The Green Room

The Virginia Quarterly Review, Spring 2003 | Go to article overview

The Green Room


"Here's a marvellous convenient place for our rehearsal."

American higher education, as JAMES AXTELL notes at the opening of his essay, has been called "the envy of the planet." Yet, beginning in the late 1980's, America's colleges and universities particularly the elite universities have been praised and pilloried, denounced and defended, commended and castigated. So what is the state of higher education today? What is wrong and what is right with it? These questions are examined by MR. AXTELL, and he concludes his tour through "some of the things that are right, wrong, and not wrong with American higher education should renew our faith in the power of colleges and universities to transform lives and society for the better."

JAMES AXTELL is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Humanities at the College of William & Mary. He is the author most recently of The Pleasures of Academe: A Celebration and Defense of Higher Education and Natives and Newcomers: The Cultural Origins of North America. He is currently writing a history of Princeton University (which he did not attend) from Wilson to the present.

When the editor of this journal was up at Oxford University many long years ago, the state of British cuisine-to employ British understatement-left a great deal to be desired: soggy Brussels sprouts, endless cauliflower, dishes overcooked and undercooked. The cuisine had no place to go but up-and up it has gone in recent years, as RICHARD JONES attests in his discussion of "The New Look-and Taste-of British Cuisine." MR. JONES is eminently qualified to discuss what has now become the high quality of the current British menu since he has resided in London for many years and is a native of Wales. Among other things, he finds that some of the finest restaurants in London today are now on a par and even superior to those in fabled Paris. A former BBC correspondent, MR. JONES has long been a contributor to the VQR and was also a member of the English department at the University of Virginia in the mid1970's. He is a former Middle East correspondent for the BBC and the author of several novels.

RONALD WEBER'S lively look at the "World's Zaniest Newspaper" is drawn from a work underway about American journalists in Paris between the World Wars. MR. WEBER is a professor emeritus of American studies at Notre Dame. His most recent books are Hired Pens: Professional Writers in America's Golden Age of Print and Catch and Keep, a mystery novel.

K.A. LONGSTREET's collection of short stories, Night-Blooming Cereus, was recently published by the University of Missouri Press, Her stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines including The Georgia Review, New Orleans Review, and The Sewanee Review. She is a recent recipient of the Andrew Lytle Prize for short fiction, and lives in Montpelier Station, Virginia.

A professor of history at South Dakota State University, JOHN MILLER teaches courses in 20th century American history and regional history. He has published books on Laura Ingalls Wilder and small town history and is currently working on a book about small town boys who grew up in the Midwest.

SANFORD PINSKER, a professor of English at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, is one of VQR's most prolific contributors. His latest contribution concerns, as his essay states, why so much in contemporary black culture went wrong.

ROBERTA SILMAN is the author of Blood Relations, a story collection, and three novels, Boundaries, The Dream Dredger, and Beginning the World Again. Her stories have been published in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Redbook, McCall's and many other magazines here and abroad. She has won several awards and just completed a new novel called A Country of Their Own.

CHARLIE SMITH has published five books of poems, the most recent being Heroine and Other Poems from Norton in 2000. He is working on a new poetry book, Women of America, and a novel called 30,000 Holes in Hell. …

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