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  • Sunday, April 10, 2005


    Cornel West on C-SPAN

    One of the delights and difficulties of watching "Book TV" on C-SPAN on weekends is not knowing what is on until I tune in. OK, I just found the schedule online here, but I generally don't look at an online schedule. I usually look at the guide on TiVo which does not have these details. The guide will say something like "Book Events", 9:30AM to 3:30PM. No details on the 4-6 independent events within that 6 hour block.

    So I happened to catch Cornel West speaking sort of in support of Harvard Rules: The Struggle for the Soul of the World's Most Powerful University by Richard Bradley. This was at Hue-Man Bookstore in New York City. He is an excellent speaker and I now know why his courses at Harvard were so popular they regularly drew more than 700 students.

    I haven't read any of West's work and have only been peripherally been aware of him. I do remember when he left the Harvard faculty in 2002 amid some controversy but I wasn't clear about the nature of the controversy. Well, Harvard Rules is about the tenure of Lawrence Summers as President of Harvard and includes the brouhaha. Admittedly the sources I got my info from were Bradley and West so it was bound to be biased, but it was still astonishing the demands Summers made on West. Everything from trying to dictate what sort of books West should write to practically forbidding him from expressing support for particular political candidates.

    West is a marvelous orator, partaking of the black preaching style with humor and a wide-ranging choice of rhetorical examples. I think he also has a certain generosity of acknowledging his sources and yet incorporating them easily into his delivery. No conclusion, I just liked him and thought I'd share.

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