Here’s a selection of non-embarrassing stuff I wrote in my college career. Don’t plagiarize these essays; they show up in Google searches. Recently I’ve been adapting essays into blog posts instead of putting them here.
A Victorian Cyberspace: The Daily Alta California in 1868 (2010)
What can you learn about Old San Francisco by reading a month of newspapers?
“Wound Up by Any Hand”: Samuel Adams, Peter Oliver, & the Problem of Stamp Act Violence (2009)
An exploration of mob violence, the rule of law, and political culture in colonial Boston, 10 years before the American Revolution.
Ajax and the Suicide in Homer, Sophocles, and Ovid (2009)
Atheism and courage in the Trojan War.
The Swift Hits the Fan: Excrement and Misanthropy in Gulliver’s Travels (2009)
An essay about some of the surprising features of Gulliver’s Travels, and how they play into Swift’s broader message.
“A Bully Fight and a Bully Time”: Theodore Roosevelt in the Spanish-American War (2009)
A short and, in retrospect, kind of fawning attempt to answer the question of why T. R. abandoned his cushy job as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to fight in Cuba in 1898.
“How did the old ladies turn into Russians?” American History in The Manchurian Candidate (2008)
The assignment was to take a pop-culture document and see what it told us about history. I picked a masterpiece of Cold War paranoia starring Frank Sinatra and Angela Lansbury.
Essays on Bob Dylan (2008)
Responses to an ongoing “song of the week” assignment, and a final essay, collected in one document.
“The Last Dalai Lama?” (Berkeley Political Review, Spring 2008)
I’m not alone in thinking this was an interesting topic. A New Yorker profile of Gyatso raised the same question, two years after me: “As the Dalai Lama turns seventy-five, what is Tibet’s future?”
“Great, Anguished Hope”—The Reverend Barbee in Invisible Man (2008)
Another paper for an English class, a close reading of part of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.
Music in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” (2007)
Pretty much what it sounds like—a short analysis of the musical language of “The Tempest.” I’m not a Shakespeare expert, but I couldn’t find anything else written about this, so I took it on as a topic for an English class paper.
The Presidential War (2007)
This is an exploration of the presidential power (not granted in the Constitution) of declaring war without Congressional approval, a development of the 20th century. I come down against it, both on principle and on the evidence of our foreign policy adventures since the 1940s. For more on this topic, see Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., The Imperial Presidency, and Garry Wills, Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State.