D5 Class 10.1

Mar 30

Plundering the (Virtual) Shelves of Mugar

Ahoy, Matey! We pirates be a greedy bunch, and there are books aplenty at Mugar—and many of them are available online!

But don't weigh yourself down with leaden coins. Many a book bears a promising title but turns out, upon inspection, to focus on matters irrelevant to your inquiry. So sit yourself down under the light of Mugar's many lamps and crack open each of your books to see what lies therein. Then, if the book is indeed of use, turn it to further use by trawling through its notes and bibliography for leads on other books you might find and plunder.

Remember that your focus here is historical: you're looking to learn the history of an movement or idea. That may be easy for some topics—the history of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, for example, has been extensively documented. By contrast, there are lots of books on dinosaurs, but few (none?) on the history of dinosaurs as a cultural phenomenon. If you can't find a book with a focus that's exclusively historical, however, you may be able to find some that discuss the topic's history in the introduction or in early chapters. So it's really important that you crack the covers on your books before you check them out of the library: read the table of contents and skim through the introduction and several chapters to get a sense of what's on offer here. What approach does the author take to the topic? Does the book adopt a historical perspective at some point, attempting to explain the present by reference to the past? If so, you have a source worth your while.

Research Findings Create a Google Doc for publishing your research findings:

  1. Go to docs.google.com
  2. Make sure you're logged in to your bu.edu google account. (This will facilitate sharing, below.)
  3. Start a New Document
  4. Click on Share, then under "Get Link" choose the "Boston University" option.
  5. Copy link, then add the link to your post on this website on the Topics for Unit Three page.

In the coming weeks, you'll be using this Google Doc to keep a record of your research findings. This will provide your classmates access to the fruits of your research, and it will make it easier for you and I to confer during office hours.

For today, paste a list of 3 single-author books you think look interesting formatted Author, Title, Year, Link. The link you're looking for is the one that the library website displays after you've clicked a green "Online Access Available" link. It might be labelled Jstor or Proquest Ebook Central. In your Google Doc, format the link as an embedded link, rather than as a long text string. Skip two lines between entries.

After you've done all that, make a screenshot of the table of contents for the book that strikes you as most promising, and upload the screenshot in a comment, below, along with two sentences describing what this book is about and why you want to read it.


Michael Gerson, "The Last Temptation," an article from the current issue of The Atlantic magazine. Gerson offers an example of a writer seeking a deeper understanding of a present-day phenomenon by studying its past.

As you read, note moments where Gerson surprises you. Type one such quotation in as a comment, below. If someone else has already put up the quote you were planning, write a reply commenting on what made that moment in the essay surprise you. In particular, what's Gerson doing, as a writer, to engage his readers in this way?

37 responses to “D5 Class 10.1

    • “His tribalism and hatred for “the other” stand in direct opposition to Jesus’s radical ethic of neighbor love… And yet, a credible case can be made that evangelical votes were a decisive factor in Trump’s improbable victory”.

    • “But their resistance was futile, for one incontrovertible reason: Evolution is a fact. It is objectively true based on overwhelming evidence. By denying this, evangelicals made their entire view of reality suspect. They were insisting, in effect, that the Christian faith requires a flight from reason.”

    • “..more than half of churchgoing Christian teens believe that the church seems to reject much of what science tells us about the world.” Ironically, it is this attitude that has led to less religious affiliation, especially in younger ages.

      • I agree. This aspect of faith pushes faithful parishioners away from the church. Younger generations have found themselves questioning the legitimacy of God and His role in our existence.

    • “The evangelical political agenda, moreover, has been narrowed by its supremely reactive nature. Rather than choosing their own agendas, evangelicals have been pulled into a series of social and political debates started by others.”

    • “If you want to call yourself pro-life on abortion, then you have to oppose the dehumanization of migrants. If you criticize the devaluation of life by euthanasia, then you must criticize the devaluation of life by racism. If you want to be regarded as pro-family, then you have to support access to health care. And vice versa.”

    • “These are religious leaders who have spent their entire adult lives bemoaning cultural and moral decay. Yet they publicly backed a candidate who was repeatedly accused of sexual misconduct, including with a 14-year-old girl.”

      • I also found this quote surprising. In writing this, Gerson provides a contrast between what these “religious leaders” have been preaching their entire lives, and what they tolerate when it comes to President Trump. The very ending line is also incredibly striking, as he brings up a specific situation, and moreover, a situation that includes a child! This is something that should most definitely go against these leaders’ beliefs, yet they turned a blind eye to it when backing Trump.

    • “And while religious people do believe that sexual ethics are important, the nature of contemporary religious engagement creates a misimpression about just how important they are relative to other crucial issues.”

    • “It is the story of how an influential and culturally confident religious movement became a marginalized and anxious minority seeking political protection under the wing of a man such as Trump, the least traditionally Christian figure—in temperament, behavior, and evident belief—to assume the presidency in living memory.”

    • “The single largest religious demographic in the United States—representing about half the Republican political coalition—sees itself as a besieged and disrespected minority.”

    • “They also make seeing the defilement of that word all the more painful. The corruption of a political party is regrettable. The corruption of a religious tradition by politics is tragic, shaming those who participate in it.”

    • “Pastor David Jeremiah has compared Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to Joseph and Mary: ‘It’s just like God to use a young Jewish couple to help Christians.’ According to Jerry Falwell Jr., evangelicals have ‘found their dream president,’ which says something about the current quality of evangelical dreams.”

    • “Politics in a democracy is essentially anti-apocalyptic, premised on the idea that an active citizenry is capable of improving the nation. But if we’re already mere minutes from the midnight hour, then what is the point? The normal avenues of political reform are useless.”

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      Tom Slader, “Unsafe Space, the Crisis of Free Speech on Campus” 2016.

      This book is about the interpretation of Free Speech and, more specifically, the impact it has on college campuses. I want to read it because it may conceptualize some aspects of Cancel Culture and show how it has affected academic life for us as college students.

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      Darron W. Dixon-Hardy, Beverley A.Curran, “Types of packaging waste from secondary sources (supermarkets) – The situation in the UK,” 2008.

      Although this is not a book, it’s almost exactly what I am looking for. This article explains the different forms of waste from supermarkets and the supply chain. This is a great fundamental background and argument source.

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      This book is about the discrimination that Asian Americans experienced in the South during the rise of the Jim Crow laws. The author provides detailed insights, sources, and records.

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      Black Lives Matter: from a moment to a movement, Hillstrom, Laurie Collier, 2018

      This book is about the BLM movement and the impact it made so far. This would be a great read because I can use this to explore the good that has come out of cancel culture.

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      Marisa Abrajano and Zoltan L. Hajnal, “White Backlash”, 2015

      This book focuses on not only the impact that immigration has on American society, but also the reactions that native American citizens have to these impacts. This is perfect for helping grow my understanding of people’s responses to immigration, especially over time.

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      This book is about bringing attention to how young people take in information from social media and how it can have effects on our democracy. This book explores the misinformation filled landscape of social media.

      Julian McDougall, Fake News vs Media Studies: Travels in a False Binary

    • Melzer, Scott. Gun Crusaders : The NRA’s Culture War. New York: New York University Press, 2009.
      “From my cold, dead hands!”shouted Charlton Heston. The audience roared its approval for their President and charismatic leader. Heston was the only person defiantly holding a rifle over his head, but, as I scanned the room, everyone appeared ready to take up arms in the gun wars. Forty thousand strong attended the 2002 National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting in Reno, Nevada. They came for the guns. To hold them, talk about them, celebrate them, and, most important, defend them. Unlike millions of other gun owners, the NRA and its faithful members believe that “gun rights” are under attack.

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      This book is about economics, then how Reaganomics came to be, what the effects of it were, and what future U.S. leaders did about it, if they kept it the same, modified it, or got rid of it completely.

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      Archie Brown, “The Rise and Fall of Communism,” published by HarperCollins Publishers, 1994.

      I’m interested in reading this book, as it will provide an overview of the historical context of why communism was both appealing for the political climate in Russia at the time of it’s inception, and ultimately why it failed.

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      Scull, Andrew. Madness in Civilization, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015.
      This book encompasses the history of mental illness stigma and the evolution of its treatments. Though it does not go too deep into detail on a few aspects I am choosing to focus on, its breadth covers a lot of historical context.

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    The title of this book is The New Jim Crow : Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness and I am very interested in reading it because I think is very brave to compare mass incarceration with something so delicate like him crow and I want to understand the author’s point of view to better understand the BLM movement and its relation to segregation.

  2. “According to Jerry Falwell Jr., evangelicals have “found their dream president,” which says something about the current quality of evangelical dreams.”

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