Thursday, July 3, 2014

Guess What? You're A Liberal.

Today I had a morning much like any other, except that I faced the day knowing that we'd have an extra lecture starting at the time we're usually done with class, due to the holiday tomorrow. Professor Kramnick started today by telling us all about the early feminist philosophers, what they believed, how they were affected by the Enlightenment, and how their work has influenced modern-day feminism up to and including the Hobby Lobby decision controversy. I found the topic of the lecture perhaps the best so far, because we've finally made it past the male-centric, women-are-evil thinkers into material that I can relate to much more easily. In discussion, Vijay asked us to raise our hands if we considered ourselves feminists. In a very disappointing result, I was the only one. Vijay wasn't surprised, suggesting that it came from the fact that my generation feels that labeling ourselves limits our freedom. Still, I worry that feminism is being misrepresented to us in places like the internet, where very vocal people assume that it means dressing conservatively and having no fun or even wanting the political subjugation of men. 

We spent discussion analyzing the works of Mary Wollstonecraft and Marie-Olympes de Gouges, who advocated dramatic reforms in marriage laws, free schooling for rich and poor boys and girls, and a shift in thinking about the role of women in society. For such views Wollstonecraft was often mocked in newspaper cartoons, and de Gouges was executed on a spurious charge of sedition. 

Kevin, Professor Kramnick, Selvyn, Nikhil,
Jason, Carla, me. 
After discussion, I left the group and walked as quickly as I possibly could to get to the Trillium, because I was one of the students scheduled to eat with Professor Kramnick. I went to the reserved table where he was already seated, greeted him, put down my backpack and grabbed my Cornell ID, and rushed off to stand in line for a grilled cheese, yogurt, and Pepsi. When I came back to the table only one other student was seated; the rest were still getting their lunches. Because the meal was scheduled so that the professor could get to know us a bit, we were instructed to avoid talking about ourselves until everyone was seated. Then we went around the table and talked about our hometowns, schools, how we found out about Cornell Summer College, what colleges we were looking at, what careers we were considering, and anything else which came to mind. Professor Kramnick asked a lot of questions, especially to the kids who lived in areas he knew well. 

After lunch we walked back to the lecture hall to hear our guest speaker, who was Allen Mittman, Esq., the Director of Workforce Policy and Labor Relations at Cornell. He gave a very interesting presentation about controversies in trademark and copyright law, and while explaining the case over the Redskins football team's logo and name, had us argue each point that could be possibly made for either side. Like Mr. Peacock on Tuesday, he said that in every case there is a financial aspect quite apart from justice. 

The guest lecture was over by two-thirty, and then Professor Kramnick stepped up again to give the extra lecture, this one primarily about the fight between the will of the people and individual rights in a democracy, based on the thoughts of Locke and John Stuart Mill. Perhaps because of the time of day, it was difficult to focus on the material at hand. However, Professor Kramnick did make one very interesting point: Because Locke's notion of liberalism was that the government should protect the rights and property of individuals, everyone in America today is a liberal. Those who identify as modern-day liberals focus on Locke's idea of protecting human rights, those who identify as modern-day conservatives focus on his idea of economic freedom, and those who identify as modern-day Libertarians support both sets of freedoms. 

walking back
view from RPCC

North Balch: where random walls pay you
When class was finally done, we walked back to our dorms in light showers of rain. However, a few minutes after I returned to North Balch the thunder increased and it started pouring. I went out again for dinner, wrapped in my rain jacket and underneath my umbrella, to eat with Sue at six-thirty. I arrived earlier than she did and started rereading an Agatha Christie mystery. After dinner and dessert, I walked back to North Balch to finish my book and make sure I had everything in order for Niagara Falls tomorrow. 

I'm exhausted. The stress of the prelim, plus the heat, plus lack of sleep, are getting to me. Tonight I will go to bed immediately after nightly check-in at eleven. I look forward to an exciting day tomorrow. 

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