Fragments of the Past

Use the magazine archive on Google Books to find and submit a compelling Fragment of the Past in the comments, below.

Include the magazine date and the historical Topic for which this fragment is relevant. Note: your fragment doesn’t have to be related to the topic you’re currently researching. Explore the magazine archive and find something weird and interesting, something that challenges your conception of what life used to be like in 19xx.

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Seven years before The Feminine Mystique made women’s careers a matter of national concern, Robert Kanigher, John Broome, and Carmine Infantino in 1956 debuted a new version of the Flash in the pages of DC’s Showcase whose girlfriend had a job at Picture News. Modeled on the venerable Lois Lane, hard-charging reporter Iris West had a biting wit which she employed to put mild mannered Barry Allen in his place by chiding him for being tardy: “Barry! You’re always late! Why are you so slow?” Setting aside the irony of directing this accusation at the “fastest man on earth,” we may wonder at the power dynamic played out in the pages of The Flash. By keeping his heroic identity a secret from Iris, Barry lets her claim victory even as he knows better. In their daily interactions, her job as reporter trumps his as police scientist—and here we may well read male anxiety at the thought of being eclipsed by a spouse’s success. But in this contest Barry holds a secret trump card, his highly successful public role as the Flash, a hero to whom Central City has dedicated a museum, and whom Iris holds up as an example for Barry to emulate: “Why can’t you be more like Flash?” The comic presents Iris’ intelligence and independence as a threat that can only be contained through duplicity, for by that means her critique of Barry is redirected into praise of him in his alternate guise. My reading of the Kanigher/Broome era of the series (1956-72) will be informed by reader letters on the topic of Barry’s relationship with Iris, as well as contemporary debates over the place of women in society—once known as “The Battle of the Sexes.”

Paragraph Transitions

Analytic Transitions

  • Explain: make sense of something described just above.
  • Build on: introduce the next step in a logical argument.
  • Question: raise a doubt or even wholly undercut the prior argument.
  • Note an unexpected consequence: this combines elements of the prior two: it builds on, but in a way that causes a tonal shift somewhat like calling into question.
  • New angle: for example, you might consider sound after focusing on visuals.
  • Zoom in: look at an instance of a trend or pattern noted just above.
  • Zoom out: name the pattern which the prior ¶’s topic is an example of.
  • Intensify: double down on a claim made just above, with (for example) more telling evidence.
  • Give another example: keep this to a minimum. It means that the ¶ fails to take us somewhere new. See if you can’t present this new example as intensifying your argument, or offering a new angle on the topic.

Narrative Transitions

  • Result: what happened next.
  • Cause: what led to the events of the prior ¶
  • Lateral shift in space: Meanwhile. back at the ranch…”
  • Temporal shift: “Two weeks later, …”

Substitute Excursion Assignment

The following assignment is available to students who are unable to attend the trip to Plimoth Plantation—and it may conceivably be utilized for students who are unable to attend the trip to Walden and Lowell.

Visit the Boston campus of the Museum of African-American History (, located on Beacon Hill. Go on the self-guided Black Heritage walking tour—or call ahead to arrange a guided tour. Be sure to check out what’s on exhibit at both the Abiel Smith School and the African Meeting House.

If at all possible, arrange for classmates and/or CGS faculty to join you. You’ll find that this assignment is easier to accomplish if you can draw on other visitors’ reactions as well as your own.

Writing Prompt Drawing from what you hear at the various stops on this tour, write a 2-3 page paper making a persuasive case for why Team H should or should NOT add this site to its list of excursions in 2020. Be sure to make meaningful connections to material from the CGS courses in which you are enrolled. Document all quotations and information using MLA citations.

Address your argument to the current Team H faculty. This means you can talk about how a particular element of the museum ties in with a particular theme of Prof Rhodes’ class, for example. In tuning your argument, assume that in their deliberations Team H faculty are leaning in the direction opposite to the side of the argument that you take up. So, for example, if you think we should add this excursion, you should assume that we’re happy with our current excursions and disinclined to make a change—and vice-versa.

Course Description

Rhetoric 103 and 104 explore the evolution of rhetoric from the advent of writing to the digital age. The first four units, covered in Boston, center on changes connected to the Neolithic Revolution, the birth of Democracy, the Age of Exploration, and the Industrial Revolution. The final two units, covered in London, focus on discursive shifts prompted by Modernity and the Digital Revolution.

Together, we will analyze how persuasive language has shaped and been shaped by historical moments, influencing our engagement with politics, social relations, and the world around us. Each unit is focused on a specific “keyword”— literacy, citizenship, education, labor—that is both linked to the historical tipping point under discussion and being debated in our own historical moment. By reading, writing, and responding to one another critically in this class, we will learn what it means to be rigorous and ethical evaluators and producers of knowledge.

The course’s four credit hours will consist of the following: one joint lecture per week, two discussions per week, one-on-one meetings for instruction and feedback, and excursions in the Boston area linking your reading and writing to the world around you. This experiential component is meant to give you a broader perspective and to encourage more attentive interpretations of the various places you call “home.”