The continuing adventures of Beau Yarbrough

Virginia Tech Magazine memorial issue

Thursday, May 31, 2007, 10:26
Section: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech black ribbonNormally, Virginia Tech Magazine is light on content I’m very interested in — glance at the articles and flip to the alumni notes section is the rule for me — but the newest issue is a keeper.

It’s the April 16, 2007 memorial issue and has full transcripts of the convocation speeches, a photo gallery of memorials around campus and elsewhere in the world, and full write-ups on the victims.

You can check it out online or download the PDF here.

Phyllis Schlafly: Tech’s English curriculum made Cho a killer

Thursday, May 10, 2007, 12:48
Section: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech black ribbonPhyllis Schlafly, whom many will be surprised to learn is still alive, has a theory about what happened at Virginia Tech: All that evil learning made Seung-Hui Cho do it.

Without having access to Cho’s transcript, she goes through the godless, secular Tech English department course list — which, I can say from personal experience, has biblical stuff all over it (it’s where I first read Lord Byron’s “Cain,” as well as getting involved in endless discussions of “Paradise Lost” and various types of angels and numerous saints) — and finds the smoking gun is a book. A lot of books, in fact.

Cho was an English Department major and senior. As a frequent lecturer on college campuses, I have discovered that the English Departments are often the weirdest and/or the most leftwing.

A look at the websites of Virginia Tech’s English Department and of its professors reveals their mindset. We don’t yet know which courses Cho took, but it could have been any of these.

Did he take Professor Bernice L. Hausman’s English 5454 called “Studies in Theory: Representing Female Bodies”? The titles of the assigned readings include “Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine, and Literature,” “The Comparative Anatomy of Hottentot Women in Europe, 1815-1817,” “Selling Hot Pussy: Representations of Black Female Sexuality in the Cultural Marketplace,” “The Anthropometry of Barbie: Unsettling Ideals of the Feminine Body in Popular Culture,” and “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power.”

One of the assignments in this course (worth 10 percent of the total grade) is to “choose one day in which they dress and comport themselves in a manner either more masculine or more feminine than they would normally.”

Is this really a course taught by the English Department? It sounds like just the thing to confuse an already mixed-up kid.

Hausman uses “feminist pedagogy” theory, believing that sex and gender are merely “rhetorical constructs” resulting from cultural experiences, and that “students are more responsible for the creation of knowledge.” She lists her areas of expertise as “sexed embodiment, feminist and gender theory, and cultural studies of medicine.”

Other titles authored by Professor Hausman include “Changing Sex: Transsexualism, Technology, and the Idea of Gender,” “Do Boys Have to Be Boys?,” and “Virtual Sex, Real Gender: Body and Identity in Transgender Discourse.”

Perhaps Cho took Professor Bernice Hausman’s English 3354 on “Fundamentals” for which the syllabus promises an understanding of “deconstruction” (a favorite word in English departments).

Did Cho get evil egotistical notions from Professor Shoshana Milgram Knapp’s senior seminar called “The Self-Justifying Criminal in Literature”? Indeed, that could serve as his own self-portrait.

Did Cho take Professor J.D. Stahl’s senior seminar, English 4784, on “The City in Literature”? The assigned reading starts with a book about an urban prostitute who finally kills herself and a book about a violent man who kills his girlfriend.

Virginia Tech’s Distinguished Professor of English, Nikki Giovanni, has built a reputation as a “renowned poet,” even though many of her so-called poems feature violent themes and contain words that are not acceptable in civil discourse. She specializes in diversity, post-modernism, feminism, and multiculturalism.

Giovanni appeared last year at a public celebration to open Cincinnati’s new Fountain Square. She used the occasion to call Ken Blackwell, then the Republican candidate for Ohio Governor, an “S.O.B.”, and when challenged, simply repeated the slur. (Note: Nobody suggested giving her the Don Imus punishment.)

Did Cho take a course from Professor Paul Heilker, author of another peculiar piece called “Textual Androgyny, the Rhetoric of the Essay, and the Politics of Identity in Composition (or The Struggle to Be a Girly-Man in a World of Gladiator Pumpitude)”?

Or maybe Cho preferred the undiluted Marxism espoused by English instructor Allen Brizee, who wrote: “Everyday, the capitalist system exploits millions of people. … Our role in the capitalist system makes us guilty of oppression!”

Schlafly, of course, ignores even more shocking courses like Introduction to American Literature and Late 19th Century English Literature and Introduction to Creative Writing, all of which are also terribly profane and, you know, more likely to be taken by any given student than a one-semester seminar that’s done mostly to keep professors happy. I had to take a full semester of Jane Austen and Lord Byron as my senior seminar (“Mythology in the Modern Day” was full, to no one’s surprise).

(Source: Wired.)

Virginia Tech memorial shirts now on sale

Tuesday, May 8, 2007, 14:35
Section: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech black ribbonHokies United, a Virginia Tech student group that formed in the wake of the April 16 shootings, has created a memorial T-shirt sold through official channels. The proceeds benefit the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund.

The shirt sells for $5-$6 through the university bookstore.

Fate of Norris Hall unclear

Monday, May 7, 2007, 9:19
Section: Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech black ribbonVirginia Tech president Charles Steger is in the unenviable position of figuring out what to do with Norris Hall and, to a lesser extent, portions of West Ambler-Johnston Hall.

Choices include tearing the building down (which would be incredibly expensive and displace the largest college in the university from sometimes complex classrooms into already crowded areas that don’t have all the facilities required to support them), simply reopening it or creating it.

My favorite is renaming Norris Hall:

An online petition has received more than 20,000 signatures in support of renaming Norris for engineering professor Liviu Librescu, who enabled students to jump to safety by blocking his classroom door with his body until Cho shot him. Librescu, 76, was a Holocaust survivor who had taught at the school for 20 years.

“I felt that something needed to be done to commemorate this brave man,” Justin Kozuch, a web designer in Toronto who started the petition, said in an e-mail.

The building now is named for Earle Bertram Norris, who was engineering dean from 1928 to 1952.

Russell Harris, a sophomore engineering major, said in a letter to the student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, that the building should become a memorial.

“To demolish it would let our fears win and give evil more power,” he wrote.

You can find the petition online here.

R. Kelly writes song for Virginia Tech

Tuesday, May 1, 2007, 10:42
Section: Virginia Tech

Black Virginia Tech flag

Grammy-award winning R&B artist and love machine R. Kelly has recorded a song inspired by the Virginia Tech shootings:

“Rise Up” will be available digitally May 15, and 100 percent of the net proceeds from its sale will go to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, said Jive Records, Kelly’s record label.

Kelly, 40, wrote the inspirational ballad after watching the events unfold on television while he was on tour, Jive said.

The lyrics include the lines: “Rise up, when you feel you can’t go on, rise up, and all of your hope is gone, rise up, when you’re weak and you can’t be strong.”

The Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund was created to provide assistance to the victims of the families, as well as grief counseling and other needs for those affected by the shootings.

Thanks, R. We’re still keeping all the freshman girls away from you.


Copyright © Beau Yarbrough, all rights reserved
Veritas odit moras.