaves as he does.


Page 42

The Pure Hell of St Trinians
One of a series of popular comic films about fiendishly mischievous young girls wreaking havoc in an English public school, based on the cartoons of Ronald Searle.

Chanakya
Vishnugupta (his personal name) Chaanakya (son of Chaanak) Kautilya (of the kutila gotra, a descendent of Kutila). He is reputedly the author of the Arthasastra, and a legendary advisor to princes, including Chandragupta (the first emperor of that name). In the Kathasaritsagar, an 11th-century work by Somadev, the first story in the “Madanamancuka” section, tells how the Buddhist king of Taxila, Kalingadatta, makes Ratnadatta perform a deed similar to the one described here. Ratnadatta is the Hindu son of a Buddhist father. Ratnadatta criticizes his father for renouncing the Vedas and hanging out with low-caste people; the father complains to Kalingadatta; Kalingadatta threatens to kill Ratnadatta in two months time; Ratnadatta discovers fear, and requests Kalingadatta to teach him how to attain liberation from fear, and Kalingadatta then gets him to carry round the bowl of oil, to teach him the proper concentration one should give to religion (David Windsor). More information on Chanakya


Page 43

Chicken-breasted
This is a pun on “pigeon-breasted,” since the phrase usually refers to a man with a small or underdeveloped chest.

 A boulder pressing down upon his chest
A repeated motif in the novel, derived originally from the torment imposed on the slave Bilal by his master, trying to get him to renounce Islam. When he continued to recite “God is one, God is one” under this torture, Abu Bakr bought and freed him (Haykal 91 and Armstrong 121). See Introduction, note on Bilal.


Page 44

kipper
This smoked herring is a standard part of a classic English breakfast. Rushdie claims that this story happened to him, and is “one of the very few stories I’ve used in fiction which needed no embellishment at all” (Hamilton 94; see also Lawson 58).

William the Conqueror
William the Conqueror was the leader of the Norman invasion which conquered England in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings. The French-speaking Normans became the new English nobility and imported much of their culture with them. Much that we think of as characteristically English, including the language itself, was shaped by this historical encounter. As a “post-colonial” immigrant Rushdie likes to remind the English that they also have been colonized in the past. See below, p. 129 [133].


Page 45

flame of the forest
Botanical name: Butea frondosa, also known in India as Dhak, Palas or Tesu.

chhooi-mooi touch-me-not plants
“Chhooi-moi” is literally, in Hindi, “touch-die,” or “touch-me-not,” the plant Mimosa pudica; which is not the European “touch-me-not” (or noli-me-tangere), used as the name of two different plants, both of whose seed-pods burst when touched. The Indian “touch-me-not” is harmed when touched, and its symbolic meaning is “someone who is very frail and fragile, sensitive.” The European ones (the most important is used for is the yellow balsam, Imapatiens noli-tangere) don’t die; its symbolic meaning gives more of a sense of a certain pride and aloofness. (David Windsor)

[46]

fauntleroy
A pampered, sissifed boy, somewhat unfairly derived from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s 1886 novel, Little Lord Fauntleroy about a waif who discovers he is actually their heir to a British title. The text of the novel.

grand panjandrum
Conceited fool. See note below, on “panjandrum,” p. 435 [450].

war with Pakistan began
After a prolonged series of border skirmishes over Kashmir, full-blown war erupted in late August of 1965 and again in 1971.


Page 46

[47]

khali-pili khalaas
Literally “destroyed just like that, for no reason.” Common Bombay slang expression (Hindi).

Rejoice . . . for what is lost is reborn.
A variation on Luke 15:9 in which an old woman who has lost a precious coin says, “Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.”


Page 47

[48]

he knows not what he does
Humorous reference to Christ’s words on the cross as he is being tormented by his executioners: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).


Page 48

hoosh
“Hoosh” (sometimes spelled “hoos”) is a wild, uncouth person (nothing demonic, just a very rural person). An interesting word, of unknown etymology in Hindi. It could be possibly linked to the “hush” (not pronounced as the English “hush,” but rather with the short version of the vowel in “hoosh”), the word of command used to get a camel to stand up, or to scare away birds or other animals. In nineteenth-century Australian slang “hoosh” was used as a derogatory term for the Indian cameleers, based on this word. (David Windsor)

Shaitan
Muslim (Arabic) name for Satan, and amalgamated with the Jewish/Christian Satan in the novel, though the Islamic figure is considerably less imposing. See Armstrong, pp. 114-115.

Note that the description of Saladin’s parents’ attitude toward Islam matches that which Rushdie attributes to his own parents. See above, Introduction.


Page 49

Prospero Players
A theatrical troupe named after the magician-hero of Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest. Because the play is set on a Caribbean island and features a savage, beastly native, it is often referred to by writers from Britain’s former colonies as reflecting imperialist prejudices.

The Millionairess
This Shaw play actually features an Egyptian doctor rather than an Indian one. Furthermore, according to Shaw, he “speaks English too well to be mistaken for a Native” (Shaw 922). However, in the 1960 movie adaptation, Peter Sellers played the doctor role with his patented Indian accent. See also note below, for p. 49 [50], on Peter Sellers. Rushdie would seem not have remembered the play accurately, though he makes a point of having Zeeny acknowledge, “Song is not in drama” (p. 51) Shaw’s Egyptian doctor winds up engaged to the millionairess of the title, who is almost as fierce and destructive as Pamela Chamcha. Information on the movie.

What is Rushdie saying about the nature of self-invention among immigrants?

[50]

wore bandannas
Seeking to identify with the peasant women they claimed to be supporting.

Trotskyist actresses
Leon Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronstein) (1879-1940), after helping Lenin lead the Russian Revolution, broke with his successor Stalin and advocated from exile a more radical and idealistic version of revolutionary politics than the new leader was working out in the Soviet Union. After he was assassinated in Mexico, his Fourth International continued to campaign for his ideas. Trotskyist organizations tend to present themselves as the purest of the pure revolutionaries. The most famous Trotskyist actress is Vanessa Redgrave, whose political activities have been the target of much criticism.

Peter Sellers
English comedian (1925-1980) perhaps best remembered now for his role as Inspector Clousseau in the Pink Panther movies, but also known for performing various roles as an Indian. “Goodness Gracious Me” was a nonsense-song hit from the film of The Millionairess (see above) featuring Sellers singing with Sophia Loren, but of course the song is not performed in the original G. B. Shaw version in which Gibreel is starring. Sophia Lyrics of the song.


Page 51

[52]

Zeeny Vakil
Her first name (Zeenat) may be a tribute to Bombay star Zeenat Aman, who got her start in films in 1973 in Hare Rama Hare Krisha, playing a character much like the younger Zeeny Saldin remembers on the next page.

wogs
Insulting British term for people of other races, used here defiantly as an assertive label for Indians who refuse to be assimilated to Britain.


Page 52

In what ways does Zeeny criticize Saladin’s loss of Indian identity?

Quant hairstyle
Mary Quant was a leading fashion designer in London’s swinging sixties, this refers to her cap-like hairstyle.

Bhopal
Site of the worst industrial accident in history. On December 3, 1984, the Union Carbide Plant there released clouds of methyl isocyanate into the air which killed 2,500 people and grievously harmed many others. Union Carbide’s handling of the aftermath was widely viewed as cynical and grossly inadequate. The Bhopal disaster.

The Only Good Indian
General Philip H. Sheridan, speaking at Fort Cobb in 1869, commented “the only good Indians I ever saw were dead” usually misquoted as “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” A brief biography of Sheridan. Zeeny puns on the phrase in the title of her book to argue that rigid stereotypes–even good ones–of Indians should be avoided, rejecting the strictures of Hindu fundamentalists who seek to censure (and censor) “bad” Indians like Rushdie. As Margareta Petersson points out, “She looks upon Indian history as based on the principle of borrowing the clothes that fit, Aryan, Mughal and British. . . . It appears that she functions here as a spokeswoman for Rushdie, since he brings forth her ideas and examples in his own name in an essay where he asserts that he always has understood Indian culture as consisting of a rich mixture of traditions” (“Minority Literatures in a Multi-Cultural Society,” Petersson 298)

[53]

long pork
Reputed South Pacific cannibal term for human flesh.


Page 53

Angrez
English (Hindi).

[54]

Binaca smile
Advertising slogan of a popular breath freshener.

kurta
Traditional long shirt worn by Indian men (Hindi, Urdu).

George Miranda
Perhaps named after the character in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a favorite play for deconstruction by writers from formerly colonized nations who view it as an allegory of imperialism. Of course, Miranda’s most famous speech is “O brave new world/That has such people in’t!”(Act V, Scene i, ll. 183-184) used ironically by Aldous Huxley for the title of his dystopian novel, Brave New World. Thus Miranda’s idealistic Marxism may be alluded to in his name. The name also reminds us of Bombay’s Portuguese heritage.

Bhupen Gandhi
His name may be a tribute to the famous Indian painter, Bhupen Khakhar, who painted Rushdie’s portrait which is now in London, at the National Portrait Gallery. The story of both these paintings is told in the 1995 BBC film “Salman Rushdie and the Lost Portrait” (Kuortti).

Asians
Zeeny ironically uses the careless generalized label by which British speakers refer to all manner of people from Asia.

like a bloody lettuce
To Zeeny the name “Saladin” suggests “salad.”


Page 54

Dalda
Clarified butter (Hindi, Urdu), ghee, widely used as a cooking oil in India.

wogs
See note above, on p. 51 [52].

tinkers
Pot-menders.

our heads end up in Idi Amin’s fridge
The monstrous dictator of Uganda was known to store the body parts of some of his victims for cannibalistic dining. When he came to power, he targeted the many Indian residents of the country, especially those active in trade.

Columbus was right
Columbus mistakenly dubbed the people he met in the Caribbean “Indians” because he believed he had reached the Indies. The name stuck even after it was obvious that he had been mistaken, and the islands were named the West Indies.

[55]

Mister Toady
See note on Saladin Chamcha’s name above. A “toady” is an obsequious yes-man; but the term also puns on the name of Mister Toad, comic hero of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908). The text of Wind in the Willows. Farrukh Dhondy in his novel Bombay Duck writes, “The Moghul emperors had a man to feed them, to hold the spoon and bring it to their mouths. He stood to the left of the throne and was known as the ‘Chamcha,’ the spoon” (p. 74).

Hindustan
The Hindustan Ambassador is Indian-manufactured luxury car based on the British classic Morris Oxford Series II, little changed in style from the 50s original. The Hindustan Home Page.

Amazonic hijra got up like an Indian Wonder Woman
Hijras are technically transsexuals whose male genitals have been transformed into female ones through a crude operation. The Amazons of myth were women who dressed and fought as men, the opposite sort of transsexual to the hijras. The comic book character of Wonder Woman is supposedly an Amazon, though she is extremely womanly in appearance. Information on Wonder Woman.


Page 55

bustees
Slums (Hindi).

Shiv Sena
Right-wing nationalist political party, Maratha/Hindu supremacists, often responsible for “communal” violence. Its leader, Bal Thackeray, objected to what he took to be a satirical portrait of himself in Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh under the guise of “Raman Fielding.” William Thackeray and Henry Fielding were both famous English novelists.

Interview with Vijaya Nagarajan in Whole Earth (Fall 1999) in which Rushdie talks about the influence of Shiv Sena in modern Bombay.

Datta Samant
Militant Bombay labor leader.

[56]

Wonderland, Peristan, Never-Never, Oz
Note how the childhood home of Saladin is lumped in with fantasy lands by Lewis Carroll, James Barrie, and L. Frank Baum.

According to Zeeny, what was the difference between the Bombay Saladin remembers from his childhood and the real Bombay?

the saints were in plastic bags
Jains do not worship gods, but they do venerate saints, and decorate temples with their images.


Page 56

crowded dhaba
A tiny hotel, almost a hut.

Thums Up Cola
An Indian imitation of Coke. It is appropriate that Zeeny is drinking it as she denounces the common taste for “goods from foreign;” but she wouldn’t have had any choice since India banned both Coca-Cola and Pepsi until very recently.

[57]

Mr. Rajiv G.
Rajiv Gandhi (1944-91). Indian politician, the eldest son of Indira Gandhi. After she was assassinated in 1984, he replaced her as Prime Minister until 1989. He was in his turn assassinated in 1991 during an election campaign. George seems to share Rushdie’s own low opinion of Gandhi. The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

Information on Indira Gandhi.

Assam
In March of 1985, thousands of Islamic refugees from Bangladesh were massacred by Hindus in the Indian province of Assam. Most news reports focused on the involvement of ignorant peasants, but in fact better-educated Hindus, including college students, were also involved.

What is the point of the argument between George and Bhupen?


Page 57

we cracked your shell
Combined with the phrase about stepping through the looking-glass on the top of the next page, this image relates to the theme of the glass-encased body which recurs throughout the novel.


Page 58

India’s Babel
In Genesis 11:1-9 God prevents the completion of the skyward-reaching Tower of Babel by multiplying the languages of the builders so that they can accomplish no more. India has scores of languages which have been the cause of much strife, often bloody. Rushdie had used the same metaphor in Midnight’s Children, pp. 191-192.

seven-tiles and kabbadi
Both street games. In Seven Tiles one team’s objective is to stack seven stones inside a small circle while the other team tries to prevent them by hitting them with a rubber ball (Sudhakar). Kabbadi (Hindi) is a sort of tag played by two teams of nine each. A story about kabbadi.

a nikah ceremony 
Muslim marriage ceremony (Hindi, Urdu). Information about Muslim wedding customs.

[59]

Dark skin in north India.
The dark-skinned Dravidians who predominate in southern India are traditionally considered inferior by the lighter-skinned Aryans of the north. Matrimonial ads often specify “wheatish complexion;” but she acknowledges that Saladin is right in refusing to attribute her single state to her skin coloring.


Page 59

[60]

nawabs
Upper-class people, nabobs (Hindi, Urdu).

Why I shouldn’t employ?
A typical Indian expression of the sort Saladin has worked so hard to purge from his speech.


Page 60

the Man of a Thousand Voices and a Voice
Echoes the traditional title of The Arabian Nights: The Tale of a Thousand Nights and a Night and The Man of a Thousand Faces.

crisps
British for what Americans call “chips,” which is turn what the British call American “fries.”

[61]

Juliet
Shakespeare’s inexperienced thirteen-year-old heroine, naive though passionate. See note below on “balcony,” p. [384].

Mae West
Raunchy actress famous for her risqué jokes and bawdy, hard-living characters. Her classic film is perhaps I’m No Angel 1933). The Mae West Home Page.

we could be the United Nations
Margareta Petersson points out that Saladin is also compared to the United Nations on p. 192 [198] (Petersson 273).

‘You’re the one who’s circumcised.’
Muslim men as well as Jewish ones are circumcised.

looked like a Michelin poster
Chubby, like the bulging Michelin man used by the French tire company as its symbol (see below, p. 271 [280]) His name is “Bibendum.”


Page 61

dark stars
Alludes to collapsed stars which emit no light, but have enormous gravitational fields. The largest become black holes. Black Holes FAQ.

Botticelli Venus
Sandro Botticelli’s most famous painting is his “Birth of Venus” (c. 1482) depicting an idealized nude woman and imitating classical sculptures from ancient Greece.

Olympia
A famous 1863 painting by Edouard Manet of a nude woman of doubtful virtue, parodying the 1538 Venus of Urbino by Titian. She represents a later ideal of the feminine form. Information on Olympia, with a reproduction of the painting.

Monroe
Marilyn Monroe is the most modern in this series of ideally-formed women.

upheavals of Armenian-Jewish history
The more familiar Jewish history of exile and genocide is here joined to that of the Armenians, who have seldom ruled over a homeland of their own, being overrun and subjected in turn by Iranians and Turks. The latter massacred them wholesale in the late 19th century and at the end of World War I. Mimi is the ultimate exile, seeking neurotically to buy the roots she did not inherit. But she plays in turn the part of an invading imperialist, as the protesting ghosts in the houses she buys make clear.

a sea-coast in Bohemia
A literary joke. Bohemia has no seacoast; but Shakespeare, ignorant of that fact, famously set Act 3, Scene 3 of The Winter’s Tale in “Bohemia. A desert country near the sea.”

[62]

the babu part
Literally a clerk; but usually derogatory for a “pidgin” English speaker (Hindi).


Page 62

Pygmalien
A pun on the name of Pygmalion, the classical Greek sculptor who fell in love with his own creation and brought her to life. Hence the name is appropriate for a piece of rock which has come to life. The myth is in turn the source for the title of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion in which a professor transforms a cockney waif into the toast of London by teaching her how to speak like a lady, a theme closely related to the themes of The Satanic Verses. The play was transformed in 1956 by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe into the musical, My Fair Lady.
My Fair Lady film Web site. A retelling of the Greek myth.

Matilda, the Australien
Pun on “Australian’ and “alien,” connected to the name “Matilda,” of Australia’s most famous song, Waltzing Matilda.

Alien Korns, maybe because you could lie down among them
From John Keats” “ Ode to a Nightingale,” stanza 7:

Perhaps the selfsame song that found a path
through the sad heart of Ruth when sick for love,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn.

“Corn” here means “grain,” probably wheat. The original ties in with the theme of immigration (Ruth was a foreigner in Israel), but Rushdie implies the Alien Korns derive their name from their propensity for sleeping with groupies.

[63]

Ridley
An allusion to the name of the director of Alien (1979) Ridley Scott. More information about Scott.

Signourney Weaver
Star of Alien.

Francis Bacon
British painter famous for grotesque portraits. Art by Francis Bacon.

Kermit and Miss Piggy
Hosts of The Muppet Show.

Maxim and Mamma Alien
Puns on “Maximilian,’ and “mammalian” as well as Mimi Mamoulian’s name.


Page 63

once the video-computers had gone to work–made them look just like simulations
This accurately describes the technique used to create the 80s briefly famous satirical television character, Max Headroom.

[64]

Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan, see note above, in Introduction.


Page 64

re-invented
Azfar Hussain on this word:

Rushdie’s characterization of the Bombay film industry as endlessly reinventing Western films is a postmodernist kind of parodic-ironical-satirical play on words: “re-invention” does not so much imply “creativity” as it does “fetishizing,” “stereotyping,” or, as Baudrillard puts it, the “commodified re-production of images”–images of the folkloric, mythical pursuit; comic resolutions of apparent conflicts and confrontations through highly artificial compromises including the crossing of class boundaries and culturally and religiously sanctioned hierarchical gender roles. Other commonly reworked themes besides the dying heroine, are the misunderstood heroine, the sacred heroine, “pati-seba,” (the husband-nursing/adoring his wife), the struggle against parents who oppose the relationship. But none of these forms of struggle confront the conflict between the base and superstructure of the semi-capitalist, semi-feudal, male-dominated society that these Bombay love-story films endlessly depict; understandably, these films endlessly erase the possibilities of class struggles.

The Magnificent Seven
Already an imitation, being a John Sturges remake of Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai. So Indian filmmakers are imitating an American who was imitating a Japanese filmmaker. Both concern a band of fighters who join to clean up a town dominated by thugs. There were also three American sequels to the Sturges film. A new (2016) American film was released as a remake. (2016 The Magnificent Seven)

Love Story
Hugely popular 1970 sentimental movie ending in the death of the heroine from leukemia. Several Bombay film titles allude directly to it, such as Arek Prem Kahini (A New Love Story). (Love Story, 1970).

dacoits
Bandits.

crorepati penthoused wretch
Ten million equals one crore, hence millionaire, a very rich person (Hindi). Changez is being compared specifically to the eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes, who spent the latter part of his life secluded in a Las Vegas penthouse.

[65]

Gargoyles
Technically, the grotesque sculpted heads which serve as downspouts on the roofs of Gothic churches, but more generally any such grotesque decorative sculpture. Changez’s tendency to transform his face in monstrous ways foreshadows his son’s similarly monstrous transformations. More information about and pictures of gargoyles.

a high-walled compound nicknamed the Red Fort
Elaborate complex built in Delhi by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the mid-17th century, Lal Qual’ah. More on the Red Fort.


Page 65

Dresden ballerinas
Valuable figurines of the kind known as “Meissen porcelain” produced in the eastern German city of Dresden beginning in 1710. Both they and the glass bulls are frozen in time, like the room they occupy.

[66]

Vallabhbhai
Using an intimate form of address to Vallabh (Hindi).


Pages 66-67

[67]

Popeye-forearms and Bluto belly
Cartoon characters with, respectively, enormous forearms and a swollen belly. Popeye’s comic strip enemy was originally named Brutus, but he was renamed Bluto in the animated cartoons. Popeye the Sailor information.


Page 68

[69]

pooja
A general term which comprises sacrificial offerings, prayers, and many other reverential acts in Hinduism (Hindi). More commonly spelled “puja.”


Page 69

Old Man of the Sea
Refers not to Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, but to an episode in Sinbad’s fifth travel (83-84 nights). Sinbad helps an old man cross a river. As he sits on Sinbad’s shoulders, the old man nearly throttles him with his legs. Sinbad eventually shakes off his burden by getting the old man drunk. He smashes his head with a big stone. Sinbad learns from the sailors who rescue him that he has killed the Old Man of the Sea. The image recurs when Gibreel is forced to bear “the old man of the sea” (in this case, the 1) on his shoulders (212 [218]). (Note by Martine Dutheil)

I don’t explain you any more.
What does this sentence mean? Why is it important? What does it tell us about this father/son relationship?

Hamza-nama cloths
Illustrating scenes from the 16th-century Dastan-e-Amir Hamza (Urdu). Hamza is the uncle of the Prophet; the Dastan-e-Amir Hamzah is a collection of stories of the life of this man, but is largely concerned with his adventures before he met the Prophet. The particular version of the romance that was executed at Akbar’s court is now largely vanished; only a few hundred cloths remain of an original 14,000 (it would have been the greatest of all illuminated manuscripts). The particular cloth that is described on p. 70 [71], showing the giant trapped in a well, is in the holdings of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Their collection of these manuscripts is primarily made up of ones found covering windows in Srinagar. (Note by David Windsor.)


Page 70

Hind
See Introduction, note on “Hind.”

Uhud
A battle in which Muhammad was defeated (March 21, 625 CE, 3 AH). After the battle “Hind carved open Hamza’s breast, tore out the liver of the man who had killed her father at Badr, chewed it up and spat it out.” (Rodinson 181 and Armstrong 186-189). See note in Introduction on Hind.

[71]

Chandela bronzes
See
note above on Chandela period p. 12.

Ravi Varma
Raja Ravi Varma Koil Tampuran of Kilimanoor (1848-1906) came from an aristocratic family that had a strong interest in art. Raja Ravi Varma laid the foundations of oil painting in India; he was the first to follow European realistic styles, though he never studied overseas, being afraid of thereby losing caste. He was enormously popular, particularly for his paintings of religious subjects, but suffered the fate of other realistic painters throughout the world with the advent of modernism in art and became sneered at. (David Windsor)

Jaisalmer lattices
See above, note on p. 26 [27].


Page 71

Nandi bulls
Nandi is the vehicle of Shiva: a white, humped bull. He is always portrayed in temples of Shiva, sometimes as anthropomorphic. His veneration is related to the general respect for cows in Hinduism. A sculpture of Nandi.


Page 73

[74]

padyatra
Pilgrimage undertaken on foot (Hindi). See below, p. 488 [502].

to Assam
Where they may be massacred. See above, p. 56 [57].

M G R
Marudur G. Ramachandran, Tamil Nadu’s Ronald Reagan, who made numerous Robin Hood movies in which he defended the common man from various villains. As a result, he was, even before Ronald Reagan became President of the U.S., elected Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in early 1980. He made “mythologicals” like the kind Gibreel Farishta stars in (note by Srinivas Aravamudan, see also Avramudan “Being God’s Postman” 9).

N. T. Rama Rao
Starred in Hindu “mythologicals” (in the novel called “theologicals”) and was elected head of Andhra Pradesh. (See Avramudan: “Being God’s Postman” 9.)

Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan, see note above, in Introduction.

Information on Bachchan.

Durga Khote
Brahmin film star whose appearance in Ayodhyecha Raja (1932) helped to legitimize respectable actresses performing in films. Before this time, female roles had been played by boys. Her politics were liberal, but anticommunist.More on Durga Khote.


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[76]

Fancy-a-Donald T-shirts
Warning: this is an “R-rated” note, minors and easily-offended persons should skip it. First a short lesson in Cockney rhyming slang. A word is rhymed with another word which is part of a word phrase, of which only the non-rhyming part is usually spoken. Clear? OK, here’s a simple example: “head” rhymes with “bread,” which is part of the phrase “loaf of bread;” so the word “loaf” comes to mean “head,” as in the expression, “Use your loaf!” Another more racy example: “fart” becomes “rasberry tart” which leads to “razz.” To “razz” people was originally to make a farting sound at them. In the present instance, in the question, “Fancy a fuck?” (American equivalent: “Wanna fuck?”) “fuck” has been linked to “Donald Duck” and “Donald” substituted for the word. Print up a t-shirt with the words “Fancy a” followed by a picture of Donald Duck and a question mark, and you have a Fancy-a-Donald T-shirt of a cheerful vulgarity likely to appeal to the members of the Prospero Players who probably safely assume their fellow Indians at home will not get the joke. An English/Cockney Rhyming Slang Dictionary.

natyam dancers
Traditional Indian temple dancers who make a characteristic movement of their heads from side to side without turning their faces (Sanskrit, Hindi).

Benarsi saris
Saris in the style of Benares, or Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh.


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‘rail roko’ demonstration
A type of protest in which railroad lines are blocked by the demonstrators (Hindi).

[77]

Mr Charles Darwin
The founder of modern evolutionary theory, rejected by Biblical literalists like Dumsday. Evolution: Theory and History. Joel Kuortti suggests Dumsday’s first name, Eugene, may ironically refer to eugenics, systematic breeding which artificially imitates the process of evolution. See also note on Lamarck, above, p. 5.

Christian guard
Christian God: Dumsday (=doom, dumb) speaks with a thick Texas accent.

What characteristics of Dumsday do you think Rushdie considers peculiarly American?


Page 76

God-ridden
Haunted by thoughts of God. Darwin began his career as a theist, and wrestled for years with his doubts as the evidence against the existence of the Biblical Creator mounted. He was not, as fundamentalists like Dumsday often suppose, a dogmatic atheist whose evolutionary beliefs were designed to reinforce his skepticism; rather he tried repeatedly to accommodate religious sensibilities in his work.

Beelzebub
A traditional name for the devil (see, for instance, Matthew 10:25) (Hebrew). See note below on “Baal,” p. 97 [100] and p. 167 [173], where the manticore calls Saladin “Beelzebub”.

Asmodeus
A Hebrew demon featured in the deuterocanonical book of Tobit (3:8), associated in Jewish tradition as well with Solomon.

Lucifer
Isaiah 14:12 addresses the conquered king of Babylon as Lucifer “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” This verse was interpreted by early Christians as referring to Satan. The name originally refers to the planet we call Venus (see p. 131 [135]); but because of its use in this verse has come to be connected with the tradition of Satan’s fall from Heaven. More information on Lucifer.

Rotary Club
International businessmen’s organization founded in Chicago in 1905, promotes peace and community work. Generally viewed as a conservative organization which Rushdie presumes might welcome a speaker such as Dumsday. The Rotary International home page.

[78]

Vasco da Gama
Portuguese navigator, first European to sail around Cape Horn to find a sea route to Asia in 1498, was appointed Viceroy to India in 1524, but died and was buried only three months after he arrived, in Cochin, where Dumsday has just been speaking.

hashish
A drug made, like marijuana, of hemp.


Page 77

one hundred and eleven days
This prolonged ordeal is modeled on 1985 TWA hijacking discussed above in the note on p. 4.

What effect does it have on the novel that the hijackers are Indians? Discuss.

Shelley Long and Chevy Chase
The film would seem to be “Foul Play,” a 1978 preposterous detective caper film involving a plot to assassinate the Pope set in San Francisco, though Chevy Chase’s costar was not Shelley Long, but Goldie Hawn. Information about the film.


Page 78

[79]

Dara Singh Buta Singh Man Singh
Sikhs are traditionally named “Singh.” Several notorious incidents involving Sikh separatists had happened in the period preceding the publication of the novel, including the assassination of Indira Gandhi. The bandits’ pseudonyms are taken from the following celebrities: Dara Singh is a wrestler turned movie star; Buta Singh is a prominent politician; Man Singh was a bandit who joined forces with Phoolan Devi (see note on Phoolan Devi, below, p. 263 [272]).

Tavleen
Tavleen Singh is a well-known journalist who writes about political issues.

the oasis of Al-Zamzam
Named after a famous spring; see note below on p. 91 [94].


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[82]

Hijras! Chootias!
Eunuchs! Fuckers! See note on “Amazonic Hijra,” above, p. 54 [55] (Hindi, Urdu).


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[83]

funtoosh
Done (Hindi).

single unified force
See note on “unified field theory” above, on p. 24.

djellabah
A loose hooded gown, worn especially in North Africa (Arabic).


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[84]

Xixabangma Feng
Also known as Kao-seng-tsan-Feng (Gosainthan) and Shisha Pangma, located in Tibet. Most of the heights of these mountains recited by Chamcha differ slightly from later measurements, the last two are listed in the wrong order, and two are omitted from the sequence: Cho Oyu, 8153 meters and Lhotse, 8,501 meters (Kuortti). Peaks of the Himalayas.

Annapurna
This Nepalese mountain has several peaks,the highest of which is now believed to be slightly higher than the figure Gibreel recites. See Peaks of the Himalayas. Photos from the Annapurna circuit.

Chomolungma
Tibetan name of Mt. Everest, located in Nepal and Tibet.

K2
Also known as Mt. Godwin Austen, Dapsang, and Chogori, located in Pakistan.Information on K2.

Kanchenjunga
Also called Kangchenjunga and Kinchinjunga, or (in Nepali) Kumbhkaran or Lungur. Located in Nepal-Sikkim. A photo of Kanchenjunga.

Makalu
Also known as Kangshungtse. Located in Nepal and Tibet. Information and pictures.

Dhaulagiri
In Nepal. Information and pictures.

Manaslu
In Nepal. Information and picture.

Nanga Parbat
Located in the Indian part of Jammu & Kashmir. Photograph of Nanga Parbat. The Nanga Parbat Continental Dynamics Project.


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[86]

Dalai Lama
In Tibetan religious belief he is an incarnation of Avalokitesvara, the guardian bodhisattva of Tibet. When the current Dalai Lama dies, a new one is sought among recently born babies. The 14th one is Tenzin Gyatso (1937-), who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989; after the 1959 Chinese occupation of Tibet he was exiled in Dharamsala, Punjab, India, where he created an alternative democratic government (Kuortti). In The Court Of His Holiness The Dalai Lama.


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[86]

The Old Gramsci chestnut
Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). The closest thing to this quotation I have found is “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born” (Gramsci 276). Rushdie comments, “So many variations of the phrase were common in the conversation of both Indian and British leftists that I felt free to describe it as an old chestnut. It may be less of a chestnut than I thought. . .” (personal communication from Salman Rushdie).


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[87]

shorn Sirdarji
Devout Sikhs never trim their beards or hair (Hindi).


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albatross
[88]

Reminiscent of the albatross in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” which tells the story of a ship whose crew almost all died at sea, as the passengers of this jumbo jet are about to die. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

and the walls came tumbling down
Refrain of an old African-American spiritual by H.T. Burleigh retelling the story of Joshua’s miraculous destruction of the city of Jericho (see Joshua 6). Since the story in the Bible is presented as a victory, the image is appropriate for the upbeat twist Rushdie gives the bombing. More information about Burleigh.

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Notes for Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses

Introduction

First mounted August 18, 1996
Last revised August 28, 2008.


This study guide was prepared to help people read and study Salman Rushdie’s novel. It contains explanations for many of its allusions and non-English words and phrases and aims as well at providing a thorough explication of the novel which will help the interested reader but not substitute for a reading of the book itself. Many links are provided to other sites on the Web where further information can be found.

The “Rushdie Affair”

This is not a site for polemics about the novel or the “Rushdie Affair”. To many Western readers The Satanic Verses appears as a brilliant attack on religious bigotry. To many Muslims, East and West, it appears as a vicious series of insults to many of their most cherished beliefs. There are other positions: liberal and conservative non-Muslims deplore his irreverence, and liberal Muslims deplore the fatwa against Rushdie and support his right to publish, or even admire his work; some American and British non-Muslim critics have been critical of him. But the important debate, the one that makes a difference in the real world, is the one between the extremes, and between those extremes there remains a seemingly unbridgeable gulf. It is not my desire to exacerbate the tensions surrounding this novel, nor to delve in any depth into the controversy. That has been done, exhaustively, by many others. I recommend especially Michael Hanne’s “Salman Rushdie: ‘The Satanic Verses’ (1988)” as a thoughtful overview of the “affair” and Joel Kuortti’s Place of the Sacred: The Rhetoric of the Satanic Verses Affair (1997). But one cannot entirely ignore the controversy. A note on the terms “East” and “West” as used on this page.

Perhaps the contribution I can most usefully make is to discuss the differences in perspective of the antagonists in the affair toward the modern novel as a form. Islam is a religious tradition which in many influential quarters is self-consciously seeking to purify itself from modernizing, liberal tendencies. Although Islamic tales both short and long abound, and there are many authors of fiction who are highly honored, the modern novel as such is not a comfortable form in the Muslim world. Often it is identified with the West, with mere entertainment, with lax morals. In addition, Muslim writers who write novels are often critical of tradition. The 1994 near-fatal assault on the Egyptian Nobel Prizewinner Naguib Mahfouz illustrates the perils that even the most acclaimed of novelists may encounter in an era of religious polarization. To be sure, most Muslims abhor such assaults; but the feelings which cause them are all too familiar in such countries as Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, and even Turkey.

To a conservative Muslim, Islam is not just a religion in the sense that most Westerners use the term, a private faith which provides hope and consolation within a secular world. Islam is a way of life, a body of law, an all-embracing cultural framework within which novels are distinctly unimportant and potentially troublesome. That a mere novelist should dare to satirize fundamental religious beliefs is intolerable.

In the Western European tradition, novels are viewed very differently. Following the devastatingly successful assaults of the Eighteenth Century Enlightenment upon Christianity, intellectuals in the West largely abandoned the Christian framework as an explanatory world view. Indeed, religion became for many the enemy: the suppressor of free thought, the enemy of science and progress. When the freethinking Thomas Jefferson ran for President of the young United States his opponents accused him of intending to suppress Christianity and arrest its adherents. Although liberal and even politically radical forms of Christianity (the Catholic Worker movement, liberation theology) were to emerge from time to time, the general attitude toward religion among that class of people who value serious fiction has been negative.

Pious bigots were the objects of scorn by such popular Nineteenth-Century authors as Charles Dickens and Mark Twain. Twentieth-Century writers as different as James Joyce and Margaret Atwood have vividly depicted in novels the threats posed by conservative religious beliefs. So-called “Catholic” authors such as T. S. Eliot and Graham Greene routinely explore doubt more than faith; and even the greatest of all Christian novels, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov is so harrowing in its investigation of the challenges of faith that it has probably swayed more people away from religion than toward it.

Furthermore, from the time of Matthew Arnold onward, it has been frequently claimed that serious fiction and art could largely fill the gap left by the collapse of the cultural influence of traditional religion. The claims to the importance of high seriousness in fiction have been under assault by the most recent generation of critics for some time; but the justification for studying novels in an academic setting ultimately rests on the very claims of cultural significance that these critics attack. Fiction has not just been an irritant to religion in the West; it has posed itself as an alternative to it.

Rushdie’s own claims for the importance of the novel are only slightly less exalted in his essay, “Is Nothing Sacred”. Although at its end he rejects the claims of the novel to be able to replace religion, he makes some strong claims for it:

Between religion and literature, as between politics and literature, there is a linguistically based dispute. But it is not a dispute of simple opposites. Because whereas religion seeks to privilege one language above all others, the novel has always been about the way in which different languages, values and narratives quarrel, and about the shifting relations between them, which are relations of power. The novel does not seek to establish a privileged language, but it insists upon the freedom to portray and analyse the struggle between the different contestants for such privileges.Carlos Fuentes has called the novel “a privileged arena“. By this he does not mean that it is the kind of holy space which one must put off one’s shoes to enter; it is not an arena to revere; it claims no special rights except the right to be the stage upon which the great debates of society can be conducted.

(420)

. . . while the novel answers our need for wonderment and understanding, it brings us harsh and unpalatable news as well.It tells us there are no rules. It hands down no commandments. We have to make up our own rules as best we can, make them up as we go along.

And it tells us there are no answers; or rather, it tells us that answers are easier to come by, and less reliable, than questions. If religion is an answer, if political ideology is an answer, then literature is an inquiry; great literature, by asking extraordinary questions, opens new doors in our minds.

(423)

. . . literature is, of all the arts, the one best suited to challenging absolutes of all kinds; and, because it is in its origin the schismatic Other of the sacred (and authorless) text, so it is also the art most likely to fill our god-shaped holes.

(424)

In the Twentieth Century the novel came to be viewed as primarily oppositional, critical of the culture which produced it. Rather than providing values, it challenges them. Modern novels are praised for their courage in exposing hypocrisy, challenging tradition, exploring forbidden themes. If blasphemy is not the most common of techniques in Western fiction it is because so few writers take religion seriously enough to feel it worth attacking. Popular religious books are generally excluded from the New York Times best seller list as unworthy of notice, no matter how well they sell. The writer who does not challenge the beliefs and prejudices of the reader is generally viewed by the literary establishment as dull if not cowardly.

To complicate matters, the Enlightenment ideals of freedom of speech and press have an almost religious significance in the West. A typical response to the fatwa is Silvia Albertazzi’s statement that “Freedom of expression is more important than any offence any book might cause,” a statement which would be unthinkable in any profoundly religious culture. Albertazzi’s own Catholic ancestors would certainly have disagreed.

Rushdie came from a liberal Westernized family which had no great fervor for religious tradition:

My relationship with formal religious belief has been somewhat chequered. I was brought up in an Indian Muslim household, but while both my parents were believers neither was insistent or doctrinaire. Two or three times a year, at the big Eid festivals, I would wake up to find new clothes at the foot of my bed, dress and go with my father to the great prayer-maidan outside the Friday Mosque in Bombay, and rise and fall with the multitude, mumbling my way through the uncomprehended Arabic much as Catholic children do–or used to do–with Latin. The rest of the year religion took a back seat. I had a Christian ayah (nanny), for whom at Christmas we would put up a tree and sing carols about baby Jesus without feeling in the least ill-at-ease. My friends were Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, and none of this struck me as being particularly important.

(Rushdie: “In God We Trust” 376-377)

At the time of the writing of the novel he evidently did not even consider himself a Muslim (see below, note on p. 29). Certainly he was never an adherent of that sort of Islam which believes that apostasy is a capital offense. He was steeped from an early period in fiction, both Eastern and Western; and as a writer seems to have accepted the High Modern view that the writing of outspoken controversial fiction is a calling, perhaps even a duty. All of his works contain controversial themes; and beginning with Midnight’s Children in 1981 he took on South Asian politics in a way that earned him denunciations and bans as well as praise for his courage. He has often expressed his opposition to the religious extremism that informs modern Pakistani and Indian politics, and The Satanic Verses is another stage in a consistent critique of such extremism. What makes it different, however, is that in it he chose to criticize not only modern religious figures such as the Ayatollah Khomeni, but dared to question the authority of the very root of Islam: the inspired nature of the Qur’an and the authority of the Prophet Muhammad.

To a secularized European, his critique of Islam in the novel seems very mild and tentative; but there has never been anything like it in the Muslim world. Scoffers and libertines there have been; but they were fundamentally unserious. Rushdie seems to have been trying to become the Muslim Voltaire; but Islam has never undergone an equivalent to the European Enlightenment, let alone the development of a “higher criticism” such as the West has subjected the Bible to for the past two centuries. (But see Saadi A. Simawe’s ” Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and Heretical Literature in Islam” for a thorough discussion of Islamic scepticism in relation to the novel and Feroza Jussawalla’s “Rushdie’s Dastan-e-Dilruba: The Satanic Verses as Rushdie’s Love Letter to Islam,” for an interesting exploration of Islamic revisionism in Muslim India.)

In the secularized West his critique seems routine; in much of the Islamic East, it is unspeakable. The modernist assumptions it springs from are irrelevant, hardly understood. Many Muslim critics have asserted that equivalent blasphemy against Christian beliefs would never be tolerated, whereas in fact a wildly anti-Catholic comedy like “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You” can have a long, profitable run without any encountering any physical or even legal threat. Obscenity is taken much more seriously in the West than blasphemy. Rushdie tried to bridge the gulf between East and West and instead fell into the void. No one can reconcile these two views with each other because they are rooted in basically incompatible, even hostile world views.

Many of his Muslim critics have argued that The Satanic Verses, besides being offensive, is bad fiction. Non-Muslim views have been distinctly mixed, the most common criticism being that the novel does not “hold together” in a disciplined fashion. But that is true of many fine novels, including many of Rushdie’s favorites. In a 1983 interview with Una Chaudhuri on the influences on Midnight’s Children he commented on his penchant for unconventionally-shaped fictions:

As for other influences, well, there’s Joyce, for a start. And Swift, and Stern. I’m very keen on the eighteenth century in general, not just in literature. I think the eighteenth century was the great century. Well, take Fielding; the thing that’s very impressive about Tom Jones is the plot, that you have this enormous edifice which seems to be so freewheeling, rambling — and actually everything is there for a purpose. It’s the most extraordinary piece of organization which at the same time seems quite relaxed and not straitjacketed by its plot. I think that’s why the book is so wonderful. So, yes, I would have thought the eighteenth-century novel had something to do with mine. And Joyce, because Joyce shows you that you can do anything if you do it properly.

“Imaginative Maps,” Turnstile, p. 37.

For my own argument that the novel does possess a special kind of unity, see my essay, “The Unity of The Satanic Verses.

Unfortunately, many of his most ardent defenders defend him out of ignorance, for they have not managed to read past the first few chapters of this dense postmodern, intertextual, multicultural work. Nevertheless, the book continues to draw admirers, many of whom now consider The Satanic Verses Rushdie’s finest work. When I first opened its pages I was introduced into one of the most intoxicating, thoughtful, and hilarious works I had ever read. It is a playground for literate readers, filled with allusions and symbols of all kinds, which delight by their incongruity or their aptness. It is also a highly interesting attempt at establishing a middle ground between Western and Eastern chauvinisms, asserting that the immigrant has a uniquely valuable perspective. Rather than being outsiders, exiles, the immigrants create a unique perspective that allows them to comment insightfully on both East and West. (But see also Feroza Jussawalla on this subject.)The mixture of cultural influences, or what Rushdie calls the “chutneyfication” of culture, is one of the most enlivening aspects of his work. He throws off phrases in Hindi, Arabic, and Urdu which are bound to make the Western reader feel something of an outsider. He delights in playing with those aspects of Indian and Arabic culture which have been trivialized in the West in what Edward Said calls “orientalism,” satirizing the failure of Europeans to grasp what they persistently exoticize. Indeed the work is largely a critique of Western racism, of anti-immigrant prejudice, and a defense of the richness and worth of South Asian and Middle Eastern culture. But because it is a contemporary critique, it is not one-sided. His Indians are no angels–even if they sometimes take on the form of angels. Nevertheless he exuberantly celebrates Indian literature, music, film, and food; portraying the South Asian immigrants as providing an enlivening spice in dull, overcast London.

No one has better described this aspect of the novel than Rushdie himself:

If The Satanic Verses is anything, it is a migrant’s-eye view of the world. It is written from the very experience of uprooting, disjuncture and metamorphosis (slow or rapid, painful or pleasurable) that is the migrant condition, and from which, I believe, can be derived a metaphor for all humanity.Standing at the centre of the novel is a group of characters most of whom are British Muslims, or not particularly religious persons of Muslim background, struggling with just the sort of great problems that have arisen to surround the book, problems of hybridization and ghettoization, of reconciling the old and the new. Those who oppose the novel most vociferously today are of the opinion that intermingling with a different culture will inevitably weaken and ruin their own. I am of the opposite opinion. The Satanic Verses celebrates hybridity, impurity, intermingling, the transformation that comes of new and unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs. It rejoices in mongrelization and fears the absolutism of the Pure. Mélange, hotchpotch, a bit of this and a bit of that is how newness enters the world. It is the great possibility that mass migration gives the world, and I have tried to embrace it. The Satanic Verses is for change-by-fusion, change-by-conjoining. It is a love-song to our mongrel selves.

(“In Good Faith” 394)

After Khomeni condemned Rushdie to death, it became impossible to experience this light-hearted, playful side of the novel in the way he surely intended. Yet to be fair to the book we should try to read it without letting the fatwa obscure its merits.

Between its hostile critics who refuse to read it and its supporters who fail to read it, The Satanic Verses must be one of the most widely-unread best sellers in the history of publishing. Rushdie’s allusiveness is much more transparent than that of James Joyce, one of his main influences; but it still provides a major obstacle to many readers. In the “Acknowledgements” to the novel, Rushdie lists only a few sources, while stating, “The identities of many of the authors from whom I’ve learned will, I hope, be clear from the text. . . .” But much of the effect of his allusions has been lost on readers curious about this controversial work. These notes are an attempt to gather together the ideas of many different scholars who have contributed to understanding the text, adding my own notions and insights to the mix. Many consultants, both within India and abroad, have contributed to these notes, but requested that they remain anonymous, Such is the fear of Rushdie’s enemies. Yet I hope that even they will read these notes as they are intended: not as a brief on behalf of the novel or an indictment of it, but as a guide to understanding it–for whether one views it as a postmodern masterpiece or decadent desecration of all that is sacred, it is incumbent on the reader to understand what is on the page.

I have not assumed that Rushdie’s allusions to traditional icons of Western culture are universally understood either, and have taken some pains to explicate for Americans the numerous Britishisms in novel which are easily comprehensible to English readers. My experience with students reading the work leads me to believe that over-explanation is less harmful in this case than under-explanation.

Rushdie clearly never envisioned the kind of annotation I am providing here. After all, part of his style is meant to startle the Western reader into realizing he/she is not the center of all stories. In an interview with Salon magazine, he commented on his use of words unfamiliar to many of his readers:

. . . I use them as flavoring. I mean, I can read books from America and I don’t always get the slang. American writers always assume that the whole world speaks American, but actually the whole world does not speak American. And American Jewish writers put lots of Yiddish in their books and sometimes I don’t know what they’re saying. I’ve read books by writers like Philip Roth with people getting hit in the kishkes and I think, “What?!”It’s fun to read things when you don’t know all the words. Even children love it. One of the things any great children’s writer will tell you is that children like it if in books designed for their age group there is a vocabulary just slightly bigger than theirs. So they come up against weird words, and the weird words excite them. If you describe a small girl in a story as “loquacious,” it works so much better than “talkative.” And then some little girl will read the book and her sister will be shooting her mouth off and she will say to her sister, “Don’t be so loquacious.” It is a whole new weapon in her arsenal.

The interview from which this quotation comes.

However, on May 3, 1999, Melinda Penkava interviewed Salman Rushdie about his new novel, The Ground Beneath Her Feet on the National Public Radio phone-in talk show, “Talk of the Nation.” Asked about the possibility of “Cliff’s Notes” to his writings, Rushdie answered that although he didn’t expect readers to get all the allusions in his works, he didn’t think such notes would detract from the reading of them: “James Joyce once said after he had published Ulysses that he had given the professors work for many years to come; and I’m always looking for ways of employing professors, so I hope to have given them some work too.”

The problem with The Satanic Verses, is that many readers have found themselves so disoriented that they have never finished the book. If you want to savor the text the way Rushdie originally intended, try reading it without the notes; but when you come to a term or reference that just begs to checked out, you can search for it here.

Biography

Much of the following is based on Ian Hamilton’s article, “The First Life of Salman Rushdie,” which is the most systematic and thorough treatment thus far of the author’s life. Rushdie himself is reportedly working on an autobiography.

Rushdie was born to liberal, prosperous Muslim parents in Bombay June 19, 1947. In August 14 of that year, Pakistan divided itself from India as part of an agreement ending the period of British colonialism in South Asia. The result was a chaotic and extremely violent period as 6,000,000 Muslims moved north to the newly-established Islamic state and 8,000,000 Hindus and Sikhs moved south fleeing it. Rushdie’s parents, however, remained in Bombay while Rushdie was growing up, so that he never identified with the strongly pro-Islamic stance of many Pakistanis. In 1961, when he was 13, he was sent to England to study at Rugby School. In 1962, his family followed him to England, became naturalized British citizens, and lived for two years in Kensington, which features as a locale in The Satanic Verses. When his father decided to move the family to Karachi, Pakistan, a country that Rushdie detested, he felt as if his homeland had been taken away from him.

In 1965 he went on to study history at Kings College, Cambridge, where his father Anis Ahmed Rushdie had also studied. In his senior year Rushdie investigated the origins of Islam and encountered for the first time the story of the “satanic verses.” He also pursued his interest in movies and became involved in the theater as an actor. When he graduated in 1968 his father tried to persuade him to take over the new towel factory he had established in Karachi, and their already strained relationship worsened.

Venturing into television production and publishing, he encountered instances of censorship which persuaded him that he belonged back in London, where he lived for a time on welfare and occasionally acted, enjoying being young in London during the height of the sixties. However he eventually went to work writing ads for a firm called Sharp MacManus. In 1971 he finished a novel entitled The Book of the Pir (a term which occurs as well in The Satanic Verses), but it was rejected and never published. He returned to advertising, preparing television commercials for Ogilvy & Mather. The character of Hal Valance in the novel is based partly on bigoted advertising executives he met during this period in his life.

In 1970 he met Clarissa Luard, the model for Pamela Lovelace in The Satanic Verses and they began living together two years later. In 1976 they married. In 1971 he had written his first published novel, Grimus, a bizarre science-fiction/fantasy novel with few ties to the South Asian material which was going to inform his best fiction. His experiences in 1977 working with a project to assist immigrants from Bangladesh convinced him that racism permeated British society. He himself, with light skin and English accent, was better accepted.

He comments:

     The phrase that really gets me angry is this thing about being “more English than the English.” It is used as if it should be offensive. I point out to these people that if there was an English person living in India who adopted Indian dress, who had learnt to speak Urdu or Hindi or Bengali fluently without an accent, nobody would accuse him of having lost his culture. They would be flattered and pleased that the language had been acquired so efficiently. And they would see it as a compliment to themselves. But they wouldn’t accuse him of having betrayed his origins.

(Quoted in Hamilton 102.)

Although the Anglophile Saladin Chamcha is portrayed as more than a bit of a fool in the novel, his rejection of Zeeny Vakil’s accusations that he has betrayed his Indian roots may reflect Rushdie’s own struggles with this issue.

In 1980 Rushdie published Midnight’s Children, the novel that catapulted him to fame. It is a brilliant and searing satire on the history of modern India, with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as one of its main targets. It gained lavish praise in the West and won the famous Booker Prize for fiction, and was also well received in South Asia, But not by everyone. His relatives were offended when they recognized unflattering portraits of themselves in the novel. One of its prime targets, Mrs. Gandhi, sued for libel and won her case demanding an expurgated, revised version shortly before she was assassinated (it was never published).

Like The Satanic Verses, Midnight’s Children combines fantasy and magic with political satire in a manner strongly reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, though he has preferred to claim Günter Grass as a greater influence. Like García Márquez he integrates fantastic elements into everyday life, and routinely refers to events to come as if they were already known, techniques which he were to be a hallmark of his later fiction as well. Another García Márquez pattern which recurs in Rushdie’s fiction is the doomed love affair which is at first resisted by the female partner, then burns wildly and destructively in an outburst of almost supernatural eroticism.

His next novel was Shame, a 1983 critique of the Zia ul-Haq regime and of Benazir Bhutto which was effective enough to earn its banning in Pakistan. After falling in love with author Robyn Davidson on a tour of Australia, he ended his marriage to Luard by moving in with her for what was to be an extremely stormy relationship, resulting, suggests Ian Hamilton, in the portrait of Alleluia Cone in The Satanic Verses. His portraits of both characters based on Clarissa and Robyn in The Satanic Verses are rather sympathetic, with Rushdie apparently casting himself in the rather unsympathetic Saladin Chamcha role (Hamilton 106).

A 1986 trip to Nicaragua under the Sandinistas led to the nonfiction book, The Jaguar Smile, much criticized as simplistically partisan, but reflecting the constant interest in politics which runs through his fiction. In 1986 Rushdie met the American writer Marianne Wiggins, whom he married two years later. (Their relationship was a difficult one as well; they were to stay together longer than they might have when he was forced underground by Khomeni’s fatwa, but ultimately they were to be divorced.) In 1987 he returned to India to make a film just in time to encounter the outbreak of Hindu/Muslim violence resulting from the controversy over the Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya, a conflict which was to have a major influence on the writing of The Moor’s Last Sigh.

Back in London to edit the film, he was suddenly summoned to his father’s deathbed where he achieved a reconciliation with the old man which is reflected in the novel in the final reconciliation between Saladin and Changez.

On September 26, 1988, Viking Penguin published his long-awaited novel, The Satanic Verses. Although the book was generally praised in Europe and America, it was viewed by some as undisciplined and by others as baffling. Few Western readers understood much of what was to be so offensive to Muslim readers. A Muslim Minister of Parliament in India attacked the novel, and it was quickly banned there. Photocopies of the pages considered most offensive were circulated among various Islamic organizations and to the embassies of Islamic nations in London. On October 8, a Saudi newspaper published in London denounced Rushdie, and various threats and complaints followed; but it was only in January of 1989 that the protests burst into full public consciousness. The book was burned before the television cameras in England, in Iran five members of a mob attacking the American Culture Center in Islamabad in protest were shot to death, and in Kashmir, sixty were injured in another protest and one person died.

Rushdie responded to the book burning in January with a bold defense in which he said, in part:

     Nowadays . . . a powerful tribe of clerics has taken over Islam. These are the contemporary Thought Police. They have turned Muhammad into a perfect being, his life into a perfect life, his revelation into the unambiguous, clear event it originally was not. Powerful taboos have been erected. One may not discuss Muhammad as if he were human, with human virtues and weaknesses. One may not discuss the growth of Islam as a historical phenomenon, as an ideology born out of its time. These are the taboos against which The Satanic Verses has transgressed (these and one other: I also tried to write about the place of women in Islamic society, and in the Koran). It is for this breach of taboo that the novel is being anathematized, fulminated against, and set alight. . . .The Satanic Verses is not, in my view, an antireligious novel. It is, however, an attempt to write about migration, its stresses and transformations, from the point of view of migrants from the Indian subcontinent to Britain. This is, for me, the saddest irony of all; that after working for five years to give voice and fictional flesh to the immigrant culture of which I am myself a member, I should see my book burned, largely unread, by the people it’s about, people who might find some pleasure and much recognition in its pages. I tried to write against stereotypes; the zealot protests serve to confirm, in the Western mind, all the worst stereotypes of the Muslim world.

“The Book Burning,” p. 26.

The Ayatollah Khomeni, leader of the Iranian revolution and the target of a fiercely satirical portrait in the novel, responded by issuing a denunciation of Rushdie called a fatwa:

I inform all zealous Muslims of the world that the author of the book entitled The Satanic Verses–which has been compiled, printed and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Qur’an–and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its content, are sentenced to death.I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they may be found, so that no one else will dare to insult the Muslim sanctities. God Willing, whoever is killed on this path is a martyr.

(Quoted in Hamilton 113.)

Many Muslims have since criticized the fatwa, and denied Khomeni’s authority to issue it; but it has had an immediate and lasting effect on Rushdie’s life.

Shortly afterward he went into hiding, guarded by British policemen who have been his constant companions ever since. Rushdie attempted a reconciliation with his enemies by meeting with a number of prominent Muslim clerics and declaring himself Muslim, at least in a cultural sense; but the détente he had attempted to achieve came to nothing, and he has since resolutely defended himself. Rather unfairly, a number of smug academics safe in their offices have blamed this gregarious, energetic man for this early attempt to find a way out of his life of enforced solitude and mortal peril. (The essay “In Good Faith” incorporates his earliest and fullest defence of the novel and critique of his attackers.) He has become an international celebrity in the cause of freedom of speech, a target for would-be assassins, and the subject of endless discussion over the merits and influence of the novel that began it all: The Satanic Verses.

Because the story of his subsequent struggles and triumphs since is readily available from other sources and not really relevant to understanding The Satanic Verses, it will not be repeated here. He remains under the threat of the fatwa, which has been renewed several times by the successors of Khomeni now governing Iran; but in recent years he has ventured out in public more and more for surprise speeches and other appearances.

About a year after the issuing of the fatwa, a film portraying a successful attack on the author was released but not widely viewed. In a March 1996 interview with the Gleaner, an electronic publication of Gleebooks in Sydney, Australia, Rushdie commented on the film:

When, within a year or so after the Fatwah, there was a movie made in Pakistan called International Guerillas in which I was portrayed rather unpleasantly as somebody wearing a rather ugly range of pastel safari suits and also behaving as a drunkard, a torturer, and indeed a murderer. And in the end– and the heroes of this film were the international terrorists they sent to hunt me down and in the end I did indeed get killed.There was one–I have to say to in parentheses–one scene of rather good unintentional comedy which I hope you’ll appreciate when the kind of– the “me” character has had his fill of lashing and slashing at one of the international terrorists who’d been imprisoned for his pleasure by what looks like the Israeli Army, when he has finished having his fun, he says–he orders the Israeli Army to take this fellow away to some dungeon and spend all night reading him The Satanic Verses. Whereupon this man completely crumples, and says, “Not that, anything but that, etc.” That was a good scene. But many of the other scenes of the film were less good.Anyway the film got to England and was refused a certificate by the British Board of Film Classification largely because the Board correctly saw the film was extremely defamatory, that I would have a very straight-forward case in law, it would be able– if they gave it a certificate to sue not only the film makers but also them. So the film got banned. And so I found myself in the extraordinary position of having to write to the Board, waiving my legal rights, promising that I would not sue and saying, “Would you please give this film a licence,” because I did not want to be defended by an act of censorship.And the thing turned into a rather shapely parable of the free speech position. Because if this film had been banned, if it had not been given a certificate it would have become a very hot number indeed. The illicit videos of this film would have circulated in their goodness knows how many thousands and it would have become glamorous as an object. And instead it got its certificate and the producers of the certificate booked a very large cinema in Bradford in the North of England which is where the largest Muslim Community in England lives, and nobody went. You know. The film got taken off after one showing because it was playing to an empty house. It just goes that actually if you do let people make up their minds they can tell the difference between rubbish and what is not rubbish. And nobody wants to pay money to see a bad movie in the end.

According to Sara Suleri (“Whither Rushdie” 199), popular hostility to the author was so strong that the actor who played Rushdie in the film himself received several death threats.

Rushdie has also replied to those who argue that novels such as his deserve condemnation because they do not respect the religious sensibilities of some believers:

Religious extremists, these days, demand “respect” for their attitudes with growing stridency. Few people would object to the idea that people’s rights to religious belief must be respected–after all, the First Amendment defends those rights as unequivocally as it defends free speech–but now we are asked to agree that to dissent from those beliefs, to hold that they are suspect or antiquated or wrong, that in fact they are arguable, is incompatible with the idea of respect. When criticism is placed off-limits as “disrepectful,” and therefore offensive, something strange is happening to the concept of respect. Yet in recent times both the American N.E.A. and the very British BBC have announced that they will employ this new perversion of “respect” as a touchstone for their funding and programming decisions.Other minority groups–racial, sexual, social–have also demanded that they be accorded this new form of respect. To “respect” Louis Farrakhan, we must understand, is simply to agree with him. To “dis” him is, equally simply, to disagree. But if dissent is also to be thought a form of “dissing,” then we have indeed succumbed to the thought police.

I want to suggest that citizens of free societies do not preserve their freedom by pussyfooting around their fellow citizens’ opinions, even their most cherished beliefs.

 

“How News Becomes Opinion, And Opinion Off-Limits”, p.20.

The Title

Rushdie writes of the title:

You call us devils? it seems to ask. Very well, then, here is the devil’s version of the world, of “your” world, the version written from the experience of those who have been demonized by virtue of their otherness. Just as the Asian kids in the novel wear toy devil-horns proudly, as an assertion of pride in identity, so the novel proudly wears its demonic title. The purpose is not to suggest that the Qur’an is written by the devil; it is to attempt the sort of act of affirmation that, in the United States, transformed the word black from the standard term of racist abuse into a “beautiful” expression of cultural pride.

(“In Good Faith” 403)


List of Principal Characters

Gibreel Farishta, born Ismail Najmuddin
Indian film star, specializing in playing Hindu gods, though he himself is a Muslim, takes the form of an angel. Rushdie has said of Gibreel:

the character of Gibreel himself is a mixture of two or three types of Indian movie star. There was in the forties a Muslim actor, a very big star at the time, who did somehow get away with playing major Hindu divinities and because he was so popular it was not a problem. And it was interesting to me that mega-stardom allowed you to cross those otherwise quite fraught religious frontiers. So there was a bit of that in Gibreel. And then there was an element of the big South Indian movie stars, a bit of Rama Rao. And finally there was a large bit of the biggest movie star in India for the last fifteen or twenty years, Amitabh Bachchan.

Rushdie: “Interview,” p. 52.
(See also Brennan 155, Ruthven, Aravamudan: “‘Being God’s Postman is No Fun, Yaar'” 9 and Jussawalla 231).

Raj Kapoor has also been mentioned as a model (Fischer 122). The name means “Gabriel Angel” in Urdu and Persian.

Saladin Chamcha
Born Salahuddin Chamchawala, a voice impersonator, “Chumch,” “Spoono” (because “chamcha” is Hindi for “spoon,” see p. 83). Takes the form of a devil. His original name is comical because it combines a heroic first name (Saladin–the great Muslim hero of the Crusades) and the term “spoon-seller.” Chamcha also means yes-man:

     A chamcha is a very humble, everyday object. It is, in fact, a spoon. The word is Urdu; and it also has a second meaning. Colloquially a chamcha is a person who sucks up to a powerful people, a yes-man, a sycophant. The British Empire would not have lasted a week without such collaborators among its colonized peoples. You could say that the Raj grew fat by being spoon-fed.

(Rushdie, “Empire” 8).

Feroza Jussawalla says that the name echoes a Bombay street slang insult–“salah chamcha”–“bastard homosexual” (“Resurrecting” 107).

Pamela Lovelace
Saladin’s wife, leftist. Her name combines those of the heroine in Samuel Richardson’s novel Pamela and of the villain in his Clarissa; thus the name may be a subtle allusion to the given name of Rushdie’s first wife, Clarissa Luard..However, the name is almost certainly also meant to refer to the sixties porn star of Deep Throat, Linda Lovelace.

Mahound
The prophet featured in the Satanic Verses plot. His name is taken from a relatively obscure insulting European name for Muhammad, most likely borrowed by Rushdie from Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene (VI, vii; see Jussawalla: “Resurrecting” 108).

Zeeny “Zeeny” Vakil
Doctor at Breach Candy Hospital, art critic and political activist, lover of Saladin.

Mimi Mamoulian
Female partner of Saladin in the voice impersonation business, later companion of Billy Battuta. Her name may be suggestive of mammalian breasts, though Yasmine Gooneratne suggests the name means something like “worthlessness” in Hindi. On p. 274, the newspapers say her name is Mildred, so “Mimi” may be merely a nickname, or the papers have got it wrong.

Rekha Merchant
Wife of a businessman, lover of Gibreel. Commits suicide with her three children by jumping off the roof of Everest Vilas and then haunts Gibreel throughout much of the novel. Her first name calls to mind the brilliant actress (renowned for her beauty and brilliant dancing) of the same name. The actress was much talked about in the gossip rags of Bombay in the seventies, her name being linked to the megastar Amitabh Bachchan (whose injury during the shooting of a fight scene in “Coolie,” and the life-threatening infection that subsequently developed, mirrors what happens to Gibreel. The 1981 movie Silsila was partly based on the Amitabh/Rekha affair. (David Windsor) “Merchant” may be an allusion to the famous Indian filmmaker Ismail Merchant, the model for S. S. Sisodia.

Alleluia Cone
Allie Cone (originally Cohen). Tender-footed climber of Mount Everest. Her name may also allude to that of the goddess Al-Lat (Seminck 17).

Karim Abu Simbel
Ruler of Jahilia. The last two parts of his name refer to the location of the gigantic sculptures of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II (r. c.1304-1237 BC); probably intended to suggest his imposing, grandiose manner. However, his name is probably also linked to that of Abu Sufyan, an opponent of Muhammad who was married to one Hind (see below).

Jamshed” Jumpy” Joshi
Lover of Pamela Chamcha, Saladin’s wife. Like Baal, he is a poet.

Muhammad Sufyan
Proprietor of the Shaandaar Café, father of two daughters: Mishal and Anahita.

S. S. Sisodia
Indian filmmaker living and working in London. His name not only mocks his stuttering, but inspires the punning nickname “Whisky” (“whisky and soda”).

Mirza Saeed Akhtar
The zamindar of Titlipur, whose wife, dying of cancer, follows the mysterious Ayesha to the sea in search of a miracle.

Characters who share a name

One of the techniques used by Rushdie to knit this multifaceted work together is to assign the same names to certain characters in different plots of the novel. (It is worth noting that García Márquez also repeats the names of characters in One Hundred Years of Solitude, but to very different effect.)

Ayesha
The cruel ruler of Desh in the Imam plot (playing the role of the former Shah of Iran); the fanatical girl who leads to the march to Mecca in the Titlipur plot; and the name of the youngest and favorite wife of Mahound and of the historical Muhammad, whom he married when she was only eleven and about whom several stories are told which indicate she was rather independent-minded and occasionally critical of the Prophet (see Netton: Text, pp. 30-31; Haykal 139, 183-184, 331-333). Her name also alludes to Queen Ayesha of H. Rider Haggard’s She, pale, long-haired queen of an Arabic-speaking people in Africa (Seminck 24). The text of She. Information on Haggard.

Bilal
A follower of Mahound; follower of the Imam. See below, note on p. 101. The historical Bilal was a former black slave who converted to Islam and was made the first muezzin (the official who calls the faithful to prayer).

Hind
The grasping wife of Muhammad Sufyan in the main plot; the cruel, lascivious wife of Abu Simbel in the “satanic verses” plot. Named after the seventh-century Hind bint ‘Utba, wife of Abu Sufyan (see above), powerful local leader in Mecca and custodian of the temple (Parekh 30). She is famous for her ferocity during the Battle of Uhud in 625 when she tore open the chest of Muhammad’s uncle, Hamzah ibn ‘abd al Muttalib, and bit into his liver. She was also the mother of one of Muhammad’s wives (Fischer 131-132; see also Haykal 267-268). Hind also shares a characteristic with another fictional character, H. Rider Haggard’s Ayesha (see above, note on “Ayesha.”)

Khalid
Follower of Mahound; follower of the Imam.

Mishal
Mishal Sufyan is the older daughter of Muhammad Sufyan and lover of Hanif Johnson in the main plot; Mishal Akhtar is the dying wife of Mirza Saeed Akhbar in the Titlipur plot. “Hanif” is the first name of Anglo-Pakistani novelist and film director Hanif Kureshi and historically is a term referring to pre-Islamic monotheists (Haykal 601, no. His last name is used for the minor character of Mrs. Qureishi (Nazareth 171). The Qureishi (or Quraysh) were the tribe of which Muhammad was a member and whose name means “shark”.

Bilal, Khalid and Salman
Followers of Mahound, and of the Imam. The guard outside the Imam’s room on p. 210 is Salman Farsi (“Farsi” is a term designating a follower of the Persian religion of Zarathustrianism); Salman the Persian is a follower of Mahound who ultimately loses his faith in him in the “satanic verses” plot; and of course it is the first name of the author.


The notes to each chapter are on a different page. Since the notes are quite detailed, this means that some pages are quite long. I cannot break these notes up into smaller pieces without making them much more difficult to manage. Having a limited number of pages also allows you to search through them for the passage you are interested in with a minimum of trouble.


Note: In the following annotations, the page numbers refer to the hardbound first edition and to the first paperback edition of The Satanic Verses published by “The Consortium.” Where the pagination of the Holt Owl paperback edition differs, its page numbers are given in [square brackets].

The Unity of The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses has been attacked by many critics as incoherent, as a disorganized mixture of plots, themes, and characters. Even a cursory survey of the preceding notes reveals that Rushdie has sought to knit together the various threads of his novel by introducing a host of cross-references, repeating the names of characters, catch phrases, and images in a complex network of allusions and echoes. Yet these might be viewed as desperate attempts to give a surface appearance of unity to a basically chaotic work.

I am persuaded that The Satanic Verses is indeed unified by a related set of topics, all of them widely acknowledged in earlier criticism, but perhaps not arrayed in the way I do here. This is my personal understanding of what holds the various plots of the novel together in a way that articulates a consistent world view.

Rushdie says that novels do not lay down rules, but ask questions. In fact he claims that by asking questions, good fiction can help to create a changed world. Novels like The Satanic Verses don’t settle debates: they articulate the terms of debate and ask hard questions of the opposing sides, thereby helping to usher “newness” into the world. One of the unifying themes of The Satanic Verses is newness, or change. It attacks rigid, self-righteous orthodoxies and celebrates doubt, questioning, disruption, innovation. This much is obvious.

But Rushdie is focussing on a particular set of issues relating to rigidity and change: those identified with what is sometimes called “identity politics.” It is unfortunate that this term is primarily associated with the opponents of such politics because it so aptly sums up what feminism, Afrocentrism, gay pride, national liberation movements and a host of other causes have in common.

People who find themselves excluded or suppressed by dominant groups try by various means to find an effective voice and tools for action to create power and authority for themselves. It is these struggles that are the basic underlying matter of Rushdie’s novel. The question that is asked throughout this novel is “What kind of an idea are you?” In other words, on what ideas, experiences, and relationships do you base your definition of yourself–your identity?

People who find themselves identified as “foreigners” or “aliens” often find unwelcome hostile identities imposed upon them. The common catch-phrase in literary theory these days is “demonization,” and it is this term that Rushdie makes concrete in his novel by turning Saladin, the immigrant who is most determined to identify with the English, literally into a demon. (Of course he is also able to earn his living only by taking on the guise of a space alien.) The other immigrants who assume horns later in the novel express the same satirical view of English bigotry. But this is only the beginning of Rushdie’s exploration of the theme of identity.

In the distant past, European observers writing about people in colonized nations often distinguished between “unspoiled natives” who dwelled in childlike, ignorant innocence which was part of their charm, and others who had been “spoiled” by contact with a European civilization they could mimic but never truly master. This formula not only justified the colonial domination of colonized “children” as a form of parental concern, even charity (“the white man’s burden”), but rationalized measures taken to prevent inhabitants of the colonies from gaining the education and jobs they would have needed to rule themselves in the modern world.

Less obviously vicious but still prejudicial was a later formula according to which writing about what is now called “postcolonial” literature emphasized the position of writers from the “third world” writing in English as exiles, uprooted and stranded in alien, often hostile cultures far from home, working in a language that may not have been their own. Immigrants were called “exiles” whether they had actually been driven from their homeland or–as was much more common–they had sought increased opportunity by voluntarily moving abroad. “Exile” is a weak image, and Rushdie rejects it. His immigrants are sources of energy and creativity, busily redefining the culture of their adopted homelands.

In a more recent period, the standard formula has referred to the “center” and the “periphery.” Europe and the U.S. constitute the center, writers from nations like Nigeria, Jamaica, and India belong to the periphery. Their voices are said to have been “marginalised,” thrust from the center, forced into the margins. People using this language do so with more or less irony; but all too often it becomes just another way of saying that we should pay attention to our less fortunate fellows. The challenge of “marginalised” voices is to find the center, or shift it to themselves, seize the podium, and speak their piece.

What Rushdie does in The Satanic Verses is to reverse these terms. He challenges the English/European/white sense of identity. He rejects its claims to centrality. London is changed into an exotic land where people follow strange customs (wiping themselves “with paper only” and eating bony fish). People of traditional Anglo-Saxon stock are almost entirely absent from the London of The Satanic Verses. Instead the city swarms with immigrants: Indians, Bengalis, Pakistanis, Jamaicans, German Jews, etc. He reminds the English that they too were colonized, by the Romans and the Normans.

The only major character with a traditional English heritage is Pamela, who is striving mightily to escape that very heritage and mistakes Saladin for an exotic “alien” who can link her to India, when the main reason he is drawn to her is that she represents escape from the Indianness he is trying to flee. (This same sort of cross-purposes Indian-European relationship is also dealt with in a Raja Rao’s remarkable 1960 novel The Serpent and the Rope.) Rosa Diamond is an Englishwoman yearning to become Latin American or to be conquered by invading Normans. The bigots who beat Chamcha in the police van are all–as he notes–no more English in their heritage than he, but his color and identity as a postcolonial immigrant allows them to treat him as a complete alien.

Minor Anglo-Saxon characters are venal (Hal Valance), bigoted (the punks who spit on the food in the Shaandaar Café), tyrannical (Margaret Thatcher), or stupid (Eugene Dumsday). Rushdie has turned the tables on Anglo-Americans. Their travel writers have for generations dwelt on the failings of the benighted natives of far-off lands: it is now their turn to become a set of cartoons, to provide the background for the thoughts, feelings, and actions of the really important characters.

But Rushdie does not engage in this sort of caricature to privilege his immigrants as somehow morally superior. They are all morally flawed as well, though treated in a more complex manner. He is not saying that being from a former colony of Britain grants one any particular virtue; it is only that he is interested in focussing on such people. Of course he is perfectly aware that by doing so he is disorienting his “mainstream” English and American readers, giving them a taste of what it feels like to be bit players in a drama which is not essentially about them.

Further, he is not asking how immigrants can become “English” (in the way that Otto Cone strove to become English); he is instead asking how immigrants can create an identity for themselves in England which is richer, newer, more interesting than the traditional stereotypes associated with the old center of empire.

One traditional strategy of oppressed or marginalised groups is to try to create a sense of identity by dwelling on their shared history. Sometimes this takes the form of referring back to a historical period of suffering, as in the case of African-Americans finding a common ground in their heritage of slavery. This can be a powerful move when one belongs to a minority with a commonly recognized shared past of suffering. But this strategy has some often-noted unfortunate by-products. For one thing, it relies for its effectiveness on the hope that members of the majority group will accept the responsibility for their ancestors’ deeds. Even when majorities acknowledge the injustices of the past, guilt is not an emotion that can often motivate action to atone for those injustices. The Hindu miners in the Titlipur story who hark back to their suffering under Islamic rule to justify their attacks on the Muslim pilgrims illustrate the all too common phenomenon of historical grievances being used by one group to justify atrocities against another. Another instance in the novel is the group of Sikh terrorists who blow up the plane at the beginning. During the riot, whites emblazon their apartment houses with references to nineteenth-century wars in South Africa, posing as beleaguered English South African settlers surrounded by hostile Zulus (461). In our time Northern Ireland and the Balkans have provided vivid European examples of the deadly effects of this sort of thing.

The politics of shared grievance also focus attention on the past rather than on the future. Rushdie wants people to remember that Union Carbide’s neglect cost the lives and health of thousands of Indians in the Bhopal disaster (and he clearly wants the company held responsible), but he does not want the very identity of India to be defined only by a chain of misfortunes. The most important aspect of the Indian cultural heritage for him is its rich, creative variety. Its history is more than a mere list of the crimes committed against it by others; and he is prepared to add the crimes committed by Indians against each other to its portrait as well.

Another approach to identity politics is to hark back to a positive historical heritage instead of to a time of suffering. Thus the black Caribbean immigrants in the novel seek to emphasize an African heritage which is actually very distant from their lived experience. Chamcha mentally mocks them for singing the “African National Anthem.” The black leader originally named “Sylvester Roberts” has chosen the absurd name “Uhuru Simba” in an attempt to “Africanize” his identity. It seems clear that Rushdie shares at least some of Chamcha’s reservations about Afrocentrism in the scene of the defense rally for the arrested Dr. Simba (413-416). Choosing Chamcha as his point of view character allows him to critique the limits of such ideas even as he acknowledges the justness of their cause.

In the first chapter of the book, George Miranda and Bhupen Gandhi match Zeeny’s proud references to Indian accomplishments and her list of crimes against Indians with their own examples of atrocities committed by Indians (54-57). Bhupen ends his tirade against modern India (56-57) by asking the emblematic question, “Who do we think we [are]?”

Rushdie seems to be trying to say that Indians, like all human beings, are both victims and criminals, both creators and destroyers. He is not proposing a sort of bland homogenized theory of original sin according to which all people are equally guilty and none specifically to blame: clearly he cares passionately that wrongs be righted and criminals identified and punished. Rather he rejects both martyrdom and triumphant nationalism as inadequate foundations for a satisfactory self-identity.

Another common source of identity is, of course, religion. Who would have thought that in the latter part of the twentieth century, so many conflicts would come to be defined in religious terms? Israeli Jews vs. Palestinians, Sikhs vs. Hindus, Hindus vs. Muslims, Serbs vs. Croatians, Irish Catholics vs. Irish Protestants–we seem to be embroiled in a new age of Wars of Religion. For Rushdie, orthodox religion signifies intolerance, repressiveness, rigidity. Dumsday represents the know-nothing Christian right and the Imam fanatical Muslim extremism. The Imam’s hatred of the former Shah of Iran and SAVAK is no doubt shared by Rushdie; but his alternative is even more monstrous: a giant insatiable maw devouring the people it claims to save. It is one of the more poignant ironies of “the Rushdie affair” that Khomeni evidently died without ever realizing that the novel he had denounced contained a devastating portrait of him.

If Rushdie had only denounced such fanaticism, few in the Muslim world would have endorsed Khomeni’s fatwa. But Rushdie goes on to call into question the credibility and beneficence of orthodox, traditional Islam. Gibreel’s dreams challenge the Qur’an’s claims to infallibility, accuse Islam of the repression of women, call into question the probity and honesty of the Prophet himself.

Rushdie does not create these dreams out of a simple desire to blaspheme for blasphemy’s sake. He is following in the footsteps of the great eighteenth-century Enlightenment critics of religion like Voltaire who sought to undermine the authoritarian power structures of their day by challenging their religious underpinnings. So long as the Church endorsed slavery, the divine right of kings, and censorship, the sort of liberating changes the rationalists yearned for could not come to pass, unless the Church’s authority could be called into question. Similarly, Rushdie sees modern societies like Iran and Pakistan as cursed by religious convictions that bring out the worst qualities in their believers. (In The Moor’s Last Sigh he challenges Hindu fanaticism as well.)

The entire novel strives to break down absolutes, to blur easy dichotomies, to question traditional assumptions of all kinds. There are to be no simple answers to the query, “What kind of an idea are we?” Demons can behave like angels and vice versa. High ideals can lead people to commit terrible crimes. Love can be mixed with jealous hate. Exalted faith can lead to tragedy. Just as Rushdie strives to destroy the distinction between center and periphery, so he challenges easy distinctions between good and evil.

At the end of the novel, Saladin returns to India, finally to reconcile himself with his father. But this is no simple return to his roots. The father with whom he is reconciled is a changed man. Saladin could not have loved him until he had become the enfeebled, benign shadow of his former self on his deathbed. Part of his heritage–the lamp–proves deadly. His inheritance does not include the home he grew up in. Zeeny, who elsewhere warmly urges his Indian roots on him, has little use for sentimental attachment to Peristan. Let it make way for the new, she says. Saladin seems finally to agree. He is ready to put aside not only the “fairy-tales” of religion but his personal history as well. In the end he opts for newness, for “If the old refused to die, the new could not be born” (547).

In the end, despite the postmodern trappings of Rushdie’s narrative, the values of the novel seem remarkably traditional: belief in individual liberty and tolerance, freedom of expression, skepticism about dogma, and belief in the redemptive power of love. Lest we too quickly claim triumphantly that these are distinctively European values, Rushdie reminds us of the remarkably intelligent and innovative Mughal ruler of India, Akbar, who challenged the orthodoxies of his time and brought more than his share of newness into the world (190).

One could derive from the book a sort of existentialist morality: there are no absolutes, but we are responsible for the choices we make, the alliances we forge, the relationships we enter into. Our choices define us. We cannot shift the responsibility for our actions to God or history. “What kind of an idea are you?” is a question addressed not only to immigrants, but to all of us.

Created by Paul Brians

Table of contents

Humanities 303 Syllabus Spring 2008

Instructor: Paul Brians

Office: Avery 202H

Office hours: 9:30-10:30 daily (I’m also in much of the rest of the time)

Phone (try this before e-mailing): 335-5689

Appointments: 335-7124

E-mail: paulbrians@gmail.com

 

 

Textbooks for this course (please do not substitute other editions or translations):

 

If your financial aid is delayed, borrow money if you must to buy the textbooks. You cannot begin the course without the Voltaire in hand; and other books will be unavailable late in the semester. Buy them all as early as possible. Do not substitute other translations for these.

 

* Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary, translated by Theodore Besterman

* Goethe’s Faust, translated by Walter Kaufmann

* Zola, Germinal, trans. Collier

* Dostoyevsky: Notes from Underground, translated by Andrew R. MacAndrew

* Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra, translated by Walter Kaufmann. (Note Penguin also publishes other translations that are not as good—be sure to get the Kaufmann. DO NOT USE the 1892 public-domain translation by Thomas Common.

* Marx & Engels: The Communist Manifesto (Penguin) (1998). Other editions are OK, but their page numbers won’t match up with those in the study guide.

 

Online Resources:

 

* Home Page

* Common Errors in English

 

 

 

Course Overview

All of the study guides and other materials for this class are available on the Web, linked from the online version this document. Be careful to read ahead in the syllabus so you see what assignments are coming up. Don’t wait until the night before class. Note that if you work only from a printed-out version of this syllabus, you will lack many important hyperlinks. Always check the online syllabus when doing your assignments.

Students are responsible for reading assignments and for preparing answers to the related on-line study questions before coming to class on the dates noted. Written assignments marked with an asterisk (*) are due on the date next to or above the asterisk. Besides the short papers noted here, you must also attend and report on a cultural event relating to the European 18th and 19th centuries. A list of acceptable events will be provided.

 

Course Goals

When you have successfully completed this course, you should:

* have a general grasp of major trends in Western European art history from the 17th century to World War I.

* be able to listen with increased understanding to classical music from the same eras.

* understand some of the basic over-arching themes in philosophy and literature of the 18th and 19th centuries.

* be able to discuss fairly complex and sophisticated ideas such as are treated in the works assigned.

 

Course Outline

The following syllabus provides a concise outline of the course topics and requirements by week. January

 

8: Introduction; video: The Art of the Western World, 5: Realms of Light—The Baroque [12395] (The Baroque: Bernini, Cortona, Caravaggio, Borromini, Fischer von Erlach,Velazquez, Vermeer, Rubens, Rembrandt, etc.).

View video in class, take notes.

 

10: Read the “Course Introduction”

 

Music: Pachelbel, Vivaldi, Handel. Write something about one or more of the pieces of music and turn it in at the end of class. Do not “review” the music, saying whether it is good or bad; analyze it or report on what you have learned.

 

Read “The Enlightenment” online and write at least 50 words about some aspect of the Enlightenment to be turned in at the beginning of class.

 

15: Do this assignment only after having read “The Enlightenment” and done the assigned writing. Using the on-line Study Guide, then read Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary: have the following articles read and notes taken about them to turn in at the beginning of class, at least 50 words covering more than one or two articles: Abbe, Ame, Amour-propre, Athee, atheisme, Beau, beaute, Bien (tout est, Bornes de l’esprit humaine, Catechisme chinois, Certain, certitude, Chaine des evenements, Credo). As you read, also mentally try to find the answers to as many of the study questions in the Study Guide as you can.

 

17: Film: Knowledge or Certainty [1617] Before coming to class, read the online study guide; during the film, take notes; at the end of class, turn in a brief written response to the film addressing something in its contents, at least 50 words. Do not “review” the film; discuss its ideas.

 

22: Music Lecture Video #2 [r472]: Bach. Do assigned writing in class—at least 50 words—and turn it in at the end of class.

 

24: Voltaire: Philosophical Dictionary: have the following articles read and notes taken about them to turn in at the beginning of class, at least 50 words: Egalite, Enthousiasme, Etat, gouvernements, Fanatisime, Foi, Guerre, Liberte de pensee, Prejuges, Secte, Theiste, Tolerance, Tyrannie. Using the online study guide, write answers to some of the study questions, at least 50 words total.

 

29: Library session, introduction to the research paper.

 

Sign up for library research topics. Be sure to attend. This is not a general library orientation, but a specialized presentation on sources you will need to use for doing this assignment. Look at “Suggested Research Topics for Humanities 303” online before coming to class and tentatively identify two or three topics you would like to work on. You may make up your own topic with my permission. See me first.

 

Although it is aimed primarily at off-campus students, you will also find much useful information in the Web page “Research Paper Assignment”.

 

* First paper due, on Voltaire’s Philosophical Dictionary, 600 words. Be sure to read “Helpful Hints for Writing Papers” before beginning this assignment. Design your own topic or choose one of the following, using details from Voltaire which demonstrate your understand of his writings: freedom, free will and determinism, religion, tolerance, government, relativism. You may argue with him, but only if you present fully all relevant evidence on both sides. You must use material from two or more articles. If you have trouble choosing a topic or are uncertain whether your topic is acceptable, ask for help!

 

31: Read the Introduction to Romanticism  at  http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/hum_303/romanticism.html and write 50 words about the information and ideas on that page to turn in at the beginning of class.

 

Using the online Faust Study Guide, read Job: Chapters 1 & 2; Goethe: Faust: Introduction, Prologue in Heaven. Write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in.

 

February

 

5: Video: The Art of the Western World, 6: An Age of Reason, An Age of Passion [12396] (Antoine Watteau: Departure from Cythera, Robert Adams, Francois Boucher, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, Jean-Baptiste Chardin, Nicolas Poussin, Jacques Lemercier: Palais-Royal, Charles Perrault: Colonnade of the Louvre, Germain Soufflot: Pantheon, Giambattista Piranesi: drawings of Paestum, Jacques-Louis David: Death of Marat & The Sabine Women, Vignon: La Madeleine, Dominique Ingres: Odalisque, Jean-Antoine Gros, Francisco de Goya: The Horrors of War, Gericault, Eugene Delacroix: Liberty Leading the People, Theodore Gericault: The Raft of the Medusa) Take notes during videotape, turn in 50 words about the art at the end of class.

 

7: Goethe: Faust: Night, Before the City Gate, both scenes titled “Study.” Using the online study guide write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in at the beginning of class.

 

12: Music Lecture Video #3 [r485]: Mozart, Beethoven. Take notes during presentation, turn in 50 words on the music at the end of class.

 

Research paper proposal and annotated bibliography due: a paragraph outlining the topic and a list of sources to be used, with comments for each explaining why the sources will be useful to you. Be sure to include all three elements: the proposal itself, the list of sources, and the comments. If you have not already done so, read “The Research Paper” online at http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/hum_303/research.html.

 

14: Goethe: Faust: Witch’s Kitchen, Street, Evening, Promenade, The Neighbor’s House, Street, Garden, A Garden Bower, Wood and Cave, Gretchen’s Room, Martha’s Garden. Use study guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in.

 

19: Video: “The Artist Was a Woman” [VHS 18321]. Take notes during presentation, turn in 50 words on the music at the end of class.

 

21: Goethe: Faust: At the Well, City Wall, Night: Street in Front of Gretchen’s Door, Cathedral, Walpurgis Night, Dismal Day, Night, Open Field. Using the study guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in.

 

26:  Note: during the next week and a half, you have little homework other than to write your paper on Faust. This is the time that you are expected to use to also read Zola’s Germinal. Because it is a long book, you may want to start reading ahead now and not put it off until the week when it is due.

 

Goethe: Faust: Dungeon, Charming Landscape, Open Country, Palace, Deep Night, Midnight, Large Outer Court of the Palace, Entombment, Mountain Gorges: Forest, Rock and Desert. Using the online study guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in.

 

28: Before class, read the online Study Guide for La Traviata.

 

Music Lecture Video #5 [r521]: Romanticism: Berlioz, DVD: Verdi: La Traviata, beginning, turn in 50 words on the opera and another 50 words on the other music at the end of class.

 

March

 

4: Verdi: La Traviata (conclusion) [11765], turn in 50 words on the opera at the end of class.

 

6:. Women Composers. Listen to presentation, turn in 50 words about the music at the end of class.

 

* Second paper due, on Goethe’s Faust, 1200 words. Counts 20 points. Design your own topic or choose one of the following:, remembering that you will be expected to define your topic further, since most of these are very broad: Faust and Mephistopheles, Faust and Gretchen, Thought vs. Action, Religion, Humor, Music, Magic, Classical Mythology. Again, if you have trouble choosing or defining a topic, ask for help.

 

18: Read “Realism and Naturalism” and turn in 50 words about it at the beginning of class.

 

Zola: Germinal: Parts 1-3. Use Study Guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in at the beginning of class.

 

20: Zola: Germinal: Parts 4-6. Use Study Guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in at the beginnning of class.

 

25: Zola: Germinal: Part 7. Use Study Guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in at the beginnning of class. Video: Mary Cassatt [14390]. Write 50 words in class about the video, to be turned in at the end of class.

 

27: Read “19th Century Russian Literature” and write 50 words about it to be turned in at the beginning of class.

 

Dostoyevsky: Notes from Underground: Part One. Use the study guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in at the beginning of class.

 

April

 

1: Dostoyevsky: Notes from Underground: Part Two. Use the study guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in at the beginning of class..

 

3: Videotape: The Art of the Western World, 7: A Fresh View Impressionism and Post-Impressionism [12397] (Courbet, Degas, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Whistler, Pissarro, Sargent, Cassatt, Gauguin, Seurat, Van Gogh, Signac, Bernard, Toulouse-Lautrec, Valadon, Cezanne), Impressionist art show. Write 50 words about the presentations to be turned in at the end of class.

 

* Research paper due. 20 points; required revised version due April 29.

 

8: Read “The Influence of Nietzsche,” taking notes, write 50 words about this page to turn in at the beginning of class.

 

Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra: Translator’s Preface, beginning through “On the Three Metamorphoses.” Use study guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in at the beginning of class.

 

10: Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra: “On the Teachers of Virtue” through “On the Flies of the Marketplace.” Use study guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in at the beginning of class.

 

15: Nietzsche: Thus Spoke Zarathustra: “On Chastity” through through the end of the First Part (“On the Gift-Giving Virtue.” Use study guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in at the beginning of class..

 

Music Videotape Lecture 6 [r559]: Impressionist Music: Debussy & Ravel. Turn in 50 words on the music at the end of class.

 

17: Read “Misconceptions, Confusions, and Conflicts Concerning Socialism, Communism, and Capitalism” online. Turn in 50 words about it at the beginning of class.

 

Read “Introduction to 19th-Century Socialism” online. Turn in 50 words about it at the beginning of class.

 

Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto: Prologue, Section 1 . Use Study Guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in.

 

22: Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto: Sections 2 & 4. Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: The Communist Manifesto: Section 2. Use Study Guide, write 50 words answering some of the study questions to turn in.

 

24: Music Video Lecture 7 [r569]: Early 20th Century music.

 

29: * Third paper due, on Zola, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, or Marx, 1200 words minimum. Counts 10 points. If you wrote on one of these authors for your research paper, choose a different one to write on for this assignment. Sample topics on Germinal: Women, Changes in the Miners, Sexuality and Nature, The Mine as Monster. Sample topics on Dostoyevsky: The UM’s Assault on the Enlightenment, The Concept of Freedom, Self-Hatred, Fear of Love. Sample topics on Nietzsche (be sure to use more than one passage from the book): Relativism, Freedom, Principal Characteristics of the Overman, Nietzsche and Christianity, Romantic and Enlightenment Aspects. Sample topics on Marx: The Nature of Class Struggle, The Role of the Bourgeoisie in Transforming History, Marx’s Answers to his Critics, Advantages and Disadvantages of Communism as Described in the Manifesto.

 

* Final date for cultural event report.

 

* All revised papers due, including revised research paper.

 

Course Work

 

Papers:

 

For this course you will be required to write a series of brief papers. Note the length specified by your course syllabus, which does not include notes or list of sources. Minimum paper lengths are so extremely short in this class that anyone desiring a high grade would be advised to write a somewhat longer one. Any paper shorter than the minimum assigned will receive a 0 for an incomplete assignment. Except for meeting the very low minimum number of words, don’t concentrate on length, but try to make your papers as detailed, well-organized, and interesting as possible.

 

If you have trouble with your printer, you may bring in the paper on a disk or removeable drive or send it to me by e-mail attachment. Printer problems are never an excuse for not getting a paper in on time.

 

Regular papers are not necessarily research papers, and it is possible to receive maximum points on a paper without doing research for it, although papers incorporating good library work will normally receive higher grades. Suggested topics are listed on your syllabus. You should choose a topic you are particularly interested in, not try to guess what I want you to write. When I can learn something new from a paper, I am pleased. If you have difficulty thinking of a topic, see or call me. I am also happy to look over rough drafts and answer questions about proposed topics. In addition, one paper per semester will be a required library research paper incorporating information gathered from scholarly books and articles (not just Web pages and reference books like dictionaries and encyclopedias). For more details on how to write papers for this class, see “Helpful Hints for Writing Class Papers.” For details on how to write the research paper for this class, see the page entitled “Research Paper Assignment“.

 

Papers are due at the beginning of class on the day specified in the syllabus. Do not cut class to finish a paper. Papers may always be submitted before the due date if you wish. There is no midterm or final examination in this class.

 

The following elements are taken into consideration when I grade your papers: 1) You must convince me that you have read and understood the material involved. 2) You must have something interesting to say about it. 3) Originality counts—easy, common topics tend to earn lower grades than difficult ones done well. 4) Significant writing (spelling, punctuation, usage) errors will be marked on each paper before it is returned to you. If there are more than a few you must identify the errors and correct them (by hand, on the same paper, without retyping it) and hand the paper back in before a grade will be recorded for you. 5) I look for unified essays on a well-defined topic with a clear title and coherent structure. 6) I expect you to support your arguments with references to the text, often including quotations appropriately introduced and analyzed (but quote only to make points about the material quoted, not simply for its own sake). 7) You must do more than merely summarize the plot of the works you have read. See “Helpful Hints for Writing Class Papers” for more information.

 

Research papers are especially graded on proper use of sources and coherence. Research papers when first handed in must be the complete product: minimum length, notes, bibliography, etc. If you want to have me look at an incomplete rough draft before the due date, I will be happy to do so. Your research should be complete before the due date for the first draft.

 

Late Papers:

 

If you think you have a valid excuse (medical, etc.) for not getting a paper in on time, let me know in advance (phone) if you can. Choosing to work on other classes rather than this one is never an acceptable excuse for handing in a paper late. Because of my make-up policy (see below), it almost always makes more sense to send in even a poorly-done, rushed paper than none at all. Papers sent in late with no excuse will not receive a passing grade. To pass the course you must hand in all assigned papers. Do not assume you will be allowed to hand in work late. Pay careful attention to due dates on the syllabus.

 

Revised Papers:

 

You may not make up a paper which you have failed to hand in. However, if you do hand in a paper and are dissatisfied with your grade, after consulting with me, you may revise your paper and have your grade raised if it is significantly improved. You are required the revise the research paper once unless your first draft earns an A. Other revisions will be handled on an individual basis, and limits will be set as to the number of revisions allowed and the time allowed to hand them in. Simply substituting phrases that I have suggested to improve your writing does not result in an improved grade. You have to make the sort of substantial changes I suggest in the note I make at the end of your paper.

 

Cultural Event Assignment:

 

Humanities 303 students will attend a cultural event relating to the 18th or 19th centuries and report on it in a 600-word paper which will be graded like the other papers in the course (worth 10 points).

 

Announcements of qualifying events will be posted online. If you want to attend an appropriate event elsewhere during Spring break, check it out with me in advance.

 

Study Questions:

 

For each of the reading assignments, the study guide online contains a series of study questions which I want you to think about. It is your assignment to mentally answer as many of these questions as you can while you read, and to write at least 50 words answering some of them to turn in at the beginning of the class in which we discuss the assignment. When an assignment that you are to write a number of words, it means that is the lower limit. You can always write more.

 

Make sure you can discuss all parts of each week’s assignment—not just the beginning. Show that you are thinking seriously about these questions. These study question assignments are graded pass/fail (I will let you know quickly if you have done an inadequate one). You must miss or fail no more than five of these Speakeasy discussion assignments to pass the course.

 

Exams:

 

There is no midterm or final examination in this class.

 

E-mails:

 

I will be sending out occasional class announcements via e-mail using the WSU system. However, this means that you must have a valid e-mail address that you actually use listed in the WSU directory. To make sure you are listed in the directory go to http://www.wsu.edu/and click “People,” and search for your name (last name first, no comma). If the Email field is blank or lists an address other than the one you actually use, you need to log into “myWSU” and create an account.

 

If you do not wish to use your wsu.edu address to read your mail, set up mail forwarding in “myWSU“to forward your official mail to whatever e-mail address you prefer.

 

Grading

 

Again, to pass the course you must complete all papers. The research paper especially is not optional. Note that you will not receive a letter grade on your research paper until after it has been revised in response to my initial comments on it.

 

Grading of daily writings

 

Attendance and participation in the course are measured by the notes you turn in at the beginning of class. Together the written contributions count as 20% of your grade. Contributions are graded on a pass-fail basis. Assume they have been counted unless I make a response to what you have written saying it is inadequate.

 

The number of points for each paper is indicated on the syllabus with the paper assignment. For a 10-point paper, 9.5 or above=A, 9.0-9.4=A, 8.8-8.9=B+, 8.3-8.7=B, 8.0-8.2=B-, 7.8-7.9=C+, 7.3-7.7=C, 7.0-7.2=C, 6.5-6.9=D, anything below 6.5=F. Double these numbers to get the appropriate scale for a 20-point assignment.

 

Course Work       Points    Percent of Final Grade

Voltaire paper                                      10             10%

Faust paper                                             20             20%

Third paper                                            20             20%

Research paper                                     20             20%

Cultural event report                        10             10%

Daily Writings                                     20             20%

TOTALS                                                    100           100%

 

Grade    Points             Grade    Points

A              9.5 or above                   C      7.3–7.7

A–            9.0–9.4            C–            7.0–7.2

B+            8.8–8.9            D              6.5–6.9

B               8.3–8.7            F               6.5 & Below

B–            8.0–8.2

C+            7.8–7.9

 

Standards for grading papers:

 

All assigned papers must be turned in to pass the course.

 

A

Topics are challenging, often original; papers are well organized, filled with detail, and demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the topic. Examples are chosen from several portions of the work. Opinion papers are carefully argued, with detailed attention being paid to opposing arguments and evidence. Papers receiving an “A” are usually somewhat longer than the minimum assigned, typically a page or so longer, though this all depends on the compactness of your writing style—a paper which is long and diffuse does not result in a higher grade and a very compact, exceptionally well-written paper will occasionally receive an “A.” The writing should be exceptionally clear and generally free of mechanical errors.

 

B

Topics are acceptable, papers well organized, containing some supporting detail, and demonstrate an above-average knowledge of the topic. Examples are chosen from several portions of the work. Papers are at least the minimum length assigned. Opinion papers are carefully argued, with some attention being paid to opposing argument and evidence. Writing is above average, containing only occasional mechanical errors. A “B” is given for above-average work.

 

C

Topics are acceptable, but simple. Paper are poorly organized, containing inadequate detail, demonstrating only partial knowledge of the topic (focusing only on one short passage from a work or some minor aspect of it). Papers are at least the minimum length assigned. Opinion papers contain unsupported assertions and ignore opposing arguments and evidence. Writing is average or below, and mechanical errors are numerous. Paper does not appear to have been proofread carefully. A “C” is given for average work.

 

D

Inappropriately chosen topic does not demonstrate more than a minimal comprehension of the topic. Papers are at least the minimum length assigned. Opinion papers contain unsupported assertions and ignore opposing arguments and evidence. Writing is poor, filled with mechanical errors. Paper does not appear to have been proofread. A “D” is given for barely acceptable work.

 

F

Paper is shorter than the minimum length required. Topic is unacceptable because it does not cover more than an incidental (or unassigned) portion of the work or does not reveal a satisfactory level of knowledge . Generalizations are unsupported with evidence and opinion papers contain unsupported assertions and ignore opposing arguments and evidence. Writing is not of acceptable college-level quality. Paper does not appear to have been proofread. An “F” is given for unsatisfactory work.

 

Statement on Disabilities

 

Reasonable accommodations are available for students with a documented disability. If you have a disability and may need accommodations to fully participate in this class, please visit the Disability Resource Center (DRC). All accommodations MUST be approved through the DRC (Admin Annex Bldg, Room 205). Please stop by or call 509-335-3417 to make an appointment with a disability specialist.

 

Academic Integrity

 

As an institution of higher education, Washington State University is committed to principles of truth and academic honesty. All members of the University community share the responsibility for maintaining and supporting these principles. When a student enrolls in Washington State University, the student assumes an obligation to pursue academic endeavors in a manner consistent with the standards of academic integrity adopted by the University. To maintain the academic integrity of the community, the University cannot tolerate acts of academic dishonesty including any forms of cheating, plagiarism, or fabrication. Washington State University reserves the right and the power to discipline or to exclude students who engage in academic dishonesty.

 

Anyone plagiarising in this class will fail the course and be reported to student conduct.

Posted by Paul Brians January 5, 2008.