Browsing by Author "Bilbro, Jeffrey"
Now showing 1 - 3 of 3
Results Per Page
ItemPutting Down Roots: Why Universities Need Gardens(Christian Scholar's Review, Winter 2016, Vol. XLV, No. 2, 2016-01-22) Baker, Jack R.; Bilbro, Jeffrey(The first paragraph of the article is used in lieu of an abstract.) In "The Loss of the University," Wendell Berry proposes that contemporary universities should return to a model of learning that envisions knowledge as a tree. Practicing such a rooted, interconnected form of education, however, is difficult in a culture of "boomers" (Berry's term for people who are always looking for a better place somewhere else) who value specialized, commodifiable knowledge rather than wisdom that leads to health and flourishing. These models of learning stem from different underlying desires: if we want to maximize profit, we will isolate and divide and specialize knowledge, but if we want to cultivate health, we will seek to draw together and integrate our knowledge. Thus our attempts to educate students in rooted wisdom begin with our own commitment to our place. Rather than trying to build impressive CVs so that we can move to "better" jobs elsewhere, we want to do good work where we are, even if such work does not bring professional prestige, even if the place is not exactly what we expected. In the following essay, then, we turn to Wendell Berry to work out reasons to hope for higher education even in our industrial, boomer culture. ItemSounding the darkness and discovering the marvellous: hearing ‘A Lough Neagh Sequence’ with Seamus Heaney's auditory imagination(Irish Studies Review, 2011-08-24) Bilbro, JeffreyThis essay carefully analyses an important facet of T.S. Eliot's influence on Heaney, namely their shared understanding of the auditory imagination. Heaney looks to Eliot's auditory imagination to help him accomplish three vital poetic tasks: sounding the dark places of the earth, discovering a luminescence within these dark places, and inspiring poetry even when his dark surroundings threaten to silence his art. After accomplishing this analysis through close readings of a wide selection of Heaney's prose and poetry, the essay presents detailed, original readings of Heaney's neglected 'A Lough Neagh Sequence'. These readings practically illustrate the operation of Heaney's auditory imagination and the significance of his poetry's aural elements.[ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR] ItemTeaching Thoreau in China: Waldensian Reflections on Chinese Ecology and Agriculture(Journal of Ecocriticism, 2015-08-01) Bilbro, JeffreyIt may seem quixotic to teach Walden, the archetypal American ode to self-reliance and wildness, in Wuhan, one of China’s largest industrial cities. Nevertheless, I was excited when I found out I would have the opportunity to give a series of lectures on Thoreau at Wuhan University of Technology, the third largest university in China. This would give me the chance to discuss pressing ecological and cultural issues in the context of one of the most rapidly industrializing countries in the world. China’s environmental problems are widely reported, and if China can’t find a way to develop its vast economy more sustainably, then the entire world will suffer the consequences. Through this opportunity, Thoreau provided me with a helpful perspective from which to understand China’s ecological, agricultural, and political situation. Thoreau attempts repeatedly to reconcile the train that ran next to Walden Pond with his pastoral life, but the industrial and pastoral remained stubbornly at odds. This opposition describes modern China pretty well also, and their railroad system is a profound example of their rapid industrialization. Yet at the same time that China is building high-speed rail, erecting new high-rises, and coping with smog, much of the country continues to be farmed by peasants using traditional methods. For Thoreau, the countryside acts as a site for political resistance; he can move out to Walden Pond, establish a life apart from an oppressive, slaveholding government, and consider how to participate in a more just economy and culture. Such a tradition of protest and civil disobedience has been largely tamped down in China. As long as the government delivers basic services, most citizens are content to mind their own affairs; those who speak out just bring trouble on themselves and their families. One Chinese poet who was inspired by Thoreau, Hai Zi, wrote poetry protesting industrialization and the destruction of the countryside, but he eventually lost hope and committed suicide by lying down on the railroad tracks, a copy of Walden tucked into his bag. Yet at the end of Walden, Thoreau has an experience which gives him renewed hope for the railroad and his culture, a hope that may also be imaginable in China. Thoreau sees the sun melting frozen sand on the bank of the railroad grade and creating new patterns; he sees nature at work in the midst of industry. I’m never quite sure how to read this conclusion. Is Thoreau right to realize that human culture is part of nature also, or is he naive in thinking that human development can’t ultimately destroy natural life? Is he right that our imagination is what most needs to change? Teaching Thoreau in Wuhan, to people living in one of the most rapidly industrializing civilizations in the history of the world, gave me new hope that Thoreau’s conclusion, with its focus on imaginative and perceptual change, is right. Perhaps the core problem is not industrialization or the train itself, but the warped human imaginations that use these tools to damage the earth. And literature might play a role in renewing our imaginations, in helping all of us desire and work toward lives of contentment and wild harmony. As Hai Zi writes, “I hope that in this dusty world you become content / I only hope to face the ocean, as spring warms and flowers open.”