Author: Linda Charnes

Trump’s “Town Hall” A Counternarrative

    It’s Saturday, May 13th, and I have just watched Trump’s CNN “Town Hall” for the first time. I say “watched” because I had the sound completely off. As a Shakespearean and performance studies scholar—as well as a student of life—I’ve learned that the messages we perceive often come not from words and sounds but from body language and micro-muscular facial expressions. Given that hearing Mr. Trump’s voice became unbearable to me roughly six years ago, I’ve taken to watching his performances on mute, to see what I can collate from his body and face, as well as...

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The Autumn of Our Discontent

Linda Charnes July 28, 2020 As a college professor who’ll be doing “distance-teaching” this coming academic year, I’d like to add some thoughts to the ongoing debates about the college experience. Last March just before Spring Break, nearly all accredited universities and colleges almost instantly switched to teaching online, via Zoom or Skype, or other university applications. The change was fast, and most of us had never taught an online course before. I personally had hoped to finish out my teaching career without ever teaching a distance course, since being in the classroom with my students is the singular...

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Jeffrey Epstein and the Death Rattle of the Playboy Generation

I grew up during the height of “the Playboy generation”—the late 60s and 70s, when the “free love” counterculture movement was co-opted by the 1950s “Mad Men” society that still peddled jokes and cartoons about secretaries being chased around desks. When I was a teenager in the 70s, Playboy magazine was delivered monthly to our house for my father’s subscription. There were three daughters in our household, two of us teenagers. We absorbed, by watching our parents’ behavior, the default message that we lived in a both a man’s house and a man’s world, and that his pleasures and...

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ARE WE BEING CLASSY YET? LINDA CHARNES Point of historical consciousness: In the Renaissance, the idea of class was entirely ligamented into heritable large land estates, titles, and access to the royal ear. In other words, “class” (or prestige) was automatic and a part of the birth and death calendars of the landed gentry (cf my book, Hamlet’s Heirs). It was about land enclosures and not about persons or even money. Chaucer, French troubadours and Shakespeare started challenging that paradigm with the concept of “gentilesse,” which applied to conduct and courtesy (a word derived from a la mode behavior...

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No Substitute for Professional Boundaries

As an academic preparing for the start of the school year, I have only just caught up on the Nimrod Reitman v Avital Ronell story. Dr. Ronell’s position is that the playfully intimate queer language she used was about mentorly endearment, support, and self-expression. Dr. Reitman’s position is that he increasingly felt pressured to keep up with her discursive game, as she had power over his job prospects. I do not personally know Avital Ronell, and therefore cannot attest to the veracity of either position. All I can do is state my own, after nearly thirty years experience as...

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