Sunday, August 9, 2015

Are They Talking About US?

This summer was a busy teaching summer. My class sizes were smaller, but we worked very hard to get everything done. A student asked that I put the First Ladies course on the summer schedule, so we did, and we had a blast. The course was supposed to run for the A term, but we voluntarily extended it to the full-summer term, and we had a great time discussing these women, their husbands and their eras. We were able to have some meaningful debate about the role of a "successful" First Lady.
The class was also required to read Catherine Clinton's biography of Mary Lincoln. Her treatment of Mary is even-handed, even kind, and I think that Clinton is trying to find the best in her, which is always a refreshing change of pace in this era of "deconstruction." However, we still have a hard time in seeing Mary as anything but an hysterical and incredibly self-centered woman. One bit of trivia I'll share is very interesting--
we all refer to Mary as Mary Todd Lincoln. She would NEVER have used her maiden name.  Because her family didn't approve of Lincoln and his "station" in life, she turned her back on them for the most part. Mary TODD Lincoln is a modern affectation we have added. Her married name of Lincoln was her pride. She would want us to think of her as Mary Lincoln. That she loved her husband and her children is beyond question (maybe things were more than a bit strained with Robert there at the end!) Her life was not easy, burying three sons and her husband, suffering a terrible National reputation, and experiencing the terror and humiliation of being committed by the remaining son.
Anyway, the course and the students were a collective blessing to me this fall, and I am grateful to the administration for allowing me to add it to the summer schedule.
Hope you all had a great summer. I still don't have MY computer, but hubby is good as gold to let me use his at any time. I am going to go to IT tomorrow to check on my little silver box. 

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