Stuart Pierson. Hard-Headed and Big-Hearted: Writing Newfoundland

By Bannister, Jerry | Newfoundland and Labrador Studies, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

Stuart Pierson. Hard-Headed and Big-Hearted: Writing Newfoundland


Bannister, Jerry, Newfoundland and Labrador Studies


Stuart Pierson. Hard-Headed and Big-Hearted: Writing Newfoundland. Edited by Stand Dragland. St. John's: Pennywell Books, 2006, ISBN 1-8944-6391-9

STUART PIERSON WAS NOT, at first glance, a charismatic teacher. He spoke quietly, avoided theatrical gestures, and rarely made eye contact. He wore the same outfit to every class--dark jeans, a turtle neck of some bland colour, black shoes--and he almost always brought a cup of the abysmal coffee that the Arts cafeteria brewed. He did not encourage conversation outside of class: though his door was often open, he did not welcome students to drop by for chit-chat. He insisted on calling us only by our surnames. He was not an excellent lecturer: he was neither a fluid nor an animated speaker; he was apt to become bogged down in minutiae; and his lectures could be far from edifying. I remember one lecture on Gibbon that, as I discovered when I got home, he had cribbed almost entirely from the introduction to the Penguin edition of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. When asked a question or pausing to consider a point, he often touched his glasses in a manner that suggested shyness. He taught two generations of undergraduate students, but only a handful knew of his large life outside the classroom. Most of his students (myself included) were part of the first post-Smallwood generation, caught between outport culture and suburban St. John's. We were only dimly aware that there was an arts community, let alone that Stuart was a major figure in it.

But Stuart Pierson was the best teacher I ever had. He inspired me to become a historian, and not a week goes by that I don't think of him. For those of us fortunate enough to take one of his seminars, Stuart opened up not only a new world of intellectual history, but also new ways of thinking. He was, as Stan Dragland explains in Hard-Headed and Big-Hearted, a tremendous intellectual who had mastered the Western canon. But, unlike many of his colleagues, he was not a pedagogue. He may have towered over us intellectually, but he never tried to intimidate or belittle his students. In a Department known for its nastiness, Stuart's intellectual generosity stood out. He offered a type of meta-knowledge (a knowledge about knowledge, if you will), rather than a demonstration of how much he himself knew. For Stuart, history was about questions rather than answers. He is the only professor I have met who was willing to admit publicly that he did not know something important. Not only did he ask students open-ended questions, but he actually listened to their answers. He may have been friends with Gerald Squires, the Pratts, and numerous other cultural luminaries but, in the classroom, he was our Pierson.

Hard-Headed and Big-Hearted is a fitting tribute to Stuart Pierson. Stan Dragland provides just the right balance of editorial comment and contextual exegesis, while James Hiller's thoughtful forward echoes Pierson's own tribute to David Alexander [Eric Sager, Lewis Fischer, and Stuart Pierson, eds., Atlantic Canada and Confederation." Essays in Canadian Political Economy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1983)]. Both Dragland and Hiller suggest that Pierson was in some respects an intellectual conservative, and, while contrarian may have been a more apt description, their sensitive analyses avoid slipping into mere homage. Dragland and Hiller remind us that there were many Stuart Piersons, both inside and outside academia. Though the collection omits Pierson's work on the Scientific Revolution, it captures the diversity of his interests and the intensity of his judgements. Despite this diversity, the Western canon forms a type of unifying backbone to the collection. Pierson used writers such as Collingwood or Eliot as touchstones, quoting liberally in an unfashionable style that demanded the reader's attention. Although these touchstones could weigh down his prose, they serve as a stimulating subtext. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Stuart Pierson. Hard-Headed and Big-Hearted: Writing Newfoundland
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.