Rosemary Geisdorfer Feal

The President of the Modern Language Association wrote a good letter on the situation of foreign languages in general and at SUNY-Albany in particular. It is on pp. 4-5 of the Winter 2010 MLA Newsletter, and it has a bibliography including Catherine Porter’s “Presidential Address: English Is Not Enough” (PMLA 125.3 [2010]: 546-55), which I would like to read. A version of Feal’s column also appeared in the CHE on 12 November 2010.

Some notes for our struggles are:

+ it is absurd to give students access to elementary and intermediate foreign language courses and not advanced courses on linguistics, literature, culture, and media taught in these languages;
+ if we are to be committed to diversity, pluralism, and a global world then we need foreign languages;
+ advanced courses in foreign languages support the PhD in English;
+ the humanities are incomplete without advanced study and research in languages other than English, and the mission of higher education is seriously compromised without this.

Feal’s wording is vivid and it is difficult not to simply quote her in toto, here and in some administrative documents I am composing.

Axé.

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3 Comments

Filed under Da Whiteman, Movement, News, Resources, What Is A Scholar?

3 responses to “Rosemary Geisdorfer Feal

  1. Vic

    Here’s a copy of a comment which I made on Clarissa’s blog:

    “The new state school superintendent also now has vowed to eliminate Ethnic Studies at the University level” – Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez Dec 18, 2010
    I like to sleuth. Sherlock Holmes had his three pipe problem and I have my three glasses of wine problem. I belong to the Hunter S. Thompson school of Journalism. I write on the computer while imbibing a mind altering substance (wine). Although I started off lucid my text becomes progressively more random and in need of peer review. My mantra is what would HST do?
    Why are the folks in Arizona so anti-Hispanic studies? HB 2281: A SCHOOL DISTRICT OR CHARTER SCHOOL IN THIS STATE SHALL NOT INCLUDE IN ITS PROGRAM OF INSTRUCTION ANY COURSES OR CLASSES THAT INCLUDE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:
    1. PROMOTE THE OVERTHROW OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT.
    2. PROMOTE RESENTMENT TOWARD A RACE OR CLASS OF PEOPLE.
    3. ARE DESIGNED PRIMARILY FOR PUPILS OF A PARTICULAR ETHNIC GROUP.
    4. ADVOCATE ETHNIC SOLIDARITY INSTEAD OF THE TREATMENT OF PUPILS AS INDIVIDUALS.

    “In my opinion this effort to refuse our students access to the customs of a key segment of our community comes down to the attempted alienation and disenfranchisement of an entire cross section of our population, in the hopes of quieting and disengaging it from our public process and discourse, rendering it powerless and as no threat to the agenda of some in our state legislature wishes to advance. We cannot and must not, as responsible civic leaders and citizens give them the satisfaction of thinking that this is acceptable and will be tolerated.”
    Mayor Jennifer Eckstrom south Tuscon on Feb.-4-11

    This is a Hispanic version of “Arisierung” or Aryanization which was a 1933 campaign to drive Jews out of the German Reich’s cultural life. Jewish intellectuals, actors, journalists and musicians lost their posts in important cultural institutions, and Jewish enrolment in universities was severely restricted. “Only in Arizona would a program, that graduates 97.5% of its high school students and sends more than 70% to college, would be facing the threat of elimination. This at a time when dropout rates for Mexican Americans can reach as high as 60%.”

    The Giffords shooting was also a setback for the anti- HB 2281 group. “Federal judge John Roll, who was killed during the shooting, had been overseeing the court case challenging Arizona’s recently enacted ethnic studies ban, HB 2281. The anti-immigrant measure, which specifically targets the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies program, went into effect only days before Roll’s death” (Media Consortium) He had received death threats from Conservative groups for his liberal viewpoint. His office windows were shot out as well during the fall election campaign. Coinciding with the January 8th shooting, the Cesar Chavez building at the University of Arizona was vandalized, a building home to the university’s Mexican-American studies program. Giffords was anti-2281 and will be in rehabilitation for some time. If her seat is vacant for more than three months, under Arizona law there will be a special election and the winner will undoubtedly be tea party advocate Jessie Kelly.

    So who is leading the campaign to eliminate Hispanic studies from universities? There is a triumvirate in government – the new state school superintendent, John Huppenthal , the new State Attorney General, Tom Horne and Senate President, Russell Pearce. Pearce is also a close friend of J. T. Ready, head of the local branch of the National Socialist Movement or NSM. They are the American neo Nazis. J. T. or storm trooper Ready (not kidding!) as his friends in the NSM call him is very anti-Semitic and anti-Hispanic. He probably won’t be around for awhile since he was caught hunting illegal immigrants in the desert with an automatic weapon. It was hard finding this connection since there is a tacit agreement in the media to refer to this group as an ambiguous right wing party rather than Aryan Arizonians on the March. This is getting to sound really weird so I’d better put a link to a video.

    How are they going to eliminate Hispanic studies? My first attempt was to follow the money. Arizona is already 46th out of 50 states in educational funding and Gov. Jan Brewer is cutting the state funding per student from $10,000 to $5,000 for fiscal 2012. I’ve read “Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein and as Paul Rohmer said “A crisis is too good not to use.” When I checked the University of Arizona funding sources, I discovered this source represents 22% of their funding and they have a lot of autonomy so I ruled this out.

    HB 2281 really doesn’t work but SB 1108 gives them all the ammunition they need. SB 1108 is known as the “carrying” bill since it has a clause which allows anyone over 21 years to carry a concealed weapon (Jared clause?). It is really an omnibus bill which has other clauses to which most individuals didn’t pay attention. In April 2008, Pearce sponsored this bill which had a clause that would prohibit students of Arizona universities and community colleges from forming groups based in whole or part on the race of their membership. Pearce said he didn’t want students indoctrinated with progressive ideologies. Critics have stated that the bill would ban groups that serve minority interests such as the Mexican American study program. The bill goes one step further. It also would ban public schools, colleges or universities from including race-based classes or school sponsored activities. Officially the language says it would ban any activity “deemed contradictory to the values of American democracy or Western civilization.” However, the language is so broad, who knows what could be prohibited? Certainly Hispanic studies would be put at risk. It was signed into law on Jan.16, 2010 by Gov. Jan Brewer.

    P.S. During my research, I discovered that Tom Horne is Jewish and born in Montreal. If J. T. and his buddies in the Schutzstaffel find out it’ll be lebewohl for Horney.

  2. Z

    OK, there are some separate things:

    – the budget cuts worldwide, which are anti education and anti university, but not anti Hispanic or Hispanic Studies (actually this field usually is spared these budget cuts, as it generates money or at least breaks even); that’s what Feal is talking about;

    – the elimination of ethnic studies in AZ (e.g. Chicano Studies)

    – Hispanic Studies, which used to be called the Department of Spanish and Portuguese — even in AZ I don’t think that’s in danger of elimination (although I must check).

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