1. Equality: "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut

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    Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) was born and raised in Indianapolis and later left college to enlist in the U.S. Army during World War II. He spent time as a German prisoner of war and won a Purple Heart, a distinction he later mocked. After the war, he worked as a newspaper reporter and in public relations before selling his first story to Collier’s magazine in 1950. Shortly thereafter he quit his regular job and embarked on a literary career, taking part-time jobs to pay the bills. Only with the publication, eighteen years later, of his second collection of stories, Welcome to the Monkey House—which included “Harrison Bergeron,” first published in 1961—did he gain some positive critical attention. A year later his autobiographical novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, made him a literary celebrity, a status he held for the rest of his life. Vonnegut was politically active in many liberal-left political causes, giving numerous speeches on political issues of the day: he was, among other things, an ardent defender of free speech, an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, and an advocate of socialism. His political views sometimes made it into his stories, which often combined science fiction, satire, and dark humor. His much-loved “Harrison Bergeron” is no exception, though there is considerable disagreement regarding the political message—if any—that Vonnegut was attempting to convey. Whatever the author’s intention, the story demands both careful reading and thoughtful reflection regarding the issues it raises. Watch editors Amy A. Kass, Leon R. Kass, and Diana Schaub converse with guest host James W. Ceaser (University of Virginia) about the story. For more about Kurt Vonnegut and "Harrison Bergeron," visit http://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-meaning-of-america/equality.

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    • Cather: Describe Lyon Hartwell. How does he appear to his young American admirers, and why?

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      Willa Sibert Cather (1873-1947), one of America’s most beloved authors, is best known for her novels depicting the lives of people who settled the American heartland and the Southwest: O! Pioneers, My Antonia, A Lost Lady, and Death Comes for the Archbishop. Her life, like her writing, crisscrossed much of the United States. Born in Virginia, Cather grew up in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska. She then worked as a journalist and as a teacher in Pittsburgh, before moving to New York in 1906 where she lived the rest of her life, but making long visits back to the Midwest, to the Southwest, and to California. Scholars have suggested that “The Namesake” (written in 1907) has autobiographical significance: Cather’s maternal uncle, William Seibert Boak, died in the Civil War (fighting for the Confederacy), and Cather gave herself a slightly modified version of his middle name. But in the story itself, the earlier death of a (Union) Civil War hero becomes the centerpiece of a moving exploration of American national identity and of the vocation of the artist in relation to his country. Like her protagonist Lyon Hartwell, Cather visited Paris and fell in love with it. She also greatly admired Henry James, who wrote extensively about America while living as an expatriate abroad. But unlike both Hartwell and James, Cather always made America her home. Watch editors Amy A. Kass, Leon R. Kass, and Diana Schaub converse with guest host William Schambra (Hudson Institute) about the story. For a discussion guide and more, visit http://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-meaning-of-america/making-one-out-of-many

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      • Cather: What happens to Hartwell on the night of Memorial Day? What does he learn about himself?

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        Willa Sibert Cather (1873-1947), one of America’s most beloved authors, is best known for her novels depicting the lives of people who settled the American heartland and the Southwest: O! Pioneers, My Antonia, A Lost Lady, and Death Comes for the Archbishop. Her life, like her writing, crisscrossed much of the United States. Born in Virginia, Cather grew up in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska. She then worked as a journalist and as a teacher in Pittsburgh, before moving to New York in 1906 where she lived the rest of her life, but making long visits back to the Midwest, to the Southwest, and to California. Scholars have suggested that “The Namesake” (written in 1907) has autobiographical significance: Cather’s maternal uncle, William Seibert Boak, died in the Civil War (fighting for the Confederacy), and Cather gave herself a slightly modified version of his middle name. But in the story itself, the earlier death of a (Union) Civil War hero becomes the centerpiece of a moving exploration of American national identity and of the vocation of the artist in relation to his country. Like her protagonist Lyon Hartwell, Cather visited Paris and fell in love with it. She also greatly admired Henry James, who wrote extensively about America while living as an expatriate abroad. But unlike both Hartwell and James, Cather always made America her home. Watch editors Amy A. Kass, Leon R. Kass, and Diana Schaub converse with guest host William Schambra (Hudson Institute) about the story. For a discussion guide and more, visit http://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-meaning-of-america/making-one-out-of-many

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        • Cather: Why does Lyon Hartwell return to live and work in Paris?

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          from What So Proudly We Hail / Added

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          Willa Sibert Cather (1873-1947), one of America’s most beloved authors, is best known for her novels depicting the lives of people who settled the American heartland and the Southwest: O! Pioneers, My Antonia, A Lost Lady, and Death Comes for the Archbishop. Her life, like her writing, crisscrossed much of the United States. Born in Virginia, Cather grew up in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska. She then worked as a journalist and as a teacher in Pittsburgh, before moving to New York in 1906 where she lived the rest of her life, but making long visits back to the Midwest, to the Southwest, and to California. Scholars have suggested that “The Namesake” (written in 1907) has autobiographical significance: Cather’s maternal uncle, William Seibert Boak, died in the Civil War (fighting for the Confederacy), and Cather gave herself a slightly modified version of his middle name. But in the story itself, the earlier death of a (Union) Civil War hero becomes the centerpiece of a moving exploration of American national identity and of the vocation of the artist in relation to his country. Like her protagonist Lyon Hartwell, Cather visited Paris and fell in love with it. She also greatly admired Henry James, who wrote extensively about America while living as an expatriate abroad. But unlike both Hartwell and James, Cather always made America her home. Watch editors Amy A. Kass, Leon R. Kass, and Diana Schaub converse with guest host William Schambra (Hudson Institute) about the story. For a discussion guide and more, visit http://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-meaning-of-america/making-one-out-of-many

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          • Cather: Why is Lyon Hartwell so attracted by the portrait of his namesake?

            05:19

            from What So Proudly We Hail / Added

            26 Plays / / 0 Comments

            Willa Sibert Cather (1873-1947), one of America’s most beloved authors, is best known for her novels depicting the lives of people who settled the American heartland and the Southwest: O! Pioneers, My Antonia, A Lost Lady, and Death Comes for the Archbishop. Her life, like her writing, crisscrossed much of the United States. Born in Virginia, Cather grew up in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska. She then worked as a journalist and as a teacher in Pittsburgh, before moving to New York in 1906 where she lived the rest of her life, but making long visits back to the Midwest, to the Southwest, and to California. Scholars have suggested that “The Namesake” (written in 1907) has autobiographical significance: Cather’s maternal uncle, William Seibert Boak, died in the Civil War (fighting for the Confederacy), and Cather gave herself a slightly modified version of his middle name. But in the story itself, the earlier death of a (Union) Civil War hero becomes the centerpiece of a moving exploration of American national identity and of the vocation of the artist in relation to his country. Like her protagonist Lyon Hartwell, Cather visited Paris and fell in love with it. She also greatly admired Henry James, who wrote extensively about America while living as an expatriate abroad. But unlike both Hartwell and James, Cather always made America her home. Watch editors Amy A. Kass, Leon R. Kass, and Diana Schaub converse with guest host William Schambra (Hudson Institute) about the story. For a discussion guide and more, visit http://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-meaning-of-america/making-one-out-of-many

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            • First Among Equals: George Washington and the American Presidency

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              What So Proudly We Hail editors Amy A. Kass, Leon R. Kass, and Diana Schaub are joined by Richard Brookhiser (author, "George Washington on Leadership"), Harvey Mansfield (Harvard University) and Steven F. Hayward (Ashbrook Center) to reflect on the significance of celebrating George Washington's Birthday. Learn more at http://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-american-calendar/celebrating-george-washington.

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              • Making One Out of Many: "The Namesake," by Willa Cather

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                Willa Sibert Cather (1873-1947), one of America’s most beloved authors, is best known for her novels depicting the lives of people who settled the American heartland and the Southwest: O! Pioneers, My Antonia, A Lost Lady, and Death Comes for the Archbishop. Her life, like her writing, crisscrossed much of the United States. Born in Virginia, Cather grew up in Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska. She then worked as a journalist and as a teacher in Pittsburgh, before moving to New York in 1906 where she lived the rest of her life, but making long visits back to the Midwest, to the Southwest, and to California. Scholars have suggested that “The Namesake” (written in 1907) has autobiographical significance: Cather’s maternal uncle, William Seibert Boak, died in the Civil War (fighting for the Confederacy), and Cather gave herself a slightly modified version of his middle name. But in the story itself, the earlier death of a (Union) Civil War hero becomes the centerpiece of a moving exploration of American national identity and of the vocation of the artist in relation to his country. Like her protagonist Lyon Hartwell, Cather visited Paris and fell in love with it. She also greatly admired Henry James, who wrote extensively about America while living as an expatriate abroad. But unlike both Hartwell and James, Cather always made America her home. Watch editors Amy A. Kass, Leon R. Kass, and Diana Schaub converse with guest host William Schambra (Hudson Institute) about the story. For a discussion guide and more, visit http://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-meaning-of-america/making-one-out-of-many.

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                • Franklin: How do the Franklinian virtues compare to more traditional conceptions of virtue and morality?

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                  from What So Proudly We Hail / Added

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                  As the youngest son of the youngest son for five generations back, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was by custom and tradition destined to be a nobody. Yet thanks to his own resourcefulness, he more than escaped his destiny. His life spanned the 18th century, and he managed to see and to participate firsthand in much that it had to offer. By all measures, Benjamin Franklin was no ordinary man—not in his own time, not in any time. Yet when he sat down, during the last twenty years of his life, to write his autobiography (a work written in four different spurts), he crafted an account of himself and his life which seems intended to serve as a model for every American, then and now: He addressed his audience as “Dear Son,” that is, as one extended family; he omits mention of nearly all of his great accomplishments; he speaks in an engaging and light-hearted manner that hides his own superiority. His “bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral Perfection” (found in Part II of the Autobiography) is clearly written as a model that others would do well to imitate. It is the only project that the great Projector turned on himself, and he attributes his own happiness and worldly success to its virtues and methods. With characteristic understatement, he expresses the hope that “some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefits.” Watch editors Amy A. Kass and Leon R. Kass converse with guest host Wilfred McClay (University of Tennessee--Chattanooga) about the story. For a discussion guide and more, visit http://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-meaning-of-america/self-command.

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                  • Franklin: What would a person who embodied Franklin's virtues be like?

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                    As the youngest son of the youngest son for five generations back, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was by custom and tradition destined to be a nobody. Yet thanks to his own resourcefulness, he more than escaped his destiny. His life spanned the 18th century, and he managed to see and to participate firsthand in much that it had to offer. By all measures, Benjamin Franklin was no ordinary man—not in his own time, not in any time. Yet when he sat down, during the last twenty years of his life, to write his autobiography (a work written in four different spurts), he crafted an account of himself and his life which seems intended to serve as a model for every American, then and now: He addressed his audience as “Dear Son,” that is, as one extended family; he omits mention of nearly all of his great accomplishments; he speaks in an engaging and light-hearted manner that hides his own superiority. His “bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral Perfection” (found in Part II of the Autobiography) is clearly written as a model that others would do well to imitate. It is the only project that the great Projector turned on himself, and he attributes his own happiness and worldly success to its virtues and methods. With characteristic understatement, he expresses the hope that “some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefits.” Watch editors Amy A. Kass and Leon R. Kass converse with guest host Wilfred McClay (University of Tennessee--Chattanooga) about the story. For a discussion guide and more, visit http://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-meaning-of-america/self-command.

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                    • Franklin: What are the results of the Project for Franklin?

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                      As the youngest son of the youngest son for five generations back, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was by custom and tradition destined to be a nobody. Yet thanks to his own resourcefulness, he more than escaped his destiny. His life spanned the 18th century, and he managed to see and to participate firsthand in much that it had to offer. By all measures, Benjamin Franklin was no ordinary man—not in his own time, not in any time. Yet when he sat down, during the last twenty years of his life, to write his autobiography (a work written in four different spurts), he crafted an account of himself and his life which seems intended to serve as a model for every American, then and now: He addressed his audience as “Dear Son,” that is, as one extended family; he omits mention of nearly all of his great accomplishments; he speaks in an engaging and light-hearted manner that hides his own superiority. His “bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral Perfection” (found in Part II of the Autobiography) is clearly written as a model that others would do well to imitate. It is the only project that the great Projector turned on himself, and he attributes his own happiness and worldly success to its virtues and methods. With characteristic understatement, he expresses the hope that “some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefits.” Watch editors Amy A. Kass and Leon R. Kass converse with guest host Wilfred McClay (University of Tennessee--Chattanooga) about the story. For a discussion guide and more, visit http://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-meaning-of-america/self-command.

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