Category Archives: American Autobiography

Harry Haywood, Chicago 1919 (220)

Following our brief reunion, I tore loose from the family to find out what was happening outside. I went up to the Regimental Armory at Thirty-fifth and Giles Avenue because I wanted to find some of my buddies from the regiment. The street, old Forrest Avenue, had recently been renamed in honor of Lt. Giles, a member of our outfit killed in France. I knew they would be planning an armed defense and I wanted to get in on the action. I found them and they told me their plans. It was rumored that Irishmen from the west of the Wentworth Avenue dividing line were planning to invade the ghetto that night, coming in across the tracks by way of Fifty-first Street. We planned a defensive action to meet them.

Other Fugitives and Other Strangers (HUM470)

Other Fugitives and Other Strangers


The nightclub’s neon light glows red with anxiety
as I wait on the turning lane. Cars blur past,
their headlights white as charcoal.
I trust each driver not to swerve. I trust each stranger
not to kill me and let me cross
the shadow of his smoky path.
Trust is all I have for patrons at the bar:
one man offers me a line, one man buys the kamikaze,
another drinks it. Yet another wraps his arm
around my waist. I trust him not to harm my body
as much as he expects his body to remain unharmed.
One man asks me to the dance floor, one asks me
to a second drink, another asks me home.
I dance, I drink, I follow.
I can trust a man without clothes.
Naked he conceals no weapons, no threat
but the blood in his erection. His bed unfamiliar,
only temporarily. Pillows without loyalty
absorb the weight of any man, betray
the scent of the men who came before.
I trust a stranger’s tongue to tell me
nothing valuable. It makes no promises
of truth or lies, it doesn’t swear commitments.
The stranger’s hands take their time exploring.
Undisguised, they do not turn to claws or pretend
artistic skill to draw configurations on my flesh. They
are only human hands with fingertips
unsentimental with discoveries, without nostalgia
for what they leave behind. I trust this stranger
not to stay inside me once he enters me.
I trust him to release me from the blame
of pleasure. The pain I exit with no greater
than the loneliness that takes me to the bar.
He says good night, I give him back
those words, taking nothing with me that is his.
The front door shuts behind me, the gravel
driveway ushers me away. The rearview mirror
loses sight of threshold, house, sidewalk, street.
Driving by the nightclub I pass a car
impatient on the turning lane. My hands are cold
and itch to swerve the wheel, to brand
his fender with the fury of my headlights.
But I let this stranger live
to struggle through the heat and sweat
of false affections, anonymous and
borrowed like the glass that washed my prints
to hold another patron’s drink.

3 Weeks (HUM303/415/425/470)

We’ve got three weeks of the semester left, and my advice is to bear down and get it done. Final papers are due at the beginning of the last class meeting. (They will also be submitted to by 8 pm. Note: papers not submitted to will be given a zero.) On the last day, those who are interested may complete a closed-note, closed-book extra credit assignment in class. This extra credit assignment will be assigned a grade which will then be added as a percentage to your overall grade. So, for example, if a student currently has an overall grade of 77, completes the extra credit assignment, and receives 80/100, s/he will in effect go up to a 78.6 [i.e.,  77 + (80 x .02 = 1.6) = 78.6]. Not a huge difference, but for it could lift the grade from a C to a C+.

I strongly advise that you begin your papers now. Those who received poor marks for syntax/diction/structure on the first paper should make an appointment with the LAC. Talk to your classmates. Email me your ideas. I am expecting well-researched, fluently written, intelligent, and imaginative final papers that evince a deep understanding of the key concepts of the course(s). The score for this assignment constitutes 1/4 of your final grade, so take it seriously. Any questions? Please address them to the comments section of this post so that everyone can benefit.

Bring a Test Booklet (HUM303/HUM415/HUM425/HUM470)

And more than one pen or pencil. And don’t wait until 10 minutes before class to buy a test booklet. And have a good breakfast. And get some sleep the night before. And if you’re really anal retentive put everything you’ll need into your bag before you go to bed so you don’t have to race around your apartment in the morning looking for it and miss the bus.

What is Modernity? (HUM303/HUM415/HUM425/HUM470)

You don’t have to read these pdfs, but if you want to acquire a better understanding of a very vexed concept you could do worse than consult them:

The shorter article (4 pages) is from the International Encyclopedia of the Social SciencesModernityIESS

The second article is from the Encyclopedia of Social TheorymodernityEST

Both of these encyclopedias are available in electronic format through the library.