CounterCurrent: Week of 5/9
Last week, I discussed how education reformers tend to be much better at critiquing the status quo than they are at proposing and pursuing effective solutions. Thankfully, a handful of dedicated reforms are increasing the movement’s expectations, such as Professor Scott Yenor’s six-step plan to equip academics and concerned citizens with the tools they need to combat “social justice” education at the local level. Today, I’d like to pick up where I left off.
We at the National Association of Scholars find it important to ensure that higher education stays true to its mission: to educate and to seek truth. We hold America’s colleges and universities accountable through research, writing, events, and public information campaigns. But what if we also took matters into our own hands and directly taught the content Americans need to know? Do we wish that our institutions of higher learning would cease to abdicate their educational duties and do this instead? Absolutely. Ought we wait for them to do so? Surely not.
This is the reasoning behind NAS’s two new webinar series, which aim to cover the events of American history and the works of American literature that were most instrumental in shaping our nation. We’ve called them The American History Series and The Great American Novel Series.
We began The American History Series on February 3, 2021 with an examination of the year 1619. This, as you would probably infer, was largely a reaction to The New York Times’ pseudo-scholarly historical revisionism known as The 1619 Project, a highly influential body of work to which we have been responding for some time. We then discussed 1620, a far more plausible and historically tenable alternative to 1619 as “the true beginning of America.” The event featured NAS President Peter W. Wood, who recently wrote a book comparing these two visions of America’s fledgling years, 1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project.
We have since followed up these first two discussions with webinars on 1776, King Philip’s War, 1787, and, today, the Whisky Rebellion. Future events will include 1800: Republicans, Federalists, and Party Transition (May 27th), 1803: Corps of Discovery: Lewis & Clark's Expedition West (June 8th), and 1815: The Miracle at New Orleans (June 22nd). Registration pages will be up soon, so keep an eye on your inbox.
Meanwhile, we kicked off The Great American Novel Series last Tuesday with an examination of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. The event featured Wight Martindale Jr., Herbert William Rice, and Mark Shiffman discussing how this masterwork of fiction defies classification and continues to capture readers’ imaginations as much as when it was first written. Future installments of this webinar series will feature Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose (June 1st) and Phillip Roth’s American Pastoral (July 1st).
Whether you’re like me and received a shoddy-at-best American history and literature education in your formal schooling, or if you want to brush up on the fundamentals and gain new insights from some of the nation’s leading scholars, we’re confident that both of these webinar series will be well worth your attention. If you are unable to participate in these discussions live, recordings will be posted on NAS’s website and YouTube channel after each event. Don’t miss these invaluable events!
CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.
Image: Tom Hermans, Public Domain