As Americans enter a new century, and a new millennium, it seems fitting to cast an eye on American freedom, past and yet to come, as Michael Kammen has done in his VQR essay. As one of America’s most distinguished historians, Professor Kammen is well qualified to discuss “The Futures of American Freedom.”
A native of Rochester, New York, Mr. Kammen graduated from The George Washington University in 1958 and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1964. He has taught at Cornell University since 1965, becoming the Newton C. Farr Professor of American History and Culture there in 1973. From 1977 until 1980, he served as director of Cornell’s Society for the Humanities. His many books include A Machine That Would Go of Itself: The Constitution in American Culture (1986) which received both the Francis Parkman Prize and the Henry Adams Prize; People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization (1972) which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History. Last year, the prolific Mr. Kammen produced two books, one, American Culture, American Tastes (Knopf) and the other, Robert Gwathmey: The Life and Art of a Passionate Observer, a biography of a 20th-century American artist and activist (North Carolina).
As Norman A. Graebner notes at the onset of his essay, meliorism is defined as “the belief or doctrine that the world tends to become better and that man has the power of aiding its betterment.” But as Mr. Graebner observes, there are limits to meliorism as Americans too often do not seem aware.
A noted diplomatic historian, Mr. Graebner retired as Randolph P. Compton Professor of History and Public Affairs at the University of Virginia in 1986, but he has remained an active lecturer and writer. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago in 1949 and has taught at Iowa State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana where he was chairman of the history department. He also served as Harmsworth Professor of History at Queens College, Oxford, in 1978—79. His many books include Empire on the Pacific, The New Isolationism, Cold War Diplomacy, The Age of Global Power, and An Uncertain Tradition: American Secretaries of State in the 20th Century. He recently returned from a three-week visit to China.
A former American foreign service officer, Peter Bridges first became interested in the Duke of Abruzzi in 1967 when he and his wife saw the mountain hut named for the Duke on their way to climb the Corno Grande, the highest peak in Italy’s Apennines. Mr. Bridges ended a long diplomatic career as American Ambassador to Somalia where the Duke spent his last years. Among his other overseas posts were Moscow, Rome, and Prague. He holds a B.A. degree from Dartmouth College and an M.A. from Columbia University.
Peter LaSalle is a member of the English faculty at the University of Texas in Austin. He is the author of a novel, String Sunlight and two short story collections, The Graves of Famous Writers and Hockey Sur Glace. Mr. LaSalle has contributed to numerous magazines and anthologies, including Paris Review, Antioch Review, and Georgia Review. His stories have been selected for Best American Short Stories and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards.
K. Michael Prince is an American scholar living in Munich, Germany, with an interest in German history as well as Southern history, both of which are reflected in his essay, “Coming to Terms with History,” an essay recommended by the noted historian, C. Vann Woodward.
Jessica Francis Kane worked for W. W. Norton & Company in New York and later for Counterpoint Press in Washington, D.C. She published a review in the last issue (Fall 1999), and this is her first short story in VQR. She and her husband live in London.
A native of West Virginia and a retired editor who lives in New York, John McNeel saw more than his share of action during World War II when he served as an enlisted man in an anti-aircraft battalion that was assigned to three different infantry divisions in various campaigns. His unit was in action with the 5th Army in Italy at both Cassino and Anzio. He also served in the 7th Army during the 1943 invasion of Sicily and the 1944 invasion of Southern France. He was a member of the 3rd Army for the Battle of the Bulge and the subsequent breakthrough across Germany, ending the war near the Czech border. An earlier essay, “On the Fedala Road,” appeared in the Autumn 1998 issue of VQR and is included in the current edition of Best American Essays of 1999. Mr. McNeel now lives in New York City.
Katherine Soniat’s third poetry collection, A Shared Life won the Iowa Prize given by the University of Iowa Press. She has new work in issues of Amiens, TriQuarterly, Gettysburg Review, and Iowa Review. She is a recipient of the 1998 Virginia Commission for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, the William Faulkner Award for Poetry, and a 1999 Lyric Poetry Award and Medwick Award (2nd place) from the Poetry Society of America. She teaches at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
Yvette Neisser lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, and has published poetry in WordWrights!, The Drumming Between Us And Jewish Women’s Literary Annual.
Roger Fanning’s VQR poems are from his newly completed manuscript, Homesick. His first collection, The Island Itself WAS a National Poetry Series selection. He teaches in the M.F.A. program for writers at Warren Wilson College and lives in Seattle with his wife and son.
A distinguished poet and feminist scholar, Sandra M. Gilbert teaches at the University of California, Davis. Her most recent collection of poems was Ghost Volcano (Norton, 1995), and she has a new book entitled Kissing the Bread: New and Selected Poems, 1969—99 forthcoming from Norton in 2000. She is also the author of a prose memoir, Wrongful Death and is currently working on a critical work about elegy.
Elisabeth Murawski is the author of Troubled by an Angel published by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center in 1997, and Moon and Mercury published by Washington Writer’s Publishing House in 1990. Her poems have appeared in Grand Street, Crazy Horse, American Voice, American Poetry Review, and Shenandoah.
Floyd Skloot’s most recent poetry collection, Music Appreciation, was published by the University Press of Florida in 1994. His poetry collection, The Evening Light will be published by Story Line Press this year. He has published three novels and a book about the experience of living with chronic fatigue syndrome. He lives in Amity, Oregon.
Hood Frazier, an assistant professor of English, teaches at Longwood College and is a former editor of the Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review. He has published in a variety of magazines, including College English, Antietam Review, Cincinnati Poetry Review, The English Journal, and South Florida Poetry Review.
Cathryn Hankla is a professor of English at Hollins University. She is the author of four collections of poetry, the latest, Texas School Book Depository will be published by Louisiana this year. Her other books include a novel, A Blue Moon in Poorwater (University Press of Virginia) and a collection of short stories. She has received a PEN Syndicated Fiction Prize.
Anita Mathias was born in India, holds a B.A. and an M.A. degree in English from Somerville College, Oxford University, and an M.A. in Creative Writing and English from Ohio State University. She has taught at the Loft in Minneapolis and at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg where she currently resides. Her work has appeared in The London Magazine New Letters and Commonweal Her fellowships have been from the NEA in non-fiction (1998); the Minnesota State Arts Board; and the Vermont Studio Center.
Maudy Benz is the author of a novel. Oh Jackie in which a 15-year-old girl writes to Jacqueline Kennedy and carries her picture everywhere. Her VQR story, “Dear Princess Di” is the title story of a new collection, Dear Princess Di and Other Stories presently seeking a publisher. She is what seems to be halfway through the writing of a new novel, a German American story. She has published in many journals including Ontario Review, Madison Review, Plain Song, Hyperion, and Southern Poetry Review. Ms. Benz teaches memoir writing at Duke University and received an M.F.A. in creative writing from Bennington College.
Born in Germany, Hans Schmitt came to America on the eve of World War II and served in the U.S. army during that conflict. He later became an historian whose specialty was European history. He is a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. He also taught at the University of Oklahoma and Tulane University. His latest book is Quakers and Nazis: Inner Light and Outer Darkness.
John T. O’Connor is a professor of history at the University of New Orleans who has specialized in international relations in early modern Europe. His publications include Negotiator Out of Season: The Career of Wilhelm Egon von Fürstenberg, 1629—1704. His current research concerns parallels between Utopian projects and treasonous plots to effect radical social and political change during the 17th and 18th centuries, with a book in progress on the joint careers of the Marquis de Langalerie and the self-styled Comte de Linange.
Sanford Pinsker is one of VQR’s most faithful contributors, his most recent essay being “Walt Whitman and Our Multicultural America” (autumn 1999). He is Shadek Professor of Humanities at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He contributes to a number of other journals including The Georgia Review and The Sewanee Review.
Photo credit: (c) 1993 Smithsonian Institution, #93—14109-Freedom Statue by Jeff Tinsley
Research Credit — Heather Burns
Cover Design — Thomas McDaniel
THE VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEWStaige D.BlackfordEditorGregoryOrrPoetry Consultant
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