“[Reynolds] Price hung a portrait of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, photographed a week before Lee died, almost at floor level in his office, where he could see it every time he rolled by. Lee’s portrait made Reynolds think of King Lear and stimulated both a dream and the long poem ‘The Dream of Lee'(1979).”
— From “Dream of a House: The Passions and Preoccupations of Reynolds Price” by Alex Harris and Margaret Sartor (2017)
In his poem Price has driven Lee from Lexington, Va., to Duke, where he will conclude his visit with a speech to students: “He faces his crowd and says ‘I shall read from my poems tonight.’ Slightly chilled, I think ‘The Poems of Lee’ — is there any such book? Before I decide, the great voice starts — ‘First a poem I composed two days ago for my friend Mr. Price’…. ”
“Students at elite colleges are even richer than experts realized, according to a new study based on millions of anonymous tax filings and tuition records.
“At 38 colleges in America, including five in the Ivy League – Dartmouth, Princeton, Yale, Penn and Brown – more students came from the top 1 percent of the income scale than from the entire bottom 60 percent.”
— From “Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60. Find Yours.” in the New York Times (Jan. 18)
By this standard the widest wealth imbalance in North Carolina is among students at Elon University, where 14 percent come from the top 1 percent vs. 9 percent from the bottom 60 percent.
Also making the top-heavy 38: Wake Forest University (22 percent vs. 17 percent), Duke University (19 percent vs. 17 percent) and Davidson College (17 percent vs. 16 percent).
At UNC Chapel Hill the ratio is 6 percent of students from the top 1 percent to 21 percent from the bottom 60 percent.
60 years ago today: Front-page headline in the New York Times: “Negro Educator Chosen to Head Department at Brooklyn College. Howard University Professor Will be First of Race to Hold That Rank Here.”
John Hope Franklin‘s appointment marks the first time an African-American has been appointed chairman of any department at a traditionally white institution.
According to the Times, “[Franklin’s] greatest research ambition is… an explanation of the South’s inclination to belligerency and emotionalism.”
In 1982 Franklin will return to North Carolina, where he authored the classic “From Slavery to Freedom” and taught at St. Augustine’s College and North Carolina College for Negroes, to become James B. Duke professor of history at Duke University.
On this day in 1937: “Brave New World” author Aldous Huxley, spending several days at Black Mountain College while driving cross-country, tells an Asheville reporter that he finds western North Carolina “wonderful country,” the rise of Duke University “most extraordinary” and the South “livening up.”
“Duke was a case of loathe at first sight for me — Middle Gothic in celophane; gigantic, turreted, battlemented entrances with pneumatic hinged swinging doors in place of iron portcullisses — innumerable chimneys — all dummies — there being a central heating plant; concrete gargoyles, great ivy vines, clamped on with tin. Cloistered picture show. Replica of Westminster, with elevator in tower. Leaded windows in library that let in no light….
“Chapel Hill is lovely & has all but restored my customary serenity & faith in capitalism. I love the place and want to live here. It is an Oxford planted on more fertile soil than Methodism, & unraped by Coca Cola [Emory University] or Chesterfield [Duke]….”
— C. Vann Woodward, writing Glenn W. Rainey, early October 1933, in “The Letters of C. Vann Woodward” (2013)
Rainey and Woodward had been friends since attending Emory together. Rainey was embarking on 42 years of teaching English at Georgia Tech. Woodward, then researching Georgia populist Tom Watson, would receive a PhD in history from UNC in 1937.
“Correction: Of course Duke is not in the Ivy League…. The article has been updated to reflect that, and we are embarrassed that many editors missed it.”
— From “When Pornography Pays for College: The trouble with Belle Knox” by Rachel Shteir in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Aug. 4)
Like Google Books Ngram Viewer before it, Wedding Crunchers — a searchable database of New York Times wedding announcements — has obvious limitations for serious research. But what’s so bad about a few passing screenfuls of entertainment and provocation?
Following up on last week’s look at how often the University of North Carolina and other colleges appear in the Times wedding announcements, let’s look at how often they appear together:
Crosscultural pollination I: UNC meets the Carolinas (but not as often as it meets Virginia).
Crosscultural pollination II: UNC meets the Ivies (but not as often as it used to).
Just follow the clues in this name-frequency chart from Wedding Crunchers.
Has the Times told Duke the honeymoon is over?
“While living in Durham, N.C., back in the 1980s, I met a guy who was studying creative writing at Duke University. I have come to think of him as the doomed acolyte. One day he told me that his teacher, venerable Reynolds Price, rolled into the classroom in his wheelchair and gave the class a curious assignment. Price told the students they were not to touch the short stories they were working on for the next week. Don’t change a single word. Don’t add or delete a comma. Don’t even look at your stories.
“When the class reconvened the following week, Price asked how many had fulfilled the assignment. About half of the students, including the doomed acolyte, raised a hand. Price then stunned the room by advising those who were able to follow his instructions that they should consider dropping out of the course. His reasoning was brutal and simple: Anyone who is able to stop writing for an entire week — even for a single day — does not have the right stuff to become a writer. True writers, Price was saying, are in the grip of a compulsion. They have to write, and they are powerless to stop doing it. It is why they are alive and it is what keeps them alive.”
— From “Can Writers Retire? Let Us Count the Ways” by Bill Morris at themillions.com (Feb. 7, 2013)