Showing posts from May, 2014

Tanglewood One University?

I am on the mailing list of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. So, I get all the updates on concerts and events at lovely Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts.  I adore Tanglewood. I have memories of being a child, running around in a magical dark with siblings and friends as classical music serenaded us from the acoustically magnificent Koussevitzky Music Shed. 

I've spent countless evenings over the years at Tanglewood, sometimes with elaborate picnics replete with portable tables and tablecloths, candles and wine in the tradition of the place.  Other times, I've just plopped myself on the grass with nothing more than a beer from the concessions.  

Surrounded by pines and spruces, underneath starry skies with the Stockbridge Bowl occasionally visible through them, there is a peace and a pleasure at Tanglewood that is difficult to describe and even more difficult to find elsewhere.  

So, I had a distinctly negative reaction to the email invitation I received to One Day University at T…

On Trigger Warnings, Landmines and Memory

Everyone's talking about trigger warnings in college classrooms this week.  This has me thinking about how we navigate "triggers" in our daily lives. 
It also makes me reflect on the utter unpredictability of things -- stories, images, sounds, events --  that trigger painful and traumatic memories.  This week, we've had some insight into how those operate in places where people have experienced and lived through violent conflict.
The trigger warning issue occupies prime real estate in contemporary culture wars.  Of course it does. After all, it is highly emotive, intensely polarized and wide open for criticism on either side of the debate. Plus, it involves feminists, who always get mocked for taking things too seriously and who never take that bullshit quietly.
 If you haven't been following the debate, college students across the nation are saying that they want to know which class sessions and readings/assignments will contain content or address issues that p…

Return to Sender: Lessons from Boston College' s Belfast Project


The Politics of Remembrance in Northern Ireland

I have been thinking about the Troubles for fifteen years,  researching and trying to tell  histories of nationalists in Derry, Northern Ireland for ten.   As a result, many people have asked me what I think of the the recent news cycle, featuring Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams, murdered Belfast widow Jean McConville and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.   

My response has been a vague, "I think it's complicated."  There has been a rash of whataboutery out there, to which I am loathe to add even a syllable ( -- from Martin McGuinness's comment about the "dark forces" in the PSNI,  Northern Ireland's police force to the lachrymose recapitulations of the abduction and murder of McConville, a widowed mother of 10 accused of passing information to the British army whose body was missing until 2003 -- that sounds like "republicans are all evil" masquerading as sympathy for McConville's children.)

  There has also been intelligent and thoughtf…

Art of Memory: On May Day

On May Day, I always take a moment to read the piece below, written by Eduardo Galeano, whose writing intertwines in so many ways with memory, as I've discussed here.   Long before I sat in a public history class, it was this piece that brought home to me how power constructs memorial narratives and made me wonder if reshaping memorial narratives might alter the architecture of power.  I've become more cynical about that over time, but I still love this prose poem.